Installing and using a DVB-T Dongle on Windows
Certain digital television USB dongles designed to allow you to receive television on your computer contain a chip which can be tuned well outside their normal range allowing them to receive ADSB signals.
Having bought quite a few, I have no hesitation in recommending the Keevox DVB-T USB TV RTL SDR FM+DAB Radio Tuner which is currently less than £10 on Amazon.co.uk.
It arrives in a blister pack containing the dongle, a small aerial, a remote control and a CD of drivers. All that we need are the dongle and the aerial – the other items can be put to one side. We absolutely don’t want to install the drivers that come with it.
1. Identify the correct driver
In order to get the USB receiver working we need to install a special driver for it. We can work out which one we need by installing a program called Zadig.exe which will identify the driver that we need depending on the version of Windows and the model of the USB dongle. Download Zadig.exe from here:
2. Install the correct drivers
Once you have downloaded Zadig, insert the dongle and then run Zadig.exe. Make sure that ‘List all devices’ is ticked on the ‘Options’ menu so that all USB devices on your computer are listed.
From the dropdown, select ‘RTL2832U’ and click either Reinstall Driver’ or ‘Install Driver’. After a few moments you should get a message telling you that the driver has been successfully installed. If it has then you can close Zadig as you won’t need it again.
3. Download and install dump1090.exe
We can now download the software which will actually talk to the receiver and get the data from it. To do that download the following file:
Double-click it and extract the files to a suitable location on your computer – I would suggest installing it into C:dump1090.
You may get a warning from your anti-virus program (Norton in my case) that libusb-1.0.dll is unsafe but this is a false alarm and can be safely ignored. It’s because the software is based on a Windows system file which would normally be signed to indicate that it is safe but the author has modified it and not signed it (the ability to sign files costs money and this is free software).
If your anti-virus software is particularly paranoid it may automatically remove this file so you’ll need to tell it not to and restore it.
4. Run the dump1090 software
Now find your way to the directory where you installed the dump1090 software. In my case I installed it in c:adsb and double-clicked on the dump1090 batch file. Unfortunately there are two files with the same name but different extensions. If you can’t tell them apart (because Windows has hidden the extensions) then hover your mouse over each icon in turn. A little box will pop up and will tell you the file type. Double click the ‘MS-DOS Batch file’ one.
5. Confirm that dump1090 is running properly
After a few seconds dump1090 will start and will show a copyright message, the screen will then clear and you’ll be presented with a list of aircraft within view of the aerial similar to this one.
You can now minimise this and leave it to its own devices as it will continue to receive signals from the aircraft until we tell it to stop or the computer reboots. If you wish to end it, press Ctrl and C and then select Y for yes.
6. Ensure that dump1090 starts automatically
To ensure that dump1090 starts to run whenever the computer starts, we need to carry out a series of steps.
- Open the folder containing the dump1090.bat file
- Right-click on the program and select ‘Create shortcut …’
- This will create a shortcut called ‘Shortcut to dump1090’. You can rename this if you wish.
- Once the shortcut has been created right-click the file and select Cut.
- Click Start, Programs, right-click the Startup folder and click Open
- Once the Startup folder has been opened click Edit and paste the shortcut into the startup. Any shortcuts in the startup folder will automatically start each time Windows starts.
- You may want to restart your computer to ensure that everything works as planned.
Having got dump1090 working on your computer you can move on to the next step which is to test that dump1090 can be accessed across the network.