I was a very early adopter of XM satellite weather. What a heady time that was. Near real time weather, including doppler radar, right there in my little homemade airplane. It was a good run.
Recently I became extremely motivated to eliminate all my Sirius XM subscriptions, and new technology has made that very feasible. I have 10s of thousand of songs on my phone that I like, and that are easy to play in the cars. Ok, well what about the airplane weather.
Normally my desolate area is the last to get any new technology, but that isn't so with ADS-B, we are well covered now.
After a bit of study I decided that the the Stratus ADS-B weather receiver would work well for me as I have already adopted iPad charts using ForeFlight and since I always carry the cell phone, that makes a good backup.
Anybody who has researched the Stratus receiver knows that there is an overheating issue and because of my climate I knew that would be a problem for me so I ordered the external antenna from the git go.
I made a couple of flights with the Stratus today, first without the external antenna I moved the receiver around the cockpit to get a feel for the reception. It worked quite well sitting on the glare shield, but I knew that wouldn't work long term.
Next I connected the external antenna and moved it around. Placement made a a big difference. It didn't work well in any horizontal orientation and didn't work at all when placed next to my GPS puck antenna. What I decided on was a location behind the left seat next to the side skin and rear canopy. This was a good spot and was also convenient because I had already made a little bracket for mounting the XM antenna there. Conveniently, the XM antenna has just been retired. From here the cable runs easily under the arm rest to the receiver and nothing has to flex or move with canopy opening and closing.
As can be seen, it is a quick and dirty mounting system using a cable tie over the supplied mounting suction cup. That quick and dirty system will probably still be in use 15 years from now. It appears that the antenna would be too shaded by the side skins, but it doesn't seem to be an issue.
The receiver is mounted with velcro, on edge, on the forward end of the arm rest. That is a well shaded spot and it is convenient to reach the on/off switch and see the indicator light.
I made another flight with the equipment mounted as indicated. I received the first station at about 200 AGL after takeoff. This station is in Artesia about 37 statute miles north (toward the tail of the airplane on the departure) over pretty flat terrain. At about 5,000 AGL I was receiving six stations, five of them very strongly.
At that altitude I was receiving no stations to the west (the direction of the mountains), not that that matters. I'm sure if I fly over that way I will soon receive different stations.
There is a slight hassle factor having to take the Stratus receiver home and keep it charged, but I need to do that anyway with the iPad. There are no products unique to XM that I will miss. Some people think that XM shows real time winds aloft, but it does not. The doppler weather is not animated but does have movement prediction tracks. In theory the TFR information on XM is one of the best features. In practice I have found it to be pretty useless because of unreliability. At least five times in the last couple of years I have had incidents such as the TFR depicted in the wrong place and/or the wrong size and the TFR showing as current long after it has been cancelled. I don't know if this will be better with ADS-B or not; I sure hope so.
I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship and ..... no more monthly fees.