Pilot Products

March 1, 2005

AvMap EKP-IV portable GPS navigator

C-Map Aviation has specialized in large-format portable GPS units, which we've reviewed favorably. The company continues to impress with its latest offering, the EKP-IV.

The color display is slightly larger than that of the EKP-IIIc (see " Pilot Products," May 2002 Pilot), with a super-sharp 7-inch-diagonal TFT (thin film transistor) screen — even though the unit costs $300 less than its predecessor. Like the IIIc, the EKP-IV defaults to a portrait-screen layout (a landscape presentation is also available), with a data window that includes information parceled out in blocks taking up the top quarter of the display. You can select one, two, or three lines (each containing three data blocks) to appear in the data window, and set up the fields to your liking.

The moving map operates in one of three modes. Cursor mode lets you control the screen by movement of the cursor — achieved with a small joystick in the upper-right corner of the unit's face. Home mode keeps a specified fix within the visible map area; the map scrolls and redraws as your current position changes. Auto Zoom mode keeps the destination visible on the screen and adjusts according to your route and proximity to the destination. You can set the display to Track-up, Course-up, or North-up, all of which rotate the map automatically depending on your selection. A Course Predictor projects your current track based on a set time interval at the current groundspeed and heading, simplifying course intercepts and wind correction.

In all modes and within the menus, the joystick is used in conjunction with buttons along the right side and top of the unit and makes it easy to access functions. During my test flights, I flew with the unit strapped to my right leg, using the Velcro strap and curved backing incorporated in the unit, and found that the controls worked well. This position also gave the best angle for screen viewing — though the screen is sharp enough to make it legible even when viewed from the side. Generally, text calling out navaids and airports on the screen is large and distinct; an incredible amount of local detail (via regional Tele Atlas street and points-of-interest data) is accessible as well, though the font reduces significantly for these details and might prove challenging for tired or older eyes. You can select the details you'd like to see. In any event, the crucial stuff displays well.

You save your current position through a submenu off the main menu — with only a couple of keystrokes. The EKP-IV accepts up to 1,000 user waypoints, identifiable on screen by 16 different icons. Ten flight plans can be stored, each with a maximum of 100 waypoints. The flight-plan and user-waypoint storage capacities overlap within the internal waypoint memory — for example, if you have 10 flight plans containing 10 waypoints each, you can store 900 user waypoints.

The EKP-IV also has an HSI (horizontal situation indicator) screen that you can select instead of the moving map. A vertical speed readout, in tape form, displays along the left side of the screen, and the data window remains along the top. The unit is WAAS-capable, which to portable-GPS users means that position accuracy comes within a wingspan, though you cannot use the unit to navigate IFR, whether en route or on approach.

The calculator menu gives access to vertical navigation, wind correction, and fuel consumption computations, as well as in-flight timers and a trip computer — good for proving to a spouse that your average speed does indeed beat the airline average (depending on your trip and your airplane, of course).

A Jeppesen database containing aeronautical information is updated every 28 days and is contained on a Compact Flash card. Searching the database follows intuitive menus and logic, and the EKP-IV uses the big screen to display waypoint information (including airport frequencies, layouts, and elevations) as you search the database. The background cartography is a proprietary C-Map NT product that comes with the unit.

The EKP-IV uses either a DC adapter, to power from the aircraft electrical system, or six NiMh rechargeable batteries. If alkalines are used in the battery case, there is a risk of hurting the unit if the DC adapter is plugged in, according to a company representative. A remote GPS antenna comes on a 15-foot cable for positioning in the cockpit.

Price: about $1,499
Contact: 800/363-2627; www.avmapnavigation.com

Sporty's IFR Risk Management Air Facts DVD

"This is not some macho thing we're doing here; we're just trying to get from one point to another without killing ourselves," says Richard Collins on Sporty's new addition to the Air Facts DVD series, IFR Risk Management. Collins goes on to explore the practicalities of IFR flight in a way that's helpful to both new instrument pilots as well as seasoned veterans.

Topics include the IFR weather briefing (use of forecasts, information about icing areas, and convective analysis and radar; determining alternates and fuel planning), flying IFR as a "crew of one" (use of the autopilot), and datalink weather (comparing the "close work" done with on-board radar to the strategic flying done with datalink weather). Emergencies are covered, including engine problems and alternator and vacuum system failures.

Collins emphasizes an important concept: Pilots still need to have a good handle on weather theory and the synopsis prior to the flight, even with a bevy of high-tech gear in the cockpit. Footage taken during a couple of actual flights showing on-board radar, datalinked Nexrad, and lightning detection equipment used in concert drive the point home.

He also relates well what to expect from instrument flight, especially for those who have yet to truly test their tickets: "The first moments you enter the clouds are different, with different sounds and sensations. You can prepare for this by accepting ahead of time that this period is one that requires careful attention and solid flying." On second thought, this is a good reminder for all IFR pilots.

Sporty's has also released a Cessna Citation training course on DVD with a supplemental guide. More than three hours of training are included on the DVD for a price of $99.

Price: $25 for Air Facts IFR Risk Management; $100 for all eight Air Facts DVDs
Contact: 800/776-7897 or 513/735-9000; www.sportys.com

GoalPageSet Garmin 430 GPS Training Manual

GoalPageSet offers a new way to look at one of the most popular panel-mount GPS navigators in GA cockpits. The GoalPageSet Garmin 430 GPS Training Manual introduces you to the Garmin GNS 430, and the book organizes its functions in a well-thought-out fashion to help you learn quickly and effectively how to use the box.

Grouping the functions into three categories allows you to classify each one accordingly. Tune Swap refers to the communications radio functions accessed on the left side of the 430, including the com and VOR/localizer (VLOC) buttons and knobs. Group/Page Mover refers to the right side of the box, where you initiate functions like direct-to. Buttons for the Fab Five Functions are found along the bottom of the 430, for operations such as loading a flight plan.

The manual delves into each function and page in detail, with step-by-step instructions. The graphics include a plethora of screens — an average of what must be at least one example screen for each step — and clear icons to help you transition from the book to the real thing.

The book is available through pilot supply outlets, including AvShop ( www.avshop.com) and J.A. Air Center. The authors are pledging 25 percent of the book's pretax profits to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.

Price: $79.95
Contact: 312/505-7370; www.jaair.com

Quick Hits

Safe Prop Tip is a propeller tip guard for GA aircraft. Constructed of bright-red fabric and dense foam, the guard comes in two variations, one for two-blade props and one for three-blade props.
Price: $40 for two-blade model; $60 for three-blade model
Contact: www.safeproptip.com

Control Vision's Anywhere Map moving-map software for personal digital assistants version 1.6 includes a new interface to make flight planning easier. In addition, the company is now shipping its XM Weather service compatible with Bluetooth wireless GPS receivers for reduced cordage in the cockpit.
Contact: 800/292-1160; www.anywheremap.com

Montague has introduced a new line of folding bikes suitable for use in light aircraft. The 18-speed DX bikes weigh less than 30 pounds and fold to 3 feet by 3 feet by one foot with no tools required.
Price: $399
Contact: 800/736-5348; www.montaguebikes.com

Approach Aviation's Educated Owner instructional series is now available on DVD, making it easier to jump to a given chapter within each of the three volumes (Volume I: Preventive Maintenance, Volume II: The Annual Inspection, and Volume III: Introduction to Aircraft Ownership).
Price: $39.95 for each DVD; all three for $109.95
Contact: 978/567-9909; www.approachaviation.com

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. Links to all Web sites referenced in this issue can be found on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/pilot/links.shtml).