WACARS Version 0.7 is the latest release of the popular ACARS decoder for windows. This software will allow you to decode the ACARS signals received by your air band receiver using the soundcard that is installed in you PC.
An entirely new decoding algorithm, Support for any DDE ACARS server, for example the Lowe Airmaster 2000 or Skyspy, better map display, larger database entries, airline specific modes database, change of log file name format and a host of minor bug fixes.
Position of aircraft plotted on a map, Automatic Log of all messages received, Automatic sorted lists of all aircraft and flight numbers Company name determined from flight number. Built in signal strength and CPU load meter. Unlimited aircraft database, Programmable message and IATA and ICAO airport designator decoding.
WACARS Version 0.7 *
WACARS V0.7 Instruction and Installation Manual *
New features in this version *
Other features *
System Requirements *
Menus Options *
File Menu *
38400 KB/sec Decoder *
44100 KB/sec Decoder *
DDE Link *
New Aircraft Log *
Save As *
Edit Menu *
Search Menu *
Options Menu *
Expand Aircraft Types *
Expand Messages *
Expand Mode Labels *
Expand Flights *
Expand Flight Route *
Expand Ground Stations *
Airmaster Mode *
Log Message Data *
Log Raw Data *
Log Position Data *
Database Files *
Map Options *
Error Checking *
No Error Checking *
Only Header *
Full Checking *
Arrange Icons *
View Raw Data *
View List of Aircraft *
View Messages *
View List of Flights *
Help Menu *
Database Files *
The Airport Database File *
The Aircraft Database File *
The ACARS Mode Database File *
The ACARS Message Database File *
A PC using Windows 3.1 or later. Minimum CPU, about a 486DX2-100 but unknown. The load on the CPU is shown on screen as a bar graph. If the bar graph shows 100% load the CPU is not processing the data fast enough and chunks of data are being missed. Memory, about a megabyte of free memory. I've used the program on 8MB machine and it seemed OK. Soundcard. A Windows compatible soundcard or a copy of an ACARS DDE server. An air-band receiver capable of receiving ACARS signals. An audio cable to connect from the receiver to the soundcard.
WACARS v0.7 is FREEWARE, but you are encouraged to register your use of the software. This software may be freely copied and distributed providing that the program and accompanying files are not modified in any way without prior written permission of the author. Any charges made for distributing this software may not exceed that of the cost of the distribution media. You are granted a license to use this software providing you accept the disclaimer below.
With-out diminishing anything in the previous paragraph, if you become a regular user of WACARS 0.7, enjoy using it and wish encourage its future development, you might consider contributing to the price of a round of drinks, so the WACARS development team can celebrate with you. If you feel so inclined, the WACARS team can be contacted at:
WACARS Development Team c/o 11 Norton Close Papworth Everard Cambridgeshire CB3 8XT UK
Simply fill out the registration form which is available on the WACARS WWW page; http://www.mike.mcmail.com/acars.html; and your registration code will be e-mailed back. The registration process is only used to keep a count of the number of WACARS users, although by entering the registration code, the initial "splash" screen will disappear automatically once the program has started.
Although this product has been tested by the author, he accepts no responsibility for any damages caused by the use or misuse of this software. This software is distributed 'as is' with no warranty expressed or implied. The author will not be responsible for any losses incurred either directly or indirectly, by the use of this software. Use this software entirely at your own risk. If you do not agree to these terms then you must not use this software.
Download WACARS07.ZIP from the WACARS web page, http://www.mike.mcmail.com/acars.html
WACARS07.ZIP will contain,
WACARS.EXE, the actual program file. AIRPORTS.WDF, database of IATA and ICAO airport designators, AIRCRAFT.WDF, database of aircraft registrations and aircraft types, AIRLINES.WDF, database of airline codes, MODES.WDF, database of ACARS modes, MESSAGE.WDF, database for message decoding, GROUND.WDF, database of ground station names, ROUTES.WDF, database of flight routes, MAP.BMP, a sample map, BWCC.DLL, application extensions, README.HTML, This file, instructions, license, trouble shooting.
All of the files can stay in the same directory.
Create a program icon in the usual way.
At this point you might also like to associate .LOG and .WDF files with your favourite text editor, e.g. Notepad. This is entirely your choice, I just find it helps me.
