Turns out that aircraft blat out more than just their positions.
They also send a lot of short messages that anyone can receive and to some extent decode and make some sense of.
This has been keeping me busy for the past month or so. Been really enjoying being distracted from other things, and my love of all things aircraft gets a good dose of love.
The fact that I also use Node-RED to decode the messages is also very helpful as I needed a project to dive deeper into it.
I started off with the freely available acrsdeco2 program and the real power of this program is that you can run remote instances of it and have it feed into a central server.
I sent a Raspberry Pi and two receivers to my mate in Phoenix and have his data added to what I can pick up. The net results is that we have pretty much the whole area now covered with just the two receivers. More would be good and we will look at adding a few more in due course, but for now, the two systems working as one does the job.
From there I added Node-RED. Doing a ton of reading got a lot of the abbreviations entered into the system and then I started filtering out the boring positions reports. I split off the airborne weather reports and engine reports.
I then added several displays that showed this filtered and partly decoded information.
The flow is by far and away the most complex I have done.
If you would like to watch the messages, you can, just hit up the resulting node-RED dashboard; http://thebaldgeek.net:2880/ui/#/0
The top line is just helpful data for me to see how much data we are handling. Some quick links to other parts of the system and weather stations at each location are included.
Next is heavily filtered messages. At times I can see more than 1 message a second and they scroll past too fast to read, so I do some heavy filtering to slow the interesting stuff down.
Next is an aircraft call sign filter. If you want to follow a specific aircraft, this is the tool to use.
Next is the raw message. This way you can just what we are working with.
Below that is a way to stop/ start the raw lightly decoded messages.
Then you have the real interesting stuff. It is the result of the filter and should be interesting enough that we email it to a few of the guys and myself.
Below that, the reports and a table of last seen (heard) aircraft.
All in all, fascinating stuff.