Category Archives: Projects

Building an Inexpensive ADS-B Receiving and Sharing Station

Introduction

ADS-B Aircraft Monitoring can be a fascinating hobby, allowing you to view live tracks of some nearby aircraft within a 100 miles or more in your area. Some hobbyist also like to share their data with networks that provide this information to the general public. ADS-B monitoring can be an expensive hobby with ADS-B receivers alone going in the $200 to $800 range plus the cost of a computer system to process, display aircraft positions, and possibly share the data. Thanks to recent advances is using certain inexpensive Digital Video Broadcast – Terrestrial (DVB-T) dongles as Software Defined Radios, it is now possible to create very inexpensive versions of ADS-B receivers and sharing systems. This article will show you how you can create your own complete ADS-B receiving and sharing station for less than $200. This is done using some inexpensive off the shelf computer hardware and a RTL2832U DVB-T stick. The price of this project can vary greatly depending on what you may already have on hand, what hardware options you choose, and where you shop for parts. This article will try to keep the price around $200 or less. You don’t have to be a computer expert …

ADS-B Sharing Server on a Stick (or a Pi)

Introduction
Many ADS-B hobbyist like to share data with the public. Their are several sharing services out there that one can use to do this. However, one of the draw backs of sharing data to some hobbyist is having to tie up a large, ¬†power hungry, noisy, and expensive computer to do this. Why not use a small, low power, quiet, cheap computer to do this? Well you can, with either the $35 Raspberry Pi or the $70 MK802. Both units include fanless low power ARM chips to provide the computing power you need in a tiny package. The ARM processors in the MK802 or Raspberry Pi are not very powerful, but they are plenty powerful for ADS-B data sharing. Both systems run modified versions of common Linux distributions that you will need to install. This project is more of a proof of concept and there are probably more details to be worked out depending on the type of ADS-B receiver, how it’s connected to the server (USB or IP), and the data format it sends. The testing was done with a RTL3832u as a receiver with gr-air-modes sending ADS-B data over TCP port 30003 in Kinetics SBS-1 format.…

Softrock RX TX – We have a Reciever!

After several days of working on the Softrock RX-TX kit, I have completed the receiver section of the radio kit. Initially did this did not go well. When I plugged in the rig for testing, I was getting a large ac hum right in the middle of the SDR display. I was receiving signals, but they were very weak. After changing cables and trying several SDR programs, I continued to get weak signals. Since I am using a not so fantastic antenna for 20M, I thought that was the best this radio would do, and I would just have to tune around the hum. I went back over the the receiver section several times checking my work and could not find anything obviously wrong.¬† After a couple of days, I decided to give it one last look. I suspected the problem could be in the op amp section. Under closer inspection under the giant magnifying glass, I saw a couple of pins on the op amp chip that looked a little suspicious. Often with these small ICs, the pins look like they may be soldered to the board, but they may not be making a good connection. After I re-soldered …

Building the Softrock Ensemble RX/TX SDR Radio

Bottom View of Ensemble board with the LFEA and SI570 chips installed

 

I am currently building the Softrock Ensemble RXTX SDR transceiver kits from Tony Parks KB9YIG. I will say that this is a very challenging kit. I have built previous kits from Tony Park and Elecraft and I would say this one is a real challenge. It has plenty of tiny parts, but the LFEA (aka FLEA) chip used in the 3.3 voltage USB circuit was especially interesting (to be kind) when soldering it to the board. (Click on the photo and look in the upper left corner, the LFEA is the tiny speck of black.) The SMA capacitors look terrifying, but are actually fairly easy by putting a little solder on one pad and then holding the part in place with a pair of side angle tweezers. The use the soldering iron to tack one end of the capacitor down to the pad with previously applied solder. Also WB5RVZs builders notes should be required reading.…