Play time has arrived

After some consideration and looking around I activated my 9th & 10th site today.

I 'd like to compare the different hardware and the results they give when playing with variables.

So now I have 10 sites active and they are mostly identical in setup.

5 x Orange Pi with Flightaware dongle and filter, 3 FA antenna (indoor) , 2x Vinnant Col1090/S antenna (outdoor and indoor) and 1 Chinese Alibaba antenna (indoor) that came with the flightaware dongle and filter ( This one i bought second hand).

1 Orange Pi with a RTL-SDR v3 dongle and a Flight aware filter and a cheap antenna belonging to an RTL SDR set ( The antenna wil be replaced, looking for a Vinnant 7.5 or 10 dB antenna when they become available again)
Dongle and filter were in total 50 Euro so not to bad for used equipment. New set wil cost around 75 euro (including shipping) when bought in NL.

2 Raspberry Pi 3B’s with Flightaware dongle, filter and 2x antenna (1 outdoor, 1 indoor)

1 Raspberry Pi 3 B with a Radarbox Micro dongle and standard small Radarbox Whip. (The dongle and antenna were sold for 15 euro so I couldn’t resist) :slight_smile:

The best results are coming form the outdoor antenna’s of course.
Trailing behind that are the indoor setups with all around equal results.
To my surprise the Chinese Alibaba antenne is perform equally to the Flight aware antenna located next to it.

The Radar box dongle and antenna are performing the poorest of all the setups so far, but that’s for testing purposes only so I don’t worry about that.

Anybody else as crazy as I am ? The hobby is fun and it keeps that way for 4 years already, longest uptime currently on antenna nr 1 is 1605 days and the newest one just 1 day :innocent:

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Very interesting! I have a couple questions related to the Orange Pi’s.

  • Which specific model(s) are you using? It looks like they offer a handful of options (disclosure - I never heard of them before reading this post, but I’m now digging into the details); it’s not clear to me which are “best” for the application here (where best is probably “cheapest that can adequately manage the effort”)?

  • What is the power draw for them in this application? I’m pondering trying to construct some “solar powered, battery supported configuration” I can stuff in a weatherproof box and put up with the antenna on the roof. Low power is a must for that, and I’ve been thinking I need to wait for a RaspPi Zero 2 W to come available - but maybe there’s an option here?
    [Aside - will a RaspPi Zero (not 2) handle the effort?]

  • Are you able to use the “RaspPi based installations” from FA (and FR24, etc.) for this? Is the Orange OS close enough to Raspbian to make it work?

You referenced some feedback on the comparative performance of the antennas, but what about the sticks/filters? I’m currently using a RTL-SDRv3 without a filter, and want to improve my setup. I’ve been doing some reading on the FA (orange and blue), and ADSB sticks, (not the Radarbox - but maybe I should add it) - and I’m curious to know if you’re seeing differences between, say, a RTL-SDR+filter vs. Radarbox, or vs. Flightaware+filter (I assume Orange FA if you need the filter too).

I appreciate your sharing of what you’ve learned

1 Like

I also have 9.

Probably

I use PiZeroW, PiZero2W, Pi3 and Pi3B, Pi4, Ubuntu in a VMWare virtual machine running on Win10 on an i5 and Ubuntu running on an HP T620 Thin Client.

Almost all are accessible with VNC or Teamviewer which is very handy for those remote or located in the roof space.

Antennae are a collection of FA, PCB dipoles, home made CoCo and one nondecript mag base 1/4 wave.

Oldest has been running since it was installed over 5 years ago.

image

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2 Likes

I’m using the Orange Pi 2+E model, main reason for that is that they standard have 2GB of RAM and a 16 GB EMMC card on the board. Once setup on an SD card you can then transfer the card to the EMMC and since that is a chip it greatly reduces wear and tear on the SD card.

They all have a normal PSU and that’s comparable to a Raspberry Pi 3b.

As for the OS I’m using Armbian, a variant of the Debian OS that is also the basis for the Raspberry PI OS.
I don’t use the SD card images but always do the package based install. I have more running on the Pi’s then just the FA software, they are all connected to my home automation system so I can monitor them,
And with 2 GB it runs smoothly with an average 10% Mem load with FA, FR24 and. Adsbexhange as feeders.
Also I have Graphs1090 on them and it runs like a breeze, average 8-12 % CPU load.

I like all my equipment for flightfeeding connected via wired Ethernet, I often see problems with Wi-Fi connections and the build in antenna’s of the PI and Orange Pi are generally weak in terms of distance.

