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Thread: Switchbox remote start for preheat

  1. #1
    grbamford's Avatar
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    Default Switchbox remote start for preheat

    Cold wx flyers,

    It looks like we may have a break in the great white north (Erie, Pa) and I would like to do some flying. I have a tannis installed on 31D but I live 15 miles from the airport. Would like to be able to preheat the aircraft before I get to the airport. Time is a premium. Does anyone have any experience with switchbox or regal remote starts for preheating. Idea is that you can use an app on your phone to turn power on/off to your preheater before you arrive at the field.

    Greg

  2. #2
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Switchbox remote start for preheat

    I have read about them but not used one. I went out to the airport yesterday morning (15 degrees), plugged in the heater and did some stuff around the hanger for several hours. Would be nice to just turn it on remotely so I am curious about this as well.

  3. #3
    tjlebaron's Avatar
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    Default Re: Switchbox remote start for preheat

    I've had one for the last four years so here are my thoughts.

    Positives: When you get it set up correctly it's great!

    Negatives: Reception is very weak. I've had it a couple different airports and the only way I can get reception is with an antenna that is outside of the hangar. Not that big of a deal but frustrating until you figure this out.

    Mine works off of T-Mobile. This means you have to log on and add money every so often. If you don't use it occasionally during the summer you will have to buy a new SIM card come winter. The SIM card cancels out from non use. Again not a biggie, but a pain. I'm on my fourth SIM card in four years.

    Conclusion: I am spoiled by my smartphone and service. It is autopay and I never have to mess with it. The remote switch requires a bit more attention and frustrates me every Fall as I work to get it going again. Would I buy it again? Yes, but I hope something a little more user friendly comes out soon. Also make sure you get the latest version. Rumor has it that once T-Mobile upgrades their service I'll have to buy a new upgraded switch.

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Switchbox remote start for preheat

    I don’t know much about these things but I see ads all the time where people with wifi can do almost everything remotely. Lock-unlock doors, view security cameras, start washing machines, control lighting... so it couldn’t be that hard to set up. Installing a wifi router in the hangar and using it for flight planning throughout the year would eliminate the annual issues listed above. Individual costs could be reduced by several people sharing.
    "Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement." - Fred Brooks

  5. #5
    ysifly2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Switchbox remote start for preheat

    I am fortunate to have internet service in my hangar, so am able to use a WiFi outlet and operate that via an App (Kasa)

    A friend I know is based at another close by airport, but does not have internet there, so he is working on a GSM (cell service) option. The module he is setting up is RTU5024... if you search Amazon it will come up there, likely many other places to get it as well. He then is going to use it to operate a relay for the 15A power needed for the preheater. He is able to send text messages then to the module and give it commands to turn on or off. It responds back with a txt message when it has received and completed the command.
    So far I believe he has only tested it at home... will have to follow up with him to see if he gets it to work within then hangar and remote.

    Attached is a picture of his control board setup. Iíll check and see if heís been successful further.


    Bryan




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    grbamford's Avatar
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    Default Re: Switchbox remote start for preheat

    TJ,

    The reviews have said the same thing! When it works its great. When it doesn't work it can be a painful process. A few of the reviews mentioned that the sunsetting of the 2G network from T-Mobile. They are one of the last companies running a 2G system. They plan on putting it to bed in 2019! They say that you can purchase an ATT sim card on their 4G system and pay their fee if you want. An alternate is the U PHONE IT PREHEATER SWITCH FOR CELL PHONES. (http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalo...p?recfer=17091). It is on the ATT system. Jeff has a point that there may be alternate systems out there as well. I think Waimo might be an option. Looks like I'm going to do some research this afternoon on that option.

    Steve,

    I'm looking forward to finding an alternative to putzing around the hangar in the middle of winter!

    Greg

  7. #7
    grbamford's Avatar
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    Default Re: Switchbox remote start for preheat

    Jeff,

    I was wondering if a wifi outlet that you could get at Best Buy or Lowe's was an option as well. When you say you have internet/WiFi at your airport, where is your network coming from?

    Greg

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Switchbox remote start for preheat

    Like I said, I don’t know much about it. I don’t have a wifi connection of my own. The network connection must come from somewhere. Even the sim carded switch must connect to a network through a ceullar connection (I am guessing it has it’s own phone number, the modem I use for my laptop does). Where I work they have a dsl modem connected to a wireless router. I connect to the router with my phone. Some airports have internet connections and maybe they wouldn’t mind someone tapping into that. Although the last time I leased a hangar there were prohibitions against leaving things like heaters run unattended so it may not work to ask for permission to use their network to do it.
    "Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement." - Fred Brooks

  9. #9
    Stephen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Switchbox remote start for preheat

    A hangar neighbor uses an app over WiFi to turn on a light bulb he puts in his engine before driving out to the airport. He says it works well. I'll ask him which app he uses.
    "You can only tie the record for flying low."

  10. #10

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    Default Re: Switchbox remote start for preheat

    I bought one of these:

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Phone-Cal...s0jOT4gTztQ3RQ


    It is connected to a fan heater & metal ducting then ran insulated flexible conduit into the cowl. I use a pay-as-you-go sim card and to switch the heater on, I send a short text message then receive one back stating the system status. It appears to work well and consistently. The only downside is that the relay is only rated for 7 amps, so the heater is limited to about 1600 watts.
    I will get a picture of the whole Heath-Robinson contraption when I am next at the hanger.

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