FlightBox FAQ

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FlightBox FAQ

General

  1. What is the difference between the Single Band and Dual Band versions of FlightBox?
  2. Does FlightBox include a GPS?
  3. Does FlightBox provide ADS-B Out?
  4. Does FlightBox meet the FAA’s 2020 ADS-B mandate?
  5. How does FlightBox connect with my application?
  6. Does FlightBox include an internal battery?
  7. Does FlightBox support AHRS?
  8. Are you using the new Raspberry Pi 3?
  9. What should go on the Serial Number sticker?

Assembly

  1. What tools are required to assemble a FlightBox?
  2. The Raspberry Pi and USB modules don’t want to slide into place in the case. What can I do?
  3. The bulkhead connectors at the end of the pigtail cables don’t want to fit through the holes. What can I do?
  4. I purchased the DIY case. What do I need to do to install everything?

Installation

  1. Do I have to mount FlightBox?
  2. How can I mount FlightBox in my certificated aircraft?
  3. How can I mount FlightBox in my experimental aircraft?

Antennas

  1. Can I relocate the antennas away from FlightBox?
  2. Can I connect FlightBox to one or more ADS-B antennas on the outside of my aircraft?
  3. Can I use a Y connector to tie one external ADS-B antenna into both the 1090 MHz and 978 MHz SMA connectors on the FlightBox?
  4. The GPS does not include an external antenna port. How can I relocate it outside of the FlightBox case?
  5. I’m using the antennas included in the kit. Do I need to add a copper tape ground plane?

Power Supplies

  1. How can I use FlightBox as a completely portable solution?
  2. Does FlightBox include an internal battery?
  3. Why doesn’t FlightBox include an internal battery?
  4. What USB batteries do you suggest?
  5. What cigarette lighter adapter do you suggest?
  6. I need a longer USB cable than was provided. What do you recommend?
  7. How much power does FlightBox draw?

EFB Applications

  1. What EFB applications does FlightBox support?
  2. I am the author / developer of an EFB application. How can I add support for FlightBox?

ADS-B Traffic

  1. Why am I not able to see all the traffic in my area?
  2. I see airliners within 30 miles of me. Don’t those trigger the towers to rebroadcast traffic?
  3. I don’t seem to be getting any 1090 traffic in ForeFlight. Is something wrong?

ADS-B Weather

  1. My FlightBox appears to be working but I don’t see any weather data. What’s going on?

Firmware Updates

  1. How do I install a firmware update on my FlightBox?
  2. Can I install updates from the Stratux project, or only updates provided by Open Flight Solutions for use with FlightBox?
  3. How does the FlightBox firmware from Open Flight Solutions differ from the stock Stratux firmware?
  4. My FlightBox does not boot up or create an access point. My data card may be corrupted. How can I re-image my card?

General

What is the difference between the Single Band and Dual Band versions of FlightBox?

Single Band units only include one ADS-B radio receiver. The one receiver is typically used to receive UAT signals, including weather and traffic data from FAA ground towers. The Dual Band units include two ADS-B radio receivers. The first is also used for UAT. The second adds support for traffic information sent over 1090-ES. [Back To Top]

Does FlightBox include a GPS?

GPS is an optional add-on. If your tablet or smartphone does not include GPS or if you prefer to have a high-precision, WAAS-capable GPS unit as part of your ADS-B system, select the “Remote GPS” option when ordering. The remote GPS module costs $35. [Back To Top]

Does FlightBox provide ADS-B Out?

No – FlightBox is purely a receiver and provides only ADS-B In services. [Back To Top]

Does FlightBox meet the FAA’s 2020 ADS-B mandate?

No – the 2020 mandate requires you to equip with ADS-B Out. FlightBox provides ADS-B In. [Back To Top]

How does FlightBox connect with my application?

Wifi – FlightBox creates a wifi network (access point). You connect your device to that network and FlightBox sends data to your application over the wifi link. [Back To Top]

Does FlightBox include an internal battery?

