Stratus 2 arrived! PIREP soon

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by EpicDraws, May 10, 2013.

  1. EpicDraws

    EpicDraws Pre-takeoff checklist

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    After the delays, my Stratus 2 just showed up at the door. Naturally, I ignored the advice to charge it fully in order to play with it for a few minutes. Obviously, the data I am about to give means nothing as I have yet to be in the air with it.

    • Was able to connect to 1-2 stations from my home (Silicon Valley). Was eventually able to see 1-5 traffic targets. Very curious how this works from the air.
    • Stratus Horizon is a bare-bones app, but showcases AHRS enough to know it works. Not convinced this is a huge bonus quite yet.
    • GPS signal locks very quickly and looks very accurate (1-2m in my home).
    • Weather and radar updated quickly even on the ground, and looked good.
    I have a local flight on Sunday and will report back when I see how it works in the air!
     
  2. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Mine arrived today too. I did charge it until the LED turned green and then played with it. I only tested with ForeFlight. GPS lock was fairly quick in my house, but was only accurate to 3m initially. It took about 5 minutes to work down to 1m and after 15 or so it was listing <1m. We're supposed to have ADS-B coverage now, but not from my house (no FIS-B ). I set the unit next to a window that faces KMEM and eventually started seeing targets on 1090. It was a slow time (even according to FlightAware), so I didn't see targets for a while, but eventually there were and that was cool. I also have a flight on Sunday, so hopefully I'll be able to test it out as well.
     
  3. flav8r

    flav8r Line Up and Wait

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    Looking forward to both your PIREPs..:yesnod:
     
  4. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Around 23:00 local is a big time for FedEx arrivals. I was seeing a ton of the traffic over 1090. From about 6nm through my house to about 12nm toward KMEM. I have the unit just sitting in a window on the side of my house that faces toward KMEM (which is about 10nm away). I haven't seen a blip of FIS-B or traffic over 978.
     
  5. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I just got back home from my flight. I took a bunch of screen shots (most on the way back). I'll try to figure out what to do with them later and update or make another post in this thread.

    This flight was in a Cessna 162 SkyCatcher from KOLV to 3A1 for lunch at the Prop Diner, and then back. It was my first time to try this hundred-dollar-hamburger run. I got to the airport at 09:00 local and the conditions are clear and million; from here all the way out to Culman. The only weather condition that had me concerned was some forecast gusty winds. Basically, this wasn't one of those flights where I'd wish I had more weather info. I purchased the suction cup mount accessory and secured the Stratus 2 to the left side rear window (behind me) with the LEDs pointed aft. Very solid mount and it needed it today. It was really really bumpy at times. I turned it on before strapping in and starting up. I usually don't strap on my iPad (leg strap case) until after run-up, but I put it on before taxi this time. Took a quick glance at it before moving (hey, Hobbs timer was running and it's a rental) and saw nothing on the screen. The radar overly with that hash marking you get when your data is stale was showing, though. Accuracy was listed at 1m. This is where it gets tough. You can't really be heads down in take-off and departure from a Class D under a Bravo shelf like KOLV is. So, I didn't really get another look until we were already clear of Delta airspace. Shortly after I saw a FedEx MD11 not too far above, descending and headed my way (on ForeFlight). I looked out at 2'oclock and it quickly came into view and passed behind not that far above. It was a little closer than I'd have liked. A bunch of other targets popped-up too. I really didn't buy this for traffic info, but I'm starting to like that aspect.

    As I got further from KMEM and KOLV target density started to decrease near me and I wasn't hearing as much on the radio either, so I checked and I already had METAR data for a bunch of airports. Again, weather was very clear today, so no radar data to see. Cruised at 5500' and it was still pretty bumpy all the way. It was nice to pull up METAR data for surrounding airports way out ahead of time. I'm usually pulling up ATIS and AWOS for airports along my route to keep my altimeter set, and this reduced the time to get the info I was looking for. I decided to try out the new pattern entry procedures ForeFlight introduced since I could see winds before I got to my descent. I'm not real good at spotting unfamiliar airports, and 3A1 was especially difficult for me. I had 2 GPS's telling me where I was relative to it, but I didn't see it until I was about to turn downwind from the 45. After shutting down I peeked back at the Stratus 2 to turn it off and noticed that it had an LED indicating it was receiving ADS-B data even on the ground.

