FlightBox Status Update – March 8

Byssokol

FlightBox Status Update – March 8

Wow. It’s hard to believe that it’s already March 8. An amazing amount has happened in the past six weeks. The Kickstarter launched, reached its minimum goal, and concluded. We launched a new web store (huge thanks to Shopify for making that relatively painless). We endured the agonizing two week wait for the money from Kickstarter. We ordered another $20,000+ in parts using personal credit cards. Last Thursday the Kickstarter funds finally arrived. (Yay!) Today we got confirmation that the last of the major components – the wifi adapters and Raspberry Pis – have shipped.

Last week the VK-172 USB GPS modules arrived – in full retail packaging. My wife and daughter helped me remove them from the packaging, then “shell” them – removing the plastic housing. I now have a box containing 500 GPSs, all tested to make sure that they boot. A random sampling of roughly 10% have been tested to make sure that they achieve a 3D GPS lock. So far – kudos to the nameless Chinese company who makes the VK-172 – they’ve all passed.

This past weekend was all about the fans. The 40mm x 10mm cooling fans arrived (as expected) without a connector. I spent several hours trimming, stripping, crimping and shrouding. (It really is far less sexy than it sounds.) At this point I have about 100 of the 1000 fans prepped for use in FlightBox. If there’s anything that intimidates me about this process it’s the thought of another 900 fans, waiting to be trimmed, stripped, crimped and shrouded. This is going to take a while. Fortunately, it’s the kind of work you can do in front of the TV in the evening.

The next few weeks look to include much of the same. But… I went ahead and booked an AirBNB and a rental car for Fun-N-Sun. It’s about 9 hours flight time from KC to Lakeland in the Tiger, and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve arranged to exhibit as a partner in the Avilution / Droid EFB booth. Sun-N-Fun is good pre for the madness of Oshkosh, so it will give me some idea of what to expect. If you’re going to be at the show, please stop by and say hello. I’ll be demoing FlightBox, talking Stratux, and (if we have any units in stock), selling kits. It should be a good time.

For everyone who’s ordered through the Kickstarter or on the web store prior to now – we expect to ship your FlightBox kit in March. Keep an eye on this blog and / or the Kickstarter updates page for the latest. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm and their patience. We’re doing our best to get you an outstanding product as quickly as we can.

Best Regards,

Steve

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26 Comments so far

Larry FergusonPosted on  4:20 am - Mar 9, 2016

Thanks for the updates. Really appreciate all your effort in pulling the components together. Wish I lived closer. I’d be at your place watching TV & helping out.

Larry
Portland, OR

Dave JaundrillPosted on  4:56 pm - Mar 9, 2016

Ditto on “Thank You” for the updates.
Good to see the FlightBox done by a
“Tiger” driver. Cheers! N4542V

BrucePosted on  10:48 pm - Mar 9, 2016

All of my radio modules are also in full retail packaging, so of course they don’t all fit on the RPi. What is your technique for “shelling” them?

Anxiously awaiting my case and fan… 🙂

ssokolPosted on  10:56 pm - Mar 9, 2016

The Nano SDRs are actually really easy. I just used a small flat-blade screwdriver to pop the housing off. There are four tiny snap-ins that you have to overcome, but the plastic is very soft so it “shells” without too much effort. Fortunately, I’m now buying them directly from the manufacturer without the plastic. Saves effort, money, and plastic.

The GPSs are more of a pain – you have to take them out of the packaging, remove the cap over the USB connector, then hold it by the USB connector and use a blade to pop the snaps. I used an old corkscrew that had a heavy but rather dull blade for cutting the foil around the top of a wine bottle. Once I figured out how to hold them and which way to go, the shelling went fairly fast.

BrucePosted on  12:04 am - Mar 10, 2016

Your technique worked great, thanks! I found it easiest to dig in around the antenna connector on the radios. You’re right, the GPS is harder, but digging in near the USB connector worked fine.

Ted McnamaraPosted on  8:50 pm - Mar 16, 2016

Can the Raspberry Pi 3 be use with the same software? With the built in WIFI and Bluetooth and faster CPU.

    ssokolPosted on  3:36 am - Mar 17, 2016

    Not exactly the same, but very similar. We plan on moving to the Pi 3 in the next few months, after the stock has stabilized and the gremlins have been worked out. It won’t make much difference in terms of functionality – we have plenty of CPU, RAM, etc. on the Pi 2, but it will free up the USB slot we’re currently using for Wifi.

BrucePosted on  1:16 am - Mar 19, 2016

Yay, my box and fan arrived today! Assembly time. I’ll post again with how it went.

BrucePosted on  2:31 am - Mar 19, 2016

Okay, the box went together perfectly. The assembly video was very clear. Note: I purchased only the box and the fan, since I had everything else already. Or so I thought… The only issue I ran into is that the antennas that came with the radios do not fit into the pigtails that I bought. Fortunately Steve arranged for there to be extra holes perfectly lined up with the radios so that I could temporarily use the antennas, mounts and cables that came with the radios. Steve, could you either sell me just the antennas, or give me part numbers so that I can find them on Amazon? Thanks!

