I am endlessly curious. Lots of things interest me, especially if they involve math and computers.
[NOTE TO READERS: The next few sentence will be explained.]
Over the past few months I’ve read a few articles about ADS-B receivers. They’re made by plugging a digital TV dongle into a “Raspberry Pi.” The Pi is a credit card sized computer.
They had me at ADS-B.
ADS-B is for Automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast. It’s a method where planes notify each other and the tower where they are. ADS-B is much more accurate than radar. It allows crews onboard planes to see who’s around them too.
That’s a Raspberry Pi 2B on the left. A full fledged quad core, video optimized teeny computer. It was designed and is built by a non-profit educational foundation in Britain. Their purpose is to give kids a cheap and dirty way to learn about computers and what makes them work.
Plugged into the Pi is a DVB TV dongle. In Europe these are used to watch digital television. The dongle is a software controlled radio. I threw in some new software and -voila- it’s now a radio listening to the ADS-B frequency.
The software is developed and made available by FlightAware.com. They get my data and upgrade me to a pro account. I’m part of a community of thousands around-the-world. It’s actually pretty amazing.
This is day five. My gear has spotted 2,539 planes, receiving 59,422 position reports. I’m their 4,510th best site. Is there a participation trophy?
The charts and reports I see from the little Raspbery Pi suggest I need to optimize my receiver to hear more. I can see planes land at John Wayne. I should see LAX and Long Beach too.
Like I said, endlessly curious.