No – you will need to either provide an external USB battery or connect it to ship’s power using a USB adapter. See the “Power Supplies” section for details. [Back To Top]

Does FlightBox support AHRS?

Not at this time. We are working on an upgrade that will add AHRS and a number of other features to FlightBox. We hope to release it in the summer of 2016. [Back To Top]

Are you using the new Raspberry Pi 3?

As of April 25, 2016 we are using the Raspberry Pi 3. If you have an older FlightBox with a Pi 2, please don’t feel left out – the Pi 3 does not add any new features or capabilities to FlightBox. Future enhancements, including any add-on boards, will work with either 2 or the 3. [Back To Top]

What should go on the Serial Number sticker?

This is there for your convenience. The serial number is the unique ID assigned to your system. It forms the last part of the Wifi SSID. Use a Sharpie or similar permanent marker to write the 8-character unique ID down. Also note the date of assembly in the “Mfg Date” field.

Assembly

What tools are required to assemble a FlightBox?

A small screwdriver – preferably magnetized (which will NOT harm the computer or data card) and a pair of pliers are the minimum. You may also want a pair of needle-nose pliers and a 5/16″ socket or wrench for tightening the nuts on the pigtail bulkhead connector. [Back To Top]

The Raspberry Pi and USB modules don’t want to slide into place in the case. What can I do?

The components will slide into place if the audio, HDMI and power jacks are properly aligned with their respective holes and cut-outs in the case. Try making small adjustments to get the audio and power jacks to line up with the appropriate holes. You can use a small amount of pressure to pop the assembly into place but you should never need to press hard. This can damage the components. [Back To Top]

The bulkhead connectors at the end of the pigtail cables don’t want to fit through the holes. What can I do?

Remove the Raspberry Pi and other components from the case. Use a 1/4″ drill bit to remove any excess plastic in and around the holes. Test using the bulkhead connectors on each hole prior to re-assembling. [Back To Top]

I purchased the DIY case. What do I need to do to install everything?

Please remember that the case only works with the parts used in the complete FlightBox kit: the NooElec Nano 2 SDR modules, the VK-172 GPS module, and the Edimax wifi module. You will need to remove the plastic housings on the SDR and GPS modules for them to fit. Refer to the assembly guide and/or video for the process of assembly. [Back To Top]

Installation / Mounting

Note: The permanent installation of FlightBox in certificated aircraft is prohibited by the FARs. If you are using FlightBox in a certificated aircraft you must make sure that your mounting is in accordance with the rules. Open Flight Solutions cannot be held responsible for any enforcement actions or other consequences that may occur if you chose to permanently install a FlightBox in your aircraft.

Do I have to mount FlightBox?

No, FlightBox is built to make it useable either in a mounted configuration or as a totally portable system. For details on using FlightBox as a completely portable system, see “Using An External Battery” in the Power section below. If you use FlightBox as a portable, please be sure that you take precautions to prevent injury in the event of turbulence. Open Flight Solutions cannot be held responsible for any injury that may occur due to an improperly secured portable FlightBox. [Back To Top]

How can I mount FlightBox in my certificated aircraft?

FlightBox may not be installed permanently, but you can use any number of methods to secure it during flight. Typical mounting strategies include velcro and sticky pads. Some users have devised mounting systems that use suction cups to hold the FlightBox to windows or other smooth surfaces. Others have used cell phone mounting hardware. [Back To Top]

How can I mount FlightBox in my experimental aircraft?

You can mount FlightBox using any of the methods available to certificated aircraft or by using more permanent means. It is possible to mount FlightBox using screws or bolts drilled through the case. Be certain that any screw or bolt heads do not come into contact with the electronic components or connections on the Raspberry Pi or other components. [Back To Top]

Antennas

Can I relocate the antennas away from FlightBox?

