Monthly Archives:August 2016

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Byssokol

FlightBox FB1X Dual Band ADS-B Receiver

FlightBox – Assembled, Tested and Ready To Fly.

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Firmware Version 1.0 Now Available

For the past several months FlightBox has been shipping with a copy of Stratux v0.8r2. After several months of testing we’re happy to announce that an update to Stratux v1.0r1 is now available. 1.0 fixes a number of minor issues. Updates to the software include:

  • Fixed erroneous ownship altitude values
  • Fixed occasional crashes caused by malformed ADS-B data
  • Enhanced logging / debugging tools
  • Updated web interface with traffic distance / heading
  • Added ownship traffic suppression (beta)
  • Added tail number decoding for N and C registered aircraft
  • Performance improvements
  • Stability improvements

All together these make for a more stable and powerful system. The Stratux community has been using v1.0 since mid-July with no major issues reported. I’ve put about 20 flight hours and over 500 bench hours on the FlightBox 1.0 build with no complaints.

Please see the Update Tutorial page for a link to the update file and for installation instructions. (Or just use our new iOS app to install the update.)

As always, a big thank you to Chris Young and the Stratux community for all the work that went into 1.0!

Warning! Check the update file name!

When we launched the last update a few months ago we had a number of users complain that after installing the update their system stopped working – the dreaded “bricking”. To get everything back up and running they had to re-image the SD card (or send it in for us to re-image). It took a bit of digging but I finally figured out what was happening.

When you download the firmware file you wind up with something that looks like this:

update-stratux-flightbox-v0.8r2a-db130aab76.sh

If you happen to download it again, you wind up with this:

update-stratux-flightbox-v0.8r2a-db130aab76 (1).sh

It’s exactly the same file, but the download manager adds ” (1)” to the file name. The space you see between the end of the build ID and the open parenthesis is the culprit: it causes the installation to fail – and it also causes the delete command that should remove the .sh file from completing. So every time the system boots up it finds the update file, tries to apply it, fails, and reboots. Instant “bricked” system.

If you update manually (i.e. not using the new iOS app) be absolutely certain that the filename does not have a space in it. If it does, you will wind up bricking your system and will need to re-image, send your card in for update ($3), or order a new card from the web store ($13).

A fix that eliminates this potential pitfall will be included in (embrace the irony…) an upcoming update.

Byssokol

FlightBox ADS-B Now Available Fully Assembled

Low Cost Safety-Enhancing Technology Now Available To Everyone

When we launched on Kickstarter back in February we declared the beginning of a Kit Avionics Revolution. Since then we’ve sold over 1200 FlightBox kits to pilots all over the world. In so doing we’ve learned a lot about ADS-B and about the aviation market. The Kit Avionics Revolution has been a huge success for us, but one of the more important things we’ve discovered is the range of technical aptitudes and interests in the flying community. While many pilots relish the opportunity to get hands-on with their systems, others prefer something a bit more finished.

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In order to serve those who just want to buy and fly, we’re pleased to announce the availability of the FlightBox FB1X – a fully assembled and tested dual-band ADS-B receiver with all the features of the original FlightBox kit. The assembled version includes high-gain antennas, a 12v/24v USB power adapter, and a one year warranty. It is compatible with all of our add-on products: the remote GPS, remote antenna kit, friction mount, battery, etc.

We’ve know that we were missing out on a segment of the market for some time. I’m very proud to say that we took our time and did this right. The FB1X is fully FCC certified. It has been tested over the course of more than 30 flight hours and under a wide range of conditions. It ships with version 1.0r1 of the Stratux software (updates for existing FlightBox systems will be release shortly).

The list price for the assembled FlightBox dual band receiver is $325. To celebrate the launch of our first turnkey product we are offering a $25 discount through the end of October. Our goal is to be the value leader in ADS-B, and at $300, I think we’re hitting the mark.

If you have any pilot friends who have shied away from FlightBox due to the “DIY” nature of the kit, please let them know that we’re now ready for them. They can order the FlightBox FB1X from our web store today.

