Being a Feeder
Setting Up Feeding
Being a Feeder
How do the statistics work? (Back to top)
Every 15 minutes, FlightAware analyzes the ADS-B data received by different feeders and provides contribution statistics using a variety of different metrics.
What are the benefits to me of feeding data to FlightAware? (Back to top)
Users sending ADS-B data to FlightAware will see live (non-delayed) data, see their data highlighted on FlightAware tracklogs, see additional information on ADS-B from elsewhere, receive custom statistics
and more information on ADS-B sites around the world. As a thank you for your contribution, FlightAware offers a free Enterprise Account
(USD$89.95/mo value) to users who share their data with us.
If you have ADS-B data or are interested in receiving it, FlightAware is the best partner for sharing your data with the world and being recognized for your contribution. FlightAware will aggregate your positions with dozens of available sources to share with millions of users. And if your feed is enabled for MLAT, you will be able to see all your local MLAT plots using the "Skyview" link on your My ADS-B statistics page (get to it by clicking the "My ADS-B" link at the top of any FlightAware web page).
What are the benefits to everyone of feeding data to FlightAware? (Back to top)
Millions of people around the world use FlightAware and your contribution improves the experience of individuals tracking flights in your corner of the world.
Where do I see data that I submitted on FlightAware.com? (Back to top)
Your data will be incorporated across the free FlightAware.com web site and mobile apps. To see what flights your receiver helped FlightAware track view the chart "FLIGHTS WITH POSITIONS FROM THIS FEEDER ON FLIGHTAWARE.COM WITHIN THE LAST 24 HOURS" at the bottom of your site's stats page. To view specific positions from your receiver navigate to the flight page and click (View Track Log
) for a breakdown of each position and the source. Positions from your receiver will be in bold and with your username next to them (the username is currently only visible to you).
To find a flight, either type in an identifier of a flight you know is in the vicinity, or look up an airport nearby to find flights in the vicinity.
What if my PlanePlotter receiver code changes? (Back to top)
Once you have your new code, you can simply register the new code with FlightAware.
. Within an hour, FlightAware combine the statistics
from both of your receiver codes on the user ranking. The site (receiver) stats will automatically reflect the change over time.
Does my name have to appear on the ADS-B statistics page? (Back to top)
No. The ADS-B statistics pages
will honor your account setting. You can edit your name display settings on the account management page
or on your stats page in the control panel (click on the gear icon) to display your username or your full name. Alternately, if you don't register your receiver, no name will be displayed.
What if my IP address changes? (Back to top)
If you are using PlanePlotter, FlightFeeder, or PiAware then it does not matter if your IP address changes. We will handle the new address automatically. Within an hour, FlightAware will combine the statistics
from all of your IP addresses on the user ranking. The site (receiver) stats will automatically reflect the change over time.
Why do my statistics totals sometimes decrease? (Back to top)
Our ADS-B Statistics leaderboard pages
show the total number of aircraft and positions that we have received for the last 30 days only.
Data older than 30 days is stored but just not included on leaderboards in order to emphasize the importance of ongoing data feeding and make it easier for new users to be represented.
Since we internally store statistics data on a 24-hour time period, the 31st day of data will be wholly subtracted from your 30 days' total starting at 00:00 UTC causing a decrease in the total. However, as the UTC day progresses and you continue to submit data, that total will gradually increase until 00:00 UTC of the next day and the new 31st day of data is subtracted.
Why are some flights blocked? (Back to top)
FlightAware is subject to a number of government laws and regulations surrounding the distribution of flight data. In many cases, sensitive (e.g., military) flights are not available for tracking as well as private aircraft whose owners have opted out of public flight tracking.
FlightAware users and customers who share data with FlightAware may be able to track these flights on their own equipment, independent of FlightAware.
You can read more about blocked tail numbers
How does FlightAware prioritize overlapping ADS-B data? (Back to top)
When FlightAware is receiving overlapping data from multiple sources, FlightAware's feed interpreter will choose the position from the most reliable available source that also allows positions to be evenly spaced in time.
