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Northeast Pilots Group Message Board › Portable ADS-B IN Receivers

Portable ADS-B IN Receivers

Roger A.
user 3632162
Trumbull, CT
Post #: 227
I’m wondering about the experience folks are having with Portable ADS-B Receivers. An ADS-B IN receiver that talks to your iPad can bring you free Weather into the cockpit, which is really nice.

So a year ago I saw the advertising for a Stratus ADS-B receiver made by Appareo in a joint venture with ForeFlight and Sportys. At the time I was paying about $1,500/year for my XM Weather Subscription (for my GPSMAP 396) and the paper chart subscriptions to fly VFR & IFR from Maine to Virginia and west through Pennsylvania. At the time a factory rebuilt 64GB iPad 2 from Apple (no internal Cell Phone or GPS), the Stratus, and ForeFlight would cost $1,400, saving me $100 the first year, and only costing $75/year for ForeFlight after that.

My first surprise was that the Stratus did not provide Traffic Information, which is part of ADS-B IN. Sportys published that because the unit didn’t transmit your position, it would be dangerous to only show some of the traffic around you, but the Stratus could be upgraded in the future if it was decided to provide Traffic.

My second surprise was that the WAAS GPS in the Stratus is encoded so that only ForeFlight could operate with it. This meant that other Apps on the iPad cannot use the GPS data. As a flight instructor I was very interested in Clouds Ahoy to use as a debrief tool – so I’d need to spend another $100 for a separate GPS to support that (along with the issues of more batteries to maintain and a shorter iPad battery life because both the WiFi & BlueTooth interfaces must be on.)

Imagine being a flight instructor and being able to get weather, traffic, and student debrief in any plane you jump into. This would have been a real boon. Alas, it was not to be.

Something that did turn out great was that I no longer carry paper charts in the cockpit, AND the iPad has the whole United States. Instead of a flight bag, I’ve got an iPad case. It took me about 4 months to get comfortable enough to drop the paper.

At Sun-n-Fun this year Sportys announced a new “Stratus,” (yup, same name) with traffic and a built in AHARS. However, Sportys followed with the clarification that there would be no buy-back or other support for buyers of the original Stratus, and no Traffic upgrade. So for the price of the new Stratus ($899), I can get Traffic, but I still need to carry that second GPS for Clouds Ahoy.

With that I started looking at other entries into this marketplace. Garmin makes the GDL 39 for $799. It does not have AHARS (which I don’t care about), but it will only work with the Garmin Pilot App (not ForeFlight or Clouds Ahoy), Garmin Pilot is not as robust as ForeFlight, and its buying into the same problems.

There are many other units on the market that are not tied to a single app, some with traffic, some not, some with AHARS, and even one unit that is an ADS-B Transceiver so you can receive air-to-air traffic on 1090MHZ as well. They seem to range from $475 to $1,400. There are also other subscription based apps (Wing-X & SkyVector) as well as some good free-ware apps like FltPlan.

If I’m going to pay an additional $899 for another unit, I’d like to find one that is flexible (no GPS restrictions or App restrictions) but also easy to jump with in and out of owner and training school airplanes.

All that being said – what has your experience been with these units and Apps?
Roger A.
user 3632162
Trumbull, CT
Post #: 231
New information on 5/1/13:

ForeFlight 5.1 brings traffic display

ADS-B traffic has been a hot topic lately, with a number of portable ADS-B receivers hitting the market that receive traffic. With the release of version 5.1 today, ForeFlight has joined the party and added support for traffic (when connected to a Stratus 1 or 2 receiver). The update is free and available now in the iTunes App Store, and we recommend all pilots update.

Additionally Sporty's published an very good article the on competition. I do notice that the included table does not make note that the Clarity SV for $1,400 is an ADS-B Transceiver, so you get all traffic because it triggers the ground station to provide it.

user 6891063
East Northport, NY
Post #: 41
I do notice that the included table does not make note that the Clarity SV for $1,400 is an ADS-B Transceiver, so you get all traffic because it triggers the ground station to provide it.

It's not in the table as such, because you are incorrect about the Clarity SV. It expressly says on their web site that it is NOT an ADS-B out device. It does have dual ADS-B receivers so it can receive air-to-air as well as ground-to-air traffic data, but you're not guaranteed to see all traffic data based on that alone.

Roger A.
user 3632162
Trumbull, CT
Post #: 235
Frank, your are exactly right. The portable ADS-B Tranciever is the SkyGuard TWX for $1,475. There are so many units to chose from its easy to confuse them, but there are only 2 Trancievers that I know of, and the other is about $3,500 and goes into a large case, so it would be difficult to carry it from plane to plane. I don't remember the name of that one either.

So, do you have experience with an ADS-B receiver? It would be good to hear from folks how these devices have worked for them.
user 6891063
East Northport, NY
Post #: 42
So, do you have experience with an ADS-B receiver?

No, I'm in a similar search as you, but in my case I'm looking to replace my XM system with an ADS-B setup. My bigger issue right now is that I'm not happy with any of the software available on the iPad. Each of them has some shortcoming when compared to what I'm using now (Mercury Systems VistaNav, with XM, and a Zaon XRX).
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