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paragliding detection system

paragliding system

How to build an Android ESP32 Airwhere - WiFi

This page will help you build the ESP32 version of AirWhere to be connected via WiFi to android, this can be then placed in a box and powered by usb or a battery. Optional items are sounds and a vario. A GPS can also be added which will let the unit run as a tracker but will still have the ability to connect to Android for all the pilot information.

Required Knowledge & Equipment

The install and setup procedure just requires basic computer knowledge, how to download files, some soldering knowledge, install software and make a brew while you wait.

Step One.

Firstly before you start you will need to register an ID for your unit.

1.1           Proceed to the registration page and type in your email and choose a password and press sign up.
You will then receive an email asking you to confirm your email address, if you dont receive one, check spam to see if its there or any other issues - contact us.
1.2 Once you have verified your email proceed to log in and then press add aircraft and add your details
Your AirWhere manufacturer should stay at 04 and you can choose an ID for yourself, its 4 digits from 0001 to FFFF, but dont worry about the letters, just choose a 4 digit number if you like - eg 2345.
This will now be your flying number.

1.3 If you wish to have pilots names appear in LK8000 or XCSoar instead of just the pilots numbers
Navigate to the downloads section in the site and at the bottom there is a file to add to LK or XCS when you have installed it. See the downloads page for instructions

Step Two.

Hardware needed is :

  • ESP32
  • GPS ( Optional )
  • Usb Cable
  • RF Solutions Lora Board
  • LEDS
  • Resistors
  • SMA Connector
  • 868Mhz Antenna
  • Wires & Heatshrink
  • Case
N.B If you have problems purchasing please contact us, we usually have some stock for quick despatch.

One more item you will need is a usb power bank - any power bank will do, try choose one around 5000mah, this will give airwhere a and your Kobo a couple of days running, alternatively power off an internal>
For your information

If you would like a case making for your board - please contact us :)

Step Three.

Once the purchased hardware arrives you will need to install the windows / mac drivers to be able to ‘see’ the board and then install the AirWhere software onto it.

3.1            Load this page and then download the relevant driver for windows and install.

3.2 Extract the zip file to a folder and then run the correct executable in the file.
If your on 32 bit windows, run the exe with 86 in it and if your on a 64 bit windows run the 64 version. Your version can be found in windows device manager.

3.3 Now you should be able to get a micro usb cable and plug your AirWhere board in..
Windows should say its found the hardware and that is now working.

3.4 Open windows device manager (control panel – device manager). Find ‘Ports’ you should see a new port there, perhaps com3 or com4 which is your new board.Take a note of this number you will need this in the next step.

Step Four.

Programming Files:

4.1            Create a new folder on your PC.
Name the folder but DO NOT allow any spaces between letters.
4.2 You will need to download into this folder 4 files:
  • ESPFlasherGUI.exe from =
    This is the flasher program you will be using (Windows only, for the Mac see this page)

    The next three files are available either on the AirWhere down loads page or you may find them under files on the Airwhere-ESP32_Pilots Only page on facebook.

  • Bootloader called bootloader.bin
  • Partition called default.bin
  • Application currently called AirWhereESP32.bin

  • This may change so check facebook for the live version or for the latest unstable version AirwhereESP32Dev.bin
    Please make sure there are NO spaces in any of the file names and the directory it is in, this will create an issue.
4.3 Plug the ESP32 into a microUSB and into a USB port on your computer.
The OLED may say Heltic and then start counting packets it is transmitting. Ignore this and carry on.
4.4 Double click on the ESPFlasherGUI.exe file and link the Bootloader, Partition and Application files.
4.5 Select and check the COM port (you checked device manager for this number before)
For example COM11 (even though the correct port may appear in the box you MUST click on the drop down and reselect it or the download will fail).
4.6 Select the memory size 4MB.
4.7 Finally press FLASH and immediately after press the PRG on the board once.
The card will start to write the data, takes about 9s. You may find the programme terminates with a message that says it is rebooting and a flashing light on the ESP32 board. Ok this has probably worked. ( We have seen the buttons on the ESP32 board marked up incorrectly, so if you try one button and it fails with "cant find packet head" or similar, just try the other button, some need it held until the flashing process starts and then let go. )
4.8 Now check to see if you can see the AirWhere ESP32 board on your wifi settings.

