Do you want to build your own FlightAware PiAware ADS-B Ground Station?

You can now build and run your own ADS-B ground station that can be installed anywhere and receive real-time data directly from airplanes on your computer.

Your ground station can run FlightAware's PiAware software to track flights within 100-300 miles (line of sight, range depending on antenna installation) and will automatically feed data to FlightAware. You can track flights directly off your PiAware device or via FlightAware.com.

As a thank you from FlightAware, users sending ADS-B data receive the following:

  • Live data on flightaware.com (subject to standard data processing delay of up to two minutes)
  • Access to up-to-the-second live data received by the local device (accessible from the stats page with a local network connection)
  • Data from local device highlighted on FlightAware track logs
  • Detailed statistics on site performance
  • A free Enterprise Account (USD89.95/mo value)

Getting started is fast and easy!

Using the instructions below, the process should take about 2 hours hours and the parts cost about USD100/EUR80.

New to building a PiAware?

Already running dump1090 on a Raspberry Pi?

View the PiAware installation page to install the latest version on your Pi.
FlightAware PiAware: Skyview ADS-B software web interface
1PiAware Shopping List

To build a PiAware, you must obtain the following components:

  1. Raspberry Pi 3
    • Raspberry Pi 2 can be used but a USB Wi-Fi adapter will be needed to connect to the internet wirelessly
    • Raspberry Pi Zero W can also be used
  2. Power supply for the Raspberry Pi
    • 5.1 Volts 2.5 Amps power supply recommended
  3. Micro SD Card (size: 8 GB or larger)
  4. Micro SD card reader
    • If your computer does not have a built-in SD card reader/writer, you will need the optional USB SD card reader/writer.
  5. RTL-SDR USB adapter (FlightAware Pro Stick or Pro Stick Plus recommended)
    • The USB adapter translates the 1090 MHz radio signal into something the computer can understand
    • Hint: If you are choosing between the FlightAware Pro Stick and the Pro Stick Plus remember the Plus has an on-board filter that works well in locations that have a lot of radio noise, such as urban environments.
  6. 1090 MHz Antenna
    • An indoor antenna can be purchased to start. If using the FlightAware USB adapter be sure the antenna has an SMA connector.
Additionally, you can choose to purchase or find the following items but they are not required.
  • Micro SD Card pre-loaded with PiAware
    • Skip the step to program the micro SD card
  • Raspberry Pi Case
    • Protect the Raspberry Pi from shorts
  • Ethernet Cable
    • This is needed if not using Wi-Fi
  • 1090 MHz Signal Filter
    • If you live in an urban environment or a location that has a lot of radio noise this will help filter out that excess signal
  • 200 joules Surge Suppressor
    • The Raspberry Pi is vulnerable to voltage spikes so consider a surge protector to prevent damage.
    • If you are in an area known for high voltage spikes consider an 800 joules surge protector

The parts to make a PiAware box are available everywhere in the world, but vendors and availability vary by country. A shopping list with helpful links is available for Argentina below; please let us know on our discussion forums if you find better vendors for your country. Alternately please view these alternate instructions:

Argentina | Australia | Canada | Germany | France | India | Mexico | Norway | People's Republic of China | Russia | South Africa | South Korea | Thailand | Turkey | United Kingdom | United States

2Install PiAware on your SD card

Correct Drive
Be sure to choose the correct drive to install the image
Windows
  1. Download PiAware on Raspbian Linux 3.5.0 ZIP (320MB) and save the file on your computer.
    • Clicking on the link will automatically download the file into the download folder.
  2. Go to https://etcher.io/ download the SD card writer (approx 80MB) and follow the directions to install the program.
    • Information on your Windows operating system can be found under: Control Panel\\All Control Panel Items\\System. View the Control Panel with small icons to see all the Control Panel options.
    • Control Panel -> All Control Panel Items -> System
  3. Open Etcher.
    • Etcher may need to be run as administrator (right-click, \"Run as Administrator\").
    • Windows 'Run as Administrator'
  4. Select the PiAware zip file.
  5. Select the correct Micro SD card USB drive carefully, the process will overwrite any data on the drive and people have lost years worth of pictures accidentally. Consider removing external hard drives and other devices to avoid accidentally overwriting the data.
    • Confirm the drive on the 'My Computer' screen. The below image shows the micro SD card as 'Removable Disk F:'.
    • Etcher Icon
  6. Once you are sure the correct drive is chosen press 'Flash!'.
  7. After PiAware is installed Etcher should automatically eject the SD card, if not manually eject the SD card and remove from the computer.
  8. Etcher Flash Complete
Mac OS X
  1. Download PiAware on Raspbian Linux 3.5.0 ZIP (320MB) and save the file on your computer.
    • Clicking on the link will automatically download the file into the download folder.
  2. Go to https://etcher.io/ download the SD card writer (approx 80MB) and follow the directions to install the program.
  3. Etcher download
  4. Open Etcher.
    • The program may need to be run as administrator (control+open application)
    Etcher Icon
  5. Select the PiAware zip file.
  6. Select the correct Micro SD card USB drive carefully, the process will overwrite any data on the drive and people have lost years worth of pictures accidentally. Consider removing external hard drives and other devices to avoid accidentally overwriting the data.
    • Confirm the drive on the 'Finder' screen. The below image shows the micro SD card as 'NO NAME'.
    • NO NAME
    • Administrative privileges on the computer will be needed, sign into an administrative account if a prompt appears.
  7. Once you are sure the correct drive is chosen press 'Flash!'.
  8. After PiAware is installed Etcher should automatically eject the SD card, if not manually eject the SD card and remove from the computer.
  9. Etcher Flash Complete

3Optional: Enable Wi-Fi

If on board Wi-Fi or a USB adapter will be used to connect to the internet you will need to edit the configuration file. Etcher will automatically eject the Micro SD card after formatting, physically remove the Micro SD card or USB adapter and plug it back into the computer to edit the configuration file.

