Visual Airplane Tracker Runs On Pi

As no doubt is the case with many readers, there is a Raspberry Pi running in the yard near where this is being written that tracks airplanes, listening into the ADS-B radio broadcasts that they send and uploading the data to a sharing service. This device lacks the blinky LEDs that hacking custom states it should have, though. This project from [xy72y5e] would be a great way to deal with that problem: they used a Unicorn hat to create a simple map of local airplanes. This shows the location and track of aircraft in the area on the 8 by 8 RGB LED matrix of the Unicorn Hat.

While the device here maps local planes from their radio fixes, the code that [xy72y5e] published works with the api of ADSBExchange, a site that shares flight data. This means that the map can be easily set to show air traffic at a different location to the device itself. And it wouldn’t be that difficult to alter this to show the locally detected planes, as [xy72y5e] has published the full Python code that creates the map. This would also go well with some of the other airplane tracking hacks that we’ve seen recently, such as the planespotter destination tracker¬†or tracking airplanes by radar reflections

[Via Reddit]

Why No Plane Parachutes? And Other Questions.

This week I was approached with a question. Why don’t passenger aircraft have emergency parachutes? Whole plane emergency parachutes are available for light aircraft, and have been used to great effect in many light aircraft engine failures and accidents.

But the truth is that while parachutes may be effective for light aircraft, they don’t scale. There are a series of great answers on Quora which run the numbers of the size a parachute would need to be for a full size passenger jet. I recommend reading the full thread, but suffice it to say a ballpark estimate would require a million square feet (92903 square meters) of material. This clearly isn’t very feasible, and the added weight and complexity would no doubt bring its own risks.

Continue reading “Why No Plane Parachutes? And Other Questions.”