Radarcape:Software Features

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Radarcape Software Features (Major Release 1)

Our so called Major Release 1 was created from the beginning of the Radarcape project until spring 2017. Since then, it is only maintained as bugfix release.

The Radarcape provides output of data in several levels:

  • true raw data
  • decoded data on a per frame basis (e.g., port 30003)
  • decoded data on summary basis (e.g., aircraftlist.json, deltadb.txt)
  • web browser support (aircraft list, 2D map)
  • 3D output (live KML data)

Web Based Aircraft Table

A list of received aircraft can be fetched via a build-in Web server. This list can be sorted ascending and descending in each column by simply clicking on the arrows. The distances are automatically calculated from aircraft positions and your GPS coordinates.

Radarcape Live Aircraft Table
Name Description Notes
Time (hh:mm:ss:ns) Time of last message received from the aircraft
ICAO 24 bit ICAO hex ID unique identification of aircraft
Flight the Call Sign as it is transmitted from the aircraft itself
Lon Longitude
Lat Latitude
Src Source of Lat/Lon: A=ADSB M=MLAT
GndAir Aircraft is on ground (identified with GND bit or DF-18 messages) or airborne
Alt Altitude (feet) at 1013 mb
VRate Vertical rate in feet/min
Speed Ground Speed in knots
Track Direction that the aircraft is travelling in degrees true
Cat Cat A0..C5 are transmitted by aircraft in Mode-S messages
Orig Origin of flight taken from database, perform Maintenance -> Update flight routes database
Destin Destination of flight taken from database, perform Maintenance -> Update flight routes database
Oper Flight operator taken from database, perform Maintenance -> Update flight routes database
Type Aircraft Type taken from database, perform Maintenance -> Update flight routes database
Reg Registration of aircraft taken from database, perform Maintenance -> Update base station database
Squawk Squawk code as it is transmitted by aircraft in Mode-S messages
Country Country that the aircraft is registered for, indicated through the upper bits in the ICAO hex id
Distance Distance to the observer if its Lat, Lon is either valid by manual entry in configuration or determined by GPS
Trust Number of highly trustable DF-11 or DF-17/18 messages per aircraft. Used to desinguish ghosts, as true aircraft quickly raise this number while ghosts stay at 1
Track Size Length of the track in 2D 3D display in 5sec sequence track points


Live 2D Output

All received aircrafts with a known position are displayed on a 2D map in your Web browser.

Radarcape Live 2D Display


Live 3D Output (KML/KMZ Output)

Google Earth can be attached to the Radarcape via KML/KMZ files.

Google Earth with live ADS-B data
An aircraft over Augsburg Airport
A go around in Munich EDDM

DeltaDB Service

The DeltaDB service can be accessed via http://radarcape/deltadb.txt. It outputs a comma separated list of all changes in the internal aircraft list since the last call or a specified time. This is an efficient replacement of port 30003 functionalities.


Aircraft List JSON Service

All data contained in the aircraft list can also be downloaded in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). The file format can be used by other applications to access aircraft list data using the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) protocol.

The Aircraftlist JSON Service can be accessed via http://radarcape/aircraftlist.json.

The JSON output uses abbreviated identifiers for the data fields like below.

Note: Not all of the might be implemented at the time of this writing, some of them may only be available when having a special option key installed on your Radarcape.

Abbreviation Description Additional Information
uti Linux timestamp of last message (contains date) "uti":1434656441
tim Time of last message (contains nanoseconds) "tim":"19:27:35.143925171"
hex ICAO Hex ID
fli Flight Identification
lat Latitude
lon Longitude
gda onGround (Ground Air)
alt Altitude
spd Ground Speed
trk true track
cat Category (A0-C7)
org Origin Requires flightroutes database beeing loaded
des Destination Requires flightroutes database beeing loaded
opr Operator Requires basestation database beeing loaded
typ Type Requires basestation database beeing loaded
reg Registration Requires basestation database beeing loaded
squ Squawk
cou Country
dis Distance
tru Trustlevel
dbm Approximate signal level in dBm not calibrated, value only for orientation
vrt Vertical Rate
mch MACH
ias IAS
tas TAS
rol Roll angle
tra turn rate
sfl Sel FL
qnh QNH
shd Sel Heading
hgt Height difference
mop MOPS
flg Alert, SPI, Emerg.,IC
tcs TCAS alert
nic NIC + NACV
apm autopilot mode
rec record number
lla LatLon_Age
lpa LastPacket_Age
tsa Track Size ADS-B
tsm Track Size MLAT