The configuration file allows the user to configure and set the following

  • Wired network
  • Wireless (WiFi) network
    • PiAware supports unencrypted networks or WPA/WPA2 encrypted networks; WEP is not supported
  • Automatic or manual updates*
  • Multilateration (MLAT) output*
  • Receiver type (RTL-SDR, Beast, Radarcape or other Mode S/ADS-B source)
  • RTL-SDR gain, PPM and device index
  • * indicates a setting that can be configured on the site's statistics page. For full configuration options see advanced configuration
Configuration File Format

The configuration file is a simple plain text format file.

Lines beginning with a “#” are comment lines and are ignored. Blank lines are also ignored. All other lines specify configuration settings.

Windows
  1. Open the Explorer program
  2. Select the Micro SD card device labeled piaware
  3. Open the file labeled piaware-config.txt
  4. The file will open in Notepad
Mac OS X
  1. Open the Finder program
  2. Select the Micro SD card device labeled piaware
  3. Open the file labeled piaware-config.txt
  4. The file will open in TextEdit

Below is the text file opened, instructions to enable Wi-Fi are in BOLD.


#
# This file configures the Piaware sdcard image
# configuration. Whenever the system boots, this
# file is read and its contents are used to
# configure the system.
#
# Lines beginning with a '#' are comment lines
# and are ignored. Blank lines are also ignored.
# All other lines specify configuration settings.
#

#
# WIRED NETWORK CONFIGURATION
#
# Should piaware use the wired ethernet port
# for network access?
wired-network yes

# Wired network configuration:
# Most networks will use DHCP
wired-type dhcp

# Alternatively, a static address configuration
# can be provided; set "wired-type" to static to use this.
wired-address 192.168.1.10
wired-netmask 255.255.255.0
wired-broadcast 192.168.1.255
wired-gateway 192.168.1.254
wired-nameservers 8.8.8.8 8.8.4.4

#
# WIRELESS NETWORK CONFIGURATION
#

# Should piaware use a wifi adaptor
# for network access? You will need to attach
# a supported USB wifi adaptor for this to work.

# change this to "yes" to enable wifi
wireless-network yes

# Wifi SSID and password.
# This should be changed to match your wireless
# network SSID and, for networks that require
# a passphrase, the passphrase.
wireless-ssid MyWifiNetwork <-----replace MyWifiNetwork with the name of your WiFi (aka the SSID of your local network)
wireless-password s3cr3t <-----replace s3cr3t with the password to your WiFi

# Wifi network configuration:
# Most networks will use DHCP
wireless-type dhcp

# Alternatively, a static address configuration
# can be provided; set "wireless-type" to static to use this.
wireless-address 192.168.1.10
wireless-netmask 255.255.255.0
wireless-broadcast 192.168.1.255
wireless-gateway 192.168.1.254
wireless-nameservers 8.8.8.8 8.8.4.4

Windows
  1. Once the file has been edited save and close Notepad
  2. Eject the Micro SD card either in My Computer by right clicking and selecting Eject
  3. piaware eject Windows 7
  4. A pop-up should appear stating it is OK to remove the SD card
  5. Windows SD card safe to remove
Mac OS X
  1. Once the file has been edited save and close TextEdit
  2. Eject the Micro SD card either in Finder using the eject icon
  3. piaware eject button MAC

4Start your PiAware device

  1. Slide the SD card (with PiAware installed) into your Raspberry Pi.
  2. Tightly plug in the antenna cable into the USB ADS-B dongle.
  3. Plug all other cables (USB power, Ethernet network, USB ADS-B dongle) into your Raspberry Pi.
  4. You should observe a solid red LED and a blinking green LED on the Raspberry Pi as well as yellow and green LEDs next to the Ethernet jack.
  5. Need additional information?
    See the Beginner Guide for more information.

5Claim your PiAware client on FlightAware.com

You should wait about four or five minutes for your PiAware to start and then you can associate your FlightAware account with your PiAware device to receive all the benefits. Once your device is running, please:

6View your ADS-B statistics

FlightAware will begin processing your data immediately and displaying your statistics within 30 minutes.View your ADS-B stats at: http://flightaware.com/adsb/stats

The FlightAware stats page will also tell you the local IP of your device and provide a link for direct connection. FlightAware's stats page is also where you will configure your site's geographical location and antenna height.

For information on the Statistics page please read the guide.

7Success!

Remember that the signals from aircraft are not designed to penetrate objects, so the antenna should be located "line of sight" to the sky with no obstructions. The most optimal installations, which are installed outdoors and on a roof, have a range of over 250mi / 400km.

Enjoy using PiAware and using FlightAware with extra features reserved exclusively for ADS-B feeders like you. Please check out the discussion forums to share your experiences or learn more.

8Optional Steps for Advanced Setup

PiAware also has instructions for many optional features such as:
  1. Antennas
  2. Expand Filesystem for large SD cards
  3. Linux password setup
  4. Access PiAware via Command Line