Raspberry PI Aircraft ID and Amazon Echo Interface

The article below describes a project using a Raspberry PI and a radio receiver dongle to pick up aircraft related information broadcasts and use that to identify nearby passing aircraft traffic. It then makes the information available using an Alexa skill and voice queries.


This was actually a pretty straightforward job. The first step was to make two new electronics purchases (not including my Echo Dot):

Raspberry Pi (~$35)
RTL-SDR USB Dongle (~$20)
The dongle is essentially a radio receiver for your computer that can pick up most unencrypted radio broadcasts. These broadcasts can range from police chatter to weather data, but the relevant broadcasts here come in a format called ADS-B, which stands for Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast. Airplanes continuously send out ADS-B messages to share important info like position, velocity and callsign with air traffic control as well as other planes.
By plugging the dongle into the raspberry pi (and placing by a window with an unobstructed view), and with the help of some open source software, the Pi can be turned into a cheap ADS-B decoder/server!

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