Sentry ADS-B receiver

ForeFlight introduces updated Sentry ADS-B receiver

3 min read

Portable weather receivers have been essential tools for pilots almost since they were introduced a decade ago. GA pilots in particular were quick to recognize that the ability to view subscription-free weather, ADS-B traffic, and backup attitude on an aviation app can make flying safer and easier. After an initial rush of hardware options, things settled down over time and the Sentry family of ADS-B receivers have become the most popular option. Made by uAvionix exclusively for ForeFlight, Sentry receivers offer native ForeFlight support, unmatched battery life, and unique safety features (including a CO detector).

ForeFlight introduced Sentry Plus last year, a new top-of-the-line option with nearly 20 hours of battery life, a built-in screen, and a powerful flight data recorder. While this is our pick for best overall performer, the original Sentry model, at $599, is still an incredible value and has retained a loyal following. It includes all the essential features—weather, traffic, GPS, AHRS, carbon monoxide detector—but at a size and price that make it a great fit for almost any pilot.

Sentry ADS-B receiver

The updated Sentry ADS-B receiver is specifically designed to work with ForeFlight.

The one knock on Sentry was that, at five and a half years old, it was approaching middle age for technology. It still performed well, but new advances in electronics and charging accessories meant it was due for a refresh. That’s exactly what ForeFlight announced this week: an updated Sentry that doesn’t add major new capabilities, but offers enhanced performance where it counts. In other words, the best selling weather receiver in aviation just got a new lease on life.

The most noticeable upgrade is that Sentry now supports smart chargers, including Power Delivery. More and more plugs, battery packs, and cables now offer some version of this, which quick charges the device with a higher watt input up until about 80%, then slows down. The original Sentry uses the industry standard USB-C charging plug, but it is not compatible with smart chargers—that requires specific hardware and software support. So not only is fast charging not available, but any Power Delivery plug will not work at all (you’ll simply see a charging error). That’s no longer an issue with the latest update, so the new Sentry is almost universally compatible with USB-C cables and plugs. That should make charging easier.

ForeFlight has also added an auto shutdown mode that turns the device off automatically after a period of inactivity. This is will save your battery if you forget to turn the unit off, which definitely comes in handy after a busy flight. Note that this is different from the Sentry Plus Auto Power Mode, which turns the unit on and off when it receives power.

There are also a number of under the hood performance improvements in the latest version of Sentry that, while not visible, should improve performance and reliability. It features an upgraded processor for faster overall operation, plus improved GPS, WiFi, and CO detector performance. There are also a few internal manufacturing upgrades that improve long term durability. Everything ran smoothly in our initial tests, with fast GPS lock and no disconnects. We’re working on a longer term test regimen and will report back with those results.

Overall this is a minor update but one that addresses some important areas and should make Sentry a reliable performer for years to come. The updated Sentry receiver is still just $599 and is now shipping.

19 replies
  1. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    I’ve had the Sentry since it first came out, and I like it. The one disappointment is battery life: I never did get the full rated duration. How does this new model perform?

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      The battery on the updated model is rated for the same performance, but we haven’t done enough testing to say for sure what it can do in the real world. I would expect it to maybe be a little better but it won’t be dramatic.

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      No, unfortunately older Sentry models can’t be upgraded. The outer case on the new model is slightly different so the older one can’t accommodate the new components.

      • Robert Venturella
        Robert Venturella says:

        I bought the Sentry 2 months ago and have used it once. It’s disappointing that ForeFlight doesn’t want to trade it for the improved model. The customer service on this issue needs some improvement as well.

        • Steve
          Steve says:

          Me too! I just got the Sentury Plus and was quite disappointed that it’s charge was ridiculously slow. Literally, needs an overnight charge. I will be extremely disappointed if Foreflight does not offer an upgrade to recent purchasers.

  2. Steven Von Wald
    Steven Von Wald says:

    What about a way to turn in our legacy Sentry for a discount on the new one? I’ve been particularly concerned lately that my receiver will only show traffic on my iPad or my instructor’s, but not both simultaneously. This resulted in a near miss during a recent lesson

  3. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    Oh wow, I never knew my Sentry wouldn’t charge with a smart charger. Honestly i’ve never used the battery, I just ran power to it and never had to worry about it.

  4. David J Sitzer
    David J Sitzer says:

    Was the Sentry Plus also upgraded? I purchased one on sale after Thanksgiving and want to be sure I purchsed the most up to date.
    Thank you

      • Brad
        Brad says:

        Oooof. OG Sentry was $450 on sale, $500 MSRP. I have receipts with Sportys. Hard to justify charging +$100 to fix issues with previous. A ForeFlight problem, not Sportys. Feel bad for anyone who just bought a Sentry… no upgrade voucher from FF? Ridiculous.

        • Andy
          Andy says:

          I bought a Sentry in October 2022 and paid $599, so it looks like the price has been over $500 for a long time. This new one has a couple upgrades but nothing major–I’m in no hurry to get rid of my original Sentry anyway since it works great.

  5. Brad
    Brad says:

    When and where did ForeFlight announce this? There is no announcement or indication of this on the Sentry or FF website.

  6. Rich G.
    Rich G. says:

    I bought my Sentry about 4 years ago. In the past several months the CO continues to indicate over 220 ppm reading. It certainly got my attention and I was very concerned. Had two different A&P check the exhaust and engine compartment for CO leaks, none found. Together we flew with two handheld CO monitors which showed similar low readings while Sentry continued to indicate over 200 ppm. Conclusion, Sentry is defective and providing false high CO readings and alerts.

    Contacted Sentry (Uavionics) and very minimal assistance. Whether the false readings are from defect, age of Sentry or some sort of firmware upgrade not sure. Bottom line is the unit is not working properly. The best Uavionics would do was a $50 coupon for new a new sentry. The response was “there isn’t anything we can do to repair or replace the unit”. As a CFI I am disappointed with this response and can no longer recommend the Sentry from both a customer support and ‘standing behind their product’ perspective. Am I supposed to buy a new Sentry every 4 years?

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