    For the trip back I noticed I had ADS-B data on the ground right after start-up. I cruised back at 6500' despite the headwind to get smooth air (mostly). This leg as a lot longer due to the headwind, so I played with things more. I saw few traffic targets until I was back close to the Memphis terminal area. No weather to speak of again, but I was looking at METARs for airports fairly far off. I did get a few traffic targets I doubt I would have seen without the Stratus 2. One it picked up about 15 miles out, 2000' feet below headed in exactly the opposite direction. It was probably 3 miles off my left wing, 3000' below me before I actually saw it. I tapped the target and it has a nice dialog showing that it had a heading of 114, a speed of 171 knots, and an altitude of 3375'. Very cool. This guy must be ADS-B equipped, because it appears to me he triggered the traffic broadcast showing aircraft in the pattern back at KOLV as they were in the "hockey puck" around that guy. Again, I was able to pull up METAR data early and get a feel for winds before getting close to my destination. Then I got to see and hear traffic around KOLV that wasn't showing up to the Stratus 2 with no ADS-B Out equipped aircraft in the vicinity pinging the system.

    Cool unit. Can't wait to try it out on more cross-countries where I'm having to watch the weather more closely.
     
  6. ChrisK

    ChrisK En-Route

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    Great pirep! Sounds like there is a lot of utility in the traffic capability when flying around busy (esp Class B) airspace.
     
  7. LDJones

    LDJones Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Is the connection to the Stratus wifi or Bluetooth?
     
  8. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route

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    Is there a way we can pressure the FAA to broadcast all traffic, not just that in the "hockey puck" of an ADS-B out aircraft?

    What is the rationale for withholding the traffic info other than to "motivate" folks to equip for OUT?
     
  9. AMNegron

    AMNegron Filing Flight Plan

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    As advertised, the connection is wifi, which allows multiple units to connect
     
  10. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Wifi. To further elaborate, when you power it on, it creates a wifi network with the name Stratus<serial_number>. When connected to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch (I presume), Foreflight has some settings it can adjust. One is "power saving mode" which will reduce the wifi power level. I imagine for most folks this is a no-brainer setting because the distances aren't going to be very large. There was probably 3 feet between my Stratus 2 and my iPad.

    Oh, and battery life sucked on my iPad. I left this morning with a full charge, and when I got home I was at 20%.
     
  11. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You're supposed to squit out. that's why it's set up this way....

    Remember you have until 2020 to do it, but you have to do it.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  12. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route

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    I know, but between now and 2020, there's no good reason to deprive non equipped AC of the traffic info. It won't be an issue after 2020.

    Some people rent, and could use a portable device to receive the info.
     
  13. sdflyer

    sdflyer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have ordered Stratus directly from Appareo of May 4th. My CC was charged a day later. Until now I haven't received any notification from Appareo. I only have order number and status "processing". I tried to contact support by email couple days ago, but didn't get any response.

    So my question for those of you who already dealt with Appareo is that normal way they are handling business?
     
  14. ChrisK

    ChrisK En-Route

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  15. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yup, they charge as soon as the order is placed. Sorta crappy way to do business but when orders exceed supply they can get away with it. They are a couple days behind on support emails but are very polite and helpful when they do get around to you. It took a week to get an RMA number...
     
  16. EpicDraws

    EpicDraws Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I will write more later, but I had my first successful flight with the Stratus. The GPS was accurate and seemed reliable, and heat didn't seem to cause any problems. It was an 80F direct sun day, and it sat for 90 minutes on the dash. The fan was on and it was warm to the touch, but didn't seem concerning.

    Weather updates were nice but mostly unnecessary for my flight.

    Traffic was a neat feature to look at, but mostly worthless, even in very busy SFO/OAK airspace. Maybe showed 5-6 targets at a time bunched near the big airports, but clearly the real traffic was 10x that likely.
     
  17. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    When I first read that, I wondered... "Wow, he gets deliveries to his house at 23:00?" LOL! :)
     
  18. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Haha. FedEx is based here and it's one of their major hubs. Hell, they're probably the sole reason we still have Bravo airspace anymore.
     
  19. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Attaching some screen shots.
     

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  20. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That sucks. I ordered mine from Sporty's. I debated ordering from Appareo direct, but went with Sporty's for another entry in their drawing :) .
     
  21. sdflyer

    sdflyer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    They finally replied after almost two weeks! Yes they are super nice when they talk to you. My order will ship next week. So soon I will post my PIREP flying in busy SoCal airspace. :)


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  22. Piloto

    Piloto Line Up and Wait

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    I noticed on the pictures that it shows traffic relative altitude +. Is that relative to the traffic next to you that is broadcasting ADS-B out or relative to your GPS altitude? Either one will be in error for you since you do not know the altitude of the ADS-B out traffic and GPS altitude could be 1000ft off from baro altitude transmitted by the traffic.

