Side Projects: PiAware


This is one of those things that I didn’t know you could do, but when I found out about it, I had to do it. For a fairly low-cost (as far as a hardware project goes), you can create your own personal air traffic control system and become aware of all of the air traffic happening overhead.

Not only that, but for being a “node” on FlightAware’s network, they gift you an Enterprise Account (USD $89.95/mo value).

I purposely installed PiAware on a Raspberry Pi Zero W so that I could eventually mount it on the roof without the lightning-risk to my network. So far though, keeping the antenna in a window has given me crazy range. I’m 21.9 miles away from LAX, but on most days I can see transponder signals from all the traffic on the ground at the terminals.

Eventually I will install the antenna on the roof, but for now I’m averaging a 100+/s ADS-B message rate, which seems to be really good.

Below is the setup I’m using - I haven’t done an A/B test with/without the filter, but I originally got it because I was previously in a congested area.

The Setup

Below is all the info you need to install your own station.

From FlightAware:

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: