If you’re a pilot, chances are good that you’ve heard about ADS-B. You probably know that an ADS-B receiver can make flying safer and more efficient by providing real-time weather, traffic, TFRs, and other flight data to your Apple or Android tablet. You probably also know that most of the ADS-B receivers on the market are quite expensive. FlightBox is different.
FlightBox is an ADS-B receiver based on the popular Stratux open source project. FlightBox is built from off-the-shelf hardware and free software, making it much less expensive than proprietary ADS-B receivers. FlightBox costs as little as $200 and offers the same features as competing products costing as much as $1000.
FlightBox is available fully assembled or as a “quick-build” kit. The assembled version is fully turnkey: just power it up and fly.
The kit can be assembled in less than twenty minutes using nothing more than a phillips screwdriver and a pair of pliers. The software comes pre-loaded – no computer required. You simply make a few connections, put the cover on, and you’re ready to fly.
FlightBox supports all of the most popular aviation apps. So far we have confirmed operation with:
If you have a favorite EFB or navigation app that’s not listed, let us know. FlightBox is not currently compatible with Garmin Pilot or Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck / FliteDeck Pro.
* Please note that Open Flight Solutions is not affiliated with or endorsed by this application vendor. Interoperability has been independently confirmed by third party users of the software.
Subscription-Free In-Flight Weather
FlightBox receives continuous, free weather updates from ADS-B ground stations. In-flight weather gives you a huge edge in aeronautical decision making by providing you with a near real-time view of conditions in your area and across the nation.
Current weather products include:
Additionally, ADS-B’s FIS-B service also gives you:
Future enhancements to the ADS-B weather system are expected to add lightning, turbulence, icing, cloud tops, and AWOS.
FlightBox is available as either a single-band or dual-band system. For users based in the US and southern Canada, the dual-band system is recommended as it receives the most traffic information: direct ship-to-ship traffic sent over 1090-ES, direct ship-to-ship traffic sent via UAT, and FIS-B traffic uplinked by FAA ground stations. For users operating outside of North America, the single-band system is recommended as only 1090-ES service is available. Traffic data includes the location, heading, speed, and identity (call sign or tail number) of the target.
It’s important to understand that ADS-B traffic is advisory only and will be limited if your aircraft does not have ADS-B Out. For a full review of the requirements and limitations of ADS-B traffic, please see this article on the FAA website.
While many modern tablets and smartphones include GPS capabilities, some lack the precision of a separate WAAS-capable GPS receiver and significantly increase the drain on your battery. For those with wifi-only iPads or other tablets with limited GPS capabilities, FlightBox supports an optional WAAS GPS with a 10 Hz update rate. This provides your app with a highly accurate position – typically between 10 and 30 feet. It also provides GPS altitude, ground speed, and ground track data. The optional GPS adds $35 to the cost of either the single-band or dual-band FlightBox kit.
AHRS / GPS / Barometric Altitude
You can add attitude to your FlightBox with the addition of our AHRS / GPS / Baro sensor module (currently backordered, expected back in stock in late February 2017). The board provides pitch and roll data to drive attitude and synthetic vision displays in many EFB applications. The barometric altimeter provides ~1 meter accuracy for cabin altitude. The WAAS GPS provides position updates at 10Hz, has an onboard antenna, and includes support for remote powered antennas.
NOTE: Please pre-order the AHRS board on a separate order, otherwise the remainder of your FlightBox order will be held until the AHRS board is available.
Each FlightBox kit includes a set of 1/4-wave rubber-duck ADS-B antennas. You can upgrade to 1/2-wave high-gain antennas for only $10 more. FlightBox uses standard SMA jacks, so you can also connect the antennas of your choice, including belly-mounted L-band (transponder / DME) antennas.
Most electronics spend their lives in comfort. Portable ADS-B receivers don’t. They live on a glare shield that gets up to 160°F – on a cool day. That’s why we build FlightBox to withstand temperatures that would melt most enclosures into slag. The case is made from Boltaron – a space age plastic that’s engineered to withstand years of heat, UV, vibration and just about any other abuse you and your airplane can dish out.
We also go the extra mile with the components. The components have all been extensively tested. We sourcing the parts from reputable suppliers and testing each component prior to shipping it out.
FlightBox kits are made up of 8 – 10 parts and typically take less than fifteen minutes to assemble. The software comes pre-loaded so you DO NOT need a computer to get running. For an overview of the assembly process, please see the FlightBox Assembly Tutorial video.
FlightBox is even easier to use. The software comes preconfigured so all you need to do is:
Step 1: Connect FlightBox to power.
Step 2: Connect your tablet or phone to the “FlightBox-XXXXXXXX” WiFi network.
Step 3: Launch your EFB application.
That’s it. FlightBox will immediately start listening for ADS-B and GPS signals. (Some EFB applications may require configuration.)
FlightBox is built on the power of open source. Open source is a collaborative development method that leverages the expertise of a community of volunteers to create software or hardware. Open source has a number of advantages over proprietary development. Cost is the most obvious, but others include community support, faster bug fixes, and fewer flaws dues to a much broader review of the code.
Open Flight Solutions is dedicated to the idea that open source and open standards can reduce the cost of aviation while enhancing safety. We are actively participating in the Stratux project and will continue to do so. We have budgeted $10 from each FlightBox sale for reinvestment in the Stratux project. This will go towards continued development, testing, and project infrastructure.
Each FlightBox kit includes:
Please note that FlightBox does not include an internal battery. For users who want a completely portable system, we have tested and highly recommend the Anker E3 10,000 mAh battery pack. For those who wish to connect Flightbox to ship’s power through a cigarette lighter jack, we recommend Anker’s PowerDrive2 adapter, available with.
One of the challenges of open source hardware / software is support. Open Flight Solutions stands behind FlightBox. We’re including free email and web support with every FlightBox. If you have questions or issue, let us know and we will do everything we can to help.
In case you start out with the single-band version of FlightBox and later decide you want the additional traffic data provided by a dual-band version we plan to offer an upgrade kit. The case is designed to work for either scenario, so installation of the upgrade will just take a few minutes with the screwdriver and pliers.
The Stratux community is hard at work on additional features, including AHRS (attitude / heading sensors used for virtual instruments and synthetic vision). FlightBox is designed to make hardware upgrades simple and inexpensive. Simply remove the cover and replace it with a new one that incorporates the additional hardware. Work on AHRS is already under way and should be available soon. We hope to eventually add support for:
(Note that some of these enhancements will only be available for use in experimental aircraft.)
The Stratux software is continually improving. To make it simple to upgrade, FlightBox incorporates a simple software upgrade process. Just download the update to your computer, connect to the FlightBox’s wifi network, point your browser to the update screen and drop the update. FlightBox takes care of the rest.
FlightBox is available from our web store. Order yours today.