FLARM Radar: How to watch Glider Traffic in your Local Pattern

Watch the gliders in your local pattern!

Watch the gliders move in your local traffic pattern!

A member of my Northern German soaring club has used the dark winter evenings to work on a new device which helps us to enlighten our airfield's traffic pattern. We can now spot our students and other gliders in the pattern and watch what is going on around our field - even those low flying ships behind the bushes become visible. The new device works with FLARM and FLARM-equipped gliders. We are still testing it, but the first results are amazing. On my desktop, I can watch Aukrug's gliders working in the pattern – well, to be honest I could also look out of the window…

The FLARM®-Radar Project does not provide the same kind of tracking like for example SPOT or Delorme InReach do. It thus does not replace the more expensive systems, but it is a good addition to existing systems to live-track gliders in your local area. The graphic design looks funny, as you will find "real" gliders in different colors on your screen. A great feature is: You don’t need to copy take offs and landings into a paper sheet anymore. FLARM Radar will give you all the necessary data and you can later feed them directly to your club’s accounting system, to calculate flight-times (and money).

Fun engineering: Pi + FLARM = FLARM Radar

Fun engineering:
Pi + FLARM = FLARM Radar

The FLARM Radar was invented by the Swiss glider pilot Simon Moser, and his friend Dominic Spreitz helped to further develop the project. They used a Raspberry Pi - the smallest computer you can buy - and connected it to an old FLARM device. This unit can be installed somewhere on the ground (best on you tower). The Pi plots the FLARM data and sends them via internet to the FLARM Radar server, where the user’s interface is generated. You can click here to watch two short demonstration movies. If this does not work on your computer, feel free to try Simon's demo device. While during the weekends my club has activated the pattern tracking you can try to follow us here. As this is a real time tracking, all these systems are only working during European daytime!

If every club in Northern Germany had a FLARM Radar on the airfield, we would probably be able to use the signals of all these different "ground controls" and follow our cross country pilots during their whole flight. Unfortunately a single FLARM Radar does not have enough range to follow a low flying glider far away from home. So an XC-tracking is not yet possible but in theory it might work one day? Another good idea is to connect FLARM Radar to transponder signals and thus enable it to see powered traffic in the areas of glider ports. Fortunately most German gliders are still allowed to fly without expensive transponders…

Elke Fuglsang-Petersen

Elke Fuglsang-Petersen started soaring after she finished her school and college education and found herself locked into a small office for the next 45 years. In German soaring clubs she met a lot of new friends, enjoyed a great way to get out, could see things from a different angle, and gained a better overview.

Meanwhile, she has traveled a bit, flown a lot, and lived in the US.She is happy to now know glider pilots from the US too and says, “they are as amiable as everywhere on the world.” She feels fortunate to have found a temporary soaring home in Boulder, surely one of the best and most scenic places to fly on Earth!

Latest posts by Elke Fuglsang-Petersen (see all)

  3 comments for “FLARM Radar: How to watch Glider Traffic in your Local Pattern

  1. April 20, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Hi
    I read with great interest about the trial project of Flarm radar. We are a gliding center in Israel with complicated control of gliders and general aviation. All the airplans and gliders are equiped qith Flarm. I wonder if you could write us some more information including hardware list, configurstion schem etc. we might be intersted to follow on your trial and maybe even enhance it.
    Thank you!

    Danny Arazi

  2. d7071aik
    May 3, 2014 at 12:05 am

    it should be also possible to track Flarm signals with a USB DVB-T stick. These TV sticks can also be used to listen to several Radio frequencies. I built up System with a raspberry pi and and a dvb-t stick to track ADS-B signals and it works quite well!

    • tobiz
      January 18, 2015 at 7:12 am

      Brilliant idea, have you put it on github?

Comments are closed.