Does FlightAware do multilateration (MLAT)? (Back to top)
FlightAware currently tracks non-ADS-B aircraft via multilateration
(MLAT) if the aircraft is in the proximity of four or more ADS-B ground stations (FlightFeeder or PiAware).
Can I access a streaming ADS-B data feed from FlightFeeder or PiAware? (Back to top)
Yes, FlightFeeders and PiAware supports TCP connections to the following ports for data access:
- 30002 for raw/unparsed messages in AVR format
- 30003 for parsed messages in BaseStation format
- 30005 for raw/unparsed messages in Beast binary format
- 30105 for multilateration results (only) in Beast binary format (for FlightFeeders, the device must be running 7.x or newer software)
- 30106 for multilateration results (only) in extended BaseStation format (for FlightFeeders, the device must be running 7.x or newer software)
Additionally, the following data input ports are available for PiAware devices:
- 30104 for injecting raw messages in Beast binary format (messages will be forwarded to PiAware, shown on the local map and forwarded to port 30005 but multilateration results will not be forwarded to PiAware or port 30005)
- 30004 for injecting raw messages in Beast binary format (identical functionality to port 30104 but exists for backwards compatibility)
Can I view my local data? How do I see my local data from my PiAware or FlightFeeder? (Back to top)
If you’re using PiAware or are hosting one of our FlightFeeders, you can see your local data using the "Skyview" link from the My ADS-B statistics page. And, if your feed is enabled for MLAT you will be able to see all your local MLAT plots.
Click the "My ADS-B" link at the top of any FlightAware web page to get to your statistics page. Then click on the "Skyview" option to view the local map and aircraft list.
How can I get a FlightFeeder? (Back to top)
FlightFeeders are provided for free to areas without current FlightAware ADS-B coverage.
Simply request a FlightFeeder
to get started.
Within a few days, FlightAware will reply requesting more information if coverage is needed in your area, and if coverage is not needed information on where parts can be purchased to build one yourself.
Is FlightFeeder compatible with other software programs? (Back to top)
FlightFeeder is compatible with virtually all existing ADS-B software packages like PlanePlotter and BaseStation. Users can connect to their FlightFeeder over their LAN to receive all data. Users can also choose to view flight data on the FlightAware.com web site.
For newer FlightFeeders (2016 forward), decoded data is also available on port 30005 for other applications such as PlanePlotter and Virtual Radar Server.
How much power does FlightFeeder use? (Back to top)
A FlightAware FlightFeeder uses 2.5 A @ 5.1 V, less power than a night light.
How much Internet bandwidth does FlightFeeder use? (Back to top)
FlightFeeder bandwidth depends on how dense the airspace is in your area and how much coverage you achieve with your setup (based on such factors as antenna location, antenna height, line-of-sight obstructions, etc.). If your site is enabled to MLAT then that will increase the required bandwidth. Broadband Internet is not required.
Typical sites will use around 1-5 kilobits per second of bandwidth and up to approximately 300 megabytes per month.
Can I share data from the FlightFeeder with other sites? (Back to top)
Sure! FlightAware encourages the sharing of all available ADS-B data for maximum collaboration and sharing within the community. However we ask that MLAT data not be used for commercial purposes.
Does FlightFeeder support Multilateration (MLAT)? (Back to top)
FlightAware currently tracks non-ADS-B aircraft via multilateration
(MLAT) if the aircraft is in the proximity of four or more ADS-B ground stations (FlightFeeder or PiAware).
Local access to MLAT data for flights received by your FlightFeeder is dependent on the version of the software on your FlightFeeder device. If your FlightFeeder device is not updated for MLAT, please contact us
What is the blue LED? (Back to top)
During Boot-up the receiver will turn on the blue LED if the antenna is connected. This indicates that the receiver is powered and receiving the transponder data.
Once the system is booted (after 1 minute) the blue light should turn off. This indicates that the transponder data is being processed.
If the blue light never turns on then the receiver is not working or the antenna is not picking up any transponder data.
