AHRS / GPS / Baro Board Available For Pre-Order

Byssokol

AHRS / GPS / Baro Board Available For Pre-Order

Since we launched FlightBox last January, the most frequent request – by far – has been to add AHRS capabilities. We started working on a design as soon as we dug out from under the avalanche of Kickstarter orders in March. After nine months of designing, rAHRS Boarde-designing, refactoring and prototyping I am happy to announce that now have a final design. We will begin taking pre-orders on Monday, November 28 (“Cyber Monday”) and expect to deliver in January.

The board includes a number of sensors:

  • InvenSense MPU-9250 IMU – a multifunction sensor that includes a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, and 3-axis magnetometer. The MPU-9250 provides inertial and magnetic data to the AHRS algorithm.
  • Bosh BMP-280 Barometric Pressure Sensor – a high-precision digital altimeter.
  • u-Blox MAX-M8 GNSS Receiver – a WAAS GPS receiver with a 10 Hz update rate, an onboard high-gain antenna, and support for remote powered antennas.

The data provided by these sensors will allow FlightBox to create an accurate estimate of your aircraft’s attitude, position, and cabin altitude. The attitude data can be used to drive attitude and synthetic vision displays on compatible1 EFB applications. The barometric sensor provides accurate cabin altitude – typically within 25′ of barometric altitude in unpressurized aircraft. The GPS – our first internal GPS since we dropped the VK-172 in May – assists in the attitude solution and provides highly accurate position information.

The board also includes a set of status LEDs and a fan speed controller. The LEDs show power status, GPS lock status, and ADS-B reception status. The fan controller adjusts fan speed based on system temperature, saving battery power.

The new board is built as a “shield” for the Raspberry Pi computer. It attaches directly to the 40-pin option header on the Pi, making installation very easy. As we’ve done for our other accessories, we will publish a video that takes you through the installation process step-by-step.

FlightBox With Replacement Top

We will be offering the new board in two configurations. For FlightBox owners we will have a complete upgrade kit that includes the board, a new top, and an new fan. Stratux DIY users (who are not using a FlightBox case) will be able to order just the board. The complete FlightBox upgrade kit will sell for $160. The board-only kit will sell for $140.

AHRS requires a combination of hardware and software. The hardware on the new board will require a FlightBox update which we will release when the boards start shipping in January. The update will also include the serial output feature and an automatic flight logging feature.

For those who would prefer to leave the installation and the update to the professionals, we will be offering an update / upgrade service for an additional $25. Send in your existing FlightBox and we will send it back with the AHRS board, new top and updated firmware.

1. The FlightBox attitude feature is not currently compatible with ForeFlight.

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41 Comments so far

Marilyn PernaPosted on  12:25 am - Nov 28, 2016

Will The FlightBox attitude feature be compatible with ForeFlight by the January timeframe?

    ssokolPosted on  2:40 pm - Nov 28, 2016

    No. At this point ForeFlight only supports the Stratus 2/2S for attitude. We hope to convince them to test out and approve our AHRS, but it won’t be in the January timeframe.

Bob StebbinsPosted on  1:48 pm - Nov 28, 2016

Steve do you know if it will work with the Ifly 740 and FlyQ? The ADSB works on both now.

Thanks It sounds great.

Dave RobertsPosted on  2:02 pm - Nov 28, 2016

Is this AHRS system going to play with foreflight or are they still proprietary?

    ssokolPosted on  2:37 pm - Nov 28, 2016

    The AHRS will not currently work with ForeFlight’s synthetic vision. The GPS and baro functions will work just fine. We hope to be able to convince the team at ForeFlight to work with us at some point in the near future.

    For the time being, our plan is to release an updated version of the FlightBox app that adds an attitude display.

    The AHRS feature will work with many other EFB applications.

David ThomasPosted on  2:31 pm - Nov 28, 2016

Steve, since this is a beta version I’d like to confirm that once the final version is available there will be no update costs for those who chose to purchase the beta. My assumption is that it would just be a download of new firmware?

    ssokolPosted on  2:42 pm - Nov 28, 2016

    The hardware won’t be beta – we’re currently running beta tests on a small batch of boards. The software update that adds support for the board will be completely free.

Peter SeferovicPosted on  3:00 pm - Nov 28, 2016

With the new AHRS board will it still be necessary to have the External (USB) connected GPS?

    ssokolPosted on  10:56 pm - Nov 28, 2016

    No. The GPS that’s build into the AHRS board will take over as the primary position source. We _may_ work out a way for any other GPS (including the remote GPS and the VK-172) to act as a backup.

DavidPosted on  3:15 pm - Nov 28, 2016

Have you tried it with WingX?

Bob StebbinsPosted on  3:20 pm - Nov 28, 2016

Steve, I am currently using the Ifly740 gps and the Ipad 3 gps, with the new hardware and software will this still work or is the new gps more accurate?

    ssokolPosted on  10:53 pm - Nov 28, 2016

    Bob,

    The new hardware will work with the iFly 740 and your iPad. I think the GPS on the board will be better than the GPS in your iPad, but even if it wasn’t you still have to have it – it provides data that the AHRS software uses to correct for drift in the inertial sensors.

