Category Archives: Geek Project

The Pi Plane Project – 1. Introduction




The Pi Plane Project

A summary for the attention deprived

The Pi Plane Project tracks planes that fly over my house; records a short video – and uploads the video clips onto the web.

You can see the latest overhead fly-overs here; and the closest aerial visits here

This is a result of a lot of tinkering; and a curious need of mine to combine my love of electronics, programming and aviation.


The Basic Theory

Pi Plane Picture Overview

A summary for the curious


Commercial aircraft in Australia periodically transmit their location and their altitude.  Aircraft with the ADS-B  system determine their position using GPS; and then broadcast that position along with identity string, altitude (plus other bits such as speed).

Using some inexpensive components, we can build a receiver to listen to these ADS-B signals to track these aircraft as they fly overhead.   Using a bit of spunky maths, a bit of electro-mechanical tinkering and a few elastic bands I built a system to determine where in the sky these planes are; point a camera to them and track their movement whilst recording a short video of the flyby.

The videos are pushed onto a website; along with basic information such as aircraft type and destination.  This flight information is textually overlaid onto the video.

The videos and metdata are stored in a database; and a dynamic public web site allows the curious to see a short video of planes and magic carpets flying over my home