A couple of years ago I stumbled on the flightaware website and figured out you could capture radio signals from an airplane using a DVB-T dongle which can be bought for about EUR 15.

As this really triggered me to start monitoring planes above our head I bought myself such a device, hooked it up to a raspberry pi zero, installed the piaware software and started grabbing the messages and pushing the compiled positions through flightaware.

Through time I managed to upgrade my home lab towards a nomad cluster. So I migrated my piaware setup to a nomad node and wrote a nomad job file to run the docker image.

This was a great achievement in my cluster setup regarding the software. For the hardware I initially used a cheap DVB-T dongle but I wanted to get more planes and positions so I invested into better gear.

After saving enough by skipping the weekly wok days at work I ordered myself a 1090MHz ADS-B N-Type antenna in combination with the Flightaware Pro Stick Plus. To attach the two together I also got myself a 15m antenna RF coaxial cable.

As a first test setup I used a large bamboo pole which I hooked up into the garden as you can see;


The pi was placed inside of the garage and connected through the wireless network. Unfortunately I had a bad reception and installed a powerline based AP to have a stronger signal in the garage. But this setup suffered from outages from time to time. Causing the pi to lose connection and therefore many messages got lost :(

Some auto reboots every now and then solved the connectivity issues as a quick 'ducktaped' fix but I wasn't quite happy with it.

The temporary solution of the bamboo stick stood for about a year. Since I didn't wanted (neither was allowed by my girlfriend) to drill a hole through the roof. But I figured out our central heating unit has a fresh air outlet I could use to go to the roof.

So once equipped with a fancy new pole made by my brother I went for it and installed the antenna on the roof and the pi indoors attached with a network cable instead of the wifi;


I then made some time to update the docker container images I used from Mike Nye and create some pull requests. Once he merged those I upgraded my nomad job file and running on the latest available stable version of piaware in a container!

The move of the antenna together with a stable connection was a big success seen my stats increased significantly! Still the 'Klitsberg' nearby our home is blocking some signals from that direction unfortunately.. Maybe someday I could set up an antenna on top of that hill who knows.

A few days after I upgraded I figured Mike released a docker-fr24feed container image which works in tandem with the docker-piaware one. So I went for it adjusted the nomad job file and now I'm not only pushing messages towards flightaware but also towards flightradar24

Another thing I still need to figure out is the adjustment of the gain which could me bring even better statistics as today :)

Also since becoming a business member on both platforms because being a feeder could open up a way to an API I could start using to setup my wemos based plane spotter in the future!