Yes. You can use SMA extension cables to remotely locate the antennas while keeping the FlightBox elsewhere (typically some place out of the heat of the sun). You will need cables that are SMA male on one end (to connect to the SMA female connectors on the FlightBox) and SMA female on the other end (to connect to the antennas). Most avionics shops can make custom SMA cables that will work. [Back To Top]

Can I connect FlightBox to one or more ADS-B antennas on the outside of my aircraft?

This is between you and your A&P or avionics shop. Many mechanics are willing to install antennas intended for use with portable COM radios and view installing an extra L-band (transponder / DME / ADS-B) antenna as a similar minor alteration. If you do this, you’re best off having the coax terminated on a bulkhead connector on your panel so you can connect / disconnect the FlightBox as you see fit. [Back To Top]

Can I use a Y connector to tie one external ADS-B antenna into both the 1090 MHz and 978 MHz SMA connectors on the FlightBox?

Yes. You can use either a splitter / combiner or a simple Y cable. In either case there is a significant (3+ db) drop in signal that results from the split. Typically the signal from an external antenna is strong enough to make the impact of this drop negligible. [Back To Top]

The GPS does not include an external antenna port. How can I relocate it outside of the FlightBox case?

You can relocate the entire GPS module using a USB extension cable. There is a U-shaped cut in the material at the end of the case that makes it quite simple to remove a section of the case, making room for the USB cable to exit. [Back To Top]

I’m using the antennas included in the kit. Do I need to add a copper tape ground plane?

No. The UAT antenna includes an internal ground plane. The 1090-ES monopole might function slightly better with a backplane but one is not required to receive 1090-ES data. Any 1090-ES aircraft close enough to be a threat can easily be picked up without any additional ground plane. [Back To Top]

Power Supplies

How can I use FlightBox as a completely portable solution?

Pair your FlightBox with a rechargeable USB battery. Use velcro or similar materials to hold the FlightBox to the battery pack. Use more velcro or a sticky pad to secure the combination of the FlightBox and battery. [Back To Top]

Does FlightBox include an internal battery?

No – you will need a separate USB battery or cigarette lighter adapter. [Back To Top]

Why doesn’t FlightBox include an internal battery?

An internal battery adds expense, complicates shipping, and has limitations. You can get all of the benefits of an integrated battery without the complications using a USB battery pack. [Back To Top]

What USB batteries do you suggest?

We recommend the Anker batteries. We have tested with the Anker Astro E3 and Astro E5. Both work quite well. The E3 gives 4 – 6 hours of service. The E5 gives more than 8. You can purchase all Anker products on Amazon.com. [Back To Top]

What cigarette lighter adapter do you suggest?

For aircraft with 12v power systems, we recommend the Anker PowerDrive 2. You can purchase all Anker products on Amazon.com. [Back To Top]

I need a longer USB cable than was provided. What do you recommend?

If you need more than the 3-foot cable included with the FlightBox kit, we recommend a very heavy gauge (20 awg) charge-only USB power cable. An example can be found here. [Back To Top]

How much power does FlightBox draw?

In active operation (i.e. connected to one or more UAT tower), a dual-band FlightBox can draw as much as 1.3 amps. Idle (not connected) draw is closer to 1 amp. [Back To Top]

EFB Applications

What EFB applications does FlightBox support?

Virtually all EFB applications that support ADS-B data. Two notable exceptions are Garmin Pilot and Jeppesen FliteDeck which are not currently compatible. For a complete list of supported applications, please see the FlightBox page. [Back To Top]

I am the author / developer of an EFB application. How can I add support for FlightBox?

The basic process is identical to adding support for the default Stratux system. Contact us (info@openflightsolutions.com) for details. [Back To Top]

Traffic

Why am I not able to see all the traffic in my area?

ADS-B traffic comes in several forms. One form is direct traffic, which your FlightBox receives directly from other aircraft in the area. The other is re-broadcast traffic which you receive from the FAA’s ADS-B ground stations.

