Setup your private ADS-B flighttracker with Raspberry Pi or Mac (Shopping List for 2020)

For about $75 we can set up our own ADS-B receiver to receive position data from nearby airplanes. For this we need a RTL2832U capable USB DVB-T stick and a Raspberry Pi or Mac. If we like, we can then share the received data with or

Flight tracking by listening to air traffic ADS-B data

Aircraft transmit static and dynamic data about themselves via ADS-B. This data includes flight numbers, course over ground, speed over ground, altitude and other data. The signals are transmitted on 1090 MHz and received by ground stations. The transmission from an aircraft is called ADS-B out. At the same time, aircraft can also receive ADS-B data from other aircraft, either from the same aircraft or from distributing ground stations. This procedure is called ADS-B (in).

In maritime radio there is a similar system, the AIS. Whether in aviation or in maritime radio, both systems support the positioning of vehicles and assist navigation beyond the capabilities of classic radar systems.

With our project we try to receive and decode as many of these ADS-B signals as possible and to visualize the received data for example in a map view.

Receiving with USB DVB-T stick

I recommend the use of a USB DVB-T stick with the chip “RTL2832U”. This chipset is supported by most available software. I myself use the “NooElec TV28T v2” (Amazon Affiliate Link).

NooElec NESDR Mini (TV28T v2) USB RTL-SDR, DVB-T und ADS-B-Empfängerset mit Antenne. RTL2832U & R820T. Kostengünstiges Software...*
  • Hervorragende Software Defined Radio-Kompatibilität mit RTL-SDR-Softwarepaketen
  • Realtek RTL2832U-Schnittstellen-IC und R820T-Tuner-IC auf USB-Dongle für eine Frequenz von 25 bis 1750 MHz +

For better signal reception, we recommend using a professional outdoor antenna such as the “AirNav ADS-B” (Amazon Affiliate Link). However, in order to connect this antenna to the mentioned USB stick, we also need an adapter between the MCX connector of the USB stick and the SMA connector of the antenna (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Special offer
AirNav ADS-B 1090 MHz Außenantenne mit SMA Anschluss*
  • Hochleistungs-ADS-B 1090 MHz Vertikalantenne mit SMA-Anschluss.
  • Verstärkung 7dBi, Impedanz 50Ω±5Ω, vertikale Polarisation

Decoding and visualization of ADS-B data on Raspberry Pi

First we need a Raspberry Pi. I recommend the current model “Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB RAM” (Amazon Affiliate Link). The reliability of the Raspberry Pi is directly related to the quality of the accessories used. Bad power supplies or overheating cause malfunctions and failures, so I recommend buying a high quality complete package including the appropriate power supply, heat sink, memory card and case (Amazon Affiliate Link).

Keine Produkte gefunden.

As software we can access different options:

  • PiAware – Ready to use image for Raspberry Pi from FlightAware
  • Dump 1090 – Decoder for ADS-B signals for the Raspberry Pi

Decoding and visualization of ADS-B data on Mac

On the Mac we can decode the data using the app “Max Planes” and visualize the planes in a map view. The app can also be downloaded directly from the Mac App Store.

All the links in this text are Amazon Affiliate Links, and by clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a percentage of your subsequent Amazon purchases. However, this circumstance does not influence the background of my product recommendation. This product recommendation is independent, honest and sincere. 

Bei allen genannten Links handelt es sich um Amazon-Affiliate-Links. Durch einen Klick auf einen Affiliate-Link werde ich prozentual an Euren darauf folgenden Amazon-Einkäufen beteiligt. Dieser Umstand beeinflusst aber nicht die Hintergründe meiner Produktempfehlung. Diese Produktempfehlung erfolgt unabhängig, ehrlich und aufrichtig.