Mode-S Beast:Kit Assembly

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Preliminary Advice

Important note: You are handling sensitive devices here!

Ok, let me say they are not so sensitive, lets compare them to standard computer parts. I never destroyed a device at all.

Take care on electrostatic discharge, don't user plumber tools and if you have doubts, ask someone in your neighbourhood for help. Completing the kit is not complicated and I need about 30 minutes for one. So better take help from someone who knows how to handle these kind of parts instead doing it by yourselfs. If nothing helps and if you are using a directly mains connected soldering iron, disconnect it from the mains each time you solder. Taking care this time is surely worth the result.

Please also note that there are some pictures about what to do for the extra miniADSB installation on its own page.

And finally remember that there are also some solder bridges, which we set up for USB operation prior to delivery. If you need others like the Lantronix Xport or the BTM-222 Bluetooth, please read the bottom of the jumpers page.


What's in the Box

The kit contains different parts depending on the version you've ordered:


1 Channel Version

Mode-S Beast - Parts 1 Channel 1 SMD-preassembled board "Mode-S Beast"
1 right angle female SMA connector
3 green LEDs
2 red LEDs
1 blue LED
1 yellow LED
1 USB Type B female connector
1 high quality USB cable


2 Channel Version

Mode-S Beast - Parts 2 Channel 1 SMD-preassembled board "Mode-S Beast"
1 right angle female SMA connector
3 green LEDs
2 red LEDs
1 blue LED
1 yellow LED
33 Ohm standard resistor (not shown)
1 3-pin cable for miniADSB (*1)
1 USB Type B female connector
1 high quality USB cable

(*1) Please swap the brown and black wire as shown on the miniADSB page.

I decided to deliver an USB cable as well because

  • some might not have such available and
  • I did see that cheap or scrappy USB cables decrease the performance. Mind that there were already issues with cheap USB cables.


How To Complete The Box Kit

SMA and the USB Connector

Mode-S Beast - Soldered Connectors With a good soldering iron, solder the two connectors to the board. On the USB, also solder the two shield pins.

Do solder all pins of the connector including all ground pins.

Use the extra SMA hex nut or a simple 6.2 mm dia stainless steel washer (see below) fully down as distance holder of the front panel.

NOTE: This showed to be the most critical part for the Mode-S Beast's performance. Use as much heat as possible for the SMA. Wait for the pins to warm up, you cannot destroy something here. I saw SMA connectors that even did not get solder into the pin drills.See two photos below. If you do not burn your finger at the SMA when turing over the board after soldering, it did not get hot enougth.

Mode-S Beast - Soldered Connectors For the 2CH device also solder the miniADSB connector and the 33 Ohm resistor.


Mount the Front Panel

Mode-S Beast - Front Panel Mounted Mount the front panel. Take care that a non-powered USB connector fits. You might test if it fits into the box in order to find out that it needs some left or right shifting.

Note: The front panel has to be mounted in a way that the SMA connector is the highest item of all.

When mounting the front panel, mind that there is a small gap between a mounted SMA connector and the outer locknut, as pointed out here:

Mode-S Beast - SMA Connector Gap In case that this does not apply, the SMA connector will not have a proper connection to the Mode-S Beast and it will not reach full performance.
Mode-S Beast - 6 mm diameter stainless steel washer applied to the inner side of the SMA On this photo, you see a simple 6 mm diameter stainless steel washer applied to the inner side of the SMA. We found this works quite well, ensuring that the outer connector can nicely become fixed.


Prepare, Insert and Solder LEDs

Mode-S Beast Kit Assembly - LEDs All LEDs do have their cathode to the left side when seen from the front panel. Cathode is the shorter of the two leads of the device.
Mode-S Beast Kit Assembly - LED Blending 1 Bend the LEDs using a tool with around 2.5 mm diameter. Mind that the angle should be around 80°. Take again care that the short end is on the left (here: top) side.

NOTE: Since a few builds did insert the LEDs the wrong way: the short end is located towards the SMA connector, the long end vice versa towards the USB. This is valid for all LEDs
Mode-S Beast Kit Assembly - LED Blending 2 LEDs after bending.
As the LEDs are laying here, the short pin on the LEDS shown here is always on top or the right side.
Mode-S Beast - LEDs Inserted Insert the LEDs
Start with the blue LED, since this is a little bit larger.
Note that here on the photo the right yellow and right green LED are unfortunately swapped...
Insert the color scheme:
1 CH: green - red - red - green
2 CH: green - red - green -red
4 CH: red - red - red - red
Mode-S Beast - LEDs Fixed Fix the LEDs against the front panel, for example with a wooden stick (I've used a brush stick in the photo). Solder the LEDs and cut the wires.

In the background, right hand upper corner, you see the three solder bridges that are necessary for USB RxD, USB TxD and USB RTS. I set them during initial tests and they only need change if you intend to run it via Lantronix Xport or BTM-222 Bluetooth (HW Version 1.0)

For HW V1.1 (on this photo, visible on the bottom of the PCB), mount the RX screening box.

Mode-S Beast - Shield Cover

In a few installations, there was a case sensitivity. For this purpose, we deliver a piece of black absorber foam or a piece of white absorber rubber. Locate this piece between the PCB and the box bottom.

Mode-S Beast - Absorber

Mount the assembly into the box (picture without the RX screening box).

Mode-S Beast fitted to the case. Mount the assembly into the box glue the 4 feet to the under side of the box

And finally remember that there are also some solder bridges, which I set up for USB operation prior to delivery. If you need others like the Lantronix Xport or the BTM-222 Bluetooth, please read the bottom of the jumpers page.

The Mode-S Beast is now ready to be connected and tested.


Avoid These Things

Badly mounted SMA connector I got one unit back which was reported to have less performance than the unit which was used for comparison. It was due to a badly soldered SMA connector.
Bad soldering example Another bad soldering example.

And also mind that the front panel must be mounted in a way that the SMA is higher placed than the USB and the LEDs.