Software installation is now complete.
Connect the audio output from your air band receiver to the input of your soundcard using a suitable audio cable. I used the LINE IN/AUX input on my soundcard. LINE level signals are 100 mV rms which is much larger that MIC signals, so the is much less chance of overload.
Next tune your air band receiver to the appropriate ACARS frequency for your area, see below, and turn the squelch fully off. If possible locate the receiver as far away for the computer as possible. This will minimise electromagnetic pick-up and interference from the computer and monitor. Ideally you should not be able to hear and interference at all.
The hardware installation is now complete.
First of all select which type of decoder you wish to use, either of the soundcard decoders and/or the DDE link, from the File menu; see below. If you are using your soundcard for decoding, the first time you use WACARS you will need to find the best audio levels for the computer and receiver. Using the mixer control for your soundcard adjust the appropriate input gain and the master gain to about 1/2. Also make sure that the "Line–in" is selected as an active input for recording. Next adjust the volume of the receiver such that when a strong ACARS signal is present the SIG meter moves to the middle. With no ACARS signal present the SIG meter should show no signal. This is a good starting point, but by adjusting the different volumes you may get slightly better reception.
The WACARS screen consists of five different windows. The SIG and CPU meters have already been described. The Raw Data Log shows any data detected from a received ACARS signal. If the received data forms a correctly formed ACARS packet it is then decoded and displayed in the ????MESS.LOG window. Data in this window is also automatically saved to disk in a file ABDCMESS.LOG, where AB is the date of the month and DC is the month. The registration of the aircraft is extracted from the ACARS packet and stored in the sorted list of aircraft detected, the Aircraft Contacted window. The flight number of the aircraft is also extracted from the ACARS packet and stored in the sorted list of flights detected, the Flights Contacted window.
This option uses your soundcard to decode the ACARS data. The signal is samples at 38400 samples per second and processed using newest decoding algorithm.
This option uses your soundcard to decode the ACARS data. The signal is samples at 44100 samples per second and processed using an older decoding algorithm.
Only select one or the other of , 38400 Decoder OR 44100 Sound Decoder.
Use this option to line WACARS to a ACARS DDE server. First you will need to enter the details of the server in the "System" section of your wacars.ini file. You will need to know the server "Name", "Topic" and "Item". For the Airmaster 2000, these are;
[System] Server=WinACARS Topic=ACARS Item=LiveData
For Skyspy they are,
[System] Server=SkySpy Topic=ACARS Item=LiveData
Before selecting the option, start the DDE server. For Airmaster 2000 set it so it produces messages in this format,
ACARS mode: 2 Aircraft reg: .N811DE Message label: 80 Block id: 7 Msg. no: M63A Flight id: DL0015 Message content:- 3C03 0015/01 EDDF/KATL /POS OTR /OVR 1151/NXT N54000W015000/ETA 1301 /ENS N54000W020000/ALT 310/FOB 1656/SAT 58 /WND 299036/MCH 83/TRB SMOOTH /SKY UNDERCAST/ICE NONE ----------------------------------------------------------[01 Feb 1998 11:50]
Next select "File/Use Link to DDE Server". Low and behold, what ever is received by the DDE server should also be displayed by WACARS using whatever formatting option you have set.
By changing the entries in the wacars.ini file as appropriate it should be possible to accommodate any future ACARS DDE server.
Closes the log of messages for a specific aircraft.
Allows the user to specify the registration of a specific aircraft, whose messages will be sorted into a single separate log. Specific aircraft can only be 32KBytes long, a 'feature' of Windows.
Allows the user to save a log at any time.
Allows the user to save a specific aircraft log but using a new file name.
Copies a section of a specific aircraft log to the clipboard.
Deletes entries from the sorted list of flights and aircraft detected.
Search for text in a specific aircraft log.
Search for the next occurrence of text in a specific aircraft log.
Causes the system to search the aircraft types database for aircraft type each time an ACARS packet is received. If the aircraft type is known it is displayed along with the aircraft registration in the message log. E.g. G-BNWE could become G-BNWE BOEING 767-336ER. See below for information on entering or removing entries from the database.
