October 1, 1997
GX50 GPS and
Now here's an interesting new twist on a handheld GPS receiver. Garmin's clever new GPS III Pilot is a blend of the mapping technology of that company's largish model GPSMAP 195 and the operating methodology of its very popular model GPS 90. At just 5 inches long and a hair over 1.5 inches wide, the III Pilot is a pocket-size marriage of the best of Garmin's most recent handheld features.
The 2.2 x 1.5-inch display will show satellite status, position, map, horizontal situation indicator (HSI), Highway, and Active Route pages — all called up by repeatedly pressing the unit's Page button, à la Garmin's GPS 90. The III Pilot's Quit, Go To, power, and rocker keypad also operate very much like those of a GPS 90. Anyone possessing a passing familiarity with a 90 ought to have no trouble at all working a III Pilot. The zoom keys are used to change the map, highway, and HSI display scales.
The map and HSI displays are shrunken versions of those on the GPSMAP 195 moving-map handheld, which was introduced last summer. The map can be adjusted to one of 24 scales, ranging from 800 to 0.2 nm. With such a small screen, we found the 20- and 12-nm displays the most useful. At scales larger than 40 miles, the base map, which shows things like highways, names of cities, and some geographical features, is too cluttered for useful interpretation. Below the 2-nm scale, the display works fairly well if you ever need assistance driving to or from the airport, or if you're showing the unit off in your non-GPS-savvy neighbor's car.
If you hold down the Page button, the display orientation can be changed from horizontal to vertical. We mainly used the horizontal view, and simply rested the III Pilot on top of the glareshield. A rubber base helped to keep the unit in place, but we never experienced anything more than very light turbulence. For those wanting more security, a glareshield mounting bracket is provided.
With the unit mounted on the glareshield, the III Pilot's antenna did a great job of locking on to satellites (it has a 12-channel receiver). The antenna is detachable, however, and can be used remotely with the help of an antenna cord.
The III Pilot is short on options. A yoke mount kit and an amplified antenna ($204.55), cigarette lighter adapter ($23.30), carrying case ($12.69), remote antenna cord ($25.45), and PC interface cable ($38.09) are available. If you already have a GPS 90, you can use its antenna cord if you want to mount the antenna remotely.
Our favorite view was the Map page, which we set up with fields showing track, groundspeed, distance to the next waypoint, and time to destination off to one side. A variety of information can be entered in the data fields; this is done by using the Menu key to change fields and the rocker keypad to cursor through the options, then hitting Enter. One display field we're accustomed to seeing is a comparison of track with desired track. On the III Pilot, desired track information is not available. A load of other information is offered, however. Some of it seems useful (ETA at destination, time to a vertical navigation descent point), some more tailored for the car (trip odometer, time of day) than air navigation.
The cursor, activated on the Map page by pushing on the rocker key, can be used to identify landmarks, or even to define a destination. Just move the pointer over the airport to which you want to fly, hit Go To, and the navigation information follows. Perhaps best of all, it can be used to learn the identity and vertical extent of any special use or Class B airspace — move the pointer into SUA or Class B, then hit Enter for the name and vertical boundaries. Another neat feature is the vertical navigation guidance bar on the HSI screen. Once you intercept a VNAV profile, a glideslope-like command bar appears and gives you descent cues for staying on the selected glide path.
The Highway page is, um, unusual. This is a representation of a road, complete with a centerline, that appears to be headed forever across a desert. The "road" represents your defined route, and when a waypoint comes up, it's announced by a cute billboard-looking "road sign" with the waypoint's name. If there's a turn after the waypoint, you can see a bend in the road ahead. This feature seems to be best suited for pilots of four-wheeled (or maybe even two-wheeled) vehicles. A tip for those who use the Highway on the highway: keep your eyes on the road.
The III Pilot also contains all the other information you'd expect from any GPS: E6-B functions, a Jeppesen database, nearest airports and navaids, and the capability to store up to 20 routes with as many as 30 waypoints in each. Battery life of the unit's four AA alkalines is between eight and 10 hours, Garmin says.
The manufacturer's suggested list price is $799, although retail prices should be about $100 less. To sum up, we liked the III Pilot's handy size and large mix of capabilities, wondered a lot about that Highway, and think this unit should serve VFR pilots with limited cockpit space very well indeed. As a lower-cost alternative to the $1,200 GPSMAP 195, the III Pilot makes a lot of sense. For more information, contact Garmin International at 1200 East 151st Street, Olathe, Kansas 66062; telephone 913/397-8200; fax 913/397-8282. — Thomas A. Horne
Precision Airmotive has received parts manufacturer approval for its Lamar lightweight permanent-magnet starter designed for aviation engines. To cut weight by 40 percent, the U.S.-built permanent magnet replaces the bulky windings used on conventional aviation starters.
