If you’re not familiar with Flightradar24, you should be! It’s a fantastic service that tracks flights all over the world using ADS-B data. You can track ADS-B using a Raspberry Pi and send the data automatically to Flightradar24. In return for your service they will give you a $499 professional business subscription for FREE to access all of their data and services. That’s win-win.
Tracking ADS-B Using a Raspberry Pi for Flightradar24 is also fun! With a Mini DVB-T Digital TV USB Dongle connected to your Pi and some free and open source software you can track flights up to about 275 miles from your home (or location of the antenna). Of course that depends on a lot of variable such whether you have radiant barrier in your attic or other structures that block radio signals near by such as tall office buildings. Line of site without obstructions is always the best location.
To help you get started, here’s a quick parts list for this project:
- Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
- Micro-SD Memory Card
- Raspberry Pi Power Supply
- Raspberry Pi Case
- Mini DVB-T Digital TV USB Dongle
ADS-B Using a Raspberry Pi Flightradar24
So let’s walk through the steps of setting up a Raspberry Pi to capture ADS-B and transmit it to FlightRadar24. It’s even easier than you might think!
Get a Flightradar24 Account
First things first, you’re going to need a free Flightradar24 account. For now just sign up for the free account. It’s all you need to get started.
Install the Flightradar Pi24 Image on your Micro-SD Card
There are two ways to install Flightradar24 services on your Raspberry Pi. The first way is by far the simplest, and that’s to install the Flightradar Pi24 image on your Micro-SD card and just boot your Raspberry Pi from the image. We’ll cover this method first. If you already have a Raspberry Pi running Raspian and just want to install the Flightradar24 services, skip to the next section.
Step 1: Download the latest Pi24 image from Flightradar24.
Step 2: Download and install Balena Etcher on your Mac or PC if you don’t already have it. Etcher is the simplest way to flash your Micro-SD card. There’s even a version for Linux desktops too!
RELATED ARTICLE: Boot a Raspberry Pi without an SD Card
Open Ethcher and select the image you downloaded from Flightradar24.
Now select your micro-SD card as the destination drive.
And finally, click the ‘Flash!’ button to begin the imaging process. Balena Etcher is free, so it will show you some advertisements in the window while the flash in progress.
Step 3: Eject the newly Pi24 imaged micro-SD card from your computer, place it in your Raspberry Pi and boot it up! We’re almost ready to track ADS-B using a Raspberry Pi!
Step 4: Make sure you have an Ethernet cable attached to your Raspberry Pi and connected to your network router or switch (you can also connect it to your Wi-Fi network.
Step 5: Open a new terminal window and enter the following command:
sudo fr24feed --signup
Now skip to passed the next section to the Flighradar24 configuration section of this article to proceed!
Installing FlightRadar24 on an existing Install of Raspbian
If you’d prefer not to use the Pi24 Flightradar24 image and instead install Flightradar24 services on Raspbian yourself, just follow these simple steps.
Step 1: Enter the following command to install the required Flightradar24 services.
sudo bash -c "$(wget -O - http://repo.feed.flightradar24.com/install_fr24_rpi.sh)"
Step 2: You will be asked some questions by the Flightradar install, proceed to the next section before answering them.
Configuring Flightradar24 on the Raspberry Pi
Now we’re ready to start configuring the Flightradar24 services on your Pi.
Email Address: This will of course be the email address you signed up to the Flightradar24 website.
FR24 Key: Since this is our first time using Flightradar24, we won’t have a key. Leave this blank.
MLAT Calculations: You will answer yes for this question.
Latitude & Longitude: You will need to enter the Latitude and Longitude of your location. If you don’t know it, you can find it using this site.
Altitude: You need to enter your altitude. For Flightradar to have accurate results we need to know how far above sea-level we are. If you don’t know your altitude, you can find it using this site.
Receiver Selection: Select 1, since we’re using the DVB-T USB stick.
Dump1090 Arguments: Leave this question blank.
Raw Data Feed: Enter no here.
Basestation data feed: Enter no here.
Logfile mode: Select 48-hour, 24 rotation for this question.
Logfile path: Leave this blank and press enter.
Finishing the Flightradar24 Setup
Now that we’ve completed the questions, its time finish the configuration and start sending data.
Step 1: You’ll be presented with a Flightradar24 sharing key. Write this key down. You may need it in the future.
Step 2: We’re ready to start tracking ADS-B Using a Raspberry Pi, so let’s turn on the data feed using the following command:
sudo systemctl restart fr24feed
You can verify this worked and check the status using the following status command. You should also be able to see your feed show up in the data sharing page on the Flightradar24 website.
To see the local status of your Pi24, just go to its web page by browsing to it in your browser. If you don’t know the IP address of your Pi24 you can get it by typing Hostname -I in a terminal window. In my case its http://192.168.1.105/
That’s all there is to it! You’re now sharing flight data with the Flightradar24 service on your own custom built Pi24 box! Congratulations and welcome to the team!
Feel free to leave a comment below with your results!