We always said that using a RTL2832U DVB-T stick actually works well for ADS-B reception. Especially as an entry level device for the beginning ADS-B hobbyist or some one who is curious about if they could receive ADS-B aircraft traffic in their area. The RTL2832U stick at about $20 is a great way to get some experience with ADS-B before investing in more expensive gear. Our testing has shown while not quite as effective as the commercial ADS-B receivers, the RTL2832U ADS-B setup can come pretty close. With that in mind, Bev from COAA, the maker of PlanePlotter has just recently announced that support for RTL2832U receivers has been added to the PlanePlotter. This also includes support for Multilateration the PlanePlotter uses to estimate the position of an aircraft that is transmitting Mode S reports, but not positional data. To get these features in PlanePlotter, it is recommended that you use the RTL1090 ADS-B windows decoder from Jetvision.de. Here are the details of the announcement from Bev regarding PlanePlotter and RTL2832U sticks from the PlanePlotter Yahoo Group:

New in version 6.3.2

This version includes support for Andy’s RTL1090 utility driving the RTL dongle.
You will find the RTL dongle selection at the end of the list of receiver types
in the PlanePlotter..Options..I/O settings dialog.

If you have build 62 of RTL1090, the RTL dongle can also be used as a Ground
Station. To do that, you have to start RTL1090 with the following command line
switch :
to turn on the time tags that are required for Mlats.

Having started RTL1090, make sure that you see the remark :
Commandline: /multilat1
in the data box and then press the Start button.

If you want to automate the starting of RTL1090, you can use the command line :
“/multilat1 /run /min”
which enables the Mlat clock, starts processing and minimizes the RTL1090

In PlanePlotter, as well as defining the receiver type as “RTL dongle”, to be a
Ground Station you will also need to enable “Raw data” – both in the
PlanePlotter..Options..I/O settings dialog.

You can then start PlanePlotter processing and you can try performing the GS/MU
test in the Help dialog (PlanePlotter..Help..Test networking) to check that raw
data is being provided.

Please bear in mind that the RTL dongle cannot perform as well as a dedicated
Mode-S receiver but with a price tag that may be less than a tenth of other
receiver types, it enables you to try the system with your own local data.


As usual, if you are interested in using an ADS-B stick for ADS-B reception, we highly recommend using a stick with the RTL2832U / R820T chipset as shown below.

Newsky TV28T v2 USB DVB-T & RTL-SDR Receiver, RTL2832U & R820T Tuner, MCX Input. Low-Cost Software Defined Radio Compatible with Many SDR Software Packages

2 thoughts on “PlanePlotter Now Supports RTL2832U Sticks as ADS-B Receivers”
  1. Thank you for the comprehensive explanation.
    I must say I am impressed with the receprion of this stick. RTL2832U stick Plugged into a high gain 1090 MHz omni antenna in Amsterdam next to a 2nd floor window I receive aircraft as far as 50NM out at FL370.

    1. At FL370 I get over 250KM with the stock antenna and also trough a window. In the opposite direction I get nothing, the building attenuation is too much.

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