March 1, 1999
Pit Bull Tire Lock
Electronic engine analyzers - instruments that monitor the vital signs of your engine - have become tremendously popular. One manufacturer, JP Instruments, has pulled away from the field by offering new features and capabilities almost yearly. When the company's EDM-700 was introduced nine years ago, it was the first to combine a bar-graph display with a digital readout of the parameters. Until then, you could have bars or digits, but not both.
In the tug of war for analyzer features, the EDM-700 has seen by far the greatest enhancement. Several years ago, a fuel-flow option was added to give the 700 fuel-computer functions in the same box as the all-cylinder EGT and CHT monitoring. For installations with limited panel space, the EDM-700 with fuel flow is a real blessing; you get your analyzer and fuel computer in one tidy package.
Now, there's a new twist - built-in data logging. JPI has offered data logging all along, of course, but the early version used a card to store the data and required a card reader to collect and print out the data. (Another choice was to send the card to JPI and wait for the printouts to come in the mail.) Then, the 700 got the option to spit out the data - in six-second intervals - through a serial port to a waiting computer; this enabled real-time data gathering but required a laptop or palmtop computer in the cockpit.
A $120 option on the EDM-700 now brings a built-in data-storage system and real-time clock. Gaining access to the data still requires a laptop or palmtop computer, but you need to retrieve the data only every 100 hours or so. It works like this: Fire up the JPI and toggle through the program menu until you see "Dump Data?" Hook your laptop through the serial connection, ready the provided DOS program, and then let the 700 send the numbers across. You can opt to retrieve all data or just the data concerning flights since the last download. The EDM-700 keeps all data until the memory fills, and then it begins to overwrite the oldest numbers.
JPI's simple bit of software expands the compressed data and saves it as a comma-delimited text file. You can then open it in any spreadsheet program. When you do, you'll see row upon row of numbers - the EDM-700 provides a data field only for those options used, such as individual exhaust-gas temperature (EGT) and cylinder-head temperature (CHT); oil temp; outside-air temp; induction-air and/or compressor-discharge temps; carburetor temp; fuel flow and fuel consumed; EGT cooling rate; and avionics-bus voltage. It's all there, in plain numbers to see.
Beyond making computer nerds giggle, the JPI-collected data is hugely useful in spotting trends in your engine's health and providing a snapshot of how you fly the engine. Like a golfer using video to improve his form, the JPI data may make you fly a bit differently.
This new data-logging scheme fits into the EDM-700 case and changes nothing about the way the unit works the rest of the time. In fact, JPI has used this software revision to make some other useful improvements. For example, if you had the fuel-flow option before and forgot to reset the amount on board, you couldn't get to it after you'd started the engine and acknowledged the first "Fuel?" screen on the 700; now there's a menu item allowing you to reset the fuel used and amount remaining at any time.
The strengths of the EDM-700 remain the same as ever, including a useful and accurate "lean-find" feature - which, with the fuel flow option, is particularly easy to use - and a clear display that gives both graphical and numeric data at a glance. You see the EGT for each cylinder all of the time, and can look for the highest of the "blanked" bars to determine the hottest CHT. And while the plethora of features might seem like overkill, you'll be amazed by how useful the information can be. For example, let's say you have a rough runup. With the EDM-700, you'll see instantly which cylinder is causing the trouble and you can often stroll up to the maintenance facility and say, "The lower plug on cylinder number 5 is intermittent during the runup." Moreover, with the fuel computer, management of the petrol couldn't be easier. The JPI allows simple, user-accessible calibration of the electronic transducer; on my airplane, I can predict the fill-up to about 0.2 gallons. All told, there are few instruments that provide such a high level of confidence - in the engine's health and the amount of fuel sloshing in the tanks - as does the EDM-700.
Prices start at about $1,600 for the basic EDM-700 for four-cylinder engines. The fuel-flow option is about $1,000 extra, and additional probes - for oil temp, outside-air temp, etc. - run $135 each. Contact JPI at Post Office Box 7033, Huntington Beach, California 92646; telephone 800/345-4574; or visit the Web site ( www.jpinstruments.com). - Marc E. Cook
Moving-map programs have traditionally been aimed at the pilot. Not Polaris, a new product from Stenbock and Everson Inc. This Windows-based program is intended for the passengers, to show them not only the present location of the flight on a detailed road map, but also the progress of the flight in time and speed over the ground. What's more, Polaris says that the included database lists more than a million businesses, including restaurants.
Polaris connects to the data stream of most popular GPSs, both panel-mounted and handheld. We tried it with a Lowrance AirMap 100 and Polaris worked quite well. It had no trouble maintaining the map in relation to the flight and worked on a 166-MHz Pentium laptop with reasonable alacrity. A well-thought-out menu keeps you from getting lost in the program.
As a product, Polaris is hard to fault. But it's a harder sell as an overall concept. Even with today's generally svelter laptops, a computer in the cockpit has to rate as ungainly at best. Unless you want to run out of battery power before the end of the trip, you'll need not just the GPS hookup, but also a power source. Not all laptops make this connection simple. Then there's the screen. While Polaris dazzles with an active-matrix screen in the office, it's far less impressive in a bright cockpit or cabin. Polaris will really shine when someone figures out how to combine it with a reasonably priced built-in display for cabin-class aircraft.
Polaris comes on a CD-ROM and sells for $179.99. For more information, contact Stenbock and Everson, 14499 Stenbock Way, Aurora, Oregon 97002; telephone 800/966-4360; or visit the Web site ( www.stenbock.com). - MEC
An alternative to rusty old chains and easy-to-foil aircraft security systems is the Pit Bull Tire Lock. This $350 caliper lock is used by police departments all over the country as an alternative to traditional tire "boots" to collect parking fees. The Pit Bull's calipers are locked together with a cylindrical key lock. According to the manufacturer, the lock cylinder will simply spin if someone attempts to drill it out. For aircraft, the Pit Bull can be attached to a wheel or propeller. Either way you install it, the airplane won't be going anywhere for a while. On propellers, the Pit bull's 10-pound weight won't allow a thief to get far without slinging a prop blade or tearing the entire engine out of its mounts. If securing to small propellers, be sure that the jaws can be closed tightly enough so that the lock can't simply be lifted off. The specialized-aluminum-alloy Pit Bull's weight is its greatest downfall if carried in payload-challenged airplanes. For more information, contact Pit Bull at 505/989-3678 or visit the Web site ( www.tirelock.com). - Peter A. Bedell
Sporty's Pilot Shop is now carrying Max Karant: My Flights and Fights, a collection of memoirs from AOPA Pilot's founding editor, Max Karant. Charles Spence, who worked with Karant at AOPA, finished Karant's memoirs after his death in 1997 and put them into a 140-page book that details Karant's achievements in the air and on the floor of Congress. The $29.95 book is available by calling 800/SPORTYS. - PAB
Hunters in the Sky is a four-volume set of videotapes featuring World War II aerial combat footage. Scenes from Europe to the Pacific are included. It is available for $59.95 from GT Direct, 16 East 40th Street, New York, New York 10016; telephone 212/951-3000 or 800/369-5588. - Alton K. Marsh
Unless otherwise stated, products listed herein have not been evaluated by AOPA Pilot editors. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors. However, members unable to get satisfaction regarding products listed should advise AOPA. To submit products for evaluation, contact: New Products Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701; telephone 301/695-2350.
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.