We installed a Lamar starter on a Cessna 172M that previously had the standard Electrosystems Prestolite starter turning the Lycoming O-320. Slight modification of the engine baffling was required for the installation, but otherwise it was a simple bolt-on affair.
The Lamar starter provides the same cranking rpm as the old Prestolite and seemed to offer plenty of starting torque. Where the Lamar starter really shines is in weight reduction. We gladly took back 8 pounds of the Skyhawk's useful load after the installation of the Lamar starter. Incidentally, this is the same unit picked to start the new Cessna singles. Textron-Lycoming also makes the Lamar starter available to its customers. It sends its factory new, remanufactured, and overhauled engines out with a Prestolite starter as standard equipment. The Lamar and Sky-Tec starters (another lightweight starter on the market) are optional.
With a claimed lower current draw, the Lamar starter is designed to be more durable for those long hot starts and for training students who haven't quite grasped the awkward starting technique of piston aircraft. The company refers to the starter as the "TBO starter" because it is built to last the entire time between overhauls of the engine it's cranking.
Owners of larger Continental engines should soon be seeing Lamar starters available for their engines. Like the Lycoming models, the Continental starters will be lighter, slightly smaller, and designed to be more durable than the original.
The Lamar starter for Lycomings is available for 12- or 24-volt systems and lists for $569 and $599 respectively, with exchange. It is available through major aviation distributors and comes with a two-year/1,000-hour warranty. For more information, contact Precision Airmotive, 3220 100th Street Southwest, #E, Everett, Washinton 98204; telephone 206/355-6400. — Peter A. Bedell
II Morrow has introduced its latest receivers in the panel-mounted Apollo line, the GX50 GPS and GX60 GPS/Comm. Both units offer moving-map displays and are IFR approach certified. The high-resolution display, which was first introduced on the GX55 GPS moving map (see " Pilot Products," June Pilot), utilizes 12,800 pixels for increased clarity in all lighting conditions. Smart keys located below the display allow the user to declutter the map display while viewing it instead of twirling through menus and submenus as in other receivers. The GX60's transceiver features a built-in two-place intercom, standby frequency monitoring, and recall of frequencies stored in the GPS's database. The GX50 lists for $3,995 and the GX60 is $4,995. For more information, contact II Morrow at 800/525-6726 or 503/391-3411. — PAB
Sometimes the simplest tools are the best at what they do. This just may be the case with The Best Hood, a painfully simple view-limiting device for IFR training, created by Bill Weder. The Best Hood is simply a piece of cardboard perforated to unfold into an IFR training hood. In fact, it's small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. An elastic band allows the Best Hood to be used over a headset without disturbing the headset's fit. We found The Best Hood to be comfortable when in use with a headset. When not being used, The Best Hood's size does not require its being placed out of reach in a baggage compartment as do some larger hoods. The Best Hood can be obtained by sending a $5 check to Bill Weder, 2058 State Route 4, St. Jacob, Illinois 62281; telephone 618/644-5831. — PAB
Kosola and Associates now offers a one-piece windshield conversion kit for all Piper PA-34-200 and -200T Seneca I and II aircraft. Utilizing 1/4-inch-thick plexiglass, the kit is claimed to offer better bird strike protection and reduced noise. Plexiglass can be ordered in clear, green, or solar gray tint from either Kosola (800/456-7652 or 912/435-4119) or LP Aero Plastics (412/744-4448). — PAB
FlightPath of Valencia, California, now offers Chok-Bloks, customized wheel chocks that contain your airplane's registration number and/or "AOPA" engraved in the handcrafted redwood. Chok-Bloks are protected by a polyurethane varnish and connected by a vinyl-coated cable with stainless-steel hardware. The chocks come with a drawstring carrying bag to keep the dirt out of your airplane's interior. Chok-Bloks list for $31.95; shipping costs $5. Contact FlightPath, 25852 McBean Parkway #170, Valencia, California 91355; telephone 805/287-9088. — PAB
Telex has introduced the ANR-1D, a new active noise reduction headset that utilizes digital microprocessing. Telex claims that the ANR-1D can reduce noise by as much as 50 dB at certain frequencies. An audible menu tells the user which features are turned on or off. Features include automatic volume control, automatic power off, stereo or mono audio, and a nifty little feature that measures in-cockpit noise in decibels at the mic. The 15-ounce ANR-1D is powered by 4 AA batteries, or it can be wired directly into the cockpit power source. Retail price of the ANR-1D is $745. For more information, contact Telex at 612/884-4051 or 800/328-3771 extension 510 or visit the Web site ( www.telex.com). — PAB
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