Nats Aware - GPS Airspace Warning unit.

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MikeGodsell
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Nats Aware - GPS Airspace Warning unit.

Post by MikeGodsell » Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:58 pm

In the latest Jan mag (for which many thanx, another splendid issue) John Brady reports on the Nats Aware GPS airspace warning unit.
This seems almost too good to be true, providing an astonishing range of features at a very low price. It is only my natural cynicism that stops me rushing to buy one straight away. Has anyone tried this device yet?

Nick Allen
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Post by Nick Allen » Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:39 am

There's discussion of it on the Flyer forum: http://forums.flyer.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=60458. Seems to be getting a pretty favourable response, though as the units have only just shipped not much flying time has been achieved...obviously not helped by the weather!
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mikehallam
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Post by mikehallam » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:42 am

Thanks for the tip to the Flyer forum. I've added it to my Favourites.

I know one can re-jig cheaper car nav systems to do what people want but a real CAA chart display seems essential and the final price difference though higher saves ££££ of aggro - even were I clever enough to reprogramme a car unit.

I have tried asking questions on the LAA & BMAA & in fact the newish microlight forums without it getting anywhere. The Pprune contributers similarly are too well heeled to consider such low priced stuff, they all seem to be able & eager to pay £1000 or so for Garmins and similar gear.
For 5o kt flying the Basic 'Aware' model seems to be fine, waiting to hear how they perform from those early buyers.
In Sussex the thaw is just about working, but the strip will be deeply soft, so no flying yet !

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Post by Nick Allen » Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:42 pm

Mike, I've been running MemoryMap on a couple of eBay-bought handheld computers which I've been very pleased with. Very easy to set up: I'm no expert! You get a good basic system with CAA chart display; you can also use the 250,000 charts which I like for the speeds at which I fly, and I'm not sure is an option on the Airbox device. You can also load up OS maps if you want to go hiking. (Come to that, you can add software for road navigation too.) Costs? £50-60 for a suitable PDA and £20 for a CAA chart plus software.
However, the Airbox would seem to offer some useful extra functionality in terms of airspace alerts and map upgrades, and looks like good value in this respect.
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mikehallam
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Post by mikehallam » Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:25 pm

Thanks Nick.

The flyer site seems to be jamming on & off today, but answers there look as if they are from the makers team & indicate 1/4 mill for either top or bottom half of UK costs £65 extra and whilst controlled airspace changes are freely updatable, actual chart updates are not.
So to remain strictly legal that's £65 per annum extra, on top of the first time buyers surcharge. Makes the basic £149 into £217, rather less of a bargain nav accessory then !
My reading of remarks from those fellows converting car displays is how bright or not they are in cockpit service ?
Mind you until AWARE users report back on their new toys it's also an open question there too.
Perhaps I'll transfer my attention back to e-bay car type GPS devices and whatever one has to do to fix the prog to accept Memory Map. [Incidentally I'd be a lot more confident if I could only load a CAA map or even a free sample onto my mini p.c. with WinXP, to have a look ). I think it demands Win CE which AFIK isn't an option within XP.

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Post by Simon Clifton » Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:23 pm

Mike wanted to run a CAA map on his mini XP PC....

Mike

This is easy to do, just install the normal Memory Map (not the mobile version) to your mini PC - just the same as to a desktop. This is assuming you have Memory Map of course.

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Post by Nick Allen » Thu Jan 14, 2010 6:04 pm

Mike, I've sent you an email...

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Post by malcolm frost » Thu Jan 14, 2010 6:18 pm

This appears to be a fantastic and long overdue initiative by NATS, however what will probably happen is that it will become "self financing" as if anyone has an infringement, they will be able to say that there is a cheap piece of kit available, there is therefore no excuse and a massive fine should be levied.
This could be spun to GA advantage though as it could be argued that everyone flying GA in UK airspace will have precise positioning and therefore airfields like Norwich have no reason to grab so much airspace.

