Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) is a surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position using an onboard navigation system and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked. The broadcasted signals can be received using the RTL-SDR, a cheaper air radar and decoded using an appropriate ADS-B decoder. It is "automatic" because it does not require an external input to be operated and "dependent" because it depends on the data from the onboard navigation system.

ADS-B operates at a frequency of 1090 MHz and the signals are vertically polarized and line of sight. I managed a decent reception of ADS-B signals with a rigid telescopic antenna that's commonly available and no better place than terrace can give you an obstacle free environment!

I used dump1090, a command-line based ADS-B decoder for the RTL-SDR, to decode the received ADS-B signals.

The following commands can be used to display/store the decoded output.

To run the program in interactive mode:

$ dump1090 --interactive

The output in the interactive window will look similar to the one shown in the picture below.

To write the output to a file:

$ dump1090 > file-name

To display the output and also write to a file:

$ dump1090 | tee file-name


Created: 2017-01-29 Sun 22:54

Emacs 25.1.1 (Org mode 8.2.10)