ADS-B decoding on an AR.Drone


"Cheap ADS-B on Amateur Drones":

Get a head start on the NASA Centennial Challenge's ADS-B requirements by plugging a $20 USB dongle into your drone and tracking nearby aircraft:

  1. Start with an AR.Drone (or other ARM-based amateur drone).
  2. Buy a $30 USB dongle.  See the rtl-sdr wiki for recommendations.
  3. Compile and install the dump1090 Mode S/ADS-B decoder software with my easy-to-use cross-compiler setup: ardrone-dump1090-cross-compiler
  4. Plug in the receiver.

And now you're decoding packets:


ADS-B sense-and-avoid is seen as critical to integrating unmanned aircraft into the National Air Space, and this is the beginning of a cheap "sense" solution.  Next up: "avoid".

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  • Veikko: Yes, see for an example of someone decoding AIS.

  • Admin

    Most of things in this life can be subverted but that should not make us miss good things :)

    I had Kinetic-Avionic SBS-1 for some time and had fun but gave it away :((. Now searching for the dongle that can do this :(=)

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  • Well done!

  • Nice! congrats.

  • Moderator

    Ahem lets not forget 30 quads flying 1000' below one of the busiest approach paths in the world at night in London just last week. DSA is a bit of an FAA red herring. Lots of useful work could be happening in the USA within VLOS. 

  • A key technology that will need to be incorporated for safe integration of unmanned flight.

  • No idea.  The RTL-SDR can be tuned to 978 MHz, but I don't know of any available UAT decoding software.

  • Developer

    Are you sure this would fulfill the nasa requirements.  Most GA planes don't transmit this data and all planes are moving to UAT I think?  It seems like this only supports the 1090MHz mode-s stuff...

  • Lloyd: Yes.  Just change the sign on your error function...  More seriously, maybe it's time to add security to ADS-B, though it's not obvious to me how to do that and still have it be useful.

    Richard: Thanks for the link, I had missed that.

    Kevin: I was toying with the idea, but I'm completely unfamiliar with the PX4 code, so I say, go for it!

  • Developer

    Super cool!  John - are you planning on PX4motizing/adding to aruplane?  If not, I could help out with that...  I Already have the sw modem.

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