    Thanks,

    Steve

Paul GestingPosted on  3:29 pm - Nov 28, 2016

Does this board suffer from the same problems as the original Kickstarter flightbox that led people to want to use an external GPS? Does this support the external GPS at all (is the external GPS connector just for an antenna? From your description, it appears that way)? Also, is it dual band?

    ssokolPosted on  10:50 pm - Nov 28, 2016

    If you’re referring to the issue with the VK-172 GPS module, no. The VK-172 performed quite well on the Raspberry Pi 2 but not on the Pi 3. We eventually determined that the USB bus on the Pi 3 was undervolting by 0.1 to 0.25 volts, which caused the VK-172 to malfunction. We’re testing extensively to make sure that the GPS we include in this will get and hold a lock under standard operating conditions.

    The remote powered antenna is just that – an antenna. It connects to the board via an SMA to MCX pigtail. The remote antenna will provide better reception than the onboard antenna. It has a more powerful low noise amplifier connected directly to the antenna element. It also is located away from all of the other electromagnetic activity in the box. Our target accuracy is 10 meters from the onboard antenna and 3 meters from the remote.

    In terms of dual band, it does support both the US GPS (and WAAS) and the Russian GLONASS systems. The antennas (both internal and remote) are centered at 1575.42 Mhz, which is the optimal point for GPS/WAAS. GLONASS simply adds a nice backup.

JohnPosted on  5:01 pm - Nov 28, 2016

HI Steve,

Is there any specific mount or orientation that will be required?

Thanks.

    ssokolPosted on  10:41 pm - Nov 28, 2016

    The initial version of the software will probably require the longitudinal axis of the box to match the longitudinal axis of the airplane. We ultimately hope to get the software refined to the point where it can be mounted in any orientation.

David AspPosted on  5:18 pm - Nov 28, 2016

Does this work with FlyQ?

    ssokolPosted on  10:39 pm - Nov 28, 2016

    It should. We will be testing with all of the EFB applications prior to shipping, but since we use a common protocol to deliver the attitude information there’s no reason to believe that it would not work.

Ed KettlerPosted on  11:10 pm - Nov 28, 2016

If I wanted to buy a fully configured new implementation, when will that be available and for how much?

    ssokolPosted on  2:26 pm - Nov 29, 2016

    We should have everything ready to start selling complete kits and assembled units with the new AHRS board by the end of January or early February. The price hasn’t been set yet, but it will be pretty close to the current price plus the price of the upgrade.

KrisPosted on  3:39 am - Nov 29, 2016

Just curious, which MAX-M8? C, Q, or W?

Steve WolfPosted on  12:56 pm - Nov 29, 2016

I have remote antennas and GPS, the box containing the computer being mounted below the glove box. I really do not want to move the box to the glare shield. I would appreciate consideration for allowing selection of a remote GPS, or better, defaulting to a remote GPS should one be plugged in. Thanks!

    ssokolPosted on  2:28 pm - Nov 29, 2016

    The new board includes a jack for a remote powered GPS antenna which we will be selling for about $15. That will let you mount the GPS on the glare shield and leave the box mounted out of sight.

JABPosted on  4:50 pm - Nov 29, 2016

With the baro function, is there any ability to set an altitude alarm? For instance in the iOS interface setting a cruise alt with +-200 feet to trigger a tone would be great for those without altitude hold.

    ssokolPosted on  6:14 pm - Nov 30, 2016

    That depends on the EFB app. Some let you set a target altitude. I think Aerovie automatically detects cruise when you remain at an altitude for more than a certain period of time and lets you know if you drift up or down by more than a hundred (I think) feet.

Al Blakely CDPosted on  6:28 pm - Nov 29, 2016

Steve:

Does the VK-172 GPS have to be removed from the box to use the new one? Or does the board default to the new GPS. Thank you for your wonderful work.

John WinterPosted on  12:55 am - Nov 30, 2016

I use ForeFlight almost exclusively so please continue to work on them to accept this newest update. I just put in my pre order for Flight Box hoping AHRS will come to fruition!
Thank you.

RyanPosted on  10:56 am - Dec 1, 2016

Hi, are you writing your own sensor fusion algorithm or relying on the InvenSense data? Will attitude be reliable in prolonged turns? Will it be open source?

    ssokolPosted on  3:35 pm - Dec 1, 2016

    Hi Ryan,

    The sensor fusion algorithm is part of the open source Stratux project. It does not rely on the InvenSense sensor’s onboard processor – we want it to be generic enough to easily port to other sensor platforms. It will provide reliable attitude throughout prolonged turns – we will use rate-of-turn data from the GPS to correct for the false gravity (centrifugal) vector you pick up in a coordinated turn.

    Thanks,

    -S

DavePosted on  1:10 am - Dec 4, 2016

There are lots of questions regarding ForeFlight compatibility. How about Garmin Pilot compatibility (both iOS and Android versions)?

Thanks,

Dave

    ssokolPosted on  2:48 pm - Dec 5, 2016

    Unfortunately, Garmin Pilot is one of two major EFB applications (the other is Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck) that are not compatible with FlightBox. As far as I know, your only options with Garmin are their own GDL-39 family of receivers (starting at $899 for a dual band) or their panel-mount GTN navigators.

RichardPosted on  3:41 pm - Dec 6, 2016

Will you be providing updates as you test the various EFB software out there? I use Naviator, but also have a few others loaded on my tablet.

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