New Merlin ADS-B Receiver. Just $249. Dual Channel, WAAS GPS, AHRS, Battery

Seattle Avionics today announced the immediate availability of its new Merlin ADS-B receiver.  For just $249, the Merlin includes functionality normally found in receivers costing upwards of $800 including dual-channels, WAAS GPS, an AHRS, and battery power.

“The Merlin is no stripped-down device that looks like a PEZ dispenser and locks you into one app,” says John Rutter, President of Seattle Avionics.  “Rather, it’s a world-class device, at a world-beating price, with all the features in expensive receivers that works with FlyQ EFB and virtually all other iPad and Android apps.”

MerlinBoxCropped425.png

The Merlin is based on the respected and reliable Stratux software but with added Seattle Avionics touches.  Each unit comes fully assembled and is not a kit.  Every device undergoes individual testing and calibration and comes with a professionally written, thorough, printed Pilot’s Guide that describes setting up and using the device as well as how to interpret ADS-B traffic and weather.  It’s backed by the Seattle Avionics’ technical support team and customer service department.

Key Features

  • Dual-channel ADS-B In on both 978 MHz (UAT) and 1090 MHz
  • Integrated WAAS GPS
  • AHRS for true synthetic vision display
  • Comes with a four-hour battery pack and high-quality USB charging cable
  • Built-in fan to ensure operation even in hot areas
  • Receives traffic (including ADS-R / TIS-B) and weather (FIS-B) information
  • Dual antennas optimized for each ADS-B frequency
  • Includes a comprehensive Pilot’s Guide
  • Based on the reliable Stratux core
  • Connects to your device via Wi-Fi for maximum compatibility
  • Fully assembled and individually tested / calibrated. Not a kit.
  • Only available from Seattle Avionics
  • Integrates with most popular iPad and Android apps including FlyQ EFB and ForeFlight

The Merlin is in-stock and shipping today.

For more information or to purchase, please see:  https://seattleavionics.com/Merlin.aspx

95 thoughts on “New Merlin ADS-B Receiver. Just $249. Dual Channel, WAAS GPS, AHRS, Battery

  1. Steve,
    For those of us who have already built the Stratux kit, will we be able to purchase or download the FlyQ specific software for our existing units?

    Tom

    Like

    • Hi Tom. The Stratux firmware is unchanged (ok, we did ask for one tiny change to the SSID name so every unit didn’t have the same network name). The things we added involved testing, calibrating, and configuring the units so pilot’s didn’t have to. And a really complete Pilot’s Guide. We’ll probably add the Merlin Pilot’s Guide to the Documents tab of the app.

      Like

  2. Good morning, Steve. Exciting news for those who are looking for a great unit. We email-chatted a couple of weeks ago about the Pressure Altitude from the AHRS and how it will be reported in FlyQ. Hopefully, FlyQ can be tweaked to have the option to show both GPS altitude and PA. I know that PA can be disabled in the stratux 192.16810.0 but FlyQ is still shows it as PA. I can see the utility of having both available. thanks for making this product available.

    Like

    • In FlyQ EFB, which will be released TODAY once we finish some marketing material, uses the GPS Alt from the Stratux even when it also provides (potentially incorrect) Pressure Alt. So yes, we disabled the generally wrong PA but did not add a way for you to force seeing it. We got a lot of complaints about seeing PA when using a Stratux with an AHRS (which provides PA).

      Like

  3. Hi Steve,
    Device features are very appealing at this price point. Do you have any demo videos of the unit in operation, which illustrate the ARHS feature and it’s other capabilities.

    Also assuming the application will be available from app store.

    Great work!

    Like

    • Thanks Larry. We don’t have any demo videos but any video of FlyQ EFB in 3D mode would get the idea across. There is no additional app to download – just use FlyQ EFB or any Brand X iPad or Android app you currently use (except Garmin).

      Like

  4. Hi Steve:

    Thanks for making such a quality product and at a very reasonable price. I live in Canada about 60 miles from the boarder. Lethbridge, Alberta, to be exact. I understand the traffic will me limited to high flyers and I will not receive any weather. But, I’m going to buy one anyway for the AHARS feature. Thanks.