Byssokol

More Power: Battery, Cigarette Lighter Adapter Now Available

When we launched FlightBox we consciously decided to go with a simplified design that did not include an internal battery. Batteries add weight, complexity, and liability to any product. By offering FlightBox with a standard 5v USB power input, we gave our users the option of using a cigarette lighter adapter, a battery, a solar charger or any other power source that could provide 2 amps at 5v.

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After six months I still think this was the right choice: there are many FlightBox users who have found the flexibility to be extremely useful. Some users withe experimental aircraft have installed USB transformers. Most users who own certificated aircraft use a cigarette lighter adapter. CFIs who move from aircraft to aircraft throughout the day love the option of simply swapping batteries when needed.

But… the most common issue we run into is power. Many of the tech support calls and emails we field each week come down to inadequate power. After talking with a group of users at our booth in Oshkosh, it became abundantly clear that providing a number of trusted, reliable option for power was important. As a result we immediately added a USB cigarette lighter adapter to our catalog. The search for a battery took a bit longer.

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Fortunately, it turns out that the need for a good source of portable USB power is not unique to FlightBox. As it turns out, the popular Pokemon Go game has made backup power for mobile phones practically a requirement. An old friend here in the KC area decided to capitalize on the demand for high quality batteries and ordered a large batch built to spec by a reputable manufacturer overseas. (At this point only Tesla is building lithium battery systems here in the States.) He gave me a sample to test and after a few weeks of abuse I am happy to announce that we now offer a battery.

The USB packs that we are selling are rated at 10,000 mAh which typically provide more than five hours of flight time on a full charge. (I’ve had the test unit last for 7.5 hours, but that was under cool, comfortable lab conditions.) They’re slim and weigh in at only 0.45 pounds. Most importantly, they consistently deliver up to 2.1 amps – more than enough power for a FlightBox. We’re offering them for $35 on the web store. They will come with a 6-inch USB cable and a set of velcro dots to (optionally) attach the battery to the FlightBox.

Note the supplies are limited: the Pokemon craze took up a big chunk of the supply, so we only have 50 in stock at the moment. More are on the way and should be here in September.

Byssokol

OFS At Oshkosh 2016

Our First Year At Aviation’s Biggest Show

The last time I posted anything we had just finished loading up the giant rental van for our long journey north to Oshkosh and AirVenture 2016. A huge thank-you to everyone who stopped by the booth. We had a very successful week in Wisconsin. We talked with hundreds of pilots from all over the world. Across the course of the week we sold more than 100 FlightBox systems on-site, and nearly as many over the web.

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Assembling our OSH booth on a very hot and muggy Sunday afternoon.

Oshkosh was also a great chance to catch up with our EFB partners. It is amazing how many innovative developers are working to make aviation safer using consumer electronics platforms. Between the iPad aviation revolution and the recent release of “approved but not certified” products from Dynon and Garmin’s Team X, the future is looking brighter than ever. I managed to talk with a number of other vendors from the experimental avionics market and several of them have already launched projects to seek FAA approval for their products. I expect that AirVenture 2017 will host the launch of a number of newly approved, affordable systems including navigators and autopilots.

As anyone who has ever been to an Oshkosh (or, as the locals call it, to an “EAA”) knows, it’s absolutely huge. It takes up the entirety of Wittman Regional Airport and spills out into both the town of Oshkosh and the neighboring lake Winnebago. According to EAA officials, more than 10,000 aircraft and over half a million visitors attended this year’s event. We spent most of the time in our booth, but did make it out to see a few events, including an awesome night air show. If you’ve never been you owe it to yourself to go – it truly is a spectacle no pilot should miss.

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The OFS crew, taking a break from the booth.

I have to thank my wife Amy, my daughter Katie, and my friend Larry for hours of tireless work, and for making the long drive into the north woods. I also owe a huge thank-you to Bryan Heitman of Aerovie for hosting us. It was an amazing opportunity and we’re already looking forward to next year’s show.