Upgrading my PiAware


PiAware Box 1.0

So the PiAware I operate has a problem: It isn’t uploading data! But in a weird way, it is. The receiver can still be accessed via port 30003 (Basestation format), this is the data stream that I scrape to operate the “Airplanes Nearby” widget to the right of this article. Normally this problem would require me to log into SSH and reboot it or go and unplug it. But this time its different, because while it is uploading data, SSH is inoperable and physically power cycling the device does not alter its behaviour. As you can see from the image, my housing isn’t very maintenance-friendly. So its time to upgrade.

Let’s identify some problems with my housing:

  • Not very easy to open: I have to unscrew the steel strap, then maneuver a screwdriver in the space between the roof and the box. This is complicated by the clearance between the two is smaller than my screwdrivers.
  • Weatherproofed to a fault: There is no airflow in this “box”, its sealed up with tight with rubber caulking on the joints and self-bonding tape on the cable inlets. Not only does this inhibit airflow, but it also may or may not have developed a moisture problem. While this was assembled and installed at the height of the 2015 summer drought, I also live 100 meters from the sea so who knows until we open it up!
  • Its ugly.

My $12 new toy.

Luckily for me I picked up a DeWalt cordless drill and a complete package of 3/4″ to 2-1/2″ hole saw set for $12 this Saturday which made my plans significantly easier than I expected. This 5/8″ drill bit I had already, its a pretty big bit 😉

One thing I did plan ahead on but never used was an additional port for running another wire or device into the Raspberry Pi B I used. I plan on using it this time for a weather station. Nothing too ostentatious, just a DHT22 for outdoor temperature and humidity sensing, but I do need to isolate it from what I expect to be a high temperature environment of my new box, and that will require another hole.

PiAware Box 2.0

PiAware Box 2.0

About two hours after I bought my new drill I went and bought a 6″x6″x6″ PVC box from Home Depot, I’ve previously used one of these on another PiAware installation and decided it was a good size for another. I drilled two 3/4″ holes for the 1/2″ cable glands that would take care of the power and RG6 cables, and a 5/8″ hole for the 3/8″ gland that would carry the “weather station” cable. Additionally I drilled four 1/16″ holes on what would be the “bottom” to let air and moisture exit.

While I was planning to do all this, remount the ADSB antenna, install lightning protection for both ADSB and my AIS receivers, and get everything else I didn’t list working, but unfortunately I was stymied by the weather, its raining! I’m not particularly fond of getting out on a wet roof so that will have to wait for the weather to clear.