Data Streaming to Network (TCP and UDP)

  • TCP or UDP port 10002: This is a CRC-checked mirror of the data as it comes from the FPGA, DF-11, DF-17 and DF-18. Includes Mode-A/C data with respect to the configuration setting.
  • TCP or UDP port 10003: Binary formatted raw data with all Modes-S data formats CRC-prechecked (eliminates transmission of the erroneous frames, reduces load on the network). All data from the FPGA is disassembled into messages and verified if correct.
  • TCP or UDP port 10004: Binary formatted raw data, pre-checked DF-11, DF-17 and DF-18 only: minimum load for the transmission path but contains most information. No Mode-A/C data.
  • TCP or UDP port 10005: Binary formatted raw data, only raw data frames of those aircraft where the location (latitude and longitude) is unknown. Used for special MLAT purposes. No Mode-A/C data.

The binary and AVR raw data formats are identical to those of the Mode-S Beast and documented in Mode-S_Beast:Data_Output_Formats. For the Radarcape, there is one additional message that contains timestamp and FPGA configuration information, which is triggered by each 1PPS from the GPS module.


Port 30003 Service (TCP, UDP, and USB-serial)

Port 30003 style output (e.g., for use with SBS Plotter) can be provided without the need of an additional application on your PC.

The Radarcape provides this data stream on TCP port 30003, UDP port 30003, and the serial USB interface.

SBS Plotter Screenshot

The format of the data output can be found in this document
The date in Port 30003 messages is always the Linux system date.
The timestamp instead is a GPS timestamp when the configuration is set to GPS timestamps and system time when the Radarcape operates in legacy 12 MHz time stamp mode.

Due to the low efficiency and high processor load caused by this protocol, please do not use Port 30003 unless really necessary.

A better way of getting the same data is the deltaDB service.

On Linux, a very simple method how to access the TCP stream of Port 30003 is socat:

socat - TCP:radarcape:80


USB Serial Port Data Access

The Radarcape supports one selectable data stream out of following sources on a virtual serial port via the back side USB port:

  • Raw FGPA data - including Mode-A/C data
  • CRC pre-checked Mode-S with Mode-A/C data
  • Mode-S Frame types DF-11, DF-17 and DF-18 only
  • Mode-S Frames of all aircraft without a known location
  • Port 30003 format

The output can be selected in the configuration menu. Due to processor load, it is recommended to keep this feature disabled when not required.

Output configuration.png

The setting can be changed on the fly and will apply without the need to reboot the Radarcape.


PC driver

The interface uses the Linux kernel's USB gadget serial driver. It will create a virtual serial COM port which you can identify in your device manager. An INF file is necessary in order to install it. This can be downloaded here: http://www.modesbeast.com/resources/g_serial.inf

The virtual serial port does not require any baud rate and handshake settings, it will work with any configuration.

Take care that when connecting you will get eventually two serial ports: One that provides access to the Linux console, and the one mentioned within this feature. If you have doubts which one to select, first try the higher number, or use a Putty terminal just to see which one outputs weird binary data (or port 30003 format if selected). The one that outputs a console screen on 115200 baud is the wrong one.

For Windows 7 the source of the driver is dropbox

Restrictions on the PC Serial Driver

  • Currently the serial interface works with Putty and and test applications on Windows. It did not work with PlanePlotter under XP.
  • Note that even when a Radarcape receives power through the back side USB, you MUST connect the external +5 V for the receiver and decoder to operate.
  • When powering on, the external +5 V power supply MUST be connected prior to connecting the USB cable.

Further information:
USB Gadget Kernel Documentation
Some usage and driver hints - this is where the INF file comes from.