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Old 01-14-2018, 09:58 AM
guccidude1 guccidude1 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Reno NV
Posts: 511
Default Turning on cold weather Eng. heat w/smart phone

I have the latter version of the Switchbox and I pay $3/mo service fee plus 10 cents per text. It costs 40 cents to turn on the heat and turn it off. It works like this, you text to turn on the heat, the Switchbox texts you back to say it's on. You text to turn off the heat, the box tests you back to say it's off. You can't simply unplug the extension(to save 20 cents) when you get to the hangar, because if you do the Switchbox gets out of sync. You payT-Moble in advance , if the card runs out of money, you have 3 months before it expires and you have to buy a new sim card. The second best thing I like about the Box is that it has a White Page, it will only accept calls from the numbers you enter, all others are rejected, no "wrong number" calls turning your box off and on. The thing I don't like is that it has no lights to tell the box is powered up or lights to indicate which of the two lines is heating the oil or making the coffee. I understand the latest version has little murcury lights in the recepticals. Hope this helps, Dan from Reno
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Old 01-14-2018, 12:41 PM
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Plummit Plummit is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: SoCal
Posts: 708

Originally Posted by donaziza View Post
Gregg, Educate me if you would please. Best Buy and AT&T said I needed it---to transmit the cell signal to the switchbox?? If I don't need it Fantastic. Can you explain it here in detail, not only for me, but for all the others watching too?
The GSM switch boxes have a sim card holder built in. You install the sim card in the box so it effectively turns it into a not-so-smart phone. One problem that this causes is this: If you have a problem with your box and you call T-mobile (for instance), they will ask you what kind of phone you have. If you tell them it's a "device" the support goes down hill. They don't know how to deal with a switching device.

BTW, GSM switch boxes are available from Wafer Star for $140:
The only difference between these and the commercially available unit is the sticker on the box.

You will also need a couple of female plugs with pig-tails and a male plug with pigtail. These could be "borrowed" from old appliances etc. or they are available on line.

2018 Donation made!
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Old 01-14-2018, 05:19 PM
stneki stneki is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Spring Lake, MI
Posts: 86

I am currently using one of these I purchased I believe off Amazon or Ebay. I paid $115.00. Works good with AT&T SIM card. It would also work with T-Mobile but I do not have T-Mobile service in my area. You will need to install male and female cords. It came with an external antenna and a small battery for back up.
RV7A Completed
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Old 01-14-2018, 09:06 PM
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donaziza donaziza is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 554

OK, I'm going to research this smartbox Marc mentioned in post 22, for $140. Stay tuned---I'll let you all know how it turns out. Went flying today. Sure would have been nice to have something that works..
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Old 01-14-2018, 09:12 PM
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bullojm1 bullojm1 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 1,009

Used my $130 4G GSM relay ( last night with my $10 (for 3 months) T-Mobile SIM card. Came to the airport today. OAT was 12. Oil temps were 75 on engine start! Best part is cruising by all those suckers preheating and/or waiting 15+ minutes for their engines to get up to temp.

I be one happy camper!

Mike Bullock
RV-7, Flying!
EAA Technical Counselor
The Best FAA N-Number Availability Search Engine

Last edited by bullojm1 : 01-14-2018 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 01-15-2018, 07:19 AM
jonweisw jonweisw is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 97

EAA's Sport Aviation magazine had a step by step outline of how to build a switch yourself that was quite easy to do. You can control it via a few simple commands by text and it replies with confirmations, etc. All in all, it cost about $60 for parts and you pay for texts as you use them. Very cheap and satisfying to build. I think the article appeared about a year ago.
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Old 01-15-2018, 09:27 AM
j-red j-red is offline
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Lewes, DE
Posts: 248

+1 for the waferstar/Kiao Time/Chinese gsm unit with tmobile card. There is a little trick to learning to use the text interface/code but not too big a deal. They used to have an app that would make up the codes for you based on your password and what you wanted it to do, but that app stopped working with one of the recent apple upgrades on my iphone. No big deal. I just copy and paste previous commands and send them.
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Old 01-15-2018, 12:49 PM
pjoshyjosh pjoshyjosh is offline
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Camas, Wa
Posts: 71

from the FATPNW Facebook page - there is a member that is working on a "Hangar Buddy" that does much more then just turn on the heater. Similarly interfaces through SIM Card - but can give you a lot of info as well..

I wanted to finally reveal to FATPNW an electronics project that some of you may want to build.
It is called the “Hangar Buddy”, and it is based on an incredible project by Maria DeGrazia. You may have seen it in the EAA Experimenter under the name “piWarmer”.
So what is this thing? It is a device that lets you start preheating your engine with a text message. While there are a few commercial products that do this, I took the concept and ran with it.
In addition to starting your preheater of choice, it is also a device that is designed to give you some piece of mind about your hangar.
It can tell you if you have a dripping fuel sampler.
It can tell you if you left the lights on.
It can tell you how cold your hangar is.
It has a security model so only specific phone numbers can send a command.
It also has a small screen that lets you see the device’s status when setting it up.
It also has a high gain antenna that can be placed so you can find signal.
The code has been reengineered to be a “platform” and easy to add new abilities to the device.
Depending on the sensors and displays you want to add, you can build it for as little as $100, less if you have parts laying around. The typical phone bill should be around $9 a month.
The source is Open Source, and the wiring diagram is included. Soldering required.
DISCLAIMERS: I am not making any money off of this. All software provided “as-is”. Instructions do not include an engine heater. The parts list includes a GFCI adapter.
Let me know if you build one.
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Joshua Muri
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Old 01-16-2018, 08:04 AM
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Raymo Raymo is offline
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Richmond Hill, GA (KLHW)
Posts: 1,733

I had no WiFi at my hangar but the FBO, about 100 yards away does. I used the following to get set up. You will also need to configure the FBO router firewall for port-forwarding.

Two of these. One in the FBO, one on the outside of my hangar:

Window mount inside the FBO:

Wall mount on the hangar:

Wifi unit inside the hangar. This plugs into the POE box for the hangar antenna:

WiFi/BlueTooth outlet:
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