Plane Plotter and Radio Site Display

What is Plane Plotter?

PlanePlotter (PP) is a program for Windows that provides a radar-like display of aircraft positions. The position information can come from a range of sources, both local to the PC and via the Internet. (Note that the software must be registered, and a small fee paid, for the Internet sharing to work). The Internet source is a consolidation of individual sources from users of PP who may have, for example, a Kinetics SBS-1 ADS-B Receiver permanently online.

PP comes out of the UK and there is an active user group in that area. Australia also has a significant group of users with Internet-sharing sources in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, FNQ and Hobart. Sources in other areas (e.g. Canberra) come and go.

More information:

Plane Plotter Home Page

Plane Plotter WIKI

Plane Plotter Yahoo Group

Australian Mode-S Yahoo Group

Of interest to aircraft-enhancement enthusiasts is that the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane paths are almost completely covered by PP sharers. So we can 'see' when aircraft are in a position to provide enhancement to another station. However, the PP display capabilities are fairly crude. There is a much better way!

Plane Plotter and Radio Site Display

PP has a function that allows the aircraft positions to be displayed on Google Earth (GE). (It also has a 'cockpit view' which is quite spectacular). Using the Radio Site Display, we can display paths to other QTHs on GE. By combining the two, we can then see where aircraft are located with respect to the radio path to the other station and so can accurately predict when aircraft enhancement will occur.

To set this up, you need to do the following:

1. Download, install and register Planeplotter

2. In the PP Options menu:
a) set your Home Location
b) in I/O Settings, tick the Enable box for the Google Earth server
c) in Chart, click on Satellite (note that this doesn't always work)

You should now have a display that looks something like this:

Plane Plotter

3. If you haven't already, set up the Radio Site Display (RSD) for your home location. Full instructions are here: Radio Site Display setup

4. In GE, enable the QTHs display. Right-click on the QTHs entry, select Properties and change the View-Based Refresh option from 'After Camera Stops' to 'On Request'. This will prevent the QTH display from refreshing every time the display view is changed.

5. Pan/zoom the GE display to show the path of interest (e.g. Melbourne - Canberra)

6. Right-click on the QTHs menu entry again and select Refresh. You should now see paths only to those stations in the view.

7. Click the + to the left of the QTHs menu entry. A list will appear of all the stations in view. Click on the Tick next to QTHs to disable them all, then select only your own (first one) plus those of interest (e.g. VK2DO, VK1BG, ...). You should now only see the paths to those stations.

8. On your PC, go to the directory in which PP has been installed (normally C:\Program Files\COAA\PlanePlotter) and double-click on the file 'google_aircraft.kml'. A new entry of this name will appear in the GE menu. Make sure it is selected (i.e. boxes ticked), and you should now see aircraft symbols on GE.

The resulting display should look something like this:

Google Earth Display

(BTW, hopefully, you can see why I get extended periods of strong aircraft enhancement to Chris VK2DO's location - VOZ834 is currently doing a good job of it!)

Notes

1. PP only generates aircraft symbols on GE for aircraft currently visible on the PP screen. So, if you zoom PP in to look at only Victoria, then GE will only display aircraft plots in Victoria. It's suggested that you leave PP showing the whole of Australia as per the example above, and use GE to look at details (e.g. try Melbourne Airport).

2. Nearly all of the plots shown on PP are derived from ADS-B position reports given by receivers like the Kinetics SBS-1. However, not all aircraft are currently fitted with ADS-B equipment - generally only large domestics made after about 2002 and Internationals. (According to AirServices, ADS-B will be mandatory for all aircraft by 2012). What this means is that you may notice Aircraft Enhancement, but not see an aircraft in the appropriate location. There's still some guesswork required!