View on GitHub

Barry's BlackBox

A flight tracker and ACARS client for FlightGear

Download the latest release
HOME Getting Started Supported VAs Report an Issue

Getting Started with Barry’s BlackBox


This is what you need to run Barry’s BlackBox:

Check Releases for latest versions.

Preparing FlightGear:

  1. Download the protocol definition file blackbox.xml and put it into your flightgear protocol directory at ${FGHOME}/data/Protocol/
  2. Start Flightgear with the following commandline options:

--httpd=5500 --generic=socket,out,2,localhost,5555,udp,blackbox.

If you are using FGRun for starting Flightgear, you can define these parameters in the “Advanced Options” dialog. The port for the httpd server (--httpd=5500) is defined in the Network section, the generic protocol can be set in the Input/Output section.

Description of the FlightGear Commandline Options

The option --httpd=5500 starts the internal FG webserver on port 5500. This server is used by Barry’s BlackBox > in order to receive data on “Start” and “Shutdown” and it is also used by the “Parking” panel for relocating the aircraft to the latest stored parking position of the current airport.

The option --generic=socket,out,2,localhost,5555,udp,blackboxoption tells FG to send UDP requests twice a second to a UDP server running on localhost and listening on port 5555. The port and host can be changed, if you want to run your blackbox on separate maschine. The format of the UDP packets is described in the protocol definition file blackbox.xml, which you need to copy to your FG installation.

Configuring Barry’s Blackbox

Double-click the blackbox-.jar or start it from the commandline using the following command `java -jar blackbox-.jar`. (Replace with the version you are using).

Open the ‘Configuration’ tab and press the “Test Connection” button in the Flightgear HTTPD section. If your Flightgear is running, you should see a green “Connection successful” message. If not, check your Flightgear configuration.

Check the checkbox in the UDP-Server section. This will start the internal UDP Server which receives the flight data from flightgear. To check, if the UDP server is working, change to the “Parking” tab. If FlightGear is already running you should see the ICAO code of the closest airport. If you do not see anything, there is propably a problem with the port for the UDP server (5555), maybe this port is already in use… you can change the port in the Configuration tab, and of course also in the --generic configuration of Flightgear.

If you are flying for a Virtual Airline which supports the kACARS protocol, you can configure the kACARS URL and your pilot credentions in the kACARS section of the configuration tab. This section also has a checkbox to disable the ACARS functionality completely.

You will also find a checkbox for activating the kACARS Live Update which sends flight data to the VA website in with a predefined frequency. (the default is 30 seconds).

Test your ACARS connection with the test button.

The Toolbar

The toolbar of Barry’s BlackBox consist of 4 buttons and offers the most important functions for tracking your flight. The four buttons are, from left to right: “(Dis)Connect”, “Download Bid”, “Start”, “Stop” and “Upload PIREP”

Connected to FlightGear (Dis)Connect

This button connects or disconnects Barry’s BlackBox with FlightGear. If the button shows a “broadcast” symbol, then you are connected; if the symbol is striked-through, then you are disconnected. Of course Barry’s BlackBox will only record your flight while it is connected to FlightGear. When started, Barry’s BlackBox will be disconnected, so this button is the first to click.

Download Bid Download Bid

If you are flying for a Virtual Airline you can download the current Flight Bid from your VA website into Barry’s BlackBox.

Start your Flight Start

This button starts the flight recording. You should press this button when you are at the gate, ready for departure. When pressing the button, Barry’s BlackBox tries to download the current flight bid from your Virtual Airlines website. You will find this data on the PIREP tab.

Finish your Flight Finish

This button finishes the recording of your flight. You should press it after landing, when you are at the gate and ready for disembarging. Barry’s BlackBox will finish the flight log and will calculate the flight time, fuel consumption and landing rate. The data is shown on the PIREP tab.

Upload PIREP Upload PIREP

This button uploads the recorded PIREP data (from the PIREP tab) to your Virtual Airlines Website.

Starting your flight

Taxi to a gate, load some passengers and fuel and enter your route in the Flightgear route manager. When ready for engine startup, use the “(Dis)Connect” button to connect Barry’s BlackBox to FlightGear and start your trip with the “Start” button.

Barry’s BlackBox will display the ICAO code of your airport, the current time (UTC) and the current fuel level in the destination column of the Overview tab. If you have an active flight bid, the data from the flight bid (flight number, aircraft, …) is also shown in the PIREP tab.

Barry’s BlackBox is now ready for recording your journey.


When using the route manager/autopilot in flightgear you can see the progress of your flight on the “Route” tab of Barry’s BlackBox. This tab will also give you the estimated time of arrival (ETA) and the estimated time enroute (ETE), based on your route and your current ground speed.

Finishing your flight.

After landing at your destination airport taxi to your gate, shutdown your engines and press the “Stop” button. The PIREP form is automatically updated with the consumed fuel and the flight time as well as the landing rate in feets per minutes.

Submitting your PIREP

Open the “PIREP” tab. Here you will see all data which have been tracked during your flight as well as some data that has been downloaded from your Virtual Airlines flight bids. You can change some data here, for example the number of PAX or some comments. Finally press the “Upload PIREP” button. It will take a few seconds, and Barry’s BlackBox will (hopefully) report a successful PIREP submission (Or an error, some Virtual Airlines servers might not respond in time, so that Barry’s BlackBox will receive a Timeout, which is shown as an error. If this is the case, please check the VA webpage to check, if the PIREP has been submitted.)