What happens when you send up a quadcopter equipped with a Linux box, WiFi and an RTL-SDR dongle? Darren and company from Hak5 decided to find out. Their project used the SDR to receive ADS-B signals from aircraft hundreds of miles away.
The Hak5 team took a quadcopter up on top of a high mountain, attached to it a WiFi Pineapple (a small WiFi equipped Linux computer), an RTL-SDR dongle and a coax collinear antenna and then flew it up high. They ran dump1090, a Linux based ADS-B decoder on the WiFi pineapple and then broadcast the decoded information back to a laptop on the ground.
Although the results were less than favorable, it is still an interesting project to explore. Their poor results may be due to a nearby RF broadcast tower which could have been overloading the dongle, or EMF from the quadcopter motors.