uAvionix skyBeacon ADSB-OUT Installation and Review

uAvionix has recently introduced the "skyBeacon," a FAA-approved (meets 2020 mandate requirements), wing-tip mounted ADSB-OUT transmitter with an internal WAAS GPS that features a simple, 2-wire installation using existing nav light wiring and no additional antenna installation or cabling - and it only weighs 90 grams!.  uAvionix sent me a pre-production sample to beta-test. I just received it yesterday and finished the installation today.  The following is a description of my installation:

This first picture shows you what's in the box:  The skyBeacon, "Click-Bond" nut plates, miscellaneous installation hardware, and instructions. The instructions are not very detailed, nor do they need to be, since the installation is so simple!

My installation is a bit different from usual since there was slight curvature in the Zenith STOL 750 wing-tip necessitating a base mounting plate with a rubber gasket underneath to accommodate the  wing-tip curvature and provide a flat mounting plate for my AveoLED nav/strobe.  I made the mounting plate a bit oversize so it could also act as a reflector:

I removed the light and mounting plate and used the skyBeacon as a template to mark new mounting holes with a 1/8" drill bit.  A similar technique could be used to mark holes if attaching directly to a wing-tip.

After drilling 1/8" holes at the marked locations, I mixed the Click-Bond adhesive, applied it to the nut plates, and used the blue fixtures to align the nutplate against the hole and hold tension while the adhesive cures.  There are excellent videos on YouTube explaining the Click-Bond process, but the important things to remember is that you only have about a 3 min working time once the adhesive is mixed and need to have a squeeze-out of a bead of adhesive around the periphery of the nut plate.  It reaches 75% of strength in less than an hour but full strength takes 24 hrs.  I let them cure overnight before removing the fixtures and almost 24 hrs before I installed the 6/32 machine screws.

After the nut plates cured, I re-mounted my aluminum mounting base, connected the skyBeacon's red power wire to the nav light power wire and the black ground wire to my nav light's ground wire.  (Sealed heat-shrink connectors are included with the skyBeacon.)

I then powered up the skyBeacon with the nav light switch - the red nav light is quite bright!

Then, using the skyBeacon app on my smartphone, I configured the skyBeacon via wifi and then switched to the monitor page on the app to verify it was broadcasting the correct data.  You can also use this app in-flight to verify the system is working properly.

I found the skyBeacon to be very easy to install.  It would be perfect for someone who already has an ADSB-IN receiver and wants ADSB-OUT to enhance their safety and meet the 2020 ADSB mandate.  Also, the ADSB-OUT assures you'll get the "puck" of TIS traffic data centered on your plane (+/- 3500' and 15 nm radius).  Everything is included for the installation and there is nothing else to buy.  The only negative I see is the lack of a strobe and rear position light, but uAvionix says this is in development and will be available soon.  Also, the unit I installed was a pre-production beta and uAvionix says there will be some upgraded sealing on the production units and also an additional reflector for the red nav light - although it seems very bright as-is!



(No commercial or business relationship with uAvionix.)

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Comment by Loren Warner on October 26, 2017 at 11:04am

John, your the greatest for R&D.  This product looks like a great alternative to the iLevel Beacon that we'll be installing.  

Comment by John Austin on October 26, 2017 at 10:53am

If you don’t hangar the aircraft, what’s to stop someone with a screw driver from walking
Off with your unit?

That's a good question! In my particular case, my plane is hangared at home and on those occasional overnights away, I try to get it in a secure hangar if at all possible, so I'm not too concerned for my personal situation.

LED nav/strobes aren't exactly inexpensive, and I've never heard of anyone swiping those, but I've certainly had the same thought - this is a $1500 device, so the risk/reward ratio is getting better for the thief!  :>(

As I provide feedback to uAvionix, I was definitely going to recommend that they consider some sort of tamper-proof screws that require a unique tool for removal.  I'm sure the "pro thief" can steal anything if they're determined, but it might cut down on thefts by "casual amateurs!"

Comment by David Krakowsky on October 26, 2017 at 10:41am
If you don’t hangar the aircraft, what’s to stop someone with a screw driver from walking
Off with your unit?
Comment by John Austin on October 26, 2017 at 7:05am

Too bad something like this not available for certificated airplanes.  Perhaps they will get STCs for the popular ones.

uAvionix says they will have a STC for a large number of planes and expect certification in the 1st qtr. 2018.

Comment by Joe Hopwood on October 26, 2017 at 6:07am

Too bad something like this not available for certificated airplanes.  Perhaps they will get STCs for the popular ones.

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