Simple to use ADSB Feeder Images
just) for common Single Board Computers
A Quick Start Guide to Setting Up an ADSB Feeder
This quick-start guide allows you to build a receiver and start seeing what aircraft fly above your location in no time, and at minimum expense. Each step has “minimum configuration”, and discusses some ideas on how to make it better at an additional cost or effort.
For a minimal configuration you need:
- A small single board computer (“SBC”): see the list of currently supported boards
- A good power supply for your SBC. Some of the supported boards use micro-USB (Raspberry Pi3, Libre Computer Le Potato), others use USB-C (Pi4, OrangePi boards) - either way, make sure you use an actual power supply designed for at least 2.5A and not just a USB charger. Bad power is one of the main reasons for random issues with the boards.
- A (good quality) µSD card of at least 32 Gb. The SBC will write to it often, so high quality is important. SanDisk Ultra or Samsung High Endurance appear to be good choices.
- Internet access for your SBC. At this point WiFi is only supported on Raspberry Pi 3a and 4b, all other SBCs need wired Ethernet.
- An RTL2832 SDR USB stick ("dongle"). This can be a “cheap” one.
- An antenna for the SDR dongle.
You also should have access to a computer (Windows, Mac, Linux) and an SD card writer. This will be used for the initial setup; once everything is running, you can access the flight map from your phone or pretty much any other device.
If you want to upgrade your hardware parts to something better, then consider this:
- A better/faster SBC. This will help with faster processing and it will enable running more things in parallel. For example, a Raspberry Pi 4 (with 2Gb or more memory).
- An enclosure (case) with cooling for your SBC. Cooling is important - things will get hot!
- A better quality SDR dongle, preferably one with built-in LNA and filter. For example: FlightAware Pro+ (blue), RadarBox SDR (red), ADSBExchange Blue.
- A better antenna that is mounted outside. For example, ADSBExchange vertical, FlightAware vertical, Radarbox vertical.
- A larger SD card: 64 Gb or 128 Gb. You won’t need the space, but because of the way SD cards work and how Linux writes to them, larger SD cards will have a lot longer usable life than small ones. One odd downside is that the first boot will take a lot longer on a larger card, so be prepared for that extra wait time.
For the rest of this guide we'll show an example based on a fairly cheap and basic setup using
- Libre Computer Le Potato SBC
- CanaKit micro-USB power supply
- SanDisk Ultra 32 Gb SD card
- No-name SDR
- No-name 1090 MHz “rubber duck” antenna
Step 1: Download and write the ADSB Feeder Image to the SD card
The following steps are all performed using your PC or Mac machine. The images will show how that looks on a Mac; it’s very similar in Windows:
Download the latest release for the correct board from the ADSB Feeder Image Release Page In our example we will pick the
Place the micro-SD into the SD card writer and connect it to the computer. Verify that your computer can “see” the SD card
- Use the Raspberry Pi Imager to write the
image you downloaded earlier to the SD card.
- Click Choose OS, scroll to the bottom and click Use custom.
Then select the
adsb-feeder….img.xzfile you downloaded in step 1 above.
- Back on the initial screen, click Choose Storage and select the SD card you inserted. DOUBLE CHECK THAT YOU SELECTED THE CORRECT VOLUME AS IT WILL BE ERASED/OVERWRITTEN IN THE NEXT STEPS.
- Click the cogwheel icon and set the following options. (Don’t set the hostname). Use Username “pi” for consistency and pick your own password. If needed (only supported on Raspberry Pi images), enable “Configure Wireless LAN”, and preset your SSID and Wifi password
- Now click Write and read/follow the subsequent dialog. The image will be written to the µSD card, and it will verify that it was written error-free.
- If all was written correctly, a dialog box will show that you can remove the SD card. Please do so.
- Click Choose OS, scroll to the bottom and click Use custom. Then select the
Step 2: Hardware Setup of your SBC
- First place the SD card into the slot of the SBC. Note - for most SBCs, insert the SD card upside down.
- Connect the antenna to the SDR and insert the SDR into any of the open USB slots.
- Finally, connect the power supply to the micro-USB slot and power up your SBC. The LED lights should be on now.
- Wait a few minutes for the SBC to complete it’s initial boot cycle. The larger your µSD, the longer that initial boot cycle will take. Please be patient.
Step 3: software setup of your SBC
- A few minutes after initially powering up your SBC, you should be able to browse to http://adsb-feeder.local (from a different computer - the ADS-B Feeder Image doesn't include a desktop in order to keep the image small). If this doesn’t work, try the external redirector at http://my.adsb.im/. If that fails as well, you will need to determine the local IP address from your home router or whatever device manages your network.
- Use this web-UI to configure your ADSB Feeder.
- Give it a name (used for MLAT graphs).
- Enter the physical location of the antenna (there is a link to a useful tool if you need help finding the correct latitude, longitude, and elevation).
- Enter the time zone (again, there's a button to make this straight forward).
- Select the initial set of aggregators your want to send data to.
- Click on Setup - if you have a simple setup as depicted above, you should now get forwarded to the main home page of your ADSB Feeder.