Hak5 1609 – Tracking Aircraft over 300 miles away! Mountain + Drone + SDR

Radio Horizon and Fresnel Zones get practical as the Hak5 team takes a SDR Equipped WiFi Pineapple drone to an altitude of 4200 feet! From the 3800 ft summit of Mt. Diablo and a recommended 400 ft AGL ceiling we tackle the theory – can we really see aircraft 330 miles away? All that and more, this time on Hak5!

Download HD | Download MP4

For more information check Line-of-sight Propagation Wikipedia


Hak5 1607

Hak5 1608


  • Netcat

    Hi Darren,

    If you want to put something on the out side of the antenna how about shrink wrap? Not sure if you can get on continues piece.

    Looks like its back to the work bench. 🙂

  • Vogarth

    Awesome Failure!
    I’d be willing to bet the antenna checks out totally perfect, both parts.
    The reason it failed at altitude is probably due to a known issue that also effects handheld radios – there’s an easy fix. Check out hackaday dot com slash 2012 slash 02 slash 08 for a description.
    Also, check email, would like to suggest redesign for next flight that might improve a few things.

    Always learning more from failure – best of luck!
    – Vogarth

  • Fox

    While watching the video, I noticed you probably lost connection much sooner than 400 feet (as thought by Shanon) because the last seen number (in secs) continued to increase (b/c no new data was being received). I also noticed a pattern that the aircraft dropped off the list once the last seen number reached 60 seconds, indicating you were just seeing minute old data and the software was set to clear at the 60 second mark. Nice vid…keep it up.

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  • Nomadiq

    You almost certainly where losing connection because of the nearby microwave antennas behind you. When the colinear was longer the problem is worse because the antenna can pick up more energy from the nearby transmitters, overloading the front end of the sdr receiver even more so. When the copter was on the ground, the receiving pattern of the colinear is actually effected by the ground and probably has a more “vertical” pattern, shielding it from the antennas to the horizontal. When in the air this ground effect wouldn’t happen any more. I’m guess you were just lucky that you didn’t lose wifi connection to the pineapple. Also, the dongle probably just has crappy front end circuitry.

    My two cents worth anyway. Great show.

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