Have you ever wondered where that plane passing overhead is going? Now you can know! A maker over at Reddit, known as C0wsaysmoo, has created a Raspberry Pi-powered flight tracking matrix. Not only does it let you know what planes are passing overhead, it also gives you a glimpse at the current weather forecast.
The matrix is based on a project, The Fridge Flight Tracker, created by another Reddit user known as Myniceaccount. C0wsaysmoo used this as a template and beefed it up with a few new features. The main screen is configured to show the current time and date. It also displays the temperature and provides a weather forecast for 3 days at a time.
The second screen is dedicated to the flight tracking side of the project. This is where things get interesting. The Pi uses your current location to extrapolate what planes are passing by. It then displays details about these flights including things like its route, the flight number, what kind of airplane it is, what airline it is, and in which direction it’s going.
In this project, C0wsaysmoo is using a Raspberry Pi 3 A+ but there’s no reason you couldn’t use something smaller like a Raspberry Pi Zero or even bigger like the latest Raspberry Pi 4. It’s connected to a 64 x 32px RGB matrix panel that’s controlled using an Adafruit Bonnet. Everything is housed inside of a wooden box and finished with a tinted acrylic cover in front of the screen.
C0wsaysmoo was kind enough to make the project open source so anyone who wants to dig into the code is totally free to do so. You can find more details about how it works over at GitHub as well as some behind-the-scenes pictures of it in action. The software for the flight tracker is mainly driven with Python and utilizes FlightRadarAPI, an open-source flight tracking API.
Overall, this is a really neat Raspberry Pi project that’s well-finished. It looks great on a shelf and is just as fun to build as it is to look at. Check out the original thread C0wsaysmoo shared to Reddit to get a closer look at how it works and be sure to follow them for more cool projects as well as any future updates on this one.