Thursday, February 1, 2007
Great Handheld Gadgets!
Glass-cockpit functionality in a carry-on package
|Most airplanes in the general aviation fleet were built more than 20 years ago and have old-fashioned “steam gauge” panels that induce glass-cockpit envy among pilots who get a peek at the latest flight decks from such companies as Avidyne, Chelton and Garmin. Fortunately, there’s an amazingly simple cure: A wide range of carry-on gadgets are available that provide glass-cockpit functions in a handheld package. In this issue, we briefly cover more than a dozen products that span the gamut, from simple digital E6B computers to full-function portable multi-function displays!|
Most airplanes in the general-aviation fleet were built more than 20 years ago and have old-fashioned “steam gauge” panels that induce glass-cockpit envy among pilots who get a peek at the latest flight decks from such companies as Avidyne, Chelton and Garmin. Fortunately, there’s an amazingly simple cure: A wide range of carry-on gadgets are available that provide glass-cockpit functions in a handheld package. In this issue, we briefly cover more than a dozen products that span the gamut, from simple digital E6B computers to full-function portable multi-function displays!
Sporty’s SP-200 NAV/COM Transceiver
Alternators fail and batteries won’t keep your radio stack operating for long. Sporty’s SP-200 provides a vital backup when that happens: it’s a complete VHF NAV/COM (including ILS localizer functionality) that weighs just over one pound and fits nicely into your flight bag or a seat-back pocket. Features include a “last frequency” recall button, 8.33 KHz channel spacing, 2,280 COMM channels, 200 NAV channels, OBS functionality, duplex functionality (transmit on COM and listen on NAV) and five-watt output power. It runs on eight AA batteries; accessories include a rechargeable battery pack, headset adapter and belt clip. Suggested price is $279.
Contact: www.sportys.com, (800) 776-7897.
There’s an old Air Force saying that no airplane leaves the ground until the weight of the paper equals the weight of the pilot—and those of us who’ve flown long cross-country IFR know it’s sometimes true. ARINC’s eFlyBook promises to change that: It’s a 13.7-ounce electronic document viewer with an 8.1-inch “electronic paper” display that allows pilots to store and view FAA en route charts, terminal procedures, approach and departure procedures and airport diagrams. On-screen annotation is available using eFlyBook’s built-in stylus, and it’s easy to keep your charts up to date with updates delivered on CD-ROM. Suggested price is $1,499.
Contact: www.eflybook.com, (888) 406-7388.
NavAero tPad 800
Laptop or notebook PCs are great flight-planning platforms, but any pilot who’s tried to do so in the cockpit can tell you that they’re not ideal for use in such environs. NavAero’s tPad800 solves this problem: It’s a display device that straps to your leg and connects by cable to your laptop, which can go under your seat. The tPad 800 offers a stunning 8.4-inch display with brightness that can be adjusted for use in bright sunlight or the darkest night; a touch screen allows you to select menu items, press on-screen buttons or even input text (using an on-screen keyboard, one letter at a time). Suggested price is $1,895; doesn’t include notebook PC or software.
Contact: www.navaero.com, (866) 628-2376.
Advanced Data Research FG-1000 EFB
Advanced Data Research offers the FG-1000 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB): A Fujitsu P1500 tablet PC that runs Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition software. The computer offers an 8.9-inch daylight-visible display with touch-screen input, convertible form factor with built-in keyboard, 1.2 GHz Pentium-M processor, 512 MB RAM, 30 GB hard disk and built-in wireless connectivity. It’s compatible with most flight-planning, moving-map and weather-avoidance software that runs on Microsoft Windows. Prices start at $2,295.
Contact: www.adrsoft.com, (248) 299-5300.
Nielsen-Kellerman Kestrel 4000 Pocket Weather Tracker
Nielsen-Kellerman’s Kestrel 4000 Pocket Weather Tracker is a great backup tool to use at smaller airports that don’t have their own weather reporting. In addition to wind speed, barometric pressure, temperature, altitude and dew point, it also calculates wind chill, relative humidity, heat-stress index and density altitude. Up to 2,000 measurements are stored in the Kestrel 4000’s built-in memory, and may be charted on the unit’s built-in LCD display or uploaded to a PC. The unit is available in black, orange or olive drab. Suggested price is $349.
Contact: www.nkhome.com, (610) 447-1555.