Overall the flightaware dongles are better the RTL-SDR and the Radarbox dongle. Maybe that will change with the new antenna but the main difference is the built-in LNA in the blue prostick from FA. Both the RTL-SDR and the Radarbox lack that and in doing so they have a lesser range without filtering and/or LNA

I don’t have the Orange FA stick since I live in a urban environment where filtering is almost a must ( lot of cell towers nearby) and I’m living in one of the approaches of EHAM so sometimes I have aircraft as close as 0.5-1.0 NM and then the receivers get overloaded easily

I have them all accessible via teamviewer indeed as well :+1:t2:

Haven’t tried the thinclient route yet, stil have some Pi’s waiting for a useful purpose :sunglasses:

@SweetPea11, it sounds like you’re successful with a PiZeroW (not “2”) - is there any reason (other than the current lack of supply) you haven’t replaced the others with more ZeroW’s? I’m currently using a 3B+ and 4B (one is serving, while I debug stuff on the other), but at some point I’m aiming for this project to be standalone and hands-off so I can move on to try some other stuff, and when that day comes I’d like to have it running on a $10-15 Pi so I can repurpose the more powerful and expensive 3B and 4 elsewhere.

@tomvdhorst, have you any experience with the ADSBExchange.com Blue dongle? It seems comparable to the FA Pro Stick (comes with a filter built in), a metal case (better on thermal), and less expensive at the moment. I guess I’m fortunate in that my wifi seems workable (using Netgear Orbi mesh) with the intention of setting this up outside. Initial plans are under my eaves (near an external outlet), but perhaps eventually in a self contained solar box. In either case Eth isn’t really an option for me. Is your issue connectivity (they simply don’t connect to your wifi) or bandwitdh (they connect, but the data rate requirement is too high to be supported)? I don’t feel like I see much traffic from the Pi to the wifi - if it connects, it works - but maybe I need to look more closely.

Hello Mark,

The Blue ADSBexchange dongle hasn’t crossed my path so far, I haven’t seen it on sale in The Netherlands yet. Another test set up maybe :slight_smile:

Wifi wise it’s more a matter of connecting the equipment to the routers, not the issue of not having bandwidth.
I have a switch in every room in my house so the connections are not that big of an issue.
Trafficwise it isn’t much that is being send back and forth so the traffic volume shouldn’t be a problem.
I live in an appartment building with lots of Wi-fi routers and getting a free channel with interference is the bigger challenge there.

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RaspPi Zero 2 W to come available - but maybe there’s an option here?
[Aside - will a RaspPi Zero (not 2) handle the effort?]

I’ve got a lot of Pi devices but only two for PiAware (and FR24 plus ADSBx), both mine run on a zero W. Ideal for portable scenarios as, using a USB volt/amp meter mine takes around 400mA with the ADS-B tuner plugged in. Even on boot up it doesn’t touch 500mA.

Whilst it would struggle if you want charts and graphs the zero W has, in my experience, dealt with just maps and data exchange very well over the 4+ years I’ve been on here.

Geoff

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@send2gl thank for the info! I had seen the power draw on the ZeroW’s referenced around 120-150mA, but I hadn’t considered the draw from the dongle (duh), so now I’ll have to ponder a nominal 2W load if I want to try to solar/battery them. Now if only RPi’s were shipping anywhere in world, and I would grab a couple ZeroW’s.

@tomvdhorst - I found the ADSB blue dongle available on Amazon here in the US (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09F2ND4R6) where it comes bundled with an antenna (allegedly for 1090MHz) and a preloaded 8GB SDcard. With “free” prime shipping, that’s the same price ($40) for all as for just the FA-Pro (Blue) at FA.com, and then I’d have to pay $12 for shipping. All that makes the ADSB a much better deal, so I ordered one (should be here tomorrow?) and I will report what I find. Perhaps Amazon ships these to NED as well?

Once I get it, I’ll have two Pi’s (3B+ and 4B) and two radios (RTL-SDR and ADSB blue stick) to compare. Right now, I’ve got an SDcard running a working installation feeding FA (and FR24), and I’ve cloned it such that the two Pi’s are basically identical. I’ve been swapping the Radio dongle back and forth as I putter with things, and while that impacts things internally (each Pi has a different IP) AFAICT it makes no difference to FA (or FR24) - each Pi thinks it’s the same “unique location” with the same identifier, so whichever one has the dongle at any given time is feeding “my” data to FA.

However once I have two up and running simultaneously, I expect this will not work so well (two “unique” identifiers seems problematic), so I’m curious what to do. Should I create a new/second unique ID and have two sources? If so how do I accomplish that - I’m guessing there’s a “FA config file” somewhere that I delete, and then restart the service? If/when I have a second ID going, how do I attach it to my FA account? Presumably this will be an issue for FR24, et al. as well, but that’s a question for another forum.