    José
     
  23. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Keen observation. I think there's a mix going on here as I'm receiving:
    • TIS-B broadcast from towers in response to ADS-B Out pings
    • 978MHz UAT broadcasts / pings
    • 1090ES broadcasts

    The requirements for the UAT and 1090ES broadcast are a WAAS GPS source, so that traffic is broadcasting GPS-derived altitude. The TIS-B "hockey puck" broadcasts only include aircraft that are not so equipped. I think this data simply carries mode-c pressure altitude. I don't know what it shows for non mode-c transponders. I've attached another screenshot from my outbound flight that shows a "-2" by my aircraft. I think that was my mode-c reported pressure altitude. The transponder in the SkyCatcher shows the pressure altitude that it's reporting and it was about 200 feet lower than my GPS altitude (it's one thing I cross-checked while flying).
     

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  24. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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  25. sdflyer

    sdflyer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So 20 days later my order is still listed as "processing" Nothing has been shipped even though support wrote me that my order will be shipped during the week of may 20th.

    It would make feel better if at least I saw my order status changed to something like "preparing for shipping" ..Pretty frustrating..

    *update*
    Obviously Appareo Systems is using "don't ask don't tell policy"

    I emailed support again and inquired about my Stratus order. I got similar response as before - the delay they mentioned after the first delay got delayed again :mad2::lol: WOW! So now my order supposedly will ship by the end of next week..:dunno: Sure enough there was no delay to charge my credit card next day after order was placed.:lol: Perfect business model!
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2013
  26. Flocker

    Flocker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I logged a couple of hours this week flying with the Stratus 2, in a 2011 Cessna 162, using Foreflight 5.1, on an iPad 3. Overall everything worked as advertised. Very impressive!

    We did experience something worth mentioning... with traffic activated, on our way back to KPDK, we noticed an aircraft behind us, traveling in the same direction, at the same speed, 100-200 feet below us. At first we were concerned, but after a few turns and a climb, we determined that the traffic was likely our aircraft as it followed our track on a lag. We only noticed the "shadow" during the last 30 minutes of our flight which happened to be inside the Mode C veil of KATL. I e-mailed Foreflight with the question and here is their response:

    "Yes, this traffic 'shadow' can occur. We currently have some basic filtering in ForeFlight Mobile to try to hide the "ownship" target, but sometimes the ownship shows-up. We are working to improve this in future updates."
     
  27. JGoodish

    JGoodish Cleared for Takeoff

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    That practice is nonsense, and if it happened to me, I'd light up ForeFlight's inbox like there was no tomorrow. I'm surprised that folks are tolerating it, especially with the shipping delays. ForeFlight needs to find a better business partner if that's the way Appareo does business, and I'm a bit irritated (but not surprised) that they're not offering any upgrade path for Stratus 1 owners. If I have to sell out for an entirely new box, I'm surely going to take a look at ForeFlight's competitors as well.


    JKG
     
  28. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sorry to hear this. Sporty's was really pretty good about communication. I got 2 shipping delay notices (and then it was another couple days after the final "expected ship" date before it shipped), but I'm pretty happy with it so far.
     
  29. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I did another flight with the Stratus today. I flew from KOLV to KDXE for breakfast. There wasn't any weather to speak of, but there was a TFR in the area. I was on flight following for this one and there was quite a bit of traffic that didn't show up to the Stratus. Screen shots attached.
     

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  30. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I would suggest that anyone buying a Stratus get it from Sporty's, not Appareo. Sporty's has lots of practice with end-user customer service, and I don't think Appareo's earlier products were sold directly to end users so they don't seem to have it figured out quite yet.
     
  31. M20Jpilot

    M20Jpilot Filing Flight Plan

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    Any preps on the AHRS yet? Thinking this would be a big plus if it proves to be a reliable backup to my aging vacuum and electric AIs. I just happen to have an under used iPod touch for a display.

    Any preps on side window mount vs top of glare shield? Thinking lower temps might mean longer life between charges (less fan op) and longer battery life overall. Possibly better ads b/gps reception as stated on sportys website.

    Is battery user replaceable?
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
  32. madtrader

    madtrader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've played with it a bit on the ground, but not in the air. It seems to work.

    I bought the suction cup mount accessory. In the SkyCatcher, I mounted it on the side window behind the pilot. That worked really well. It didn't get warm and had a view of the sky and ground.

    No.
     
  33. warrenge

    warrenge Filing Flight Plan

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    I've used my Stratus 2 on 4 flights in my Bonanza around So Cal. i have found the ADS-B works well as described by others. The glareshield on my plane is too hot so I've started using the suction cup on the side window. Above 29C OAT in the direct sun I still seem to have heat issues so I move it to the opposite side out of direct sun and the ADS-B works fine. I do have issues with the AHRS-Horizon though. I have let it go for hours playing in the hangar but the longest I've got it to run in a car or my airplane is 30 minutes. Then I get "Please connect to Stratus" message with the screen image shaded out. Checking the "info" button the connection is indicated but I can't get the glass panel screen back. All the while I'm receiving ADS-B data through Foreflight. The glass panel screen will momentarily pop up then go away. Also during the time it has worked the headings are always +12 degrees from my Garmin's. It doesn't matter whether the Stratus lays flat or hanging on its side, it's +12 off. I don't think I can manually adjust heading like the attitude.
     
