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Simplified cross compiling for node.js using vagrant.
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John Wiseman,

This project makes it easy to use a cheap and widely available DVB-T USB dongle as a software-defined radio on your AR.Drone 2. Your drone will then be able to pick up Mode S and ADS-B broadcasts from aircraft transponders (see the rtl-sdr project and "Tracking planes for $20 or less" for background).

What the project actually provides is an easy way to cross-compile rtl-sdr and the dump1090 Mode S decoder for the AR.Drone.


You will need to install vagrant as the cross-compiling is done inside of a virtual machine.

Cross compiling

Cross compiling dump1090 for the AR.Drone 2 is easy. First you will create the new VM, ssh into it, and build lib-usb and rtl-sdr:

host$ git clone git://
host$ cd ardrone-dump1090-cross-compiler
host$ vagrant up
host$ vagrant ssh
vagrant$ cd cross-compiler
vagrant$ ./  # This will download about 100 MB of pre-reqs.
vagrant$ ./

Next you will checkout the source to dump1090 and build it. Note that these commands are performed while you're ssh'ed into the VM. There are a few different versions of dump1090 you can choose from; I recommend MalcolmRobb's version which has a lot of extra functionality added:

vagrant$ cd ~/cross-compiler/src
vagrant$ git clone
vagrant$ . ~/cross-compiler/
vagrant$ cd dump1090
vagrant$ make CC=$CC


A helper script will install rtl-sdr and dump1090 on your AR.Drone 2. First connect to the drone's wifi. Then run the following (on your host OS, not in the vagrant VM):

$ ./helpers/

The install script puts rtl_sdr and dump1090 in /bin, and in /lib.


Before plugging your DVB-T dongle into your AR.Drone, you will need to run these commands to activate USB host mode:

$ telnet
# gpio 127 -d ho 1
# gpio 127 -d i

Now you can plug the dongle into the drone's USB connector. Once that's done you can confirm that the dongle is visible by running lsusb:

# lsusb
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 0bda:2838 Realtek Semiconductor Corp.
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002

If you don't see your dongle (the Realtek device listed above), try unplugging and re-plugging it.

You may now run dump1090:

# dump1090 --aggressive --interactive

Hex    Flight   Altitude  Speed   Lat       Lon       Track  Messages Seen   .
a54601          0         0       0.000     0.000     0     1         0 sec
a73f0b          2475      0       0.000     0.000     0     2         1 sec
aa6e4f          33000     0       0.000     0.000     0     26        0 sec
a2597f          40000     0       0.000     0.000     0     7         2 sec
a71d34          33275     0       0.000     0.000     0     14        0 sec
71be10 KAL213   4875      272     34.029    -118.312   85    166       0 sec

You can even use dump1090's fancy map mode, if you copy the gmap.html file to your drone and use ardrone-wpa2 to put your drone and laptop onto a wifi network with internet connectivity:

# Assume I've used ardrone-wpa2 to put my drone on my wifi at
$ ftp -u ftp://anonymous:anonymous@ /src/dump1090/gmap.html
$ telnet
# cd /data/video
# dump1090 --net --aggressive

Then point a browser on your laptop at dump1090's HTTP server, which in this case would be

Map screenshot

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