Now and again I get to write about something that interests me — just because I can. Also, maybe someone is looking for a science project for a kid that’s at least marginally more interesting than a baking soda volcano.
As of January 2020, all aircraft flying commercial passengers and those flying in areas that require a transponder must be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast or ADS-B transmitters. If you have a receiver capable of receiving ADS-B information, you will get altitude, heading, speed, and distance of aircraft around you.
And it turns out that you can put together your own ADS-B receiver relatively inexpensively if you’re just curious about who’s up there overhead. Also, if you connect your receiver to the Internet, you can send (“feed”) this information to websites that aggregate this information.
One such site is Flightaware.com.
I’ve had my feeder site up for about about two weeks now and here’s the map it generates (which you view on a web browser) for my site here in Idaho:
And my data, along with others in Idaho, becomes what you see on Flightaware at https://flightaware.com/live/airport/KTWF .
If you’re curious how my feeder is doing, you can go to https://flightaware.com/adsb/stats/user/MarkRosneck . One of the charts you’ll find is this one that shows my range is pretty much limited to about 200 miles.
An interesting question might be “what is the theoretical range?” which might make a good science project. Here’s a discussion of how to calculate that.
OK. How do you build one of these stations? It’s actually an exercise in following instructions since Flightaware has put together a package of everything you’ll need.
There are two options — this is with the cheap antenna and this is with a much better antenna. You can also buy the various pieces on Amazon.com or eBay if you like. I’m actually using the cheap antenna.
I should probably work in some political stuff at this point. I happened to see an Omni Air International, an Oklahoma-based charter company, flight out of Seattle a few days ago. Omni is the only airline that will do “high risk deportations” for ICE. Omni was recently in the news because it took $67 million in coronavirus bailout money. Personally, I don’t know what the hubbub is about and any company that can legitimately file for this money should do so (including friends of Bill and Hillary for all I care!)