WIFI Plug at KMKC for Remote Start Warm Up

sj

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 12, 2019
23
7
3
Weatherby Lake, Mo
flykc.com
So, I'm one of those people that does not think leaving the plane pan/cylinder heater plugged in all the time is a good idea. No need to argue that here, I respect the opinion of those who think it is just fine. However, I am also one of those people that does not like to drive for 15 minutes (each way), just to plug in the airplane. So here is my solution.

One of the great things about KMKC is they have free WiFi in all the hangars (or at least all the hangars I have been in). It's an open network, not even a password (more on that in a minute), so anyone can use it.

I started out imagining using a little Raspberry PI computer, putting on a relay interface, and creating my own little system that would do this. Then I got smart and went to Amazon and found that for $13.99 I could solve the problem (link at the end).

Here is the big picture of what the setup looks like:

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This is the actual "WIFI Plug" from Amazon. It is an 1100W unit, which is enough for my needs which are around 300 watts. If you have a high end fast heater, you would want to check the wattage requirements (I would leave a good margin - this is a $13 item) and purchase a higher wattage unit if needed. This even has a feature where you can schedule when the heater turns on - like 3am for a 8am flight or something - although, I would want to test that before I relied on it.
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Now, the setup up the above device is super simple - unless you want to complicate it like I did. It runs from a smart phone app (either brand) and you can have as many of them as you like connected to the account. Now, bring your magnifying glass (or use your phone as a magnifier like I did) as the instruction text is SUPER TINY!

Here is what the app screen looks like in both on and off positions.
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Because the Free MKC Wifi (literally the SSID) is fully open, I wanted to add a layer of protection so rogue hackers would not be pre-heating my plane :) (actually, the security in the smart-plug is probably more than adequate on its own). So I added a little wifi travel router/bridge in the hanger that connects to a VPN at my home. This is also a super simple, super inexpensive device - but you do have to have VPN service of some sort, either your own private one, or one you subscribe to. Note: This is a great device if you travel a lot - especially if there is a limit to the wifi connections like on a cruise ship. You can connect this gadget to the main wifi, then connect all your devices to it. Once they are connected it remembers all your devices so you are only connecting one thing - to whatever internet service you are accessing. The VPN piece (not required) if you choose to use it, adds a layer of safety in hotels, etc.

So, I configured this all at home first (since it was 7 degrees in the hangar yesterday), got the plug working on the mini-router, then took it downtown and had it all working in about five minutes.

This is the mini router - yes, it is super small!

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So if you are interested in doing something like this, I hope this helps! (Gary Lezak said it is going to be a cool spring). I'm happy to answer questions about or, and help you debug any problems you are having.

Now, thus far it has been working good. There have been some times I have tried to access it that I could not get to the plug, but it usually comes back later. I don't yet know if this is because the Free WIFI goes up and down at KMKC, my PIVPN server acting up, the little router gadget acting up, or the smart plug acting up, but when I do, I will post here.

Here are the links:

WIFI Smart Plug amazon link

Mini Travel Router amazon link

Have fun, stay warm!

sj
 
Last edited:

sj

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 12, 2019
23
7
3
Weatherby Lake, Mo
flykc.com
Somebody replied on facebook that they were having the same off and on connectivity issue. I will get to the bottom of that and report back here.

Remember, its free and easy to post responses right here as well! Pictures cut and paste, etc.

Thanks!

sj
 

JazzerKC

New member
Mar 16, 2019
3
1
3
Kansas CIty
Somebody replied on facebook that they were having the same off and on connectivity issue. I will get to the bottom of that and report back here.

Remember, its free and easy to post responses right here as well! Pictures cut and paste, etc.

Thanks!

sj
Any update on your connectivity issues? I'm getting ready to setup the same in my hangar at MKC if it's stable. I already use a SwitchBox which works great but you have to pay for the mobile service.