For absolutely, positively, no reason except it seemed like a good idea, I built a radio which listens to digital data from airplanes. It’s upstairs in my office, mostly sitting on the floor. The antenna is at the window.
It’s not a radio in the conventional sense. There is no speaker. There are no physical controls at all. It is a dongle plugged into a credit card sized computer. Connected to the dongle, the antenna.
It is a nerd’s dream. Not only can I watch the planes go by, the software spits out a bunch of interesting graphs (fellow nerds: CLICK!). OK, they’re interesting to me. I love numbers.
From my upstairs office the receiver usually sees the single file line of planes heading to LAX from the east. Same goes for John Wayne Airport. Both airports land from the east and depart to the west almost exclusively–even with tailwinds.
Every night a dozen or more flights head to cities in California from Mexico. At, or just after, midnight they all head back. Most are seen by my gear.
There are also random flights from Hawaii to southern cities, like Phoenix or Dallas and constant traffic to the East Coast from LAX. They’re flying in single file as they leave SoCal.
Like everyone I’ve looked up and seen planes. Now I usually understand why they’re where they are.
There are a lot of people with money. There’s a sizable number of private or corporate planes.
What’s astounding is how many planes I pick up. Monday’s count (it’s in UTC, so 4p to 4p) was 1,286 planes sending 111,921 position reports. I’ve worked to tweak my setup for maximum performance.
Today it’s this. In 1957 I’d have been working on a Model A Ford.