FlightBox Production Prototype Is In

Byssokol

FlightBox Production Prototype Is In

The production prototype case arrived last week while I was out of town for a conference. It was actually a bit frustrating knowing that it was sitting on my desk at home – I’ve been looking forward to seeing it ever since we finalized the design. When I got home late last Thursday but took a few minutes to unpack, take a look at the build quality, and do a quick fitting. The result: almost perfect on the first try. Here it is assembled:

Production Prototype

The Pi fits perfectly, with the power connector and audio jack exposed. It screws to the “bosses” – the standoffs with integrated nuts – perfectly using ordinary 1/4 #4 screws. I might add a lock washer and go up to 3/8″ to avoid the screws backing out due to vibration. The SDRs and GPS fit just fine, with the GPS being locked in place by the far-end wall of the case. The SMA pigtails hold the SDRs in place and exit the case on the opposite end. The fan, which bolts to the top, also fits very cleanly.

The one adjustment that’s required is a small notch in one mounting cleat on the top. It’s just a bit too thick to slide in beside the Edimax wifi module, so it needs to be trimmed. This actually works out perfectly as it then prevents the module from backing out. The fabricator will be able to make the adjustment at no additional charge (yay!) and without it impacting the delivery date. Here are a few shots of the inside of the case:

Interior

I’m duly impressed with the quality of both the build and the material. The case looks great and the Boltaron is very strong. It fits together very tightly – to the point where it feels like a solid block, rather than a plastic box with parts inside. Perhaps that’s a cliche, but it’s also true. The one minor disappointment I have is with the color. I picked “light gray” and this is it… very light. The next option is “medium gray” which is much darker. I may offer buyers the option of light or medium. I need to order a medium gray and make sure it doesn’t have any heat issues.

A final note: several people have asked about future upgrades. Here’s a shot of the FlightBox with a development shield installed:

FlightBox With DevShield

The shield (or is it a HAT?) fits perfectly inside the case, but it will require a new top as the fan will need to be moved up to make room for the board and any components mounted on it. We will probably offer two options for the upgrade: one is just the card and it will require you to move the fan to the outside of the case; the other is a new top that makes room for the board and the fan inside.

One other detail to point out: note the holes at the end of the case right by the SDRs. Those are lined up perfectly with the MCX connectors so that you can connect an MCX cable directly with the module should you wish. Most people will prefer to use the SMA jacks – they provide a much more solid connection – in which case the holes offer a direct source of airflow over the SDRs.

Question: do you the fabricator to add holes in the bottom for permanent mounting? Let me know what you think.

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14 Comments so far

mikePosted on  1:37 am - Feb 2, 2016

looks great! Good luck with your venture. Built my own only need the case. What about the GPS module?

    ssokolPosted on  7:10 pm - Feb 3, 2016

    Thanks, Mike. For the GPS, we’re using a USB model called the Vk-172. It uses the Ublox 7 chipset and is the current recommended model for Stratux.

GunnyPosted on  12:33 am - Feb 4, 2016

For easy mounting, suggest cutting slots in back of case in order to run Velcro straps. Many planes have a class type material on dash which would assist in mounting box.

    ssokolPosted on  2:46 pm - Feb 4, 2016

    Interesting. At this point the plan is to ship the kits with a set of four industrial velcro “dots” – both the loop side and the hook side. Those adhere to the bottom of the case and to whatever surface you want on the aircraft – glareshield, sidewall, etc. Any chance you can describe your design in a bit more detail? Thanks -S

Rigged4FlightPosted on  5:39 pm - Feb 7, 2016

The antennae seem like the weak point in the design, and possibly prone to breaking when transporting to/from the plane. Are they easily disconnected, and if so, are they interchangeable?

    ssokolPosted on  3:00 pm - Feb 8, 2016

    The antennas are indeed removable / interchangeable. They connect to the FlightBox using a standard SMA connector (antenna is male, jack on the FlightBox is female). Removing the antenna is simply a matter of unscrewing it from the jack. Using this approach has a number of advantages over a fixed antenna. You can try different antennas out. You can also connect your FlightBox to an L-Band (ADS-B / transponder / DME) antenna mounted on the outside of your airplane.

      Rigged4FlightPosted on  10:58 am - Feb 9, 2016

      Awesome. I am so incredibly stoked to get my hands on this! Kind of funny – I’m currently deployed, and won’t be able to actually use this for quite some time. But I’m still looking forward to putting it together, tinkering with it, updating/configuring it, etc.

George PappayliouPosted on  3:59 pm - Feb 22, 2016

Thinking of buying one of your cases for my Stratux. Is you web store up and running?

I do have a few questions:

1. Will a 6″ SMA(F) to MCX(M-rt angle) work?
2. What height of muffin fan should I use?
3. Any recommended vendors/models on the rubber duck antennas?
4. Do you this there would be room in the enclosure for an RY835AI GPS/AHRS rather than the Vk-172?

Thanks for your help.

    ssokolPosted on  4:37 pm - Feb 22, 2016

    George,

    Here’s my best shot on answers. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

    1) Yes – a 6″ MCX male 90° to bulkhead SMA female will work.
    2) The fan should be 40mm square by 10mm or less mm high.
    3) The FlightBox kits will be using the ANT-916-CW-HWR-SMA from Linx Technologies for UAT and a custom 1090 MHz antenna from NooElec for 1090-ES.
    4) No. And the RY835AI is not a good chip – poor solder connections, noisey, somewhat flaky on the I2C connector.

    Hope that helps.

    Steve

BrucePosted on  5:17 pm - Feb 27, 2016

I already have everything, and just need the case. Does the case include the fan? And how do you power the fan? I presume pins on the Pi… Which ones? Thanks!

    ssokolPosted on  4:04 pm - Feb 28, 2016

    The case will include a set of screws. The fan is an extra $6. I will be adding it to the store today. It comes wired to connect directly to the GPIO pins on the Pi. I will put up a diagram, but positive (red) lead connects to pin 4, and the negative (black) to pin 6.

MarioPosted on  4:35 am - Mar 8, 2016

I’m building mine with the Vk-172, I totally understand your complaints about the RY835AI, is there another gps/AHRS that works with foreflight? Can I buy a GPS module from you directly or can you direct to a vendor?

    ssokolPosted on  1:20 pm - Mar 8, 2016

    Mario,

    At this point there is not an exact replacement for the RY835AI. We’re working on a new board that will add AHRS to FlightBox / Stratux. We hope to have it out in the next few months. Keep in mind that the AHRS software in Stratux is not yet ready for production use. It will hopefully reach a point of maturity about the same time the board is available.

    Best Regards,

    Steve

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