How to use the Sentry Plus advanced features (and unlock a new one)

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Portable ADS-B receivers have become essential gear for most pilots flying with an iPad these days, providing ADS-B traffic/weather and GPS navigation. The beauty of these systems is that they’re dead simple to operate: just turn it on, and you’ll see your aircraft position, radar imagery and real-time traffic on your iPad’s moving map when each data source becomes available.

ForeFlight introduced the Sentry Plus model last summer and it’s the most capable ADS-B receiver available on the market, incorporating an OLED status screen, CO detector, AHRS and flight data recorder, on top of the standard ADS-B and GPS features. When you dive deeper, though, you’ll find there are several advanced features to further customize Sentry Plus for your particular setup. On top of that, ForeFlight just added a new feature to Sentry Plus that will automatically shut it down after 30 minutes of inactivity, to help preserve battery life.

We’ll first cover how to update your Sentry Plus firmware to enable the new Auto Shut Off Setting, and then explore the other advanced features in more detail.

How to update Sentry Plus Firmware

ForeFlight makes Sentry firmware updates a breeze. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Update to the latest version of ForeFlight from the App Store
  2. Connect Sentry Plus to your iPad
  3. Go to the Devices section, tap the Sentry Plus icon and the row labeled “Wi-Fi” Firmware, which will show that version 1.0.10 is available in orange text

4. Tap the orange Update text, and ForeFlight will wirelessly update the firmware in just a few minutes. Make sure to keep both the iPad screen active and Sentry Plus powered on during the process.

5. You’ll see a success message when the update is complete and you can resume using the app. You’ll see the current firmware version on the Sentry Plus screen the next time you power it on, which will read “1.0.10” at this point in time.

Sentry Plus Advanced Settings

After updating the firmware, scroll down further on the Sentry status screen and you’ll see multiple settings at the bottom of the list. First, you’ll see the new “Shutdown After Inactivity” setting in the middle of the list, which will default to on. Here’s a quick rundown of what the rest of the settings do.

LED Brightness > Either use the slider control to manually set the brightness of the 4 LEDs on the front of the unit, or select “Auto Brightness” to automatically adjust brightness based on ambient light.

Import Tracklogs > Use this option to manually import individual track logs recorded by Sentry Plus. You’ll see the last 16 track logs saved in Sentry’s internal memory, and press the blue download button to save it to your ForeFlight app.

Automatic Tracklog Import > When this setting is enabled, ForeFlight will automatically transfer tracklogs when your groundspeed drops below 10 knots after landing.

Auto Power > If you leave your Sentry Plus in the airplane and connected to airplane power or a USB port in your airplane, turn this setting ON to have the Sentry automatically turn on when it receives power (e.g. turn on the airplane’s Master Switch), and turn off when the power source is removed with GPS groundspeed less than 10 knots for 45 seconds.

Shutdown After Inactivity > This is the new setting discussed above that will automatically power off Sentry Plus after being disconnected from ForeFlight for 30 minutes (saves you during those times when you toss it in your flight bag without turning it off first…)

Use as GPS > If you’re connected to multiple input sources (e.g. Sentry Plus and Garmin Flight Stream), use this option if you want to disable the Sentry Plus GPS, allowing ForeFlight to use the GPS source from the other input. It’s perfectly fine to leave this on though for all inputs, as ForeFlight will use the GPS source with the best accuracy, but this setting can be useful if troubleshooting is needed.

Use as AHRS > This has the same functionality as the GPS setting above, allowing you to configure exactly which AHRS source ForeFlight uses when connected to multiple data inputs.

Cabin is Pressurized > enable this setting when flying in a pressurized airplane, which will allow you to display a “Cabin Pressure” instrument at the bottom of the Maps screen (and disables the instrument display for Pressure Altitude)

Show ADS-B Towers > This will depict all ADS-B towers Sentry is currently connected to. This can be useful when figuring out the best place to mount Sentry while en route (e.g. the left or right window).

At the very top of the Sentry status screen, you’ll see additional network settings, providing additional flexibility and security controls. First we’ll review the options for “Sentry Plus Network”:

SSID Broadcast > If you’d prefer to hide the Wi-Fi network so that others can’t connect (e.g. professional operation with lots of passengers on board), turn off this setting. Authorized crewmembers can still connect, but they’ll need to manually enter the name of the Wi-Fi network (shown in the setting below).

SSID > Use this setting to change the name of the Wi-Fi network that appears when connecting to Sentry Plus. For example, if your device is used for a specific airplane, you could change it to SentryPlus_N253WP, making it easy to quickly identify your unit on the ground when there are multiple networks nearby.

WPA2 Security Enabled > Use this setting to require a passcode to first connect to SentryPlus.

Wi-Fi Client Network > If your aircraft is equipped with onboard internet over Wi-Fi, this allows you to configure your iPad so that you can connect to both Sentry Plus for all of its features and connect to onboard Wi-Fi for internet.

Are you new to ForeFlight or Sentry? Check out the detailed article on Getting Started with Sentry to help choose the right model and learn how to use all of its features.