Hak5 1525 – Track Aircraft with a $20 Software Defined Radio

Tracking Aircraft with a $20 dongle and Software Defined Radio – Shannon demonstrates sniffing 1090 MHz for ADS-B to map live air traffic with free software. Plus, USB micro controller hacking with Richard Harmon at Shmoocon 2014. All that and more, this time on Hak5!

Download HD | Download MP4

Youtube Hak5 1525.1: http://youtu.be/9JqFp31ARkE
Youtube Hak5 1525.2: http://youtu.be/HS38q3YXsY4

Building on top of my segment last week is a new one about using ADS-B. ADS-B means Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast.

Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) is a cooperative surveillance technology for tracking aircraft. The aircraft determines its own position and broadcasts this via a radio frequency. ADS-B is one of the technologies selected as part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System and the European CASCADE program.

All aircraft transponders transmit data at the frequency 1090 MHz. To receive this transmissions one needs a receiver for this frequency – an ADS-B-receiver. We will be using our SDR Dongle from last week (which is in the HakShop for $20), a computer running Win 8, and two programs: ADSBScope, and ADSB#.

How it works: Antenna —-> electromagnetic waves —-> SDR Dongle —-> ADSB# —–> decodes data —–> ADSBScope —-> Gives me a GUI and pretty plane pictures to look at.
1. DL ADSB# and start decoder w/ SDR dongle plugged in. Keep all default settings.

2. DL ADSBScope and move map to your location w/ mouse.

3. Click Navigation —> Set Receiver Location

4. Choose Other —> Network —-> Network setup and choose ADSB and ‘local’.

5. Now click Other —-> Network —-> RAW-Data Client Active. You should start seeing planes.

6. Choose Local Maps —-> Download from internet —-> then choose your location

7. Now, you can customize your colors, and range rings.

Here are some excellent step by step instructions to get this running on your computer!


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  • Christopher Ashbaugh

    I love your show. I watch it during my lunch hour, and I love the ability to download your shows. Never know when the Internets will go down.:) Episode 1525, both HD and MP4 seems to be unavailable for download. Thank you

  • KaoticFire

    If you can watch and listen on aircraft locations, could the same be true for other vehicles such as big rigs, or police, or anything with a radio transmitter be watched?

  • NetCat

    Great show. Love this series on SDR. Like the guy above what else can I pick up on the SDR thingy?

  • room641a

    I’m wondering whether ADS-B hacking could have played a role in the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Thoughts?

  • BigDummy

    First off, I think that some of your shows’ title might have got messed up/mixed up when you uploaded them to YouTube.com or they’ve mixed something up because I downloaded the shows from your site as well as YouTube.com and they are not titled nor are they the same length, and I’m not talking a few seconds (YT puts ads into the video when watching them there, but so far these ads aren’t displayed when playing them back on my PC).

    Anyway, you might also like to know that I’m using the same versions of all the software mentioned in the video about watching aircraft using adsb# and adsbScope and when doing this with the NooElectric dongle, I must also start SDR# first. If I don’t, when starting adsb#, my dongle never shows up.

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