    Like

  5. Steve,

    I have built and flown with three Stratux ADS-B receivers. They work extremely well with FlyQ EFB, which I have been using for several years (Voyager prior to FlyQ). The service you are providing with the Merlin offering is terrific. Having been through the effort and expense of building these devices, I can assure your customers that the price is a bargain. I have had to put out around $170 per unit (including AHRS module, twin receivers, GPS, Raspberry Pi 3 computer, antennas, case, SD card, fan, etc. And, then I had to build and troubleshoot. Your price sure beats paying for a $900.00 unit that doesn’t do much more.

    Like

      • Steve – back on the subject of PA for a minute. Due to the fact that the PA that the AHRS unit in Stratux is, we’ll say, not within tolerances for IFR flight (my unit is +/- 150 feet) the new version of FlyQ will report GPS altitude and disable the PA from the AHRS. That said – how does FlyQ use or report the barometric and geometric altitudes reported from ADS-B? Thanks – I am ever curious.

        Like

      • FlyQ doesn’t disable the PA feed from the unit. Rather, the unit sends two different altitudes — one based on PA, one based on GPS geometric alt. We simply ignore the PA one and use the GPS alt. In the future we may expose an option to display PA but it seemed more confusing than it was worth here. The problem is even more obvious when you fly a pressurized plane (don’t we all want to have that problem!)

        Like

  6. Hi Steve,
    I’m an early on Lifetime subscriber to FLYQ EFB. Very pleased. Forgive me if I have missed them being listed somewhere, but what are the dimensions of the Merlin? Any special requirements for placement within the aircraft?
    Thank you.

    Like

    • Hi Nathan. We should add those to the page. The box itself is about 5.5 x 2.25 x 1 inches tall. With the battery pack, the height goes to 1.8 inches. The antennas add about another 1.5 inches to the length of the unit then, when bent the usual 90 degrees, are 7.25 inches tall. You can replace the antennas to better fit your plane if you like.

      Like

  7. HI Steve. What are the requirements for placement – on the glare shield, etc.?

    Oh, and probably goes without saying, but since I don’t see it called out anywhere and I bet others would like confirmation…does this meet the current mandate for ADSB compliance, and is this for certified aircraft (ie not just for Experimentals)?
    Thanks.

    Like

    • Hi David. You’d generally put it in the windscreen but you can replace the antennas it comes with to put it somewhere else. If the surface isn’t flat, you may have a problem with the AHRS but you can re-orient the gyros via software to put it vertically, for example.

      The Merlin, like ALL portable devices, is ADS-B In only. The FAA mandate doesn’t speak to ADS-B In at all – you can do what you like there including not have ADS-B In. Certified or Experiment is not relevant. What the FAA is mandating is ADS-B Out — essentially the next generation of transponder. Like all portable boxes, this does not have ADS-B Out so does not satisfy the FAA requirement but is 100% legal to use in certified or experimental planes. To us, it’s the ADS-B In that is the interesting part because that is what provides us weather and traffic. Without ADS-B In, the Out is just sending your position and tail number to the ground so ATC can track you — all the interesting data is sent us via ADS-B In.

      Like

  8. Steve, I noticed that the top of the unit has alignment arrows which I assume is for the ahars, Does that mean that I cant mount it on a side window behind the pilots seat near an electrical outlet instead of on the glare shield?

    Like

    • The device is built on the Stratux core so works with iPads, iPhone, and Android. I honestly don’t know about the 796 and I’d suggest asking them. But I’d doubt it as the one iPad/Android app is won’t work is made by — wait for it — Garmin.

      Like

  9. I have a few questions:

    1) Will it auto-power on on AC signal (hard-wired to master?)
    2) Will it auto-power off on AC loss (hard-wired to master?) with a proper shutdown?
    3) Will it STAY powered on on battery if the plane has an electrical failure? The common way to do this is auto-power off after 5 minutes of detecting no movement over 100 feet.
    4) What type of external antenna ports are on board? I want to bury it in the fuselage.
    5) Can it be software upgraded via the app or Wifi?

