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  • Satellite Dish

    This page is out of date.
    Please go to my GitHub site: https://thebaldgeek.github.io/

    After much back and forth between Freddy and myself, we settled on a dish.
    I needed a 6 foot, she said 4 foot, so we bought a 5 foot, that way neither of us got what we wanted.

    Unfortunately, the guys website with the most information is currently down, so I cant link you to it… But the short of it is aircraft tracking.
    There is a geostationary satellite that re-transmits aircraft positions for aircraft over the oceans. The sat I am going to tune into is over Hawaii and so will get aircraft over the Pacific. It should pick up data from planes that are entering my current system so is perfect.

    We will be moving from the middle of the lawn where I put it together into the garden where it should hopefully be less obvious over the weekend.
    Once there we will need to align it and then tune into the data stream.
    All of which sounds a lot easier than I expect it to be.
    The data comes in bursts, so its going to be hard to find and tune into.
    More details to come…. But enough to say, I have been looking forward to this project for about 3 years.

  • Long Endurance

    Airbus have been testing a long endurance ‘aircraft’ in the backblocks of Arizona, my system has been tracking it.

    We have been tracking it the whole time, its just that its right on the edge of coverage of one of my systems, so every now and then it drops out, but picks up again, but resets my flight timer.
    Point is, I only track the flight in bits, not a total time. I think the longest I have seen it is one whole day.
    If you are looking for it, it’s the aircraft labeled ‘Kelleher’ and its over the Yuma Proving Grounds.

    Very cool.


    UPDATE! I am writing up instructions and Node-RED flow code on my GitHub page: https://thebaldgeek.github.io/

    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.