Step Five.

So now you have a working ESP32 board with the AirWhere program.
5.1            Search for the new device in your wifi settings and connect to it..
You will be asked for default password 12345678. ( this password could have been changed when the unit was built so check with the builder.)
5.2            Now type in your web browser.
If you are using an android phone please switch your data off, android will try look for airwhere on the internet and the connection will take a long time.

You will now see a page titled AirWhere ESP32. This is the configuration page.

5.3            Then use the Configure Pilot Info button to enter your details, enter the ID you registered in step one. .
When you press ‘Submit’ the device will try to return to the home page but remember you have just renamed it’s identity from what it was originally to say a new Access point with your new ID; so you need to:
5.4            Reconnect this wifi device then refresh

5.5            Click ‘Pilot Info’, input your pilot details, your Wifi SSID and Password..
This will allow you to upgrade the software via your Wifi connection.
5.6            When you’ve completed the settings press submit.
The unit will restart so go back to the home page again once its started.
5.7            Press ‘Configure Hardware’ and under ‘Radio board’ select ‘RF Lora Board’.
the other choices depend on what you are building and have attached.
5.8            Select in flight software either LK8000 - Kobo or LK8000 - Kobo.
(as we want to connect to you already made kobo in this version).
5.9            In connection mode choose Wifi standalone mode. Again press submit and reconnect to home page..
Sometimes this take a couple of mins, if it hangs, refresh your browser You should now be back on the home page for your device. If the page times out, just refresh and it will appear again. sdadsadsa
Step Six. ( Optional )

If you are going to share the GPS from the Android device then you dont need to add a GPS module, if you do however, please install as below.
Now we proceed onto attaching a GPS and the lora board to the AirWhere module. This procedure depends on which gps module you have purchased, any serial gps module should work, however we recommend the PA6C or PA6H, we can supply these so contact us for this. If you have bought a neo-6m this modification may help if your not getting any GPS - Neo resistor mod

Step Seven.

7.1            Follow the wiring diagram to setup the AirWhere & Lora board.
a breadboard can be used to temporarily check the system works ok, however soldering gives a better joint.

System without GPS Unit

System with GPS

ESP32Lora boardAerialPower LEDTX LEDGPSKobo

7.3            As the GPS gets its first lock, it can take a while from cold.
if you monitor the device or terminal the text AW,TX should appear on the screen amongst the gps statements, this shows your build is now working.
7.4            If your wifi and wifi password have been added to the config, the device should be seen on the AirWhere tracking page.

At this point the unit can be connected to USB or switched to wifi mode and connected to a working kobo or android. Information can be found on Step Seven of this page on how to complete this. The only difference being speed ( baud rate ) you have configured before.

Step Eight.

WiFi mode allows the board to be used in a simple set-up or for testing purposes. Currently it works with XCSoar and LK8000 but its in development with XCtrack as well (beta). XCTrack will be fully integrated with AirWhere shortly.

For your information

If you are using an Android device such as a phone or tablet and it has a GPS installed then there is no additional wiring for the ESP32 to work as AirWhere with your device and show other AirWhere users. The set-up entirely depends on what flight software you are going to use. If its XCSoar / LK8000 or XCTrack (beta). AirWhere doesn’t have a built in GPS on the board so you will need to get the Android device to send its internal GPS data to the AirWhere. There are a number of ways of doing that but the easiest way I’ve found is to use the free application called ‘Share GPS’. This can be found on Androids Play Store.