    Like

    • Hi Paul,

      You have an expansive definition of “a few…” 😉

      1-3. Yes you can wire it into power. Best way is to use the included battery and connect Merlin to the battery then the battery to your master. That way the unit is always charging and automatically works if you lose power. Of course it also means it will keep running after you shut down the plane until the battery dies but not sure that’s critical. If so, you can pull the connector from battery to Merlin.

      4. It has 2 coax jacks for the 978 and 1090 antennas. The GPS is internal but you can open the box and replace it with something that has an external antenna feed. It also has useless holes in the case for HDMI and audio. Not used.

      5. Yes it can be upgraded by WiFi. And FlyQ EFB will make this easier soon. It’s not hard now but does require a Mac or PC at the moment.
      6. The AHRS is calibrated by us and there is a button in FlyQ EFB to cage it. Suggest clicking that button once straight and level for any flight. It will drift, like all AHRS.

      Thanks, Steve

      Like

      • A few, plus a couple, unfortunately.

        The endless charge / dead battery cycle won’t be the greatest. Is it correct to assume given the current architecture of what sounds like it amounts to a stand-alone battery pack with pass-thru charging support, that this behavior is unlikely to change?

        How about a compromise where if not wifi clients are connected for x minutes and it is not in motion, it shuts down?

        Like

  10. Thank you. Here is the behavior from the other industry leader; and anything to achieve the same effect is highly desired.

    NOTE: If is set to automatically power on and external power
    is removed, it will power off within two minutes if the aircraft is traveling
    under 5 knots. If the aircraft is traveling faster than 5 knots, Stratus will
    not power down and will draw from the battery power. To override the
    automatic power-off, press the power button after removing power.

    Like

  11. Hi Steve:

    I was reading the Brochure and saw this statement * ForeFlight AHRS support requires an experimental software build from Stratux. will that be included, or will I have to install it?

    Thanks.

    Like

  12. Hi Steve:

    As a further to my previous post. I love FlyQ EFB, but alas, it does not support Canadian data. That is the main reason I am using ForeFlight. I would love to change over, but my choices are limited. Thanks.

    Like

  13. Hey Steve,

    I’m real excited about this new product! I’m currently a renter. What are some thoughts about mounting the unit temporarily in a rental plane (C172) and keeping it in my flight bag until next time?
    I too am a die-hard, from-the-beginning FlyQ user!

    Mark

    Like

    • Hi Mark. It really is cool. No mounting required. Like most portable ADS-B boxes, you just pop it on the dash and fly. Since it’s battery powered (4-5 hours), you don’t even need to worry if the plane’s cigarette lighter works.

      Like

  14. Hi Steve:

    So sorry to bother you again. I suspect my Merlin has shipped already. I was hoping you could install that software to make the AHRS work with ForeFlight. Failing that can you send me the steps involved to do it myself. Email would be great. Thanks again for a great product.

    Like

  15. Can you recommend a suction cup device that will mount the Merlin and it’s battery to a side window? I have not mastered straight and level flight and things slide around on the dash of the C172 and prefer max view in the Archer. 🙂 And touche about confusion with AHRS PA in a pressurized cabin – it would be nice to have that dilemma.

    Like

  16. I’m currently limping along with an iPad-2/32GB & Bad Elf GPS, all of which runs slow on FlyQ-EFB. How will Merlin perform?

    Sometime between now and January I plan on upgrading to and iPad Mini 4. Any thoughts on that iPad?

    Thanks, Kurt

    Like

    • I’d get a new iPad now. $329 for the new full-sized iPad. Super bargain. It looks like Apple is likely discontinuing the iPad mini line as they have not updated it in a very long time. When my iPad mini 2 broke a month ago, I got the new $329 unit. It’s very, very fast even if the size is a bit larger than I’d prefer.

      FlyQ EFB 2.5 (just released) should work on the old iPad 2 and we did test it but it’s very borderline due to the CPU speed and, moreover, due to internal RAM.