Causes the system to search the message text of a received ACARS packet and attempt to decode airport names and key words using information stored in the airports database and messages database. E.g. MET01EGLL could become WEATHER REQUEST FOR LONDON HEATHROW. See below for information on entering or removing entries from the database.
Causes the system to search the modes database for message type each time an ACARS packet is received. If the message type is known it is displayed along with message designator in the message log. E.g. Message Type _* could become Message Type _* NO INFORMATION TO TRANSMIT. See below for information on entering or removing entries from the database.
Causes the system to search the airlines database for airline name each time an ACARS packet is received. If the airline type is known it is displayed along with the aircraft registration in the message log. E.g. OS0459 could become AUSTRIAN AIRLINES OS0459. See below for information on entering or removing entries from the database.
Causes the system to search the routes database for the flight routing each time an ACARS packet is received. If the routing is known it is displayed along with the flight number in the message log. e.g. QF0009 could become QF0009 Singapore to Heathrow. See below for information on entering or removing entries from the database.
Causes the system to search the Ground Stations database for the name of the ground station in use each time an ACARS packet is received. If the station known, it is displayed along with the station number in the message log. E.g. Using Ground Station C could become Using Ground Station C East Midlands. See below for information on entering or removing entries from the database. This database is provided with all my entries commented out as it's contents would need to reflect where you live.
This option will filter the received messages and only display messages which are addressed to aircraft in the aircraft database. This is useful if you only want to monitor a some selected aircraft and ignore all others. Simply edit the aircraft database so that it only contains entries for the aircraft you are interested in.
Causes the system to store message data in the format used by the Lowe Airmaster.
Enables message data recording.
Enables raw data recording.
Enables the position mapping of aircraft that transmit position data.
This is one of the latest and most unique features of WACARS. This feature means that you can see on a map exactly where the aircraft you are receiving actually are. The system works by scanning the free text field of every received message and looking for longitude and latitude information, for example
has the position reference North 5308 West 0022 embedded in the beginning of it. WACARS detects this as a position reference and plots the position of the aircraft on the map.
To take advantage of this new feature you need to set-up WACARS for where you live. Firstly you need a map. This is just a standard Windows .bmp bitmap. You can draw it by hand, scan it, beg for it or borrow it. A size of around 600 pixels wide by 400 high in 16 or 256 colours is fine. The bigger the map and more colours you use the more memory it takes, it's up to you. Now you need to use the Map Options menu option to tell WACARS about your map. Use the Map File text box to enter the name of your map file. Then fill in the longitude and latitudes of the edges of your map in the North, East, West and South text boxes. Use simple decimal notation, i.e. 55 deg 30 mins North is represented by 55.500. Latitudes north of the equator are represented by positive numbers and south of the equator by negative, i.e. N51 = 51.00, S51 = -51.000. West of Greenwich is represented by negative longitude and east by positive, i.e. W123 = -123.00, E123 = 123.00. You can't go across the International Date Line, sorry, your western edge must be represented by a lower number than your east. When you're happy click on OK and sit back.
If WACARS detects more than one position fix from the same aircraft it will use the previous fixes to establish the course of the aircraft and position the aircraft on the map appropriately. If it is the first contact the map aircraft will point North.
Allow the files used for the various databases to be specified. See below.
Used to set the name of the map file and its co-ordinates.
Used to decide whether an ACARS packet has been received without critical errors.
The parity of the received data is not checked. The packet must start with a valid sync sequence,
The packet must start with a valid sync sequence and end with an end of text marker. The header of the packet must be free from parity errors.
The packet must start with a valid sync sequence and end with an end of text marker. All data in the packet must be free from parity errors. Window Menu
This command stacks all open edit windows and overlaps them so that each is the same size as all others and only part of each underlying window is visible.
This command arranges your open windows from top to bottom so that they cover the entire width of the desktop without overlapping one another.
This command rearranges any icons on the desktop. The rearranged icons are evenly spaced, beginning at the lower left corner of the desktop. This command is useful when you resize your desktop that has minimised windows. It is unavailable when no windows are minimised.
This command brings the windows which shows the raw data log to the front.
This command brings the window that shows the list of aircraft contacted to the front.
This command brings the window that shows the message log to the front.
This command brings the window that shows the list of flights to the front.
