ADS-B antenna

Earlier this summer I had set up a flight tracker using an RTL-SDR and some software called dump1090. It worked great at the time; I could track about 20 or so aircraft at a given time using the stock antenna I got with my NooElec branded rtl-sdr. That’s not terrible, but I knew I could have done a lot better.

Today I decided to build a new antenna. I searched through different antenna designs online and ended up settling on an antenna called the cantenna. To sum it up, it’s basically a soda can and coax. After I built it, I was able to track a whole lot more aircraft, and the range was much better. It was like night and day to compare the two.

The cantenna

After using this antenna setup for over 24 hours, I was able to track aircraft 300 km away from my location. In some cases I was able to track some even further away, some almost 350-400km away!

range image

I hope to eventually install this antenna outside and use a raspberry pi to get the ADSB information instead of using my old dualcore laptop. Time’s running out for that though. :(

Commander for Pebble update

Commander for Pebble’s development has been dormant for almost 5 months, and I believe it’s about time for me to make an update to the code. The app is growing in the amount of users, and every now and then I’ll get an email asking about my app. One of these emails was asking if I was going to support the Pebble Time Round.

I plan on supporting the PTR (and in the future, the Pebble 2 and Time 2), however this means I’ll need to do a complete code rewrite. I originally used pebble.js to write the app, but it has many limitations like being unable to work on any other device than the Pebble and Pebble Time.

After I learn how to write Pebble apps in C I’ll begin doing a rewrite of the app. This should be good for the future, as the pebble app is honestly embarassing for me to look at. I had no idea what I was doing when I was writing it, and since Javascript is weird, it’s almost impossible for me to be able to maintain and make the app better.

Website changes

Today I made a few changes to the website on the server side. I now force SSL on the website, plus now I’m using Let’s Encrypt as the SSL provider.

Here are the changes I have made today:

  • Enable Let’s Encrypt
  • Force SSL on (*.)mrtux.org
  • Enable HTTP/2 (HTTP/1.1 is still available as a fallback if your browser doesn’t support it)

Goodbye Arch Linux

I have been an avid Arch Linux user for years. It was a great distro in my opinion, and having up to date packages was great. Though as of late, Arch has been breaking on me a lot due to packages being poorly maintained. This happened to me on KDE and then GNOME. I was getting fed up with the poor management of the packages that I decided to distrohop for the first time in years.

Hello Fedora!

I asked on IRC what linux distro I should switch to, and one of my friends suggested Fedora. I decided to try it out a bit in a VM and didn’t think too greatly of it at first until I discovered RPMFusion is a thing. This solved the issue I had where I thought Fedora was missing a lot of packages.

Now, day 3 of using Fedora, I can only say that I am really liking this Linux distro. Installing it was a breeze and it had everything I needed right out of the box. CUPS came preinstalled, so setting up my printer was a matter of installing the drivers and adding it. Then, for other packages I needed, RPMFusion had a lot of them.

One thing I really am liking about Fedora is their package manager, dnf. It’s a great package manager in my opinion. It’s as fast as pacman was and has a lot of features like Copr, which is a lot like Archs’ user repository. Another nice thing it will do is give you a quick overview about what you just installed/removed/updated. Very cool.

In conclusion, I think Fedora was worth switching to. Despite it uncluding a lot of software by default, it contains a lot of software you’re probably going to be installing anyways. It makes sense and I can easily see their motto “Less setup, more innovation” intact there.

Commander for Pebble

Smartwatches are new technology. A rather interesting technology too, which sparked me into buying a Pebble because it reminded me of a regular watch (aka one with physical buttons instead of a touchscreen), and the fact you can easily write apps for it in JavaScript.

So this brings my first app that doesn’t run on your computer: Commander for Pebble. This app lets you control your computer using predefined commands. It can be used to launch programs like Steam’s Big Picture mode, the Kodi media center, or anything of your choosing. It essentially works as a remote letting you run predefined commands from your wrist.

This also seems to be one of my first “serious” projects as I’m actually building something someone would actually have a use for (thus making me put more effort into it.) So far it’s been a good experience for me too, as it gave me an excuse to finally abandon PHP and use Python and the Flask microframework. It’s so much nicer; it feels like a breath of fresh air compared to how bad php is! :^)

If you’re curious about the project, here’s a link to it. Feel free to install it on your Pebble and tell me what you think.