6.1        Go to Androids Play Store and download ‘Share GPS’, once it is installed run the application.

6.2        Click on ‘Connections’ and ‘Add’.

6.3        Click on ‘Activity’ and select the first option - ‘Share my gps with a laptop or tablet’.

6.4        Choose the option ‘Use TCP/IP to send NMEA GPS to PC’.

6.5        Tick ‘Connect on App Start’. (if you have the premium version) then name it, e.g. ‘airwhere’.

6.6        Set up as ‘use UDP instead of TCP’.

6.7        Input ‘Host’ as and ‘Port’ as 10111 .

When complete it will be set to ‘idle’. To start the server, first make sure your android device is connected to the AirWhere wifi access point and then click on ‘Idle’ which will switch to ‘Connected’. When your phone gets a GPS fix the T:0 on the heltec board will be increasing in value, this is your data being sent out. If you have added your wifi details as your device gets a fix you will be shown on live tracking page.

Choose LK8000 or XCSoar


i        Connect to the AirWhere home page by connecting to its wifi and going to .

ii        Click Configure Hardware..
Then under ‘Flight Software’ choose ‘LK8000 - Android’ and under Connection mode choose ‘Wifi Mode’ and click ‘Submit’. The board will restart.
iii        Check that the ShareGPS software is now showing connected.
(if you have setup the app correctly).

Now you need to let LK8000 know where to get the AirWhere data from.
iv        Load LK8000.

v        Press the menu button bottom right, then ‘config’, ‘config’, ‘LK8000 Setup’, ‘Device Setup’.

vi        Device A should be ‘Internal’ .

vii        .Device B should be ‘Generic’, ‘UDP Server’, ‘Port 10110’.

viii        Press close.and then a line saying restarting comm ports will come on screen, then detected FLARM, this shows your system is working.
ix        Press the middle of the bottom info bar and the flarm screens will come up, check the airwhere video sections for usage.
Hint - to see traffic on the main map, go to ‘config’ and on page 13 at the bottom ‘enable traffic’.


i        Connect to the AirWhere home page by connecting to its wifi and going to

ii        Click Configure Hardware. Then under ‘Flight Software’ choose ‘XCSoar - Android’ and under ‘Connection mode’ choose ‘Wifi Mode’ and click ‘Submit’. The board will restart..

iii        Check that the ShareGPS software is now showing connected .
(if you have setup the app up correctly).
iv        Load XCSoar.

v        Double click on the plane icon at the bottom and bring up the menu. Click ‘Config’ and click.

vi        Device A should be set to ‘Built-in GPS & sensors’ and .

vii        Device B should be set to UDP Port, TCP port 10110 and Driver FLARM. .
If the AirWhere is on and the ShareGPS is in a ‘Connected’ status then XCsoar will show that its receiving FLARM data (that’s just AirWhere data).
That’s it, Airwhere is now configured!
When AirWhere sees another user it will be shown as FLARM traffic in the XCsoar application.

Step Nine (Optional).

Firstly you will need to purchase a piezo buzzer and then attach ground of the buzzer to ground on the esp32, the positive of the buzzer to pin 32.

i            First purchase a GY-86 board, these shouldnt be too expensive, we have them on the shop site if your finding it difficult to find - also make sure you have a speaker attached - we need sounds for the vario ;)
ii            Add a small piece of black tape or neoprene to the top of the tiny pressure sensor on top of the gy86 but be careful not to cover the sensor holes, the pressure sensor is effected by light so we need to keep it in the dark so its stable.
iii            Follow the wiring diagram to setup the vario board.
a breadboard can be used to temporarily check the system works ok, however soldering gives a better joint.

ESP32GY-86 board

iv            To configure LK8000 or XCSoar to use data from this sensor, please change the device driver to be BlueFly Vario we will have our own driver soon but for now please use this, using this driver gives you barometric height and therefore a correct climb visual climbrate, also outside air temperature, this can be setup up in config

The board now needs housing in a case and a way of securing to your flight deck, we do have cases available, so please contact

Please if you do build an AirWhere in this way, as it is so cheap and easy to do please do donate a contribution to the project, the project has taken 2 years and thousands of hours of work to get to here and we have to pay for server fees - many thanks. Our paypal is for any donations to keep this project alive :)

Have fun with the project!

paragliding  system

paragliding detection system