It sounds like there are a number of folks running multiple incarnations at once - what’s the “protocol” for doing this? Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Man that’s just greedy… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I thought I was bad as I have 6 Pi 4/4GB all but two mounted in a 1U rack (both of which need to be close to their respective antennas at the far end of the loft) and all powered from my main 26-port PoE switch that also has SFP connections to three (soon to be four) other switches and PoE to three WAP’s scattered around the house.

They all do different jobs so are not worked too hard;

  1. Pi-hole
  2. Virtual Radar (RadarBox24/FlightRadar24/FlightAware/ADS-B Exchange)
  3. Home Automation
  4. GPS Stratum 1 NTP Server (very nearly)
  5. SDR Radio
  6. Spare Pi used to update Raspbian system software to check for stability before rolling it out across the others, test other apps out first and as a hot spare in case of hardware failure on one of the others.

The next Pi will be a Weather server for my Davis weather station so I will clone the SD Card on 6 to keep an up-to-date working vanilla backup with my admin account and commonly used utilities all set up and then install the weather software using a new IP Address & Hostname, configure & test it.

At the same time the cloned SD Card will be slotted into a new Pi 4 (when I can get one) and go back to its previous role of guinea pig/hot spare.

All Pi’s have a cloned SD Card sitting in one of the USB3.0 ports in case of failure.

I’m still paranoid of losing my VR and HA boxes though as many hours/days/weeks/months have gone into getting them where they are today but despite that I am still not a Linux expert so wouldn’t relish the task of rebuilding them if the unthinkable happened.

I still haven’t updated my VR box to the latest FA/RB24 and a further 152 Raspbian packages despite having cloned my cloned SD Card in case of something going wrong! :rofl:

The to-do list for my VR box is starting to stack up now as apart from updating the packages I really want to do some comparisons between the existing AN FlightStick and FA Pro Stick Plus with/without the FA dark blue 1090 filter, Airspy and Kuhne LNA 1090 A TM. Was also hoping to add the FA Pro Stick X to the list if/when it finally appears.

-=Glyn=-

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Play Time: Single Board Computers to Play With

The list is NOT complete. Please add the missing ones.

- The Raspberry Pi 4B
- The Raspberry Pi 3B+
- The Raspberry Pi 3A+
- The Raspberry Zero 2 W
- The Raspberry Zero W
- The Raspberry Zero
- The Odroid C2
- The Odroid C4
- The ODROID N2
- The ODROID-XU4
- The Orange Pi PC
- The Orange Pi 3
- The Rock 3A
- Radxa Zero
- The Odyssey X86J4105
- The VisionFive
- The Nezha
- The Rock Pi 4B
- The LattePanda
- The Tinker Board
- The LattePanda Alpha
- The LattePanda Delta
- The NVIDIA Jetson Nano
- The Atomic Pi
- The Khadas VIM3
- The NanoPi M4
- The NanoPi NEO4
- The Edge-V
- The VIM2
- The ROCKPro64
- The UDOO x86 Advanced Plus
- The ROCK64
- The Banana Pro
- The LeMaker Guitar
- The HiKey 960

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Additions:

Raspberry Pi 2B
Orange Pi 2+E

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I can get the same ADSBexchange order from Amazon towards NED but I will wait a little while longer.
I don’t think the antenna supplied with it is up to the job but surprise me :slight_smile:

In order to get your 2nd sites running you will need to remove the feeder keys from the new setups (prior to getting them live).
Otherwise the receiving servers will keep on switching between them and then one of them will report down
from your perspective.
As long you move just one dongle this will do no harm but with multiple ones this will be an issue since the reports recieved will be confusing for the recieving server.
After connecting the second equipment claim a second ID from FA, FR 24 etc.

For FR24 the config file is located here:
This is the config file:
/etc/fr24feed.ini

.
(3) The default contents of config file are

cat /etc/fr24feed.ini
receiver="avr-tcp" 
fr24key="xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" 
host="127.0.0.1:30002" 
bs="no" 
raw="no" 
logmode="1" 
logpath="/var/log/fr24feed" 
mlat="no" 
mlat-without-gps="no"

Flightaware:

Normally following 3 commands are given at time of installation of Piaware Add-on package.

sudo piaware-config allow-auto-updates yes
sudo piaware-config allow-manual-updates yes
sudo reboot

As a result of “Claim your Piaware” and above two commands, the file /etc/piaware.conf is like this:

sudo cat /etc/piaware.conf

# This file configures piaware and related software.
# You can edit it directly or use piaware-config from the command line
# to view and change settings.
#
# If /boot/piaware-config.txt also exists, then settings present in
# that file will override settings in this file.
feeder-id 12345678-1234-1234-1234-123456789abc   # updated by fa_piaware_config
allow-auto-updates yes   # updated by fa_piaware_config
allow-manual-updates yes   # updated by fa_piaware_config

.

How to Set / Change Configuration Values?

