Undertaking a More Permanent Installation Extending

Undertaking a More Permanent Installation
PilotAware is sold as portable carry on equipment. However, it is also capable of being used
in a more permanent installation. This will possibly be subject to meeting the local
regulations and gaining the relevant approval(s) from the agency that certifies your
particular aircraft. It is your responsibility to ensure that this is done correctly for your
particular application, particularly if modifications are done to the airframe. Advice on
specific requirements in the UK can be gained from your CAA, LAA or BMAA inspector.
It is entirely possible on permit aircraft to make this installation quickly and safely. However,
it is prudent to get our i spe tor to ha e a look at it e e if ou do t ake a
modifications to the aircraft to ensure that you have installed it using good and accepted
aviation engineering practices. So what do we need to do?
Extending the PilotAware Inputs and Outputs.
The objective of this paper is to show how PilotAware can be installed in an aircraft so that
it is out of sight with no or the minimum cables on show. This is not a recommendation on
how to install, as every installation will be different. It is provided however to show how it
has been done in at least one aircraft. Caveat Emptor.
The external cables and modules provided with and attached to the PilotA are Classi are
as follows:
Micro USB Power Cable. This is the cable from your 5.2V power supply to PilotAware.
ADSB RTL-SDR Dongle. This is the ADSB receiver Dongle.
ADSB Antenna with cable and MCX connector. The cable from the antenna to (2)
USB WiFi Dongle. This is the little black Wi-Fi Dongle
USB GLONASS GPS Dongle. This is the white GLONASS GPS Dongle.
P3I dipole antenna. This is the thick antenna screwed to the PilotAware box.
I order to hide the PilotA are Classic Unit a a , sa ehi d the dash oard, it is necessary
to extend the radio antennas and GPS so that they can see clear sky. Also it is necessary to
provide local power and provide extension cables for the audio output and a USB extension
lead. The latter will allo a ess to the PilotA are Classic Unit for soft are upgrades ia a
USB Memory stick. With this done PilotAware will be both hidden from view but will also have
improved performance.
The following installation uses 2 mono-pole antennas each of which requires a ground plane.
If preferred these can be replaced by di-poles which do not require ground planes but may
be slightly less efficient.
The Following additional components will be required.
1. 3 Metre 50-ohm extension cable.
2. SMA male to MCX conversion cable
3. GPS Mouse with USB extension cable
4. USB extension Cable
5. 3 metre 3.5mm audio cable
6. Monopole antenna
7. Ground Plane 1/8” alu i iu ut to size
8. Penny washer
9. Cigarette Lighter socket
10. Anker Cigarette Lighter USB Voltage converter
11. Velcro
12. Cable ties
2 Off
1 Off
1 Off
1 Off
1 Off
2 Off
2 Off
2 Off
1 Off
1 Off
As required
As required
The above hyperlinks show where items have been bought from for recent installations.
Items 1,3,6,9 are highly recommended. The others can be substituted by other equivalents
as you wish.
In using the above components, the original two antennas and GPS provided with the
PilotAware Classic are not used. The ADSB RTL-SDR Dongle is used and connected to the
antenna via converter 2 and extension cable 1.
The following diagram shows how the above components are used to extend the
1. Remove the thick P3I antenna connected to the PilotAware Classic Unit and set on
the side. This is a dipole antenna and will not be used in this installation as we will be
replacing it with a monopole with a ground plane connected to the outside of the
2. Connect one of the extension leads (Item 1) to the P31 50ohm SMA connector from
which you have just taken the antenna in action 1 above.
3. Drill a 6mm diameter hole in the aluminium sheet ground plane and locate the male
end of the extension cable through this hole.
4. Drill a 6mm hole in a suitable place in the fuselage at a suitable place that will allow
the ground plane to fit inside and the penny washer to fit outside the aircraft to
spread the load. Fit the nut on the male connector and tighten. (It is important that
there is enough thread showing so that the antenna pin will mate with the extension
lead socket and give a good electrical connection. If this is not enough then a thinner
penny washer and or ground plane will be required. In an all metal aircraft it is
possible to dispense with the ground plane but a second penny washer or equivalent
is required to spread the load.
5. Do the same for the ADSB antenna using the second monopole antenna. The original
ADSB Antenna (the thin one) is not used.
