With an off-the-shelf microcomputer, a USB-based software-defined radio and a WiFi dongle, plus some free Linux-based software and a battery, pilots who don’t want to shell out a lot of cash to get a taste of ADS-B In’s traffic and weather information now have a lower-cost option.
The receiver package is called Stratux, referencing Appareo Systems’ popular Stratus line of ADS-B receivers and the Linux operating system. Details on which off-the-shelf components to buy and how they’re assembled are available on various Internet sites (try the threads at www.reddit.com/r/stratux) and there are how-to videos on YouTube.
To see if there was anything to all the hype, we obtained everything we needed from Amazon.com for around $110, delivered. Once the package arrived, it took a couple of minutes to snap it all together, and another few minutes to download and install the Stratux software to the memory card before slipping it into the Raspberry Pi. Then we plugged in the battery, powering up the system. We added the WiFi network to an iPad, started ForeFlight and saw the app had recognized the Stratux receiver. The screenshots here show ForeFlight receiving ADS-B In data over the 978 MHz frequency while airborne, using only Stratux.
Yes, the Stratux package is a bit of a kludge, and you’re mostly on your own for support. But the FAA is silent on how you receive ADS-B In, which is only for non-official, advisory use anyway. Dedicated receivers like the Stratus 2S and Garmin’s GDL 39 offer many more features, but for someone who flies only occasionally and just wants to see if ADS-B In’s traffic and weather services will enhance their situational awareness, Stratux might be a good place to start.