About Tells you very little about WACARS.
Enter your registration code here.
There are six default database files, their uses are shown below,
AIRPORTS.WDF, database of IATA and ICAO airport designators, AIRCRAFT.WDF, database of aircraft registrations and aircraft types, MODES.WDF, database of ACARS modes, MESSAGE.WDF, database for message decoding, GROUND.WDF, database of ground station names, ROUTES.WDF, database of flight routes,
All the files are of the same general format, Key=Expansion Key item which the system will search for and Expansion is the text that will be used in its place. Comment lines can be added. These must start with a '!' character.
This file contains the IATA and the ICAO designators of airports. If any of these are found in the message text they can be expanded to show the actual airport name. e.g., Using the entry,
EGLL=LONDON HEATHROW The message MET01EGLL will become MET01 LONDON HEATHROW
This file contains a database of aircraft registrations and types. If the aircraft registration is found in the file the aircraft type can be displayed along with the registration e.g., Using the entry,
D-ABXE=BOEING 737-330 The message D-ABXE will become D-ABXE BOEING 737-330
This file contains a database of ACARS mode descriptions. If mode designator is contained in the file then the type of message can be displayed as it is received e.g., Using the entry,
H1=GENERAL MESSAGED The message Message Type H1, will become Message Type H1, GENERAL MESSAGE
To support diferent airlines using the same mode for diferent types of message, there are two types of entry in the modes database, default modes and airline specific modes. Airline specific modes are prefixed witht he airline designator code.
For exampe imagine that BA use mode 80 as a time check message, UA use mode 80 as a position report and everyone else use it as a data down load message. This could be achieved using the following entries;
! DEFAULT MESSAGE 80=DATA DOWN LOAD ! BA VERSION BA80=TIME CHECK ! UA VERSION UA80=POSITION REPORT
This file contains the information used to decode message text. I'll use the following message to show how to use this file. Raw Message
N188DN BOEING 767-332ER DELTA AIRLINES DL0107 /POS CPT /ETA 1051 /ALT 350/FOB 0901/SAT 58 /WND 240017/MCH 81/TRB SMOOTH /SKY UNDERCAST/ICE NONE
This is a message sent by a Delta Airlines 767. There are several deferent message styles and formats used by different airlines. To allow for this the message text is linked to the airline designator before it is decoded. In this case all messages text is prefixed with DL before decoding. /POS tells us where the aircraft is now, so this could be replaced by "Current Position". To do this add the line
To the message database file. From now on /POS in a Delta Airlines message will expand to "Current Position". The rest of the entries are shown,
DL/ALT=ALTITUDE DL/ETA=ESTIMANTED AT DL/FOB=FUEL ON BOARD DL/ICE=ICEING DL/MCH=SPEED MACH DL/SAT=OUTSIDE AIR TEMPERATURE DL/SKY=CLOUD DL/TRB=TURBULANCE DL/WND=WIND
The message would then decode as
N188DN BOEING 767-332ER DELTA AIRLINES DL0107, CURRENT POSITION CPT ESTIMANTED AT 1051 ALTITUDE 350FUEL ON BOARD 0901OUTSIDE AIR TEMPERATURE 58 WIND 240017SPEED MACH 81TURBULANCE SMOOTH CLOUD UNDERCAST ICING NONE
The default file contains many examples to help understand the system.
The key which the computer searches for can be 7,6,or 5 characters long, so
DL12345=TEXT DL1234=TEXT DL123=TEXT
are OK but,
Also the text must be less that 80 characters long. DL1234=01234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789 is the maximum length message.
The system deals badly with free text. For example consider the following message,
You might expect this to decode to
and would be alarmed when
CLOUD CLEVELAND AR
appeared. This is because the system has also found CLE=CLEVELAND in the airports database. There are two ways to get round this. The simplest is to delete CLE=CLEVELAND from the airport database, but this isn't ideal. Another way is to add an entry CLEAR=CLEAR in the message database file. The system searches from the longest key to the smallest key, so CLEAR will be found before CLE. If you look in the default message database you will find the two lines
to stop exactly this problem for Delta and Fed. Ex. flights.
Introduction Screen Shots Installation Frequencies Databases Maps FAQ Links Download Registration