From time to time, here at the DXer.ca website we get offers to test some uniquely different stuff.
And the Radar-box by AirNav corporation was no exception. It was, in fact, the good people at Durham Radio (our supplier of quality electronics for review) - that sent us out their display sample of the Radar-Box for testing, play and consumer review.
The Radar-Box by AirNav is quite the interesting package - and as described, easy to set-up - install is in about 3 minutes on your average Windows XP box.
We were up in running in about 3 minutes - logged into one of their servers within a minute or two and looking at air traffic in our region within a couple of more minutes.
The Radar-Box by AirNav takes advantage of data that is actually in the air-waves already - that is being transmitted my most airplanes... for the benefit of other airplanes and air traffic controllers. As you can see from the photo above right, the "black box" sits near a window and it picks up transponder info - and you couple the Radar-box to your computer or laptop via the USB-2 connection.
Radar-box by AirNav also does something else that is kind of neat - it accesses the internet and data that is served out by other AirNav Radar-box users - kind of a form of file sharing... but you are actually data sharing. So, where ever there is another AirNav Radar-box user online, you get to see what they see.
There are currently hundreds of RadarBox users out there these days and all of those folks are sharing out data that they are picking up. Up here in the North West, I could see about a dozen or so planes coming and going from Vancouver and Seatte - and I had a less than opitimal antenna position (inside my "shack" at my computer workstation inside a concrete and steel building!) - results will vary but I am sure I would have got a busier snap shot of my airspace with an outdoor antenna.
Because this is data shared, I saw lots and lots of activity over LAX (Los Angeles), the various New York airports, Narita, Japan, London, England, and parts of Europe where there lots and lots of stuff to look at. As the You-tube video on the home page shows, you also have a database of plane photos that is always growing.
RadarBox by AirNav does not, as of yet, have an audio component - but it is easy enough to find a streaming audio source of virtually every large airport on the Planet.
So, with a little imagination or a handheld aircraft scanner (like my FT-60 which does awesome double duty...) one can have the entire aviation multi-media experience.
For furture aviators, actual aviators and scanner enthusiasts alike, there is an additional layer of realism with the AirNav radar-box with the addition of real-time aero weather.
What I thought was kind of cool was the ability to actually track a flight in near-real time; plane, call-sign, altitude and direction... whether it was coming or going.
At $699.99 Canadian (from Durham Radio, Ontario), the AirNav Radar-box is more than an expensive toy - it is a very useful training tool.
For someone who is planning on a career in aviation or flirting with the idea, it is a nominal sum for a robust piece of gear that opens up an entirely new World - not normally seen or understood by the rest of us.
I had a lot of fun with the AirNav Radar-box for over a week - Many thanks to Keith at Durham Radio for tossing me one to play with. Here are some photos from our AirNav Radar-box photo gallery.
Coming up on DXer.ca - A review of the new Grundig G3 with selectable sync detection!