If you want to change any of the settings listed on page https://flightaware.com/adsb/piaware/advanced_configuration , you can do this by using following method:

#Set the value
sudo piaware-config [PARAMETER]  [VALUE]

#Restart piaware to implement the value
sudo systemctl restart piaware

#Now check file /etc/piaware.conf to make sure new setting has been saved
sudo cat /etc/piaware.conf

Oh but the Flightfeeders are not all of my Pi’s

In total I have 22 running ,16 Rasberry Pi’s, 6 Orange Pi’s.
RasberryPi’s are ranging from 1B+ till Pi 4 and every model in between except the Pi Zero’s, I don’t have Pi’s with wireless only connections.

They are used for

Home automation 1 Master server (also acting as Fail2Ban server, 3 slave servers supplying inputs from RFXCOM (433 MHZ transmitters and recievers like temp sensors, door sensors, fire alarms)

UPS monitoring (5x UPS and thus 5x RaspBerry Pi for monitoring them)

1 Weather Station

1 Retro game console

10x Flightfeeder

2 test machines (Pi 2 and Pi 3 series to implement updates and test them prior to pushing the update to the other Pi’s.

On the shelf are still 6-7 Orange Pi’s waiting until I have a use for them.
Lots of goodies to play with.

I keep updates on par with their releases, I wrote a script that will download and implement the updates without rebooting so they only get activated when I want them to be active ( after a reboot).
The script runs weekly on midnight of every saturday, If some goes wrong I will detect it the next morning since saturday morning is the default back-up morning where all PC’s and Pi’s make their back-ups at 8 AM.

In case a Pi fails then I start with a new SD card and vanilla installation of the OS.

After that I will restore the latest back-up for that machine. (incremental back-ups are made every hour and the full back-up is made weekly).
Worst case will mean I have a data loss of 1 hour and that’s fine with me since this is a hobby and not a living :slight_smile:

@tomvdhorst thanks for the reply. To clarify, when you say “claim a second ID from FA…” is that from the website or via the Pi (some “startup script”)? Part of what is puzzling me, is that I have a ‘feeder-id’ (long Hex value) in /etc/piaware.conf , but when I look at my personal stats
https://flightaware.com/adsb/stats/user/SDMark
it tells me my “Site ID” is 179713. I’m not clear what role each of these plays. Do I need to obtain a new site ID, a new feeder-id, both?

I ran the three commands you reference, and when I “cat” the config file I still see my existing feeder-id value.

You have to remove the feeder-ID from that file prior to claiming a new one.

The claiming of the new feeder ID ( not your site id) is done via step 6 of this page

Then you wil have a new feeder ID, that feeder ID will be connected to a new Site ID that will be assigned to you once you claimed the feeder ID.

@tomvdhorst - again, thanks for the help.

I edited the /etc/piaware.conf to delete the existing feeder-id, then rebooted. A check of piaware-status showed that it still has the same feeder-id; and told me where it was getting it " (from /var/cache/piaware/feeder_id)"
So I went there and deleted it. Confirmed it hadn’t repopulated /etc/piaware.conf and rebooted again. This time piaware-status shows a new feeder-id ! So I think “success”!

After a bit of a wait, I checked on the “claim your PiAware” page, and the second Pi now shows up with a new Site ID - so evidently the Site ID and feeder-id are linked 1:1 (?)

The remaining question - going back and repeating a cat /etc/piaware.conf there is no feeder-id listed. I had presumed the new one would get written in there, but it’s blank. Do I need to manually cut/paste it in? I do see it now in /var/cache/piaware/feeder_id so maybe that’s good enough?

 

 

@SDMark
@tomvdhorst

For Beginners - Piaware Feeder-id Mechanism

 

Look for feeder-id in these files

/boot/piaware-config.txt (piaware SD card img only)

/etc/piaware.conf

/var/cache/piaware/feeder_id

 

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Thanks @abcd567 - so I don’t need to bother updating /etc/piaware.conf

Side bar question - if I have two feeders with two different site IDs, sitting side by side, how is their data counted? presumably they are recording many of the same planes (perhaps even a complete overlap) - I presume that doesn’t count towards my total “aircraft reported”; two Pi’s each measuring the same 1000 planes in a day should only count for “1000” not “2000” - right?

The numbers will be treated as separate numbers so you aircraft count will end up in 1000 + 1000 = 2000

I have 9 sites and a total of 20.000 aircraft per day which will be mostly the same since the feeders are at the same location.

Flightaware counts the aircraft itself only once per 24 hrs. So if the same aircraft with the same registrations performs multiple flights per day it will still only register 1 aircraft.
The postions of that aircraft are added to the total number.

I have a Medevac helicopter close by, each flight is registered but it will only count as one aircraft per 24 hrs.