Aircraft Spotting in the digital age

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Mode-S Receivers

If you prefer to have control of your own “radar”, you will need a Mode-S receiver.

With prices starting at around 100 Euros for a basic kit, top of the range receiver with included software will set you back around 500 or more Euros.

The market leader has long been Kinetic’s SBS-1, launched in 2005.  The last model was the SBS-1eR which also included a software controlled AM/FM radio for VHF and UHF frequencies.  This has now been superceded by the SBS-3 which is reported to include an AIS receiver and much more, all for approximately 500 Euros.

Then there’s AirNav Systems’ RadarBox released in 2007.  Similarly priced, RadarBox customers can subscribe to its data sharing network for an extra monthly fee.

Until recently these two products had the market to themselves until RadarGadgets launched it’s PlaneGadget Radar for 240 Euros.  Unlike the first two receivers which ship with proprietary software, the PlaneGadget uses the COAA’s PlanePlotter software.  PlaneGadget includes a free version called PlanePlotter Lite which can be upgraded to the full version for a small one-off fee.

Next came Aurora Eurotech’s Virtual Radar 3D.  Priced at approximately 350 Euros, this includes proprietary software.

More recently some receiver kits have become available, such as the Beast and microADS-B.  These receiver kits will require some soldering and will feed tracking software such as PlanePlotter.

Depending on the kit, prices range from just under 100 Euros to over 300 Euros.

With lots to choose from. Make sure you download our free comparative Check List in our Guides section.