Flight Tracker

Adventures in flight tracking - part 1

Whilst looking through the lovely Raspberry Pi goodies at Pimoroni over Christmas my eye was drawn to the DVB-T dongle which was described as being 'ideal for ADS-B (real-time plane tracking)'. For £12 (currently £10) I thought this would be nice little project to kick off 2018.

flight monitoring

Linked from the Pimoroni shop page was Alex Ellis' blog with a very detailed tutorial on setting up flight tracking by picking up ADS-B transmissions. This blog is very comprehensive and also introduced me to the world of docker. The tutorial also sets up the dump1090 application which has a great web interface which lets you view aircraft in real time.

Get eyes in the sky with your Raspberry Pi

If you are new to Docker I would defiantly do the final recommended step in the installation,

sudo usermod -G docker pi

I also found that one of the final steps didn't work (there was also a comment from someone else with the same issue)

docker logs --tail 20 -f 1090

The next stage involved setting up the
Pimoroni scrollpHAT-HD. Rather than attaching the pHAT straight to the Pi I soldered just six pins onto the pHAT and used jumper cables to attach it off the Pi.

the scrollpHAT can be installed with:

curl -sS https://get.pimoroni.com/scrollphathd | bash

The pHAT only requires the following connections.
5V power

Displaying the currently scanned flights.

I modified code from @th0ma5 http://th0ma5w.github.io which filters out the list of planes in view from data.json and prints changes to standard out. By then selecting only the characters in positions 32-39 per line and then tidying up the output I could isolate the flight numbers.

The code then reads the current list of flights into a list which then is displayed on the scrollpHAT HD. It took a little bit of tweaking to get the names to scroll enough so you could read them.