      Thanks, STeve

      Like

      • I am about to buy a new Ipad – I’ve had a Mini 2 that’s done okay but the screen isn’t really visible in the cockpit. Wonder how the mini 4 does since it has the reflective screen. The new iPad even at 329 without the reflective screen is a concern – and big. Steve have you put your new one in the cockpit on a sunny day?

        Like

    • Steve, thanks.

      I’ve ordered the Merlin. [Can it be here tomorrow? ;–) ]

      Yesterday I was comparing the iPad9.7/$329 to the iPadPro10.5/$649, and wondering about the risk of getting an older processor. Do you have any thoughts on that risk?

      Regards, Kurt

      Like

      • The $329 unit is not an old processor, really. It’s the same one as the iPad Air 2 had so has plenty of life left in it. I bought on myself, if that matters (ok, actually I bough an upgraded one with more RAM and the cell chip). The Pro does have a better daylight screen, however.

        Thanks, Steve

        Like

      • And thanks for ordering a Merlin. It’s been selling like mad! I don’t know what your delivery position is but we’re making and shipping them every day. The folks in Customer Service can tell you when to expect it.

        Thanks, Steve

        Like

      • I prefer the older Ipad air 2 because they dropped the reflective screen on the new base model. That’s an aviation only consideration, though.

        Like

  17. Looks great and I have been reading up on Stratux and have a couple questions

    1. Does it include the 3rd Generation SDR’s? (supposed to be more efficient and less noise)

    2. Does it come with any type of suction cup mounts, or just designed to sit on the dash.

    3. If i want to run it on Foreflight do I use the “danger zone” update, or are their instructions on your site somewhere on how to get that working.

    Very good price, and nice that you have tested and calibrated them all yourselves before shipping!

    Like

  18. Steve,

    I am an early adopter of both FlyQ and Avidyne’s IFD540 panel mounted FMS system. The IFD is capable of connecting to other efb apps through ADSB receivers such as Stratux, iLevil and others being used as a wifi access point (WAP). Currently, FlyQ must be connected directly to the IFD as the WAP for two-way flight plan transfer. This means that I have to chose between getting the ADSB In stream from the iLevil and being able to transfer flight plan data with the IFD. I would really like to be able to both. Will Merlin make the remote connection of FlyQ to the IFD through the Merlin possible? If not, I’d ask that this capability be considered for a future improvement.

    Sincerely,
    David

    Like

    • Hi David,

      Well — how about getting the ADS-B feed from the Avidyne itself? We just enabled that in version 2.5 that was released today! That would mean adding a certified ADS-B system to your Avidyne, which you may not have done yet, but once you do, it will magically work. We’ll see about adding passthrough connectivity in the future, however.

      Thanks, Steve

      Like

      • I know that is an option, but not one I can afford. I was hoping that Merlin had this capability so I can have the utility without the certified price.

        Thanks,
        David

        Like

      • Apple makes it hard for a device maker to use BT. They have to buy a special chip to put into every device they make to authenticate the device. That costs $ for testing and for each device sold. Then Apple has something of a track record of breaking BT connectivity on iOS releases. It’s happened more than once before. WiFi just seems to work and also generally works better for multiple iPad connections.

        Like

  19. I’m about to purchase this. Can you please verify this will work?

    1) I’m going to Mount it in the fuselage of the aircraft in the back by velcroing it flat next to the battery box, autopilot controller, etc. Previously I had a different unit velcroed on the bottom of the hat rack upside down, but this is not perfectly level on any 90 degree angle and does not power-on calibrate so I assume that must change.

    2) USB power is extended off the 12v cig plug and will remain always connected to the devices battery (which I assume it is sitting on in the photo?)

    3) Power will go on/off by the master. Note: When the plane is shut off, the fuselage of the plane may heat up to 120+ degrees on a hot summer day in the sun, as I really have no way to turn the unit on/off until the battery dies hours later. Is this ok?

    4) I will order an antenna adapter for the ADS and GPS antennas I have to fit the connector type on the unit and connect them to the appropriate antenna connectors, respectively.