6. For the ADSB antenna, at the PilotAware end of the extension cable connect the
MCX to SMA converter to the female connector and the connect the MCX connector
to the RTL-SDR dongle. This will be a snap fit. You can then fit the dongle into the
USB slot of the PilotAware Classic unit.
7. Locate the GPS mouse where it has a good view of the sky. Central on the top of the
dashboard is good. Drill a hole through the dashboard top to hide the cable for a
very clean installation if you dare. The USB end can then be fitted into the
PilotAware Classic unit.
8. Put the Wi-Fi Dongle directly into the PilotAware Classic unit as this does t eed to
be extended
9. Insert the USB extension cable (item 4), into the 4th USB slot of the PilotAware, this
will be used to gain access to the PilotAware Unit for software upgrades via a
memory stick. See the PilotAware Operating Instructions to do this.
10. Provide Power to the PilotAware unit via the Micro USB cable. This can be done by
using a power brick or other method such as a cigarette lighter converter. In this
installation I have suggested hiding a cigarette lighter socket (item 9) behind the
dash with an ANKER converter (Item10). This gives a very good low noise efficient
low cost power supply that comes on when you throw the master switch. Ensure
that the 12V input is via a fuse or circuit breaker for electrical safety. For belt and
braces you can put an ANKER power brick in series between the cigarette lighter
o erter a d the PilotA are as so e ha e do e. If ou do this, it s a good idea to
put an On/Off switch between the battery pack and the PilotAware to remove the
power when you turn the master switch off.
ADSB Antenna
P3I Antenna
Note Wi Fi Dongle is not extended
PilotAware USB
Fuse Holder
Micro USB
Existing Power cable
Voltage Converter
Additional Thoughts
1. Now that you have extended the required peripherals the PilotAware unit can be
lo ated a
here i the air raft. The o l thi g that has t ee e te ded is the
WiFi which will work perfectly if the unit is hidden say behind the dashboard. If
however the unit was put say under the seat in a Sports Cruiser, RV or Eurostar and
was surrounded by metal then it may get shielded and the signal attenuated. If this
is the case use another USB extension cable (item4) to locate the USB dongle outside
the metal screen.
2. Affix the PilotAware unit using Velcro and cable tie the cables neatly so that they are
not seen.
3. If you get radio interference suspect the power supply. (Use ANKER products and
you should not get any problems). Some of the cheaper power bricks are noisy so
just e ause the look like a atter do t e fooled the are ot totall passi e.
4. Obvious engineering good practice.
a. Cri p do t solder
b. Do t ru a les parallel for too lo g
c. Tie cables well but not too tight.
d. Use low smoke and fume cables where possible
e. Ensure that any power cables to the PilotAware are as short as possible and
at least 22AWG as supplied with the PilotAware Classic. This ensures minimal
voltage drop and 5.25V at the unit.
f. Smear some petroleum jelly around the edge of the outside of the external
antenna screw as a moisture barrier.
5. If you have a fabric aircraft same principles apply. Attach the ground plane to a
suitable former and locate both antennas vertically. Theoretically they can be inside
the fuselage as the fabric will not attenuate the signal but make sure that the pilot
and passenger(s) and engine are not in line of site as they will attenuate the signal.
Outside is therefore best. See the paper on antenna location.
6. If ou do t a t to use a grou d-plane then you can use the original antenna
supplied with the PilotAware Classic. This is an end fed di-pole hi h does t eed a
ground plane. Alternatively you can use a centre fed di-pole available from
pilotawarehardware.com here. This has a sticky backed centre which allows the
antenna to be fixed to a screen for example.
7. Also the ADSB a te a looks spi dl ut is a er apa le a te a. If ou do t ha e
a full etal air raft it is possi le that this does t eed to e put outside at all. Best
to have it vertically mounted and for optimal performance reduce its length to
8. Some folks have a concern that the USB connectors will come loose. To overcome
this you can put a small bow in the connector long side using pointed nose pliers
which will give a tight fit.
Every installation will be different. However, we trust that this information helps you to
make a more permanent installation in your aircraft that hides all the bits. If you need help
do t forget to isit the PilotA are Foru
here there ill e ad i e fro fellow pilots who
will have possibly installed PilotAware in aircraft similar to yours. Also reciprocate if you
have done a successful installation and add to the knowledge.
Safe Flying.
PilotAWare Team
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