Mobile Flightaware setup

Build a mobile enabled version of the PiAware, ADS-B receiver.

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I want to build a mobile enabled version of the PiAware ADS-B receiver. Such that It operates as I move around various locations. It should have GPS enabled on the device, feeding the location to FA. Also, I want it to alert me (with heading, altitude, speed, Ident) when an aircraft enters a predefined airspace (say a 5km radius of my current location). Data should continue to be uploaded as per normal to FlightAware.
Using off the shelf parts and iOS.

I was droning in a location well south of my home location. I had the Flightaware app running as well as a number of other flight tracking apps. NONE of which showed the two circling planes and the low flying helicopter that flew nearby (beach patrol). I was a bit frustrated that none of these apps tracked any of this, obviously there cannot have been a nearby feeder, or it would have been. This project will hopefully solve that issue.


o  iPhone 6S

o  Raspberry Pi Zero with wifi

o  Battery Bank

o 1090Mhz Antenna

o Flightaware Pro+ dongle

o Raspberry Pi Zero USB Hat

o  cables (2 x Micro USB, Lightning cable, Antenna Coax)

o GPS USB Dongle (unless I can hack the iOS GPS)

o Switch

Progress So far. 

Works fine with the Pi Zero built using the standard PiAware v4.0 build on a 32Gb Micro SD Card.

Added the Flightaware dongle to the pi hat and all works OK. Utilising the HotSpot capability, I can reference the Pi via the Hostname.local:8080 on the iOS browser once connected via Hotspot.

Added the Wifi details of the Hotspot to the piaware-config.txt file on the /boot of the SD Card.

Tracks flights OK (when outside the car!)

Stayed connected for a couple of hours (Hotspot)  (even when in the boot of the car) and low drain on the battery bank.

Next Steps.

Ordered a GPS Dongle (AU$12 off AliExpress)

Add a on off switch to the Pi Zero. Code up a shutdown script.

Design & 3D Print a suitable case (may just use a tupperware container for the moment.)

Learn what data is being sent via the dump1090-fa. Code something to alert. Perhaps use Slack as the messaging (easy curl script) initially.

Once dongle. Look at installing GPSD on the Pi Zero.

Determine how to dynamically pass the current location.

  • Update 1

    Kim Shapley01/07/2021 at 09:07 0 comments

    OK a few changes along he way so far.

    > Added a reset button

    > Added a on/off button (push)

    > Shorter cable for the Antenna

    > Added a button to toggle between LAN & Tethered WiFi network. need to manually connect to the phone via Hotspot, but generally stays up for the duration.

    > Scripts added for each button to perform function

    > Added case adapter to plug in charging cable (micro USB female to Micro male USB)> Added a power light LED (green)

    >Added Autogain adjuestment in again as not getting flights overhead, see if that helps.

    < Still awaiting GPS Unit

    < Awaiting other case/cable adapters to can charge other devices from Powerbank.

    < Ordered a Raspberrry pi Battery pack hat to replace the PowerBrick, will reduce the weight but also the uptime.

    < Need to add a manual on button for the (current) battery back, to turn on without opening the case all the time.

    < Decoding the data stream, some excellent infoirmationonline

    < work out how to get the GPS USB to talk to the Pi/FlightAware.

  • Feasibility test

    Kim Shapley12/19/2020 at 03:08 0 comments

    Enclosed project in a plastic Tupperware box for portability. Attached mobile phone to exterior (Wi-Fi connected to Pi).

    Issue with visibility in bright sunlight, should be able to solve with a small shade hood. 
    Battery test. Achieved about 12 hours of (no gps yet) battery use via the 10,000mah battery bank.

    Aerial location was fine but needs better a mounting. Will 3d print a bracket.

    Also have an auto gain script running. (Hang over from it’s past more static life). Will reset & deinstall so I get a better sense of it the real range.

    Having GPS will improve readability (current location is static, so altitude was better indicator in this instance) when using the table

    Discovered that the map and table need to be separated. Too small on the mobile to see both. Investigate hack of web page to separate. Also increase font size on table and minimum set of fields. 

    Attached power switch to Pi, added scripts for shutdown. Need to add a reset button as well.

    Started on decoding the ADS-B signal. Can be viewed on port 30003. Excellent primers on web.

    Added small aluminium heat sink to plastic case of FlightAware dongle and to raspberry Pi USB hat as both getting extremely hot.

    Could add a smaller battery bank to top up power to mobile phone so that both have approx 12 hour life. Will comfortably fit in container and small hole for charging cable. 

    Photos to come

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