  34. Piloto

    Piloto Line Up and Wait

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    Now if you don't get the shadow would that mean it will not show traffic near you? And why your shadow would be 200 lower? Shouldn't it be at your same altitude? Is there some sort of warning like "Traffic" voice warning when someone is close to you? I think the voice warning is important specially when you are busy not looking at the ForeFlight.

    José
     
  35. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    FWIW, the Zaon has similar issues, sometimes same altitude, sometimes 200' lower. A bit unnerving at first, but doesn't seem to be much we (or they) can do about it.

     
  36. M20Jpilot

    M20Jpilot Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for the PIREP, Warren.

    The heading error sounds like a bug in the software where the AHRS display is reporting True instead of Magnetic. In Los Angles, the magnetic variance is 12 degrees positive which is the right amount and (I'm pretty sure) the right direction to account for the discrepancy you report.

    The intermittent failure to recognize the AHRS was also reported by Linkster102 under Ratings and Reviews in the Apple Store for Stratus Horizon. Sounds like another bug.

    I have a Stratus 2 on order (to ship June 14), but I'm thinking about cancelling until these bugs get worked out. Please let us know what you learn after contacting Appareo tech support as I'm sure you will.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013
  37. warrenge

    warrenge Filing Flight Plan

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    Oscar,
    I have been in touch with tech support. On the issue of AHRS reporting true, tech rep Cal informs me that a firmware fix is coming shortly. On the issue of Stratus Horizon shutting down, I'm apparently the only one who has that problem, Cal will talk with some engineers, and get back to me. A nice exchange overall. I expect my next contact with tech support to be by email. I did fly with the unit yesterday. The outbound leg was early and through the clouds, Stratus 2 performed as expected in both apps. On return in mid afternoon, ADS-B and Foreflight was as expected but I could not get Stratus Horizon to function in any form.
     
  38. M20Jpilot

    M20Jpilot Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for the update, Warren.

    The true vs mag bug should be easy to fix. It is an bug I've seen before and makes me think that the software guys are not pilots.

    The failure to connect or loss of connection is more elusive. The fact that it has been reported twice now (by you and by Linkster102 under Ratings and under Stratus Horizon reviews in the Apple App store) makes me suspect it is not just a "random" failure of your specific unit. Is there ever such a thing as a truly "random" failure??

    I decided to cancel my Stratus 2 order until this gets sorted out and will probably wait until after Airventure to see what other goodies are announced. I really like the advertised functionality of the Stratus 2 but will remain on the sidelines until the issues with the AHRS are resolved.

    Thanks, again, for sharing your experiences with the product -- and please let us know how it finally gets resolved.
     
  39. warrenge

    warrenge Filing Flight Plan

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    Oscar,
    I got a message back from Appareo. Tech rep Cal says his engineers report the AHRS is reporting magnetic, not true, heading. This makes my unit seem like a fluke since I have no way of correcting my 12 degree offset. The proposed fix for the Stratus Horizon app disconnect was to go into Foreflight app devices and turn on the power saver mode in "stratus status". Stratus Horizon app does not have a power saver mode. I've never had issues with Stratus 2 and Foreflight, but if the power saving mode in Foreflight helps the Horizon app, well, ok. But I still have the heading bug.
    I may have to use Sporty's customer satisfaction policy and return the unit. I'm going to talk to them tomorrow.
     
  40. M20Jpilot

    M20Jpilot Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks, again, for the updated, Warren.

    At first I thought the power save mode suggestion sounded like a shot in the dark, but then I re-read your original post and think that the intermittent AHRS connection could have to do with overheating. It fits your experiences with the device. The power save mode could ameliorate that. It will be interesting to hear if that "fixes" it.

    The other thought I had was regarding the +12 degree track error vs your Garmin units. It still sounds very much like a software bug in your device. If the tech support guy is right that the software reports mag and not true, then MAYBE you have an older version of the software that is reporting true, or messed up in some other way. There is Stratus Update app in the Apple app store you can download to update the unit software (firmware) to the latest version This might be worth a try.

    Or maybe it's not a mag vs true issue (even thought the numbers suggest that), but some other software bug causing the error.

    I hope I'm not stating the obvious, but I'm a techie at heart and get a kick out of trying to figure out why the "latest and greatest" doesn't always quite work the way it's supposed to. I'm usually an early adopter, so I've had plenty of "fun" at it. :)

    Good luck sorting it out. I think you are working with the market leaders here, including Sporty's, so you should be in good shape eventually.