ADS-B Exchange(d?)



Please do feed!


It’s been over two years since the discovery of formed the inspiration for my What’s Up? project: visualization of air traffic on a small TFT display. Last week, I decided to rewrite the ESP8266 code for the ESP32 (Wrover) module, hoping that its extra CPU speed and PSRAM would make the aircraft icons move more smoothly over the map. The result was totally satisfying (as long as it lasted), and I even managed to build in my internet radio code for receiving live air traffic control (ATC) stations.

But then, on the very next day, the free adsbexchange API stopped working…

I understand the owner’s decision, though, and even feel guilty about not having made my two FlightAware receivers feed ADSBx much earlier. In a post on the site’s forum, the clearly ‘pissed’ owner (James Stanford) complains about the fact that many FA and FR24 feeders use his API, but don’t feed ADSBx. That must be annoying, but as for me (and there may be others), there’s a simple explanation for it: ‘Fear of Linux….‘.

When I started with ADS-B, the FlightAware logo on my dongle encouraged me to try their Piaware image first. Everything worked fine out of the box, and for me, with close to zero Linux experience, that was a black box (well, actually a transparent lunch box). However, making it feed ADBSx as well would require me to execute cryptic Linux shell commands… And then I also got confused by sources saying Piaware takes control over what can be installed, so I decided not to jeopardize my precious feeder.

Encouraged by the broken API, finding this Piaware 3.7.1. based setup guide convinced me that it was safe to make the move, hoping to meet the conditions for receiving an API key. After executing the following commands, my FA feeders now feed ADBSx as well!
sudo apt update
sudo apt install git socat
git clone
cd adsb-exchange
chmod +x
sudo ./

Note: the new version of the script will no longer auto-start the feeder from rc.local, but from systemd.

It’ll take a while before a new feeder appears on all ADSBx pages, but you can immediately check if messages from your ip address are being received by ADSBx here. You will see someting like this:











Once the mlat syncs with nearby peers have been established, your feeder will also appear on the MLAT Sync Stats page for your region.

After an hour or so, the location of your feeder will be indicated on the coverage map of your region ( for my location).

If you are currently feeding FA (I can’t speak for FR24), why not start feeding ADSBx as well? It’s entirely safe and will not affect your FA feeder in any way. Moreover: you’ll be supporting their dedication to sharing unfiltered flight data.

With my brand new What’s UP? sketch currently being grounded, I’ve humbly requested an API key from ADSBx.