Mode-S Beast:Planeplotter

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Mode-S Beast installation

There is nothing special when connecting a Mode-S Beast to your PC.

  1. Download and install the FTDI driver.
  2. Plug the Mode-S Beast to the USB port. You may be asked for the driver's folder, simply do.
  3. Open device manager: Start -> Ausführen (Start -> Run command) and enter %windir%\System32\RunDLL32.EXE devmgr.dll DeviceManager_Execute
  4. Open the [+] tab for COM and LPT you you will see a "USB serial port" appearing and disappearing each time that you disconnect and reconnect the Mode-S Beast. This information is important.

Here are two screenshots of my device manager with and without the Mode-S Beast (mine is connecting to COM80 in this example) Remember that if the unit shows up here as COM80 on my PC, it might be different on yours, and it might be even different for each single PC that you own.

I strongly recommend not to change the port using the enhance configuration of the driver!!! This you do on you own risk!

Device Manager - ADS-B Not Plugged

Device Manager before the Mode-S Beast became connected: COM80 is not yet present.

Device Manager - ADS-B Plugged

Device Manager after the Mode-S Beast became connected: COM80 shows up and is the port to be used for the GUI soft.

Planeplotter Configuration

Step 1:
Options -> IO-Settings -> Input data -> "Mode-S/ADS-B" -> "Beast receiver serial" -> OK

Planeplotter: Setup IO Settings 1

Step 2:
Options -> Mode-S receiver -> Beast receiver -> Setup serial comm port -> Comm port (your COM port) and Comms port data rate 3000000 (before V1.21 1000000) -> OK (of course if your DIP switches are set up differently, you have to use the baudrate setting according to them)

Planeplotter: Setup IO Settings 2

Step 2a: Setup Serial Com Port

Planeplotter: Setup Comms Port

NOTE 1: With Firmware equal or later than V1.21, the 1 MBit has been changed to 3 MBit, so you have to enter 3000000 in Comms port data rate

NOTE 2: Later versions of Planeplotter do have a check box "plot isolated traces" here. Please only have this checked if you range is small. (It is about some ghost planes that appear due to local CPR format decoding when this box is checked)

NOTE 3: The right place where to initialize the Mode-S Beast's baudrate is in the applications's setting and not in the device manager.

Then press the green button in the top left and surely you will see planes on your screen.

Step 2b: Setup Serial Initalisation String

Planeplotter: Setup IO Settings 3

From FW 1.32, the Mode-S Beast's DIP switch configuration can be overwritten via serial interface. Planeplotter therefore offers a string entry where each configuration character can be entered.

The string shown here is interpreted as

  • "C": Binary output format
  • "d": DF-11/17 only filter disabled
  • "E": MLAT information on (Note: for compatiblity, MLAT is always part of the binary format)
  • "f": CRC check of DF-11 and DF-17 enabled
  • "g": DF0/4/5 masking filter disabled
  • "H": RTS handshake enabled
  • "i": FEC correction of 1bit errors in DF-11 and DF-17 enabled
  • "J": Mode-A/C decoding enabled

Setting Up Planeplotter Maps

It happens quite often that beginners set up their map incorrectly. Remember that you do not need to calibrate maps, just zooming into the default world map and then pressing the button "OSM" for a new download of Open Street Map is totally sufficient. The only thing that I have to ask COAA is how to reset to this world map in case of misconfiguration, because the only way I know currently is to remove and re-install Planeplotter completely.

Important Note: Whenever you get a "No RAW data" error message, especially when testing MLAT or data sharing, you simply need to turn MLAT time stamp on. Planeplotter's error message is a little bit misleading here. The binary fomat always contains the time stamp, so nothing can go wrong with it.

Making Screenshots And Comparison of the Performance

Quite often users of the Mode-S beast make screenshots of Planeplotter's results. Please, when doing so, be aware that there is a long term integration done in Planeplotter, which is by default 5 minutes. This is a little bit unfair, the Mode-S beast does not need such. Instead, lower down the integration to 1 min. Go into the menu "Chart Settings", and enter 1.00 into "Omit aircraft after..." and "Delete Aircraft after...". Maybe you even switch of the prediction completly by unchecking the box at "Predict positions over...".

My own chart settings are like this:

Planeplotter Chart Settings

Planeplotter Performance

Recently there was a summary about Planeplotter performance tweaks.