A few months ago I built a radio to receive Airplane transmissions. Building in this case means assembling pre-built parts hooking them to a tiny computer then loading the software to run the whole system on a tiny memory chip. When you do it one step at-a-time it’s easier than that last sentence makes it sound.
The transmissions received tell me each plane’s location, speed and altitude and plot them on a map. It’s not delayed. This is Absolutely real time data straight from the planes.
Most people wonder if listening like this is legal. Yes. Absolutely. An open system like this must exist as a safety feature. Planes use it to see each other.
My data is fed to a number of websites, like flightaware.com. Flightaware then ranks me versus their other amateur sites.
I can’t not be competitive. It’s forced me to step up my game.
Late last week a new SDR (software defined radio) dongle arrived. The claim was it was optimized for 1090 Mhz, the airplane frequency.
It was. My reception shot up at least 40%.
Then I wondered what would happen if I took my 9″ tall antenna and moved it from next to the window to outside on the window sill. It’s going to take until tomorrow to really judge, but the difference is yooooge.
The map above is the track of American Airlines Flight 690, a 757 heading from Honolulu to Phoenix. My radio caught it around 185 miles out. I’m impressed.
There are probably more adjustments to be made. The receiver gain can be tweaked by sending commands through a terminal screen. I’m not done. This is like tuning a race car for the track.
Why do it at? No clue. I’m still mostly boy. Still curious about everything