Raspberry Pi SDR Tracks Airplanes in Real-Time

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Dr2mod)

There's definitely something intriguing about accessing public data—from citizen band radio to tracking the ISS, the Raspberry Pi has proven to be a capable choice for tinkerers with a hunger for information. But for those with an interest in local aerospace activity, you'll need a Raspberry Pi aircraft monitoring rig like maker Dr2mod has created!

Most aircraft use ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) technology to transmit location data to control stations in real-time while in flight. This data is also accessible by anyone using the right receiver. Dr2mod is able to access this data using a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ alongside a HackRF One software-defined radio (SDR).

The data is output to a 3.5-inch Waveshare LCD SPI screen. Each airplane detected is represented as an arrow, facing the direction of flight, superimposed over a map.

To get the best signal, the antenna needs to be fully extended and near a window. When possible, externally mounted antennas will provide the best results. Signal requirements will vary depending on local topography.

The best Raspberry Pi projects are the ones you can recreate yourself and this one is suitable for a summer endeavor. Visit the original project thread at Reddit for more details and a closer look at how everything goes together.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.

  • vov4ik_il
    That's very old, I used to use Pi-based traffic display Stratux (stratux hardware, now ADS-B out instead) years ago when taking lessons...