A very happy customer…… 🙂

Dave JaundrillPosted on  11:23 am - Mar 19, 2016

Video is well done! Looking forward to the assembly.

Perhaps add a bit on connecting to external battery (placement & thoughts)
or charger limitations?

A question – will there be postal tracking when shipped?

Cheers!

    ssokolPosted on  2:26 pm - Mar 19, 2016

    Dave,

    I’ll be doing another video on using FlightBox that will talk about mounting options, connecting from your tablet or phone, powering the box, etc. Look for that in the next few days.

    Most orders will have tracking. I made a small mistake using the shipping software for the first ~50 orders, so those did not result in an email. That’s corrected and and going forward all orders processed will result in a tracking email when shipped.

    Thanks,

    Steve

Douglas CampbellPosted on  10:51 pm - Mar 23, 2016

I’m hoping mine will arrive before this Saturday, I’ve got a cross country planned and want to play with it.

LambertoPosted on  8:00 pm - Mar 24, 2016

Hello,
when moving to the Ras Pi 3, will the extra USB slot be used for another feature/option in the near future?

Ordered mine today (I just heard about you guys and I told a friend who also ordered his).

Bill HowardPosted on  8:37 pm - Apr 4, 2016

Got my order in for the dual-radio model end of March – hope to see it soon. Re; the -Pi. Any chance you’ll be using the Pi-3 with built-in wi-fi and blue tooth? OR, will the data card work, if I swap out the Pi later? THANKS for doing this!

    ssokolPosted on  9:02 pm - Apr 4, 2016

    I’ll be moving to the Pi 3 as soon as the Stratux software has been fully tested and a few bugs get worked out. I’ve done a bit of testing and its looking pretty good, but it will probably be another month before we can get Pi 3s in large quantities. Once the software is ready you will be able to swap out for the Pi 3 if you want – it fits in the case just fine.

    Thanks,

    Steve

Dan scodaryPosted on  8:46 pm - Apr 5, 2016

Cannot get on to the url page that starts with 198 is it working

    ssokolPosted on  11:20 pm - Apr 5, 2016

    Hi Dan,

    The status page is at http://192.168.10.1

    If you have the FlightBox powered on and have connected to the “FlightBox-XXXX” network, you should be able to get there. Are you connected to the FlightBox wifi network?

    Thanks,

    Steve
    /

Andrew MladenPosted on  8:10 am - Apr 21, 2016

I would like to purchase a one Chanel unit but I need it to be 1090Mhz ES not the UAT.

Is it possible to Aquire the Flightbox in that configuration?

    ssokolPosted on  12:14 pm - Apr 21, 2016

    Andrew,

    I really need to update the description of the product. You can turn off UAT and turn on 1090-ES from the Stratux settings page on the device. We have several users in Australia who have already done this, and it works just fine.

    Thanks,

    Steve

      Andrew MladenPosted on  9:00 pm - Apr 21, 2016

      Thanks Steve,
      I am still unsure, do I purchase the dual unit or the single unit with only the 1090Mhz receiver fitted?
      Regards Andrew

ssokolPosted on  1:21 pm - Apr 22, 2016

Buy the Single Band unit ($200). When it arrives and you have it assembled, you can go to the “Settings” web page and turn off UAT, then turn on 1090 – very easy to do.

Gene EvansPosted on  12:08 am - Apr 27, 2016

Steve, I have one of your units. How much amperage do you need from the USB adapter to power the unit?
Gene

    ssokolPosted on  1:07 am - Apr 27, 2016

    The unit draws between 1.2 and 1.3 amps depending on what it’s doing. My recommendation is to use a power source that is rated at 2.1 amps – the standard “fast charge” rate. Beware that some device specific chargers (usually from name-brand cell phones and tablets) may be capable of charging at 2.1 but don’t actually do so unless the device requests it – which the Pi does not. I’ve had good luck with the Anker brand of adapters and batteries. They seem willing to crank out 2 amps without any kind of handshake.

Lars CaspersenPosted on  8:28 pm - May 6, 2016

Steve,

I talked to you at SnF and now have some questions regarding the Flightbox.
1) Are you planning on upgrading soon to the newer Pi3 instead of the Pi2? Programing problems sorted out yet?
2) Do you need a ground plane in the box for the antennas?
3) Is there a need for a ADS-B filter installed?
4) What method is there for shutdown of the system? Disconnect the power supply the only shutdown? Will that damage the components or corrupt the program?
This is a steep learning curve for me but I am trying to grasp all the technology!
Thanks, Lars

    ssokolPosted on  9:49 pm - May 6, 2016

    Hi Lars,

    1. We’ve made the cut-over to the Pi 3. All kits now ship with the 3.
    2. You don’t need a ground plane (i.e. copper tape) with the stock antennas. The 978 we use has an internal ground plane. The 1090 might be slightly better if you have one, but it’s not critical.
    3. The filter does help reduce noise and your message rates go up slightly, but it is certainly not required.
    4. You can safely pull the plug on FlightBox. We ship the systems with the root filesystem in read-only mode.

    Thanks,

    Steve

zYBad9JelQPosted on  3:04 am - May 22, 2016

It’s a relief to find sonmoee who can explain things so well

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