Nick Sypteras recently moved into an apartment that gives him an excellent view of passing airplanes. Though most would just accept them as an interesting curiosity, self-described “airplane fanatic” Sypteras would often check what planes were passing on the website FlightRadar24.com. Eventually, this process became cumbersome, so he taught Alexa to do the task for him!
Besides an Alexa Dot, all that was needed to accomplish this task was a Raspberry Pi, and a device called an RTL-SDR USB Dongle. The dongle receives Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) messages from passing airplanes, which is then sent to the Pi.
From here, several clever tricks are used to scrape data for planes, and to choose which one is likely in view based on proximity to Sypteras’ window. Now all he has to do is ask Alexa to “open what plane is that,” and it replies back with info on the airplane going by.
Be sure to check out his code on GitHub if you’d like to try this experiment yourself!