Best ADS-B Receiver
Although a pilot’s job is exhilarating with adventure and excitement, you must follow many rules and regulations. As a pilot, you need to ensure all of your airplane’s gear is in check and that your communication with ATC is stable at all times.
If you’re here, you probably know that your aircraft must have an ads-b receiver in place to keep communication with ATC straight. It's a device that effectively sends your position, altitude, velocity, and other metrics to ATC on the ground and other aircraft in the sky.
But with so many options available, how do you pick the best ads b receiver that checks all the marks? Don’t you worry — we’ve compiled 6 of the finest ads-b in and out receivers on the market.
Let’s help you pick one.
Best ADS B Receiver
We’ve researched and tested a bunch of receivers to compile this list. Every product we’ve shortlisted checks all the marks that an airplane flying today should have. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Stratux ADS-B Dual Band Receiver Aviation Weather and Traffic
If you're looking for a portable ads-b receiver, you should consider Stratux dual-band. We found its window suction mounting capability to be highly portable and handy. It's lightweight to use and can be carried around easily as it's made with a tiny Raspberry Pi 3 computer.
Although compact, it packs a decent 6000mAh battery, which will last you around 4 hours on a journey. You can create an ads-b receiver for iPad or iPhone, connecting via WiFi in this time frame. If you have a WiFi-only tablet or iPad lying at home, you can make great use of it by connecting to this ads-b in receiver.
Using its internal GPS receiver that they call GPYes WAAS, it can provide real-time location position, ads-b traffic, and weather information. But due to the internal components' delicacy, the receiver is unfortunately not waterproof.
As for compatibility, it supports many options, such as FltPlan Go, iFly GPS, and much more. You can check the Amazon page for the entire list.
All in all, with a 30-day money-back return policy and technical support warranty by the manufacturers, it's a great portable ads-b out and ads-b in to get.
2. Sentry ADS-B Receiver for Weather and Traffic
For a lightweight, portable, and cheap ads-b out receiver, you should check out Sentry. They deliver traffic data, weather information, and GPS location — all in real-time, thanks to its ForeFlight compatibility. What's more, you can view all this on your iPad or iPhone easily via the ForeFlight Mobile app.
The app and monitor are descriptive and animated, showing the entire location map with helpful colors, diagrams, and directions. You almost get a full-scale, real-time weather image.
You can also avoid other aircraft in the air thanks to its ads-b out portable sensor. If an airplane is ads-b out enabled, Sentry can get that information and show it in its dynamic screen, better awaring you of your surroundings in the sky.
The overall visual output of Sentry was super pleasing to see. Not only do you get audio alerts, but you also get to see traffic info of surrounding airplanes alongside your position, velocity, and altitude in its neat dynamic traffic screen.
Not to mention, it weighs only 44 grams and is super compact. It can be easily carried around and mounted anywhere, so portability is never in question.
It gave us around 12 hours of battery life as advertised. The receiver is waterproof to some extent but has no warranty. Even so, we're confident in calling it a good pick for one of the best portable ads-b receivers on the market.
3. Garmin GDL 50 Portable ADS-B Receiver
If your budget is a bit high and you're looking for a high-quality ads-b in receiver, Garmin GDL 50 might be a good fit for you. It connects to Garmin's software, Garmin Pilot, and supports other apps like ForeFlight Mobile and FltPlan Go.
You get real-time graphical, animated weather info by connecting to its app. Other helpful information like wind speeds and outside temperature are also available, and everything is digitalized and animated.
As for handling traffic, it retrieves data from other ADS-B carriers, too — notifying you if any aircraft is nearby. If anything gets too close than it should, this ads-b in receiver has an audible alert system in place. It says aloud, "Traffic! Traffic!" whenever any carrier is nearby.
The receiver's virtual terrain feature was super interesting. With advanced GPS sensors, it can create an accurate outline in the green of your terrain. This feature comes in handy when landing.
The model is compact and weighs just 340 grams. It can be placed anywhere easily with the included suction cup and mounting brackets.
After docking to your desired spot, you wouldn't have to worry about the battery for a while — for at least 8 hours, to be exact. The battery solution is rechargeable, and you don't need to worry about overcharging as it's lithium-ion.
But unfortunately, as it has multiple ports, it isn't very waterproof.
4. Nooelec NESDR Mini
Wireless tech is often unreliable, so most people go the wired route. In the wired USB genre of ads-b in receivers, NESDR Mini is a good pick.
As it connects via USB, you can guess that it isn't that heavy. You can connect it anywhere, and it stays upright.
As it mounts directly via USB, the battery isn't an issue — you can run it all day. After connecting, you can mount to many software, notably MATLAB, Planeplotter, and MathWorks.
It works exceptionally well as an ads-b in receiver. With the help of the software, this mini ads-b receiver gets all the jobs done, from satellite images to ads-b information. It does all this at a fraction of the size and price.
As for waterproof features, the plastic body can repel regular splashes well, but we wouldn't call it waterproof, per se. But it's nothing to be sold off — the model comes with a 1-year warranty and is super cheap to buy, at less than 30 bucks. The company provides installation support too.
