Tracking the ISS Above with a Raspberry Pi

ISS Above

Back in May when I was at the Bay Area Maker Faire, one booth that stood out amongst all the 3D printing ones was for a product called ISS Above. It’s basically some software made for the Raspberry Pi that allows you to use the inexpensive microcomputer to track the position of the International Space Station relative to your location.

Maker Faire Bay Area 2014

Depending on which hardware you have, you can have it light up when the ISS is nearby and about to be over head. It also creates a local web server that you can log into with any device on your network to some pretty detailed info about the ISS location, the next pass over, etc.:

ISS Above Web view

If you have one of the addon LCD screens, it will display the ISS details right on the display. It can even tweet to the ISS with a virtual wave from your location. I’ve got a Piglow (also picked up at Maker Faire) that lights up it’s RGB LEDS as the ISS approaches.


This project was a Kickstarter earlier this year created by Liam Kennedy. I met Liam and his lovely wife at Maker Faire and immediately bought a copy of his software. I then promptly forgot it for months since it was just an SD card that got lost in my pile of swag from Maker Faire.

Today, I got an email from Liam about an interesting update for ISS Above. Now, the updated version of the software (now called ISS Above HD) allows you to connect the Raspberry Pi HDMI or composite video cables to a TV or monitor and you can get more detailed info about the current position of the ISS:

ISS Above

ISS Above

The coolest part is thanks to NASA’s new streaming service, HD Earth Viewing Experiment (HDEV) onboard the ISS, you can actually see live video from space! The software even tells you what part of the planet you’re viewing.

Watch Liam’s video for the full scoop:

If you’ve already got a Raspberry Pi, you can get the software from or it sounds like Liam is going to have another Kickstarter soon that includes a custom case, light/display addons and the software. This is a fun and cool use for a Raspberry Pi…I’ve got mine hooked up wirelessly under my tv…whenever it lights up, I can switch the TV on and see the live video feed and details as it flies overhead.

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