[chbot] Aircraft Tracking

Stuart Brown stuartbrown2 at gmail.com
Tue Mar 19 08:28:06 GMT 2013


Here are some details for the aircraft tracking system I showed at the 
meeting last night. What I was showing was a TV dongle based SDR 
receiving ADS-B transmissions from aircraft combined with google maps 
data for tracking.

I was using a TV dongle bought from Deal Extreme. I tried to get a 
dongle with the E4000 tuner chip, ordering the same one Richard had 
bought. But it is no longer produced and Deal Extreme sent me an 
alternative product that had a FC0012 tuner chip. Reasonable if you want 
it for TV, but I wanted it for SDR work and I found it could not tune to 
the 1090MHz required to receive the aircraft ADS-B transmissions. So 
after a bit of research online I found that there is a newer tuner chip, 
the R820T, that would work and found one on Deal Extreme 
I ended up replacing the USB connector with an old mouse cable because I 
found the connector intermittent. This also allows me to place the 
dongle in the window while I sit on the couch with the laptop.

The dongle was driven by GNU Radio with gr-air-modes - 
https://www.cgran.org/wiki/gr-air-modes. This package can serve the 
decoded aircraft data as a KML for viewing in Google Earth, as raw data 
or in "base station" format ("base station" refers to the Kinetic SBS-1 
Basestation commercial product from Kinetics Avionics 
http://www.kinetic.co.uk <http://www.kinetic.co.uk/>)

I used the "base station" output and feed the data into Virtual Radar 
Server http://www.virtualradarserver.co.uk/. This is a .Net application 
that runs under mono (there are Linux install instructions on the site). 
It runs a web server that gives you the GNU Radio output combined with 
google maps data. There is also a database writer plugin that can be 
used to record aircraft "hits" into a database for later analysis and 
reporting. It has basic reporting capability. The database is in "base 
station" format too. To get aircraft silhouettes and operator flags you 
need to install bitmaps in the Virtual Radar Server directory. You can 
use bitmap resources designed for the SBS product, these are available 
on the internet, just google for them or visit 
http://www.sbs-resources.com/download/index.html or 

There are a few "get going" guides on the internet
- http://www.hamradioscience.com/the-rtl-2832u-sdr-and-ads-b/

NZ airspace it not that busy, to see if your setup is working compare 
what you receive with http://www.flightradar24.com/ or 

Not all data is transmitted from the aircraft. Once your database starts 
filling up you'll want to fill in the missing data. I use a program 
called "SBS-1 Populate" to automate this. It is published by Gatwick 
Aviation Society, and is unfortunately Windows only - 
http://www.gatwickaviationsociety.org.uk/sbs_populatebeta.asp. It can 
add registration, type, operator, c/n details and the Logo code if known.

If you run Windows instead of Linux you can still use Virtual Radar 
Server works, but replace GNU Radio with RTL1090 
(http://rtl1090.web99.de) or ADSB# ( 
A windows setup guide can be found here 

Other things to try:
- a Coaxial Collinear Antenna for ADS-B http://www.balarad.net
- decoding with a PIC18F2550 
- some Java software http://nzradar.com/?page_id=2040
- receive automatic picture transmissions (APT) from NOAA weather 
- use dump1090 instead of gr-air-modes - https://github.com/antirez/dump1090

Let me know how you get on if you give it a try

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