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Need for a simpler GPS

Posted By:
Matthew Long
Homebuilder or Craftsman
122
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#1 Posted: 6/27/2010 11:40:42

Does anyone else feel that GPS units have gone over the top both in price and sophistication?  For the kind of flying many ultraight, microlight and light sport pilots do the aviation GPS units are just overkill.  Unfortunately, the truly inexpensive GPS units sold for hiking just don't display the info in a format suitable for flying (please correct me if you know of one that does).

Personally, I'd like to see a simple GPS that would give your position (lat/long), bearing, speed, and altitude.  An alternative display would replace lat/long with bearing and distance to/from some user-defined navigation points (your local fields and landmarks) and some waypoints to set on the fly.  Oh, and two big buttons for HOME and NEAREST.  That's it.

It could be handheld or panel-mounted in an instrument hole.  Black and white LCD or even better fluorescent displays like in a car would be fine--no maps needed, color only if it's economical.

The MGL Avionics GPS-1 was pretty much exactly that, but they don't make it any more.


gps-1.jpg

The Gipsi voice-activated GPS is also very close to being ideal, with the added bonus of a voice readout to keep your eyes outside the cockpit, but it's not cheap and the total lack of a dispay is limiting.


gipsiheadsetfullSMALL.JPG

Anyone have any ideas or leads on a source for something that would fit the bill and, ideally, cost less than the 400 bucks Garmin wants for its cheapest aviation GPS, the GPSMAP 96?

Cheers,

Matthew



******* Matthew Long www.cluttonfred.info
Ron Wanttaja
246
Posts
98
#2 Posted: 6/27/2010 21:27:57 Modified: 6/27/2010 21:30:14

I've got a Garmin 12XL that's pretty close to what you're talking about.  It lets me enter a single waypoint or a series as a route, and has a big arrow pointing to the next waypoint.  No moving map (though it does record your location so you can plot it later).  It cost ~$150 when my wife bought it for me ~8 years ago.  It's of the "Brick" type form factor, but the local boat shop sold a mount that went into my Fly Baby just fine.


fbgps.JPG

They don't make the 12XL anymore, but you might look into the Garmin 72H, which looks like the successor.  The Garmin Etrex is only a hundred bucks, but it has all the buttons along the side.  Neat thing is, these all have USB ports so you can manage waypoints, etc. at home.

 



Ron Wanttaja
Matthew Long
Homebuilder or Craftsman
122
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#3 Posted: 6/30/2010 02:43:49

Thanks, Ron, I'll take a closer look at the basic marine GPS options.  I notice that the model you suggest does not display altitude in any of the navigation screens, which is of course logical on the water, but would be nice to have in the air as a back-up to the altimeter.

Any other nominees for basic aviation GPS?



******* Matthew Long www.cluttonfred.info
Jack Silver
18
Posts
3
#4 Posted: 7/4/2010 09:00:32

I use a Garmin GPS V, but it's a bit old too. I use navaid.com to generate a aviation waypoint GPX file that MapSource can send to the GPS.

 

For more modern GPS units, perhaps look at the hiking units ( such as the eTrex from Garmin) as well. Some of them (Oregon line) have compasses and barometers built into them.

 

Garmin is still selling the GPS 96, 96C, and 196, which are nice aviation units (on their web site 4 Jul 10).

 

I know Garmin better than other units; perhaps TomTom or Magellen make comparable systems. Some of the auto units can be configured for "off road", point-to-point navigation.



Eric Leuty
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#5 Posted: 7/5/2010 18:35:17

Need a cheap, simple GPS? Try this - get an older Magellan, Garmin or Lowrence handheld unit and load it up with an aviation database from aeroplanner.com .

I had an old unsupported Magellan Skymap aviation unit. It cost me less than $5 to load it with a current set of FAA navigation databases for airport, navaid, and fix information. You choose a central airport and select an increment from 10 miles to 300 miles radius. Download the DB to your computer and then to the GPS. It took me less than 15 minutes and I had a backup to my panel mounted King unit. It wont give me frequencies or airspace info but will give me a "direct to" whatever fix I choose. Kinda like an ADF. I did have to make a data cable (RS232 - mini plug) for my unit since I lost the original. The diagram & parts were easy to find.

On the website, go to the "For the GPS" link at the bottom of the page. The instructions are pretty clear.

 I dont work for them, but this worked for me

 -eric-

Matthew Long
Homebuilder or Craftsman
122
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12
#6 Posted: 7/6/2010 11:08:01

Thanks for the tip, Eric, but unfortunately that won't work for me as I do most of my flying in France and aeroplanner.com is only for U.S. airspace.  I need something a little more flexible.  I am still amazed that none of the manufacturers are offering a cheap little aviation GPS unit, either portable or in a standard instrument hole panel mount, perhaps with a little data card or just a USB plug for uploading/downloading data.  There really ought to be an aviation-specific option for less that the $400 Garmin wants for their most basic model.



******* Matthew Long www.cluttonfred.info
Christopher Koch
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0
#7 Posted: 7/8/2010 21:52:48

I thought the realtime GPS position map from Google maps would be as useful in the plane as it is on the ground on my Blackberry 8900 cell phone but the Internet G3 service dies out above 1500'.  The cell tower antennas must be focused line of sight towards the ground.  It would have been a neat freebie if it had worked.



Bob Jans
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#8 Posted: 7/9/2010 04:02:57

Not quite $400 but $500.  The iFly 700.  Fantastic in my opinion.  Google it up.  But not yet for the EU unless some separate software could be loaded on it; don't know.