    5) This will work for FLYQ. Buddies using Foreflight can use it, but they just won’t have AHRS. I’m perfectly fine with this, as I use FlyQ

    Am I missing anything before I pull the trigger?

    P.S. Does it store weather data until your device is connected and then replay it?

    Like

    • Hi Paul,

      Sorry for the delay in answering.

      1. The device is calibrated for a level surface. FlyQ EFB has a button in the 3D Synth Vis mode for setting the current angle as 0. You’ll probably need to click it once you’re straight and level.

      2. Yes, I would connect power to the battery then the battery powers the device. In that way, if you lose ship’s power, you have 4-5 hours of running time.

      3. And yes, in the config you mention, the device will keep running off battery until the battery dies. Since it won’t be charging, I can’t imagine it will be generating a lot of internal heat. Still 120 degrees is a lot so I can’t guarantee anything. On the plus side, should you ever need to replace the battery, they are about $20 and, since they’re external to the device, easily replaced.

      4. Yup. You’ll need to open the device to swap out the GPS but the ADS-B antennas use coax connectors.

      5. Yup. In the default software config, FlyQ and virtually everything works perfectly. Garmin doesn’t work with it and ForeFlight is fine w/ GPS, weather, and traffic but no-go on AHRS. Not a huge deal, in my opinion.

      6. No, it does not buffer weather. The Clarity SV unit invented that feature so we saw how it worked for years with FlyQ EFB. Personally, I don’t get it. When it rapidly blasted weather data to the device after storage, it presented a huge performance issue for the app. METARs and local radar should update within 5 minutes of powering up (or rather being 3000 ft AGL or more) so doesn’t take long. Also, a buffer doesn’t do you a lot of good since the device won’t be receiving any weather during your runup (again, 3000 ft AGL for weather). The only benefit to buffer is if you put your iPad to sleep during flight and, even then, it’s minimal as FlyQ would still have the weather from the last update so likely not far off and would update within 5 minutes.

      7. You didn’t ask but .. the unit also includes a pressure sensor. FlyQ EFB doesn’t use it right now but we may in the future (in fact, we go out of our way not to use it because it can give misleading alt readings when you expect to see GPS alt from a GPS).

      Thanks, Steve

      Like

    • If you mean in publications, they’re being written now. I would say that the feedback from customers (lots and lots and lots) has been almost universally great. We’ve had one unit come back with a bad battery pack and one with a bad fan. And, if you want to use it with ForeFlight, you do have to flash the firmware if you care about the AHRS (no need if you just want ADS-B and GPS) which is a bit of a pain. And, of course, ForeFlight says they don’t support it and are apparently bad-mouthing it to their customers, but as it’s a Stratux, they do (except the default AHRS config).

      Like

      • Hello Steve,

        it’s good to hear that you are excited about your product. That’s also thank you for warning me about this not being an out-of-the-box AHRS solution due to the need to ‘flash’ the software.

        I’ll keep my eyes open for some real world user reviews. Thank you and good luck with your sales!

        Sincerely,

        -Angel

        Like

  20. Sorry guys..I guess I’m the black sheep of the bunch…I have been using Foreflight and bought the Merlin with the understanding it was going to work with Foreflight…and it doesn’t….so I got in on the FlyQ deal and have been using it this weekend and I am not impressed…The program is very similar to Foreflight, and has some nice features, but the synthetic vision with the Merlin is like watching an old Commodore 64 computer….very choppy and primitive graphics and I guess sod strip are NOT included in the program…at least our airport 5y2 was not there. I was very disappointed and was expecting more.. My Merlin is going back. I guess I wait and save a little more for the Stratus II for my Foreflight.
    Blue skies and tailwinds,
    chris ambrose
    .

    Like

    • Chris, if the synthetic vision is your main reason for using an EFB app, yes, ForeFlight’s is a bit better. But FlyQ is definitely easier to use for more common features and has more than a few features that ForeFlight does not have. I’ll have someone contact you on Monday. Also, yes, it really does work with ForeFlight — we estimate that about 20-25% of Merlin users are using it w/ ForeFlight. Please send an email to support@seattleavionics.com and we’ll walk you through installing one file for it work w/ ForeFlight.