If I have a FlightFeeder Orange, what does the information on the status screen mean? (Back to top)
On the FlightFeeder Orange status screen you will see something like:
Messages (passed crc) 45
Signal level -5.4
Signal clipped count (overloaded) 349
A Message is one packet of information sent from a plane. This message might or might no have a plane position in it.
The Message count is based on total number of possible messages that are seen. They might not be real messages but they look like real messages.
The Messages that pass all integrity checks are considered good data and are sent to FlightAware. This is your real message rate.
Signal level is in dB full scale (0 means high power and -40dB means very low power detected). In this case it is an average power level of all real messages. 0 means it is overloading the circuit and is similar to how turning up an audio amplifier will begin to distort and clip the sound when set too high. A lower power level means a weaker signal from either the plane being farther away or from sending low powered antenna. You can read more about signal strength
The overload count is just the count of messages that are within a couple dB from 0. The system might or might not be able to decode and validate these.
If you are interested in the dBFS for one plane you can see it on the local web page map. Connect to the webpage (get the link from your ADSB stats page if you need it; click the "My ADS-B" link at the top of any FlightAware web page) and click on a plane. The details of the plane are in the top right corner. You will see a dBFS for that individual plane.
What open ports or firewall rules do I need to share data from my FlightFeeder? (Back to top)
If you have an older FlightFeeder (from 2015 or before):
- FlightFeeders use dynamic addressing. At startup and periodically afterwards they request an IP address, netmask and default gateway from a DHCP server on the local network.
- FlightFeeders do not support setting a fixed IP address, netmask or default gateway or DNS server addresses.
- FlightFeeders are preconfigured to use Google DNS for DNS lookups at 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52.
- FlightFeeders will need to communicate to FlightAware:
- HTTPS on port 443
- TCP on port 2222
- TCP on port 7912
- Additionally FlightFeeders may make DNS requests on port 53 and http/https requests to other sites in the event a software update is performed.
If you have a newer FlightFeeder (supplied from year 2016 forward), the FlightFeeder needs to be able to make the following outbound connections from your local network to the Internet:
- UDP port 1194 or TCP port 443 outgoing to ovpn-1.hou.flightaware.com
- TCP port 443 outgoing to flightaware.com
- TCP port 1200 outgoing
- UDP to a port in the range 4999-9999 outgoing
Can I connect a FlightFeeder to my local network using WiFi? (Back to top)
Yes, if you have a FlightFeeder Orange, then this may be done via the touchscreen interface. The FlightFeeder supports open or WPA encrypted WiFi networks.
If you have an older version FlightFeeder (hardware version 7 or older), you may attach a USB WiFi dongle. The external dongle may be configured by inserting a USB drive dongle with a flightfeeder-config.txt file containing the configuration statements needed. The configuration file format is the same as PiAware 3.x advanced configuration
and you may download a sample flightfeeder-config.txt
as a starting point. The supported WiFi dongles are the same as the dongles supported by PiAware
The USB drive dongle containing the config file will need to be connected to the FlightFeeder every time it boots in order for the the FlightFeeder to connect to Wifi.
Can I set a fixed/static IP address for the FlightFeeder? (Back to top)
Yes, if you have a FlightFeeder Orange, then this may be done via the touchscreen interface.
On any FlightFeeder running 7.x software you may configure the IP address by inserting a USB drive dongle with a flightfeeder-config.txt file containing the configuration statements needed. The configuration file format is the same as PiAware 3.x advanced configuration
For what is the HDMI port used? (Back to top)
Newer hardware versions of the FlightFeeder have an HDMI
port. The HDMI port provides the ability to connect an external monitor or TV to the FlightFeeder via an HDMI cable. Connecting to a FlightFeeder via HDMI is not
required to use a FlightFeeder. The HDMI port will output basic operational status information from the FlightFeeder.
Which external USB WiFi dongles are supported by the FlightFeeder? (Back to top)
My FlightFeeder is not online. How can I troubleshoot it? (Back to top)
If you have a FlightFeeder Orange then you can use the touchscreen to review the device status and network settings. Ensure that your FlightFeeder has an IP address on your local network and can connect to the Internet on the necessary ports
If you have a FlightFeeder without a touchscreen display then you will need to attach an HDMI display to the HDMI port on the side of the FlightFeeder. When an external monitor is attached, the FlightFeeder will display status information which you may use to troubleshoot the device.
