FlightAware Discussions

Single Board Computers

With the hobby we have with radar spotting and feeding ADSB with Raspberry Pi single board computers. There are many other single board computers out there. Why did the Raspberry Pi become so popular with this?

Here is a interesting video.

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I run my receiver on a Jetway JBC313. Great unit, also have one as a backup PfSense router.

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That’s a very interesting video but the more powerful these things are, the more expensive they are. I forget how many different Raspberry Pis I’m responsible for either in my house or at remote sites doing various amateur radio things but it’s probably around fifteen, many of them being Zeros. If they were more expensive, I’d think twice about deploying them.

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I am using a $15 Orange Pi PC which is as good as my $30 Pi 2B.

Both were purchased in 2015, working 24/7 feeding to multiple sites and performing equally good till today.

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OK, let me correct that to “price and awareness”. I reckon most people who have heard of the Raspberry Pi have probably never heard of the other models. I only recently became aware of the Orange Pi myself and I’m no technophobe.


If it was not for feeding flightaware and the great folks who showed me how to deal with a Raspberry Pi, I would have never really known. Right now I pay attention to the forums and want to learn more and sine people have the tendency to have their favorites that we would see more different boards used.

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Price, awareness, and support.

I don’t say this in a negative way, but the RPi lowered the entrance level to non geeks, and I thank them for that.

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Because of the popularity of the Raspberry Pi3b its become the main stay of our hobby but will there be others used for the same reason?

Main problem with other boards is software/OS support. The Raspberry Pi foundation is very wise to develop both the hardware and its OS.


Asus started out with the same idea for the Tinkerboard, but ‘dropped the ball’.

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The Tinker board looks interesting but I agree they dropped the ball.

I too run two Zeros for the PiAware system.

The R-Pis are so reasonably priced that they encourage projects.

As well as my two Zeros I have 6 other Pi devices ranging from original Chinese made one to Pi 3s. Most being used at any given time.

One acting as a media server, two attached to TVs as media clients. One as an Ad Blocker and one serving live TV across the ethernet.


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… and availability.

RPiOrg teamed up with global tech resellers like RSComponents, Mouser/Element 14/digikey as well as store front hobby shops who all hold local stock.

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In 2016 I purchased from Aliexpress.com
OrangePi PC - Set 5
Board + Power Supply + Case = $23

Amazingly the price is still same after 3 years !!!
(See the bottom one in the screenshot)

If you want board only, it is $15


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I’ve been running a Orange Pi One for the last 3+ years. It took a bit more work to get it up and running, blacklisting some drivers, but for $15 shipped for something that is a leave it alone after getting it up and running it works great.

Way faster than the RPi Model B it replaced. Was getting clock unstable mlat errors with it due to CPU usage I believe.

RPi is great from a compatibility, community support and availability standpoint. Not so much relative to some of the competitors in the performance arena.

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That’s a really good point. When I want one of these things, I want it tomorrow (or the day after). I don’t want to have to wait the twenty to forty days quoted by Aliexpress.

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I don’t know why FA chose the Pi in the first place but I suspect it had to do with universal availability, reasonable price and a stable and suitable operating system.

I’m just making an educated guess but by far the majority of those running a feed to Flightaware are interested in something other than ‘playing around with Linux’. (Puts on tin foil hat and ducks for cover).

The difference between a $15 and $35 SBC is trivial for most ADS-B feeders but time is much more precious. It takes less than an hour to go from a pile of components to an installed and reporting receiver station with a Pi and the piaware image. It is even easy enough to talk someone half a world away through the process over the phone.

I have three Raspberry Pi that have been running the Piaware image, none of which has been touched for two or three years. The antennae, amplifiers and filters have undergone many iterations because that is my area of interest.

but a replacement Pi 3B+ would have been a 30 second upgrade.

Most importantly, FA now only have to support one image rather than one for each SBC manufacturer and each of their models.

About 6 months ago someone suggested that FA would get twice as many feeders if the provided an image and supported all the old x86 computers looking for a purpose. A read of this thread gives a pretty good idea of why they are not supporting other devices when the Pi works so well.




Won’t argue with you. Wasn’t saying they were superior to a RPI, for someone who wants to download an image and go the RPI is a great deal and a no brainer for the plug and play types.

I like playing with SBC’s, and for something that is going to be left to one purpose the OPi worked great. The RPi3 is kept for other stuff that the compatibility and support come in more useful.

I don’t think anyone is asking for them to provide an image for these other SBC’s, for anyone wanting to use them the package installs work just fine. I prefer that method with armbian anyway because I have familiarity, and flexibility.

Like you said, YMMV :slight_smile:


The original question was

and as you said it is a no brainer.

and you must really like the choices you have but for the non-Linux enthusiasts amongst us the alternatives are scary and the Pi and FA image is essential Linux free.

The first computer I worked on occupied a building with cooling and power supply in other buildings. Amazing that the SBCs in this discussion would run rings around it.