Flightbox

We have been using the Appareo Stratus for some time now and have been quite happy with it but recently I read about a quickstart project by Open Flight Solutions offering a build-it-yourself ADS-B receiver so I decided to give it a try. They offer two versions of their “Flightbox” a single band and a dual band running the Stratux open source project software. The single-band version is able to receive traffic data directly from aircraft equipped with 978 MHz (UAT) ADS-B Out, and also re-broadcast traffic provided by ADS-B ground stations. Dual-band systems add the ability to receive traffic data directly from aircraft equipped with 1090-ES transponders. Traffic data includes the identity (call sign or tail number) of the target, their location, distance, heading, and speed. I elected to try the dual band “Flightbox”. (The price of this ADS-B receiver is significantly less than what we paid for the Stratus so hopefully it will work as well as advertised.)
After about two weeks the Flightbox arrived in the mail. My wife (also a pilot) and I were like two kids at Christmas time and couldn’t wait to rip open the box and start building the kit. It is supposed to be an easy build requiring only a screwdriver and needle nose pliers so my wife wanted to have the honor of assembling the Flightbox. Open Flight Solutions has an excellent assembly video online and the kit comes with easy-to-read written instructions so she breezed through the build in short order!

Our kit included:
• Custom rugged case- (It’s heat and UV ray resistent.)
• Raspberry Pi 3 Model B computer
• Pre-loaded Class 10 SD data card
• NooElec SDR receiver module(s)
• Antenna adapter cables (aka pigtails)
• Custom ADS-B whip antenna(s)
• High power USB cable
• Cooling fan
• GPS receiver
• Assembly and user’s guide
*Note, the Flightbox does not have an internal battery so you will have to provide it a power source. Open Flight Solutions has some suggestions for you on their web site. Here is the 10000 mAh battery that we picked.


Here it is fully assembled:


We are using the Aviation App “Foreflight” with our iPad and the Aviation App “Avare” with my Moto X but there are other apps that work with “Flightbox”.
Aviation Apps that Flightbox Supports:
• WingX Pro (iOS)
• FltPlan Go (iOS, Android)
• FlyQ EFB (iOS, Android)
• DroidEFB (Android)
• Aerovie Reports (iOS)
• iFlyGPS (iOS, Android)
• AvPlan EFB
• Xavion (iOS)
• Avare (Android)
• Naviator (Android)
• AvNav (Android)
• iFlightPlanner (iOS)
• OzRunways (iOS, Android)
• ForeFlight* (iOS)

Not only do we have a GPS moving map indication when used in conjunction with the apps but ADS-B also provides us with these other features:
ADS-B features:
• Air Traffic indications
• Subscription-Free In-Flight Weather
• NEXRAD radar
• METARs
• TAFs
• Winds / Temps Aloft
• AIRMETs
• SIGMETs
• PIREPs
• TFRs
• NOTAMs
• SUA (Special Use Airspace) activity

We have only used the Flightbox once so far and it did a remarkable job of showing us traffic that was in our area giving height above and below us and even in some cases the identification of the aircraft but as good as it is we still need to operate as usual and “see and avoid”.

*The Rasberry Pi 3 is a cool “gadget” and if you are interested in getting one for that next project you can find one here at a pretty good price: Rasberry Pi 3