5 Best Portable ADS-B IN Receivers of 2021

5 Best Portable ADS-B IN Receivers of 2021

Tired of constantly looking for traffic every time you go flying? Meet portable ADS-B Receivers now available for virtually every flight deck. ADS-B receivers allow you to port traffic from ADS-B Towers directly to your digital EFB. These traffic awareness tools are not a replacement for looking out the window however they offer a sense of security when flying VFR.

Here we have listed some of the best ADS-B receivers you can buy / fit on your aircraft in 2021

Top Pick: Stratux ADS-B Receiver

Stratux is a DIY alternative to the industry standard Stratus ADS-B devices. This comes in at number one due to its excellent price to performance ratio. Even though this DIY method may seem challenging at first, it is one of the most rewarding as you are learning new skills along the process.

The Stratux consistently picks up traffic more than 100 miles away, which is longer than the vast majority of general aviation flights. The entire package costs roughly $220 and you can purchase one here from Aviator Systems.

The Stratux units come in a modular bundle which allows you to swap out parts such as batteries and antennas to gain an optimal connection. If you like technology and DIY projects the Stratux will be the best choice for you.

Stratux Key Features

·  DIY Option that is easy to expand upon.

·  Budget-friendly based on the equipment you select.

Budget Pick: Scout Dual-Band ADS-B Receiver

Maybe you aren’t interested in a DIY project but you are still looking for a cost-effective solution for the cockpit? Well look no further than the uAvionix Scout dual-band receiver. This is a joint partnership between ForeFlight and uAvionix which both companies feature the best in EFB and ADS-B Performance. You can be assured that the warranty and reliability will extend. The benefit of the Scout is that it is the smallest device in our lineup.

Offering a single suction cup that can hang from any window in the aircraft. This makes for an easy setup for any pilot looking to take off quickly.

Only Downside is that the Scout does not have capabilities for GPS nor Backup attitude information.

Scout Dual-Band Key Features
  • Connects to any external portable 5V USB battery or existing USB power source in your aircraft
  • Integrated Wi-Fi supports up to 4 iOS devices
  • Very compact

Feature Pick: ForeFlight Sentry ADS-B Receiver

Sentry is a foreflight branded alternative to the Scout. The difference is, Sentry offers a further range dual band receiver, carbon monoxide detector, with other popular features such as GPS and backup attitude, and more.

The addition of the Carbon monoxide detector makes this an excellent pick in our book as the other options do not carry such a lifesaving feature. Standalones cost nearly $200 but you can get the ForeFlight Sentry ADS-B for $499.

Sentry Dual-Band Key Features
  • Internal / Rechargable battery 
  • Integrated Wi-Fi supports up to 4 iOS devices
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector

Garmin GDL 52 Portable ADS-B Receiver 

The Garmin GLD 52 is our next best pick, why? Because it’s the only one in this line up that provides XM Radio solutions. Its reliable, Its portable and it offers the same array as features as the previous picks with the XM Radio addition. Unfortunately, it will set you back $1,149 or as listed in its latest amazon price.

However, with XM Radio functionality you will also reap the benefits of in-flight entertainment for the long hauls.


Garmin GDL 52 Portable ADS-B Receiver Key Features

·  Connects to any external portable 5V USB battery or existing USB power source in your aircraft

·  Integrated Wi-Fi supports up to 4 iOS devices

·  Very compact

Garmin GDL 50

The Garmin GDL 50 is one of the more expensive options however it comes with the added reliability provided by Garmin. The device can display animated graphical weather plus METARs, TAFs, winds and temperatures aloft, PIREPs, NOTAMs onto your EFB.

The Garmin GDL 50 comes with an internal rechargeable built-in lithium-ion battery that provides up to 8 hours. This is a benefit over the others as it comes in one package versus external power sources.

The GDL 50 comes with Garmin Terminal Track technology. This new technology elevates your situational awareness offering you the ability to see aircraft within the airport environment. This gives you the ability to estimate which traffic may cause delays on the field and within your path.

Garmin GDL 50 Portable ADS-B Receiver Key Features

  • Connects to any external portable 5V USB battery or existing USB power source in your aircraft
  • Integrated Wi-Fi supports up to 4 iOS devices
  • Very compact

What you should look for in an ADS-B Receiver?

EFB Compatibility

A lot of the benefits of ADS-B Receivers come down to their compatibility. Are you a ForeFlight user? Then you are in luck, most if not, all of the ADS-B receivers on the market will work for you. Do you use any other ADS-B Receiver? Then you should ensure to check the device you purchase is compatible with your EFB of choice. This is important because some ADS-B Receivers are only designed to work with certain EFBs


Size is a huge factor as we know the cockpit can sometimes get quite small. Making sure you have an ADS-B Receiver that does not become a distraction in the cockpit is important for safety of the pilot. An Ideal ADS-B receiver is one that is not noticeable and can be tucked in a corner of the dashboard or even the rear windows.

Battery Life

It goes without saying that battery life is one of the most important factors when choosing devices in the cockpit. This is why many of the ADS-B receivers on the market often require external power sources. This is so that you can choose the power source depending on your needs. There are tons of battery packs on amazon that offer compatibility with different power outputs and longevity. ADS-B devices with internal battery packs can often degrade over time requiring replacement. Even though this remains a long-term issue this can be seen as a dissuading factor for these types of models.


Frequently Asked Questions

Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast is a technology that determines aircraft positions in the sky and broadcasts over digital data link.

ADS-B IN is a receiver which receives data link from ADS-B Towers. ADS-B Out can be installed on aircraft to send information to ADS-B towers and to nearby communication towers.

As of 2021, ADS-B IN is not required on board your aircraft as it is simply a receiver. However, as of January 1st, 2020, (FAR 91.225) the FAA has required ADS-B OUT under the following conditions:

  • Class A, B, and C airspace;
  • Class E airspace at or above 10,000 feet msl, excluding airspace at and below 2,500 feet agl;
  • Within 30 nautical miles of a Class B primary airport (the Mode C veil);
  • Above the ceiling and within the lateral boundaries of Class B or Class C airspace up to 10,000 feet;
  • Class E airspace over the Gulf of Mexico, at and above 3,000 feet msl, within 12 nm of the U.S. coast.

ADS-B stands for Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast

According to the FAA, Automatic “because it periodically transmits information with no pilot or operator involvement required.” 

Dependent “Dependent because the position and velocity vectors are derived from the Global Positioning System (GPS) or other suitable Navigation Systems (i.e., FMS).”

Surveillance because it provides a method of determining 3 dimensional position and identification of aircraft, vehicles, or other assets.

Broadcast because it transmits the information available to anyone with the appropriate receiving equipment.

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