PiAware Installation Step by Step

Using Windows 7, Raspberry Pi 3, and an RTL-SDR dongle.
Protocol below always worked for me, 100% success rate, adjust or deviate as you wish or necessary. Only free software used.
This guide will be updated based on user input, please subscribe on Twitter @rtlsdr4everyone or by clicking the blue button top left to get notified.

PiAware image installation


0. It's best to place all installation files in the same folder.
1. Download PiAware image, 312 MB direct link or webpage link, takes time, do steps below while it downloads.



2. Download 7-zip to same folder, then install. This is optional, Windows has built-in software to uncompress files, but 7-Zip is officially recommended by the Raspberry foundation for Windows.
3. Download SD card formatter to same folder by clicking on Accept button at bottom of download page.


File is 6 MB, compressed, extract to its own folder, then install:



4. Download Win32 Disk Imager to same folder, extract compressed file to own folder, then install.



5. Remote access program for Windows is called and written as PuTTY, download 2MB from here, no need to uncompress, install it.



6. Go to FlightAware main site and register.

7.  PiAware image has probably downloaded by now, so extract it to own folder:

You'll get a file folder, 



This contains a 2 GB so-called image file, and a pdf document called PiAware3Configuration.


Read the pdf file, that's the official guide with lots of good information, needs Adobe Acrobat Reader which is probably already on your computer, or download for free.

Writing SD card image


Insert microSD card with adapter into computer, check drive letter in Windows Explorer.



Start SD Formatter, double-check drive number, press Format, check drive letter again, then format SD card.


I'd rather write it down again 10 times more, but check the drive letter religiously, because if you got an external drive, like a thumb drive or external hard drive with family photos and you format it by accident, data on it is forever gone. Been there, done that, think knee surgery without painkillers.
Close SD formatter after finished.

Win32 Disk imager

Start Win32 Disk Imager, click on the blue icon in top left corner to open the PiAware file for writing to the card:


When you select the appropriate image the Win32 window disappears, select it from the taskbar. Check the proper drive label, then click on Yes:



Writing to card takes a while depending on microSD card speed, assemble station in the meantime: connect Ethernet / Internet cable if used, RTL-SDR dongle and antenna to dongle, but DO NOT connect power yet.
Optionally, if you're using an Android-based smartphone / tablet and want to access the station from it, download and install Fing and Juice SSH from the play store, or any similar network IP finder / SSH app for different platforms (if those words are alien to you I'll detail what's what later).
Write Successful, one step closer, only a few steps to go.



Set up WiFi if no Ethernet cable will be used: Open Windows Explorer, locate text document called piaware-config, open it, toward the bottom you can enter details:


Replace MyWifiNetwork with your home network name, if you don't know it, smartphone or tablet will tell you from Network options. Password is the same as you use with other devices, all of this information can be found usually on your home router (box distributing Internet in the house).

For remote access, create a text file called SSH, there's no need to write anything in it.



Remove microSD card, insert into the Pi 3, writing on card facing you. Double check connections, especially antenna connections, then power up the Pi, lights come on, chew your fingernails for 10-15 minutes until station reports to PiAware that it's good to go. Station will show up on your home network after a few minutes, but complete setup takes a little bit longer.
FlightAware will send you a notification email when station is online, log in to PiAware to see station details under My ADS-B:


Congratulations, you have your own ADS-B feeder station!


Setting up station



Control panel is on top, set up personal information:



Site name setting is a handy tool, especially if you "feed" (means providing date to other websites) others or have multiple ADS-B receivers. I like to keep position to 10 km to maintain my privacy (sensitive data are removed from all printscreens as well), outage notification is good to know what's happening when I'm away. Please enable MLAT, which is a triangulation service helping others in your area, I have it on "disabled" as testing dongles at the moment, and having it Enabled skews results.
Last entry is "Send command to device", controls ADS-B station. It's good prectice to reboot device after any changes as been made.

Site information below on the right hand side of the page, I blanked out personal data with pink squares:

Device local address / Site local IP is the unique identification number given to the Raspberry Pi by the home network - just like your Social Security number given to you by authorities.
Configure antenna height and location by clicking on blue buttons, find where you are on a map, then write down results as they're needed later if you want to feed other websites. First number is Latitude, second number is Longitude.
Rest of the page is your personal stats.


Remote access


Raspberry Pi can be controlled remotely, this is called a "headless" setup in jargon. Access is via suitable software, I use Putty on Windows and write it like that (won't complicate with hard to read official PuTTY, sorry), and Fing on Android, but there're many others e.g. for Mac.
Jargon: SSH means "Secure Shell", Wiki entry here, so if you read "SSH into the Pi" that's short to use Putty in Windows. A "command " means something you write into the black window, under the green triangle, "execute" means pressing Enter on the keyboard, so the Pi will do what you've just written. Kinda like an Army sergeant giving a command to recruits, "Do it now jarhead" is Enter, same principle without shouting.
Start Putty, enter site number into box, this is the same as FlightAware gives you in "Site local IP" above, in my case 192.168.0.17:



Click on Open, you'll get the following screen, just say yes:



Then enter pi as username, press Enter, and flightaware as password, which will not show up, then press Enter:




Happy days, now you're remotely controlling the Raspberry Pi 3, just as if you were sitting in front of a screen connected to the Pi. The same can be done from any device, e.g. from a smartphone or tablet with JuiceSSH on Android, or search the applicable app store for SSH and choose from search results.
The easiest way for a command found here on or on other website is to highlight it (keep left mouse button pressed whilst moving mouse left to right, text will become blue, release left mouse when at the end of text), Right-Click, then Copy from upcoming menu, then clicking in black window with left click to make it active, then right-click to insert command into black. Sounds complicated, second nature after two tries, like riding a bicycle. Hand and finger guitar solo will paste the command into the space where the green square is, you only need to press Enter on the keyboard then, no need to type complicated sybols.

Well done!


If you've reached this sentence you've just got your own ADS-B station, enjoy it. Next, we'll set up feeding data to other websites using what we've learned today, so watch this space, or subscribe on Twitter @rtlsdr4everyone to get notified.
Thanks for reading, if you have a question, ask away here, or on FlightAware Discussions.

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