You can also choose to look up the device's IP address through your router and then input the IP address into a browser to see status information.
Please contact our support team
if you are having trouble so that we can assist.
What is ADS-B? (Back to top)
ADS-B stands for Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast. It is a cooperative surveillance technology for tracking aircraft. The aircraft determines its own position via GNSS and periodically broadcasts this via a radio frequency.
For more information on ADS-B, consult WIkipedia.
What is Mode S? (Back to top)
Mode S, or mode select, a data packet protocol used by transponders on board aircraft. It can be used to augment air traffic control transponder positioning equipment.
Why isn't there coverage in my area? (Back to top)
FlightAware only has coverage where we have installed a receiver or a user is feeding their data to FlightAware. If there is no coverage, you should read about adding coverage
Keep in mind that the coverage map only shows ADS-B coverage; FlightAware has many different data sources worldwide that may use non-ADS-B tracking and provide flight tracking coverage.
How large is the coverage area for an ADS-B site? (Back to top)
The coverage is line-of-sight between the antenna and the airplane. That means that coverage at higher altitude is much greater than at lower altitude.
The distance of coverage varies based on the installation. FlightAware's experience is that it ranges from 100mi / 160km for a small antenna next to a window and can be up to 300mi / 480km for a large antenna on a mast.
Why is the airport for my feeder wrong? (Back to top)
Some of the feeders that we support do not transmit the location of the feeder itself so FlightAware attempts to estimate the latitude/longitude based on the average positions of the aircraft being detected. From that estimated location, we pick the nearest airport and display that as the location of the receiver. Since a receiver can receive aircraft positions from an area that is up to hundreds of miles wide, this might pick another nearby airport that is not quite the closest one to you. However, this has no impact on the data and does not affect the accuracy of flight tracking in any way.
Where can I find previous ADS-B Network Newsletters? (Back to top)
Why are automatic or manual updates disabled for my PiAware? (Back to top)
There are two flags on the PiAware machine - an auto-update flag and a manual-update flag. They can be set on the PiAware using the piaware-config command-line program.
See section 2 of the PiAware for dump1090 installation guide
for more information.
How does PiAware work? (Back to top)
You can read about that on our About PiAware
page which includes a diagram showing the data flow and communication ports used.
How can I add an LCD screen to my PiAware? (Back to top)
FlightAware does not offer support for LCD screens on PiAware due to the complexity of the unique drivers that are required for each LCD screen. If you want to use an LCD screen, we suggest getting one with HDMI or Display Port connectivity (however, again, we do not officially support this). The official Raspberry Pi screen
is generally the easiest one to use because it is a Display Port connected LCD and doesn’t require extra drivers.
What is the login and password to access a PiAware device created from the PiAware disk image? (Back to top)
Note: This is only for advanced users. FlightAware does not provide support for customized installations. Login: pi Password: flightaware
Which external USB wifi dongles are supported by PiAware? (Back to top)
PiAware includes all the default wifi drivers of Raspbian plus a few extra. We suggest that you get a name brand dongle which have the best range and warranties. In some cases they are also the cheapest.
The two we recommend are the Edimax EW-7811 and the TP-link N150 (TL-WN725N). These are very stable, great range, and don't draw too much power.
Most of the major chipset are also supported. These include wifi chips by Atmel, Atheros, Broadcom, Intel WiMax, IWlegacy, Marvell libertas, Ralink, RealTek, Ti and ZyDas.
How do I configure my PiAware to connect to a WiFi network? (Back to top)
To what hostnames does a PiAware need to be able to connect outbound from my local network? (Back to top)
If you are whitelisting hostnames, then you will need to allow piaware.flightaware.com and that will handle all of the communication to FlightAware.
