Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Garmin D2 Pilot Watch
A watch with a cockpit full of aviation features
The D2 is tailor-made for cramped cockpits. I put this feature to the test in my Great Lakes 2T-1A2 biplane. That cockpit was designed in 1929, when people were much smaller. There's barely enough room for a portable GPS, and you can forget about an iPad. The D2 became a handy little device in that environment. I was particularly pleased with the "direct to" and "nearest" functions. By pressing either of two decent-sized buttons on the right side of the watch, I could call up either function, select my airport, press a button and see the moving map display on the watch's face. Then, like any GPS, you just follow the line. It was nice knowing Garmin's accuracy was behind the display. Comparing it to the 296 we've mounted on our panel, the accuracy was identical. I could use the D2 as my sole GPS, if necessary.
Pilots can assign customized data fields to display GPS ground speed, GPS track, distance, estimated time en route, bearing, glide ratio and other parameters. The altimeter is a nice backup, and a button allows users to set the current barometric pressure so the altimeter is accurate during the flight. It should be noted that, in a pressurized aircraft, you should switch pressure measurements to GPS for altitude data. Garmin has given the D2 watch vibrating alerts that can be set up to remind users of tasks like switching fuel tanks, altitude alerts and other events necessary during flight. The HSI is a very nice feature and would be handy—again—in an emergency.
|Garmin's VIRB POV camera can be remotely controlled by the D2 watch.|
The Garmin D2 seems to be a first step in an exciting direction. This first iteration is innovative and interesting, and will surely find an audience among gadget-head pilots and those wanting a bonafide backup GPS. I found the display to be too dim, even with the backlight, but I imagine Garmin will listen to user feedback and address that. I think they should offer a caddy/mount of some type, so the watch can be placed on the panel if needed, since navigating from your wrist isn't quite intuitive. But these are small gripes for a device that puts aviation navigation squarely in the realm of what once was only science fiction.
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