I recently gave a presentation on Software Defined Radio (SDR) at my hackerspace in Chicago, Pumping Station: One.  I've attached the slides to this blog post for reference.  After the talk, someone told me they had seen a program that maps out airplanes flying in one's area based on data received via Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) on 1090 MHz.   After a search, I found dump1090 which works with cheap DVB-T USB sticks with certain Realtek chipsets thanks to the rtl-sdr library


dump1090 by Salvatore Sanfilippo


a simple Mode S decoder for RTLSDR devices

Here is how I built rtl-sdr on BeagleBone Black which is running Angstrom on eMMC:

opkg update

opkg install libusb-1.0-dev

git clone git://git.osmocom.org/rtl-sdr.git


I have further details of installation process in this GitHub Gist:



After installing, test if the USB adapter is recognized:

root@beaglebone:~# rtl_eeprom

Found 1 device(s):

0: Generic RTL2832U OEM

Using device 0: Generic RTL2832U


Found Rafael Micro R820T tuner


Here is how I installed dump1090:

git clone git://github.com/antirez/dump1090

cd dump1090/

export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig/ 



Next edit the html for the web interface so that your location is displayed on the map:

vi gmap.html


To the program:

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH="/usr/local/lib/:${LD_LIBRARY_PATH}"

./dump1090 --interactive --net


You will then see ADS-B data start to fill the screen assuming you are nearby any flights.  I live in Chicago near O'Hare so I see a lot of traffic:



dump1090 also runs a web server on port 8080 which displays the flights atop Google Maps:



You can find out more details for each individual flight from websites like http://flightradar24.com/:



Here is a video of my setup in action:


Watching airplanes with Adafruit SDR on BeagleBone