Handheld (non aviation) GPS with aeronautical data

Discussion in 'Instruments / Avionics / Electrical System' started by Dana, Mar 7, 2009.

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  1. Mar 7, 2009 #1

    Dana

    Dana

    Dana

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    Being cheap, er, frugal, er, broke, an aviation GPS isn't in my budget. Not that I really need it anyway; I'm flying ultralights currently and even when I had my T-Craft I didn't have so much as an ADF let alone a VOR... GPS didn't exist then.

    But I like the GPS, and up until now I've been using a very basic non mapping GPS (Garmin Geko 301) for flying as well as hiking and hunting; groundspeed and ETA information are nice to have when you are limited to 5 gallons and low speeds! Recently I upgraded to a new mapping GPS (Garmin 60CSx), using the justification that the tiny screen of my old GPS was getting too small for my aging eyes.

    Anyway, for some weeks now I've been trying to load aeronautical charts into the GPS. Finally I succeeded... only to conclude that the screen size is simply too small to show a useful portion of a chart at a useful scale:

    [​IMG]

    This is a WAC chart; a sectional chart is even worse. Although the images may look OK here, try to actually read the frequencies, quickly, while still paying attention to your flying... add to that the fact that the map image takes up to a minute to load (for example, if you switch pages, zoom in or out, or scroll over to one side). So this option is out.

    I then switched my approach, to overlay selected aeronautical data on the built in Garmin base map or topo map. This worked much better. An airport/facility database is available for free download from the FAA in Excel format, and with some tedious massaging can be converted into Garmin POI's (Points of Interest). There's a limited amount of information that can be stored, but I think what I have is pretty useful:

    [​IMG]

    What I have here is identifier, field name, elevation, traffic pattern altitude if given (it isn't in this example), tower and/or unicom frequencies, fuel availability, manager phone, and a small space for comments in a user maintained file (that's the ATIS entry, or could be something like "RT TRAFFIC RWY 17"). Although it looks like there's more room for another four lines of information; it's not accessible (as confirmed by Garmin tech support).

    Doing it with Excel got tedious, so I wrote a simple application to do the conversion. It's adequate for my needs, but too rough to share... so I'm wondering how much interest there would be in a shareware application, if it would be worth my while (cleaning it up for distribution would take as much time or more than I've aready spent getting it to work for my own use).

    I was hoping to create visual indication of airspace, and I can sort of see how it can be done, but it's a lot more work than I'm willing to put it into it right now... and I would always have a sectional chart on hand anyway, if flying anywhere where it might be necessary.

    -Dana

    Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
     

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  2. Mar 7, 2009 #2

    rtfm

    rtfm

    rtfm

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    Hi,
    I have always liked OziExplore. It is moving map software whiuch runs on anything from handhelds to laptops. But best of all, it is free/extremely cheap. And it can be loaded with any map you lke. Since the NZ aeronautical maps are not available in digital form, I once had a large (A1) map scanned full size and loaded this into OziExplore on my iPaq. I hooked up my little GPS unit and he presto, moving map display on our own, familiar maps.

    You can find OziExplore here:The Official OziExplorer Web Site - GPS Mapping Software for Magellan, Garmin, Lowrance, Eagle, MLR Receivers

    Many cool features. Well worth a look.

    Regards,
    Duncan
     
  3. Mar 7, 2009 #3

    pwood66889

    pwood66889

    pwood66889

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    Got my first (and only to date) GPS in 1995. It has No aeronautical data - enter Lat/Long of airports one wishes. I find it useful adjunct to sectional charts, and will probably do so in the future. I'm also "cheap, er, frugal, er, broke..."
    What do you code your aps in?
    Percy in NM, USA
     
  4. Mar 7, 2009 #4

    Dana

    Dana

    Dana

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    Duncan, I looked at Ozi, but more for map conversion and georeferencing when I still was trying to work with the actual charts. A laptop would be a bit cumbersome in an ultralight, of course, and I don't have a PDA... I considered that option but it wouldn't be suitable for the other things I use GPS for., and I couldn't afford both.

    Percy, I use a lot of different things, but in this case it started out as [I thought] some basic file manipulation using other programs (for example, when I was still working with the chart conversion, I was using components of Image Magick to extract pixel data from the scanned image files, and cgpsmapper to do the final write into Garmin format) so I used AutoIT. AutoIt started out as a Windows scripting utility to automate software installs and stuff like that, but it's evolved into something more... it's very good at reading and writing text files, and doing string manipulation and such. The nice thing is that you can test the script as you write it, right from the editor, then compile it to an executable when you're done.

    -Dana

    I love my country, but I fear my government.
     
  5. Mar 8, 2009 #5

    GeoB

    GeoB

    GeoB

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    Once in a while I look through Craigslist for an aviation GPS. Sometimes I find good sounding deals. Coupla weeks ago I saw one for sale, fergit the model, for $100. It had airspaces, airport data, and a few other things i don't know nuthin about. $100 is a lot of money to me, I think hard before I shell it out, but it is do-able. these $500 GPS thingees are beyond my current budget. My point is that once in a while, if you watch, you will see a GPS that offers a great deal of utility, even it it is older, and B&W.

    I expect that since more and more people are using aviation GPS, and since they get obsolete fairly quickly, I think we can count on better and better units available used.

    GeoB
     

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