In order to build your ADS-B tracker you will need just few items: a Raspberry Pi, a RTL-SDR dongle, an antenna, and some free time! For the tracker, I am using a Raspberry Pi.
I started with the A version, but it was a little limited (it was often at 100% CPU load, running dump1090, Piaware and my own software). I then moved to the B+ version, and I was down to 10% which was much better. I now run a Raspberry Pi version 4.
To setup your tracker, follow these steps:
WARNING: AS THINGS MAY EVOLVE, YOU MAY NEED TO ADAPT THE TUTORIAL TO YOUR HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE VERSIONS
– First you need to download the latest NOOBS from Raspberry Pi website, onto a SD card formated in FAT (your Raspberry Pi is not recognizing FAT32 format). I do recommand to use minimum 32 GB of flash, specially if you want to have some space for recording positions of the aircraft you will track. If not, 8 GB is enough.
– Insert the SD card into the slot on the Raspberry Pi and power the board. Then follow the instructions. For this step, you will need a keyboard, a mouse and a TV with HDMI input.
– When it is done, upgrade the Raspberry Pi software and firmware:
– You now have a working Pi, that you can manage from a remote computer with a VNC software (I am using tightvncjviewer.jar on Mac)
– Next step is to install the ADS-B tracker. For this, you will need a SDR (Software Define Radio) dongle, that you will plus to your Pi. I am using both that one and Piaware Pro-stick. The pro-stick has an integrated amplifier that will give you some additional range. Now there is a new version with integrated filter which is working great. I recommend to switch to one of the Piaware Pro-sticks as they consistently show better results than other sticks that I have tried over the years.
Install Piaware – that will give you a free access to cool features from Flightaware at the same time. You can first create credentials on Flightaware, to get a USERNAME and a PASSWORD.