Devices at various promentories around the region, including Santa Ynez Peak, Diablo Peak and Sulphur Mountain receive position information from aircraft flying over California and coastal waters using the Federal Aviation Administration’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS–B) system. Similar to the APRS and AIS protocols which allow for the tracking of mobile amateur stations and ships at seas respectively (both are also supported by SBARC sites), ADS-B is part of the FAA’s NextGen plan to more accurately track aircraft in busy airspace and provide better cockpit situational awareness for pilots. ADS-B position reports are sent unencrypted by many commercial aircraft and by some private aircraft. The FAA has issued a mandate for all aircraft flying in the vicinity of medium and large traffic volume airports to carry ADS-B equipment by 2020.
The receivers are Raspberry Pi microcomputers connected to a USB software defined radio (SDR) dongle and open source software designed to receive ADS-B data signals broadcast on 1090 MHz.
SBARC data products are distributed online and over the air under a Creative Commons license which permits sharing under certain conditions and limits SBARC’s liability. Please read more here.