Please also note that for things like time synchronization and OS updates, the PiAware will need to connect to other sites. Time sync is via pool.ntp.org by default (but if you supply an NTP server via DHCP then that should override). OS updates need archive.raspberrypi.org and mirrordirector.raspbian.org.
There are numerous IP addresses associated with each of these hostnames so we do not recommend attempting to whitelist by IP address. FlightAware does not control hostnames or IP addresses for third party sites.
What are the log and output files for PiAware? (Back to top)
System Log file is located at /var/log/syslog
Piaware Log file is located at /var/log/piaware.out
Piaware Status files located at /var/run/piaware/
Aircraft tracking output is located at /var/run/dump1090-fa/
Lightttpd webpage root is located at /var/www/html/
How can I move my PiAware data feeder to a different Raspberry Pi device while keeping my existing statistics site? (Back to top)
You must explicitly configure the unique "feeder ID" that your feeder will use. If you can move the existing SD card to the new device then you do not need to do anything special. If you want to move your feeder ID to a new installation of PiAware:
- Your new installation must be on the latest PiAware software. If it is not, upgrade it first.
- Find the existing feeder ID that you want to use. You can find this either as the “Site Identifier” on the site page at flightaware.com/adsb/stats/user/yourusername, or from the PiAware logs in /var/log/piaware.log on your existing install. The identifier looks like a series of dash-separated hex digits: 12345678-1234-1234-1234-123456789abc.
- Configure the feeder ID on the new system by running this command on the Pi: piaware-config feeder-id 12345678-1234-1234-1234-123456789abc
- Restart piaware by running this command on the Pi: sudo systemctl restart piaware
Setting Up Feeding
How can I feed data to FlightAware? (Back to top)
It's easy. Simply visit the FlightAware ADS-B Overview
page and select your device/software platform.
If you don't currently process ADS-B, read about the hardware options from FlightAware.
What hardware is supported? (Back to top)
In addition to the FlightAware ADS-B appliance (FlightFeeder), the following devices are actively supported:
Raspberry Pi with RTL-SDR dongle
AirNav Systems RadarBox
RxControl Mode-S receiver
If you have other hardware, please contact us to discuss
What do I do after I've started sending live data? (Back to top)
How can I improve the reception and amount of data being received by my ADS-B receiver? (Back to top)
There are a number of ways (ranging from easy to more complex) to dramatically improve the range of your receiver. Following these steps could increase your range from 100mi / 160km up to 300mi / 480km.
- Ensure that your antenna wiring run is as short as possible and that your connectors are screwed in tightly.
- Move the antenna away from metal objects, other antennas, or sources of RF interference such as computers, microwaves, and fluorescent lights.
- Consider purchasing a high quality filter. We recommend the FlightAware ADS-B 1090MHz Band-pass SMA Filter, which is available for $19.95.
- If your antenna is inside, consider moving it outside and/or on top of your building/structure. The higher the installation, the better.
- Consider purchasing a higher quality antenna. We recommend the FlightAware 1090MHz ADS-B Antenna, which is available for $44.95.
- Use as few coax cable connectors/adapters as practical since each connector reduces the signal strength.
- The cable run from the antenna to the receiver should be 15 m or less of high quality 50 ohm coax (Ecoflex 10, Ecoflex 15, Westflex W103, H100, LDF250, LDF450, or LMR600 are recommended)
How do I get a free PlanePlotter license? (Back to top)
What Planeplotter settings do I need to connect to a FlightFeeder? (Back to top)
In Options -> input/output settings
set the checkbox for Mode-S/ADS-B and either
Beast receiver TCP
RTL > RPi+Dump1090 (they use the same format)
Open up the dialog box in
Options -> Mode-S receiver -> Beast Or dump1090
set the IP port to the FlightFeeder IP and port 30005
start plane plotter
How do I know if I should use the external filter? (Back to top)
The simple rule is if you live in an urban environment use a filter, if you live in a non-urban environment then you will need to perform the following test. Test the filter by using it for at least 24 hours and then removing the filter for the same length of time and check if your stats improve. However weather or aircraft traffic can skew the results and you may need to test the unit for a longer time frame such as a week.