      Like

    • Hello Chris,

      thanks for the info. I’m on the fence about purchasing a handful of units for myself and some pilot friends of mine as gifts. However, they have a “restocking fee” with the Merlin so I want to be absolutely sure it’ll work as seamlessly as the Stratus offerings before dropping the cash on it.

      Your review helps a lot.

      Thanks!

      -Angel

      Like

      • Angel

        I’m very pleased with my FlyQ-Merlin experience. It has been seamlessly easy to use.

        The Whole Product Concept:
        Seattle Avionics provides a “Whole Product” structure that works for me at the Merlin’s price point:
        #1 System integration, testing, documentation, and support by Seattle Avionics. (I like knowing they’re there to back me up. I’m not a hobbyist that wants kit.)
        #2 FlyQ: In my experience, FlyQ is the easiest, most intuitive EFB available.
        #3 I could spend more to get more, but at this time I don’t need “more”. While flying I need a simple, easy to use tool that enhances flying while not distracting from it. FlyQ-Merlin delivers that.

        Hope this helps.

        Regards, Kurt

        Like

  21. Hello Steve,

    First, as a CFI, i have to tell you FlyQ EFB is the easiest most intuitive EFB I’ve ever used. It does not hog up memory resources and it’s a very agile application! I’ve been interested in an ADS-B receiver for FlyQ EFB for sometime and it seems like the Merlin has been receiving excellent feedback….

    Do you know if the Merlin will be part of the Black Friday deals when they get released in a couple weeks?

    Like

  22. Thanks so much for that, Kurt. Yes, we do have a PDF version but it’s formatted a little odd because it was designed to be printed in bound form. Try:

    http://chartdata.seattleavionics.com/documents/MerlinManualSmall.pdf

    You will generally see an ownship ghost unless you have ADS-B Out. Why? Because you’re seeing targets meant for someone else — someone w/ ADS-B Out. YOU are a target to them. We can filter that out in FlyQ’s Settings but only when your N Number is in the data feed. That only happens when you’re broadcasting it w/ ADS-B Out. No ADS-B Out, no N number sent to ATC so no way to filter it out. The alt differential, btw, is because the app is comparing your GPS alt to the pressure alt sent in the ADS-B feed so can be a little off.

    Thanks, Steve

    Like

  23. OK Steve- I’m new to this… I was about to buy the STRATUX and now I see the Merlin. Is this the same product, just a newer model?
    Thank you

    Like

  24. Steve:

    I’ve been doing a little flying with my Merlin and have had some fun with it.

    But I’m finding those antennas to be a bit of a hassle when putting the box on the glareshield. They are a bit on the large side.

    Do you have any suggestions for alternate shorter antennas?

    Like

    • Hi Steve. Sorry for the delay (was and am) on vacation. You can bend the antennas down as they don’t need to be at right angles (although do work better that way) or replace them with wired ones as they just connect with standard coax connectors. I’m not sure of the specific parts to suggest but I’m fairly certain that some people have done this.

      Like

      • Steve:

        An update on alternate antennas for the Merlin – I looked around a bit and found these:
        http://www.nooelec.com/store/ads-b-discovery-antenna-bundle.html

        I have tried them out on a couple of long flights now (including a foray into the DFW class B), and they seem to work fine. They are nice and short (3.25″) and fit into the glareshield area a lot better.

        The antennas hooked up directly to the Merlin, the adaptor cables they sell with it aren’t necessary.

        Like

  25. Steve,
    I would like to interface the Merlin with an Advanced Flight Systems 4500 EFIS. I would need an RS232, 115K baud traffic feed from the Merlin. Is there a way to do this with the Merlin?

    Like

  26. I bought a 33ft /10M RP-SMA Male To Female Wifi Antenna Connector Extension Cable and It does not seem to work. When I install the antennas back to the Merlin, everything is back to normal.

    Is there a general rule about cable length?
    Have I bought the wrong type of cable?
    I need to mount these antennas in the tail of the airplane and I need help.
    Someone please tell me what to buy or what to do? Thanks…:(

    Like

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