A dual-band FlightBox can receive direct traffic from any ADS-B out equipped aircraft as it has the ability to receive and decode direct traffic messages sent using either UAT or 1090-ES. Single-band systems are only able to receive direct traffic sent by aircraft equipped with the band that is active on their FlightBox (typically UAT in the United States, and 1090-ES in other countries). Depending on the antennas you have installed and the location of the FlightBox in your aircraft, you can receive direct traffic signals from as far as 300 miles away.

Eventually, as we get closer to the 2020 mandate, direct traffic will become the most common and important form of ADS-B traffic data. Today, however, only a small fraction of the fleet is equipped with ADS-B Out.

Re-broadcast traffic is data that is captured by ATC either using secondary surveillance radar (transponder radar) or using ADS-B, which is then re-broadcast to aircraft equipped with ADS-B In. At this time, the re-broadcast system is configured to only send traffic data that is relevant to aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out. The software in the ADS-B ground towers calculates a “puck” that is 30 miles across and 3,500′ tall for each “client” aircraft (i.e. aircraft that is sending ADS-B Out). The system broadcasts ATC data for traffic targets that fit within the pucks for the region the tower serves. If you do not have ADS-B Out, the system does not create and manage a puck on your behalf, meaning that the re-broadcast traffic you see is only a fraction of the traffic in your area.

It cannot be overstated: ADS-B traffic is advisory only. Do NOT rely on it as an accurate picture of traffic in your area. You are still responsible to see and avoid other aircraft unless you are operating within the IFR system.
[Back To Top]

I see airliners within 30 miles of me. Don’t those trigger the towers to rebroadcast traffic?

Not necessarily, and almost certainly not traffic that is relevant to you. Airliners are required to use TCAS for traffic monitoring and avoidance, and many (perhaps most) are not equipped for ADS-B In. Only aircraft that transmit ADS-B Out messages that include an ADS-B In equipage flag receive pucks – so many of the airliners do not have pucks. Even if they do, those pucks are 20,000 to 30,000 feet above the ground and are only 3,500′ tall – so the aircraft that appear in those pucks are irrelevant to most GA pilots.
[Back To Top]

I don’t seem to be getting any 1090 traffic in ForeFlight. Is something wrong?

No. FlightBox communicates with ForeFlight using an interface that was originally created for a UAT-only ADS-B receiver. This causes ForeFlight to count all traffic messages as being UAT. If you’re curious about the traffic source, you can go into the Settings panel on the FlightBox web interface (192.168.10.1) or the iOS app and enable the traffic source marking option. This prepends an “e” to all 1090-ES traffic and a “u” to all UAT traffic.
[Back To Top]

Weather

My FlightBox appears to be working, I see traffic but I don’t see any weather data. What’s going on?

Weather information is uplinked to your FlightBox from the ADS-B ground towers using the 978 MHz UAT band. The UAT towers are all configured to send their broadcast up and out, so you generally cannot receive UAT tower signals on the ground. You generally need to be at least 500′ AGL, and often as high as 3000′ AGL to receive tower data. (In the sparsely populated regions of the far western United States, the required altitude can be even higher.)
[Back To Top]

Firmware Updates

How do I install a firmware update on my FlightBox?

Please see the firmware update tutorial here[Back To Top]

Can I install updates from the Stratux project, or only updates provided by Open Flight Solutions for use with FlightBox?

Not if you are running the firmware that ships with FlightBox. [Back To Top]

How does the FlightBox firmware from Open Flight Solutions differ from the stock Stratux firmware?

The FlightBox image has a read-only root partition, which helps prevent corruption of the data on the SD card. It also assigns a unique SSID for each unit. [Back To Top]

My FlightBox does not boot up or create an access point. My data card may be corrupted. How can I re-image my card?

Please contact us (support@openflightsolutions.com) for some troubleshooting prior to trying to re-image your card. [Back To Top]