AGW Ground Station

The Radar2 app "sees" aircraft with legacy systems (Flarm, OGN Trackers, etc.) but, can aircraft equipped with legacy systems see those using Radar2?

Yes, as long as the area is served by a repeating Ground Station.

AGW (Air GateWay) ground station is a simple and inexpensive solution for setting up a fixed ground station that interconnects nearby aircrafts using legacy radio systems with those using internet apps connected to the OGN provider.

AGW has two operating modes:

  • RTX mode: the station acts as a two-way repeater (Rx and Tx). Connection between radio devices and apps is bidirectional. Use this mode if there are no pre-existing repeaters in your area. *

  • TXO mode: the station integrates radio communications towards aircrafts with legacy systems (Tx Only). It is mandatory to use this mode if there are pre-existing repeaters in your area.

AGW consists of an antenna, a programmed board and a power supply (cellular type). The cost of the DIY device is just a few tens of eur/usd. The configuration of the AGW device is very easy, it will be sufficient to provide a name for the gateway and its approximate location.

An ideal position to install an AGW station is near an aerodrome, somewhere where there is a wi-fi internet connection, but it can also be installed in a private house where it can serve an area over a 20 km radius (it depends on the position and quality of the antenna).

* The use of the AGW in RTX mode, in an area without receiving stations, extends the coverage of the OGN network and makes the relative services (e.g. FlightBook) available also to all aircraft located in the area and equipped with legacy radio anti-collision systems.

The current AGW version is 1.0 and it is suitable for Europe, Africa and all countries which use 868 Mhz ISM band.

Write us an email if you need further detailed information on HW installation and SW deployment.

HW Info

  • Antenna for 868 Mhz (eg. external collinear antenna, at least 8dbi and one meter long)

  • TTGO (or Heltec) radio board Lora32, 868 Mhz type. See here (it can be purchased on Amazon, AliExpress, etc.)

  • 5 V power adapter (cellular type, micro usb)

SW Info

To load the AirGW firmware onto the radio board it is necessary to download it from this site onto a Windows PC and then load it onto the board after connecting it to the PC with a USB cable. Below are the steps to follow.

  1. Download the AirGW.bin file to a local folder, e.g. C:\Downloaded. (It is a file intended for the radio board, it is not executed on the PC).

  2. Make sure that the .NET 6.0 Runtime is installed on the Windows PC.
    Run "dotnet --list-runtimes" from the command prompt and make sure the runtime is present in the list, otherwise install it from Microsoft.

  3. Check if the flasher firmware is installed and updated by running "nanoff".
    If it is not updated, update it by running "dotnet tool update -g nanoff", if it is not installed, install it by running "dotnet tool install -g nanoff".

  4. Check the number of the COM port to be used to deploy the firmware to the radio board.
    Launch the command "nanoff --listports" then connect the radio board to the pc and relaunch "nanoff --listports" checking which COM port X has been added for the board.

  5. Deploy the firmware on the radio board by issuing the following two commands:
    nanoff --update --target ESP32_PICO --serialport COMX --fwversion
    nanoff --target ESP32_PICO --serialport COMX --deploy --image "C:\Downloaded\AirGW.bin"

This procedure can also be used on MacOS but, after installing nanoff, it must be added in the path settings (export PATH=$PATH:~/.dotnet/tools).

AGW Configuration

After loading the firmware on the radio board you need to connect the antenna and place the board where it can receive the wi-fi signal of your internet router. It may be necessary to enclose the board in a waterproof case and use as short an antenna cable as possible.
Power up the radio board and use a computer or smartphone to connect the wi-fi network (with name AirGW-AP) initially generated by the board. On the computer or smartphone you are using to configure the gateway, open the web browser and enter the address (these instructions will also be visible on the board display). A page for configuring your gateway will be displayed, where you will have to enter:

  • the SSID and Password of your router (pay attention to upper and lower case letters)

  • the name of your gateway (only letters and numbers without spaces and a maximum length of 9 characters)

  • the RTX or TXO mode (see above)

  • the latitude and longitude of the gateway location (degrees to 3 decimal places are sufficient)

  • the value in meters of the local Geoid Undulation (a value between -100 and +100 which can be found online, for example, here).

Confirm the configuration and your gateway is ready to use.

To call the configuration function later, the board must be rebooted with GPIO 34 pin at +3.3v.