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ADS-B Exchange: Flightradar24 & FlightAware aren't your only options!

After becoming interested in planes and aviation after spending so much time on flights in the last few years I explored ways to combine my tech and aviation interests together. With a handful of different Raspberry Pi computers sitting around doing nothing, I decided that picking up an ADS-B Tuner and seeing how things go was my next step!

ADS-B Exchange is another option to the “big guys” that you likely already know about; Flightradar24 and FlightAware. Saying that, ADS-B Exchange actually boasts the largest co-operative of unfiltered flight data in the world. Want to check out military aircraft that FR24/FA filter out? Then this may be the exchange you want to feed and support.

This guide will be similar to the Retropie guide that I wrote as it consists of the same steps with a different image being burned.

Burning the ADS-B Exchange Pi Image to your SD Card

  • Download the latest image (Here)
  • Download and install Balena Etcher to burn to SD (Here)
  • Open Etcher and select the image you just downloaded
  • Select the SD Card “Target” to burn the image to -`Hit “Flash!” and wait for it to complete

Getting everything up and running

Now you’ve got your image burned, it’s time to start configuring it for your needs. Make sure to follow these steps very carefully!

Sample 1090 Single SDR adsb-config.txt

LATITUDE=13.366081
LONGITUDE=-121.694665
ALTITUDE=1050ft
USER="buster_adsbx"
DUMP1090=yes
GAIN=49.6
DUMP978=no

Edit the above sample adsb-config.txt with your own information and altitude of antenna in MSL. Use notepad or a basic text editor. Don’t use a fancy editor or Word for example and do not use magic quotes or change the format! Be sure to also change USER to a unique name for your Pi. Once updated, save adsb-config.txt to the SD card on the /boot folder.

WiFi / Network Setup

The image uses the default Raspbian setup for WiFi connections in the form of a wpa_supplicant.conf file. Before you power on your Pi with the new SD card you need to edit the wpa_supplicant.conf in the /boot folder with your SSID/network name and password. After editing wpa_supplicant.conf with your own details, you can plug everything in and power on your Pi.

country=COUNTRYCODE
update_config=1
ctrl_interface=/var/run/wpa_supplicant

network={
 scan_ssid=1
 ssid="NETWORKNAME"
 psk="NETWORKPASSWORD"
}

SSH Setup

By default, SSH access is enabled and runs on port 22 (the default SSH port). To login, you’ll want to use the user pi and password adsb123 but we recommend changing this when you log in using the passwd command. To help out, below are the common commands you’ll want to familiarise yourself with!

Display ADSBx Config

cat /boot/adsb-config.txt

Restart readsb service

sudo systemctl restart readsb

Show readsb status

sudo systemctl status readsb

Start Feeder Services

sudo systemctl start adsbexchange-mlat sudo systemctl start adsbexchange-feed

Restart Feeder Services

sudo systemctl restart adsbexchange-feed sudo systemctl restart adsbexchange-mlat

Show Feeder Services

sudo systemctl status adsbexchange-mlat sudo systemctl status adsbexchange-feed

Important for United States based users!

US based SDR receivers will want to use 978MHz and you’ll need to set the serials of each SDR one at a time, Plug them in, run the appropriate command, then unplug and run the appropriate command for the other SDR.

Example commands

sudo rtl_eeprom -d 0 -s 1090 sudo rtl_eeprom -d 0 -s 978

Now edit the /boot/adsbx-env file

RECEIVER_OPTIONS="-device 1090 -device-type rtlsdr -ppm 0"
#RECEIVER_OPTIONS="-device-type rtlsdr -ppm 0"

Finally, there’s a pretty Grafana dashboard available and to access this you’ll use the username admin and the password adsb123

Head over to their setup guide HERE and as you’ve already burned the image to your SD card, you can go ahead and scroll down to “Initial Configuration” where it will guide you through everything from there.

There are some great dashboards and data available to you and as soon as my extra tuner(s) turn up then I’ll be pushing to this myself (my Pi is sat ready and waiting!) and I hope you guys choose to feed your data to them as it’s a great cause. As a bonus, you get access to the data and API (for non-commercial use) for feeding so if you’re into tinkering and can make use of it.

If you start feeding to them, or you choose not to, let me know in the comments your reasons why and if you’re feeding to anyone else, let me know. I’m always looking for new sources to feed!