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Saved by David-Taylor
on June 9, 2013 at 2:37:25 pm

Clarify that a good, well-placed antenna will maximise reception range.



TV receiver sticks - those based on the RTL2832U interface chip - can be used to make simple but effective ADS-B receivers.  Because of the limited abilities of these chips, please don't expect them to perform as well as dedicated receivers such as the microADSB or Mode-S Beast, but they only cost a few pounds/dollars.  Be sure to get a stick based on the R820T/RTL2832U chips, as the earlier E4000 chip may not tune to the required 1090 MHz frequency.  And just because the receiver is low-cost doesn't mean that it won't benefit from a good antenna placed outdoors as high as possible!  A good, well-placed antenna is the key to maximum reception range.  As cable can be lossy at 1090 MHz, consider using a USB extension rather than an antenna lead exceeding about 10 m, and be sure to use the best cable you can if the run exceeds a few metres.  For short runs, top-quality satellite TV cable may suffice.


Warning: Be sure not to install the TV software which comes with the stick, i.e. the software on the small CD-ROM which is in the same package.  That software is required for TV viewing, but will interfere with using the stick for ADS-B reception.  The software mentioned below is required, not the TV drivers!  Why?  See Graham Tanner's note below....


RTL1090 Yahoo group:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rtl1090_english/


Full information is planned for this page, but in the meantime you may like to visit these sites:








Do you have 64-bit version of Windows?


When installing the DLLs for the dongle make sure you use the 32-bit ones even if you are on a 64-bit system, as RTL1090  won't start with the 64-bit DLLs.

Suppliers of suitable receiver sticks


No specific recommendation here, but two which have been mentioned by group members include:


CosyCave from the Channel Islands - includes SMA and Belling-Lee adapters, quick delivery:



E-bay from China, slower delivery due to the distance:



What might I see in the RTL1090 display?


Nic Storey notes: if the LIST button is off, an abbreviated flight list will be displayed:



ICAO - 24 bit aircraft address in HEX

C/S - call-sign
ALT - altitude (flight level) in 100 feet
V/S - vertical speed in 100 feet/minute
GS - ground speed in knots
TT - true track in degrees true

SSR - Mode A squawk
GAETI+* - multiple fields:

G - on ground
A - Alert (squawk changed)
E - emergency
T - TCAS alert
I - intent change (altitude or com frequency reselected)
+ - squawk ident
* - position available

  • The list will be updated every 2 seconds
  • Inactive aircraft will be delete after 1 minute
  • The list is not sorted
  • The list will be further expanded in next releases


Animation from Nic Storey


Below is a link to a little something Nic Storey created which may help with the RTL setup,  This was all done on an Atom 1.6 Nettop PC running Windows-8 Pro.  Hopefully it will make things easier.  There are clickable buttons within the first few seconds to get all the software needed.  Nic Storey's video - RTL1090 Software



Note from Graham Tanner


My suggestion of that additional text in the Wiki is because of the way that USB Drivers are installed in Windows, and how they affect the running of programs.  I have already seen a few messages from people saying that "they've got the dongle, loaded the software from the CD, and can't get PP to work" (or similar messages).  I'm just trying to prevent a problem before it happens (or happens too often).

When you load a piece of driver software into Windows it put entries into the Windows Registry; this includes details of with which USB device it is associated.  Later, when you plug-in your USB device (whether it's a card reader, your DVB-T, your camera, your whatever), Windows detects the new device and looks through the Registry for the matching entry, and finds the relevant driver software for it; another internal association is made which results in a further minor registry update.

This all means that when you plug this device into this USB port it will use this driver software, and run this program.

So, when you get your DVB-T dongle and install the software from the CD (which is usually a program called BlazeTV), every time you connect your dongle to a USB port it will be detected, find the driver program, and run a program (BlazeTV in this case).  This is why you will see emails saying "every time I plug in my dongle the BlazeTV program start-up, how do I stop it?"

But in our case, we don't want to run BlazeTV, and we don't want to be using the driver that makes the dongle receive TV signals ... we want a different driver (the one installed by Zadig, or the one used by PlanePlotter and the RTL1090 system), and we want a different program.  So, when you get your dongle, don't install the drivers from the CD, and you will have removed one problem from the set-up.

But I want to play with SDR as well as receive mode-S data


Once again, don't install the Driver software from the CD, you will need to use the Zadig driver.  As far as I'm aware this is the only driver available for any of the dongles to allow them to be used as VHF/UHF receivers, others may appear in the future?

Bearing in mind that the dongle can only be used for one thing at a time - you can't use it for PlanePlotter AND as a VHF/UHF receiver at the same time ...

Plan on plugging-in the dongle to one particular USB port when you want to use it for PlanePlotter.  Plan on using another/different USB socket when you want to use it as a receiver.

  • Connect the dongle into the USB port you intend to use for a receiver.


  • Run the Zadig program; under 'Options' click on 'List All Devices';  see the little grey box will now contain some entries; click on the down-arrow to see the list and select the RTL2832 entry (which might say 'RTL2838', or even 'Bulk Interface 0'); then click on the grey box saying 'Install Driver'.


  • It clicks and whirs for a while, and lets you know when it's finished. You can now close Zadig.


  • Run your SDR program

It's probably best to start with SDRSharp (also may be known as 'SDR#').  SDRSharp seems to change every few days - updates, bug-fixes, new bits, improved bits, corrections, etc - so I can't really tell you how to use SDRSharp as what works now may not work next week!  Important to remember that the SDRSharp/dongle combination is not primarily a scanner (but scanning software is available).  It cannot jump from one freq to another automatically, it's done manually by you (and your mouse).  And you have to set the mode (AM, FM, etc.) yourself, as it doesn't know (but the frequency manager plug-in can set modes automatically). 


From then on your dongle is being used as a all-mode, all-band receiver, and SDR Sharp is controlling it.  When you later decide you want to use it with PlanePlotter again, shut-down SDRSharp, disconnect the dongle, and connect it to the original port.

This is a gross over-simplification of what happens, but should give you an idea.  There are shortcuts you can take, some will only work on some kinds of system and some won't.

In short - don't install the software on the CD that comes with the dongle!

Graham Tanner,
London, UK



Step-by-step setup instructions from Iain Ashmore


First of all you need to download the software to run the dongle available from the following:



RelwithDeb.info SDR

Extract all the files using an unzipping program like Winzip.

Open the Zadig folder and run the Zadig.exe file.

Plug in the dongle, and abort the USB-TV-Stick file installation.

If no device is shown click options, show all devices, and find your dongle showing as RTL?????????

Install the WinUSB driver and driver for Bulk-In Interface 0.

Click Install drivers.

Open RelwithDebInfo.

Copy the following three files:

Paste them into the RTL1090 folder which should now contain:

Once done click on the rtl1090 to open the decoding software and click the green button if using the first version.  If it is beta version then it should start auto.

Open Plane Plotter and click on I/O Options.  Put a tick in Mode-S/ADS-B and scroll down until you see RTL Dongle.  UDP/IP local port should be 9742.

Click Start Green button and you should be up and working.

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