FlightAware Discussions

RadarBox FlightStick heat stroke?

We are going through our annual 2 weeks of summer :wink:, and the temperature in the garage reached 35 degrees Celsius.

The RadarBox FlightStick stopped working. It’s very hot. If I let it cool down, it works for a while, and then it stops again.

It took me a while to suspect the FlightStick. I thought it was a bad SD card at first. After the third one, I left that alone. Then I changed the RPi3, no change. Went for the power supply next, replaced it, nothing.

Lastly, I replaced the FlightStick with an RTL-SDR Blog v3, success.

Has anybody seen this problem with the RadarBox FlightStick, or is it just bad luck on my part?

Some guy had to send his back because it wasn’t working at all.
The pricing is quite aggressive.

But if it was really bad i would’ve expected more people complaining.
Reliability might be lower than other sticks though.

And 35C ambient is hard on hardware without a fan.

Last I checked, after I purchased mine, the price had gone up.

Indeed, I may have been the lucky one this time around. Failures do happen.

Not a lot of room for circuit variations, but it seems to run a lot hotter than others.

I use, or have used, RTL-SDR Blog, FA, and no-name dongles, and they handled the high temperature nicely, so far, knock on wood.

I bought one out of curiosity, and it is not in permanent use. However, it seems it does get quite hot, hotter than the FA sticks, but maybe that is just because it is in a smaller case. I think somebody else mentioned here that it does get quite hot, too.

You can always remove the plastic casing for better heat dissipation :slight_smile:

On the other hand i don’t know how the traces react to dust in regards to changing capacitance and what not.

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I’ll try that before junking it.

I junked one of the recently received eBay filters today as well. Why? It filtered too much. Before the filter is inserted, I see 23-24 planes. The filter goes in, and it’s down to 2 or 3 planes. Take it out, back to 20+ planes. Oh well…

Removed the PCB from the casing. No space inside for natural cooling or heat exchange. A metal casing would have helped a lot. Poor design in my opinion.

Looks like their design goal was not to block the USB port next to it.

Installed it again, let’s see if this will solve the overheating problem.

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Not blocking the adjuscent USB ports is a big plus point

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I’ve been using the Nooelec SDRs that have an aluminum housing and can fit side-by-side in 2 USB ports. I recently replaced my metal L-brackets with U-bolt plates to conduct some heat to the outside of the box …


Isn’t that a route for water ingress?

Yep - I plan to adopt the “small vent holes on the bottom” solution for that risk. I built an L-bracket version for my son who had it on his apartment balcony and when he brought it home over the weekend, we opened it up to see about 1 tablespoon of water in the bottom with condensation on the ceiling of the box.

still recommend the amphenol ltw vents…they are working very well for me (i only mounted the rtl-sdr lna 1090 in a small bud box right after the antenna)

Which ones did you use and where did you mount them? It doesn’t look like they drain water - is the logic that equalized inside/outside pressure means no water ingress?

i used 2 of them. they must be on a vertical surface of the box. i used one low and one high (a chimney for both heat and moisture). the part number is:


i sourced from Newark (Element 14)

here is a good explanation of how they work although i couldn’t source gore vents…


Sounds like small vent holes on the bottom of my box won’t be needed if I add these ltw vents. Since they allow some airflow like you mentioned, my internal box temp should go down. I’ve been considering a small fan to circulate the air inside the box but with 2 vents, I might not need the fan.

I am using FlightStick since begining of Feb, (i.e. almost 5 months) 24/7 without any overheat or failure issue.

May be because it is located on floor of a room, not inside any box, and not covered by anything. It is in its original green casing. Room temprature 25°C +/- 5°C (75°F +/- 10°F)

without the vents the fan never made sense to me as the hot air just moves around in a closed system. the vents are passive. if needed a fan and the vents seems like a good combination. to start with, the passive solution seems good as long as the enclosure
color is light.

I had 3 SDRs and 2 Raspis (3B) for FA1090/978 & LiveATC in a IP65 grey box 10x6x4 inches in a hot attic in Texas to stress test everything and the Raspi CPU temps reached 88’C (190’F) so I decided to split the project into 2 boxes. They’ll be mounted outside on a deck near the Texas coast.

Looks like the 002 vent version you’re using allows the most airflow.


Maybe I should mount the 2 vents on perpendicular walls to encourage a pressure difference / airflow.

I ordered mine around the same time, I think. It worked fine until last week when the temperature went north of 35°C.

The equipment is in the garage, very little air circulation. The USB end of the FlightStick was so hot that it could burn sensitve skin.

The RTL-SDR Blog stick also gets hot, but it’s spread along the aluminum casing.

I removed the FlightStick from its casing, and it has been running fine, but the temperature is much lower today. I’m sure high temperatures will be back soon, so the testing is not done yet.