5. AirNav RadarBox FlightStick
While on the topic of lightweight ads-b in receivers, we'd suggest AirNav's FlightStick. Weighing equal to that of a small pen drive, this little guy has all the essentials covered — starting from getting ads-b in data to decoding ads-b out information from other air carriers.
As it's wired, you won't have to worry about battery life — it runs as long as your engine can send it power. Thanks to its compact form factor, you can easily plug and carry it anywhere, even inside your pocket.
Thanks to its Raspberry Pi build, it’s compact and supports its iOS and Android apps to run. They're compatible with all versions on iPhones and Android smartphones, so if you have an old tablet or iPad lying around, that'd be best.
We found some exciting things in RadarBox's apps. It always shows real-time data, and as the app is integrated with the product, latency is minimal. The dedicated app gives you all the necessary information like your position, altitude, weather information, air traffic, and much more.
As per durability goes, no warranty is provided, but you get 24/7 customer support upon purchase. It can handle light wetness and dampness pretty easily. We would recommend not spilling large amounts of liquids near it, though.
6. Dynon Dual Band ADS-B Traffic and Weather Receiver
If you're looking for particular features outside of portable ads-b in receivers, Dynon ads-b is an interesting one. It surprised us that it can directly get texts and animated weather information from the FAA. It collects data from other ads-b stations on the ground too.
You get entire graphical radar traffic when you pair the module with Dynon's Mode-S transponder.
This ads-b receiver kit displays data on SkyView, METARs, and others. Its unique weather data for airports was especially amusing, where you can choose your nearest airport or put a specific one.
All data is animated and displayed graphically, so you'll have no issue reading them. It shows traffic information with precision, alongside other airplanes' velocities, altitudes, and location.
You won't have to worry about the battery as it directly connects to the transponder. It's relatively light and used to move, too, but you have to make sure the antenna is at least 2 feet away from the transponder's antenna.
Its metal alloy build offers good splash and water resistance, but we wouldn't rely on it too much. No specific warranty is provided, but you do get all-time customer support.
What To Look For Before Buying
To better fine-tune your pick, let’s go over some crucial things you should look out for before choosing your ads-b receiver.
You should pay this factor special attention to when buying an ads-b receiver. A pilot shouldn’t have to worry about how long your receiver will work when in-flight. Because if it fails, you might face issues when taking off or landing.
The fool-proof way is to get an ads-b receiver with at least 4 to 6 hours of battery life. Ideally, a wired or USB receiver works best too.
Your device’s compatibility is the second most important. It isn’t good if it can’t connect to most iPads, iPhones, or Android devices. The receiver must also support good graphical apps like FltPlan Go and SkyView.
Portability and Waterproofness
We’ve put these two together as we think they go hand-in-hand in most cases. Usually, portability isn’t an issue for receivers, as you’ll just be connecting them to your cockpit and forget about it. But this changes for small airplanes, where you might need to adjust and readjust different components constantly.
On smaller airplanes, waterproofness is essential too. They usually don’t reach a high altitude, so they can keep the window open. Inside open-window planes like this, waterproofness is a must-have feature, or your components may get damaged.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are ADS-B receivers?
ADS-B receivers stand for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast. They work in precisely calculating the position of an aircraft via satellite GPS navigation and other high-precision sensors. The data is then broadcasted periodically to ATC on the ground. ADS-B receivers replace the archaic system of radio signals to track an aircraft.
2. Who should buy an ADS-B receiver?
Pilots who use an aircraft in Mode C Veil must have an ADS-B receiver. The law has been renewed as of 2020, and it's a must.
3. How much does an ADS-B transponder cost?
The average price of ADS-B transponders is anywhere from $2000 to $2500. This price is considering your aircraft already has WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System).
4. Do I need an ADS-B receiver?
As of the renewed air traffic law of 2020, countries such as Australia and the USA require all commercial passenger airplanes and aircraft that need transponders to have an ADS-B receiver. Also, if you're a pilot who's planning to fly in a Mode C Veil airspace, you must have the receiver.
5. What is the difference between ADS-B in and ADS-B out?
Getting information like a plane’s altitude, position, or velocity between the ATC on the ground and an aircraft is termed as ADS-B in. On the other hand, ADS-B out is when the plane initiates communication between other aircraft in the sky.
6. Can you fly over Class C airspace without ADS-B?
If there is no Mode C Veil, you can fly an aircraft over Class C without ADS-B. Be sure to double-check, though, as most busy airports are Mode C Veil.
7. Is ADS-B required above 10000?
ADS-B is required over or at 10,000 for Class E airspaces. As for Classes A, B, and C, they're almost always required. You won’t need it if you're at 2,500 feet or below, but it's necessary within 30 NM of a Class B airspace.
If you’ve come this far, you should know how to find the best ads b receiver for yourself. Through our rigorous testing, we can confidently recommend any of the products that have been mentioned in this post.
As a final tip, we recommend choosing lightweight and compact ads-b receivers for small airplanes, whereas bigger ones for large aircraft.
As small planes fly at low altitudes, compact receivers are good enough to broadcast all data with shorter ranges. But since a large aircraft will fly high in the sky, it’d be worth investing in a larger receiver. This way, you can invest your money smartly.
2. Sentry ADS-B Receiver for Weather and Traffic