AvMap’s EKP-IV—which is an enhanced version of its predecessor, called the EKP-IIIC—can most likely best be described as the Rolls-Royce of portable GPS units for in-cockpit use. It’s bigger than your average handheld, standing at 4.75x7x1.5 inches, and it’s a bit pricey—but both the money and size buy a couple of other things that usually aren’t available in any other portable GPS units of which I’m quite aware, perhaps because the company has seriously taken into account its customer’s suggestions and comments.
The first of these unique features is an extraordinary seven-inch diagonal color display that’s very much bright enough for daylight use. You just strap the EKP-IV to your leg or knee (the back is contoured and removable, and the unit comes with a Velcro-backed strap that makes placing it on your lap or knee easy and comfy, therefore, the name EKP for Electronic Knee Pad), then plug the power cord into any 10- to 35-volt outlet, and stash the GPS antenna on the glare shield. The result is more than just a GPS moving map; it comes quite close to a quite talented multi-function display.
You also get a moving map backed by a Jeppesen database, which brings us to its second major feature: Although it’s not TSO-certified for IFR use, the unit does include instrument approach procedures in the database. You can’t legally use the EKP-IV as your primary navigation instrument in IMC, but you can select whatever kind of approach procedure you’re flying and monitor your progress on the EKP-IV unit for situational awareness. Most approaches include all the relevant waypoints as well as vector-to-final functionality, which are quite comparable to TSO-certified, panel-mounted GPS receivers that cost much more money. And it will guide you with precision beyond those that are available in most panel-mounts: The EKP-IV unit is WAAS-capable. Just enable WAAS input (which is turned off by default), and you’ll have state-of-the-art navigation accuracy. Aside from the basic moving map and its approach functions, the EKP-IV offers a simulated HSI, a maximum of 10 stored flight plans, as well as up to 1,000 user-entered waypoints (in addition to those that are already in the database), land and marine objects, a one-button nearest-airport search, an E6B calculator and even built-in electronic checklists.
Database updates are supplied on tiny CompactFlash cards. Currently, AvMap mails updates to EKP-IV users, but the company is now working hard on having downloadable updates via its Website.
The unit requires external power with an option to add a rechargeable battery pack, giving you two hours of power. It also has a backup power source via six rechargeable AA batteries. Its 104-page owner’s manual is well-organized and covers all the basics, but lacks an index. You can, however, log on to the online version to get it. The checklists aren’t user-configurable and require two steps to access. The EKP-IV display provides users with independent brightness and contrast controls. It lacks a night-vision setting with a black background, but AvMap says that it will be adding it soon.
It retails for $1,499 and includes one free Jeppesen database update with the returned warranty card. Three database updates per year cost $179.99. You’ll also get additional savings by joining Club AvMap online.
For more information about the EKP-IV, contact AvMap/Navigation at (800) 363-2627 or visit the company’s Website online at www.avmapnavigation.com.
John D. Ruley is a pilot and a freelance writer specializing in personal technology and aviation. E-mail him at [email protected].