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Build an ADS-B receiver using your old Android phone

Your mobile ADS-B station can run FlightAware's Android software to track flights within 50-300 miles (line of sight, range depending on antenna) and will automatically feed data to FlightAware. You can track flights directly off your Android device with the FlightFeeder app or via ( More...

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The bad thing is, that the android phone must have at least Android 4 with OTG support. Next drawback is, that almost all Adnroid phones supporting OTG are not able to use their USB port as OTG to talk to the rx dongla AND charge the phone at the same time. A usb-y cable does not really solve as the restriction still is ther. the only thing is, that the usb-dongle can be provided with power from an external source and the phones battery will stand some mor time before it must be recharged...

so this is something to play with but not a permanent solution...
just my two cents
bkhall 4
Marcus, you've correctly identified the challenges with our Android app. We're aware that even though the Android OS may support OTG, sometimes the device manufacturer will disable it. It's also true that charging while using OTG is not normal.

There's nothing we can do about a device that doesn't support OTG, but the charge-while-using-OTG problem is solvable. So let's focus on that. There are probably nine ways to do it, but here are four that I've tested personally, ordered least to most costly.

1. makes a modified y-cable that DOES charge while using OTG. They make one for Samsung and Sony devices. The Samsung cable works on my Asus Nexus 7 too.
2. You can use a wireless charging pad/receiver combo with a normal OTG y-cable. The charging pad will charge the device and the OTG y-cable will power the dongle.
3. You can use a powered USB hub to power the dongle and the wireless charging pad together and then plug the data out port of the hub into the Android device.
4. You can use a multimedia dock. This dock supports charging and OTG together.

Keep in mind that our target use-case is an Android device that is NOT your primary device. Using the app on your primary device will be cumbersome for you and will get us only small data sets, although we'll take anything we can get.

Consider our PiAware devices. It's something you setup once and leave running. It also costs more for you to buy all the pieces, and requires some technical know-how to finish the setup. Cell phones today are every bit as capable as the Raspberry Pi. So we thought we would target a user base that already has an old cell phone, doesn't want to bother with all the technical details of PiAware, and spend less money.
Hi Baron, thanks for the hints with the "special" OTG cables. I will definitely have a look into these...
I already have three raspberries and one is feeding data with piaware received with a dvb-t dongle ;-) It is also receiving noaa weather satellite images (with a different rx), collecting data from my weatherstation at home and feeding a live picture all 5 minutes to my web page...
But with a working charge&otg solution I could reuse my old tablet for a panoramic receiver to display radio activities on HF bands like a spectrum analyser.
bkhall 1
The shopping list on the page for this topic has links to most what I listed above. The thing that is missing is the wireless charging pad/receiver combo. Some newer Android devices have the receiver already built-in, in which case you'll just need the charging pad to set it on. My Nexus 7 works this way.

Anyway, eBay is loading with them - search for "qi wireless charger" if you want to go that route.
What about a tablet running 3.2 with a regular size usb (host) like the Acer A500 very popular 3-4 yrs ago. Qyite cheap now if you can find one. My 2C.
bkhall 1
OTG is supported in 3.2. The true test is whether the manufacturer disabled it or not. Go to the link for this topic. One if the steps has a way to test that.
Joe Willett 1
Is it possible with on iphone 4? or 4s?
dbaker 1
The application requires the USB interface on Android, so it's not currently possible with iPhones. If you have an iPhone and are looking for a way to build an ADS-B receiver, check out PiAware:
chalet 1
How much would all the hardware cost and since I am not an electronics wizzard I would need one to assemble it make it work, how much more I am talking her.
dbaker 2
Under $75 if you already have an Android.
Rob Bergman 1
You don''t even need an old phone for this. Using dongles like described (yes they come ready to go), there are plenty of programs that run on a Windows or Linux pc/laptop. Not specificly the flightaware app, but others.
From the headline I assumed it was the phone that would pick up the 1080MHz signal and process it.
Google the dongle name (or RTL-SDR) for more info and check Ebay for the prices (my guess is $20 for a dongle)
dbaker 2
Rob, you're right, and we offer various solutions -- this is just a new one.
Mike Danielak 1
There are some Android dongles that should work you can get for less than $50. They look like an USB dongle, but they have an HDMI port instead. They basically turn a TV into what looks like an Android tablet without a touch screen (you can use an USB wireless keyboard or mouse). That way you wouldn't need an old phone and it could remain in and charging.
bkhall 1
We tested this too, and it does indeed work. It also raises the cost to that of PiAware though if you don't already have one.

Again we are targeting devices that users already have to lower the cost compared to PiAware, and drive adoption.
Mike Danielak 1
I understand, but this gives you a large TV-sized display of traffic. I'm sure some FBOs and flight schools would like to have something like that up and running continuously. I know I would.

I haven't looked into the PiAware solution, maybe that already does the same thing for you.
bkhall 1
Yes, it does - and it is kinda cool. But we have a better solution for this scenario. It's called FlightAware TV. It's a paid product though as it's integrated with our backend servers to bring you more information about the flights.

The Android TV dongles will get you something similar for less cost, but also less information.
Bernie20910 -2
Interesting, but if we're going to do this on an OLD phone, how are we supposed to download anything to it? Old implies that it's no longer used, and no longer on your phone account, so not able to connect and download the app(s).
dbaker 5
The intention is to use WiFi (not cellular) for connectivity.
Um..did you really ask that?


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