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Tony Harrison-Smith
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Post by Tony Harrison-Smith » Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:16 pm

Mike, why would you want to replace the digital maps every year? The size of the screen would seem to mean that you would need the paper maps as well (ignoring the legal requirement to have one) so the only thing likely to significantly change year on year is the airspace. On the Aware, this is updated monthly so the background map should do for several years. Or am I missing something?

Like you I fly a slow aircraft, but I am going to try the 1/5 mill maps first and change to the 1/4 mill if I am not happy with the ones supplied.

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Post by Dave Hall » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:20 am

Two of our Strut members have bought these, one the Aware Plus, so we should get a report back on both in use - when the snow has gone!

I took a look at www.airspaceaware.com and was surprised to find it almost unreadable without magnification with repeated key-presses of "CTRL+" . White on yellow is hardly high contrast - luckily the maps on the device itself look a lot clearer.

There was some discussion as to whether a paper map was still required. I certainly wouldn't want to rely on electronics with no back-up. If we have to buy a chart each year or so, we should be able to get the digital version as well for only such premium as covers the cost of a CD or a download. Now there's a challenge, NATS!
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Brian Hope
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Post by Brian Hope » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:33 pm

I am delighted that NATS has taken this initiative, and I really do hope those pilots who do not use GPS (mostly club hirers I suspect) will buy one and use it every time they fly, as a back up to their chart, compass and stopwatch.
However, I believe we really do have a problem (and I would hazard a guess that's it's a growing problem), with people relying on GPS alone to navigate by. That anybody should even question whether a paper chart is still required (Dave Hall's post) is indicative of the lack of understanding (and imagination!) some pilots have.
I was on a trip a couple of years ago with about ten aircraft going same way same day. when one of the group tapped in a wrong ICAO designator for an airfield in Germany which was 30 miles short of our intended destination but generally in the same direction. He made all the calls for joining, circuit etc for the intended landing field and got responses from his intended destination, but he landed at the wrong airfield, which had a different frequency and runway direction, still believing he was where he wanted to be. He never sussed that as the slowest aircraft in the group he had somehow overtaken everybody to get there first, or that he hadn't had to make the required change of heading 40 miles out, or that the track he was making was different to the map (assuming he had marked up is map and bothered to look at it), or that the airfield layout and runway were different (he couldn't have looked at the plate either). Fortunately the route did not take him through any controlled airspace, and the airfield didn't make a fuss when he arrived non radio. This guy had 800 hours plus too, hardly a novice.
On another occasion I heard a pilot call that he was returning to the airfield because his GPS had packed up. Blind faith in the GPS is a bad trap to fall into, but my guess is that too many people do just that. When you first get your PPL, or should I say, when you first start going on serious cross countries, your navigational skills require a lot of practice and honing. In the old days we had no choice but to practice and hone, either that or you didn't go anywhere. Now I suspect, many people never really hone their skills, they just scoot off into the unknown trusting in god and Mr Garmin. Most of the time they will get away with it, but when the GPS or the power goes down, or when they program it incorrectly, the proverbial hits the fan.
Now, I'm certainly not perfect and openly admit to making my fair share of B***S ups, the only pilots who haven't have either never been outside the local area, or have a habit of being economical with the truth. Nor am I anti GPS; I have a 196 which I use on practically every cross country flight I make - AS A BACK UP. I still draw a line and time marks and keep an eye on the stopwatch, and I follow the route with my finger. GPS makes it easier of course, especially when the weather is a bit sporting, but most of the time I know exactly where I am and if the GPS goes tits up it will only be a minor inconvenience rather than a potential catastrophe.
I'm not clever enough to know how we resolve this problem, but I do urge everybody to practice their navigational skills now and again with the GPS turned off, or if that makes you uncomfortable, with it covered over. I also recommend taking part in the light hearted navigational competitions that LAA will be organising later this year. You really don’t want to end up being one of those squiggly lines across Stansted or Heathrow now do you!

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Post by Nigel Ramsay » Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:43 pm

I guess it's 2010! Those of us who learned before GPS was available had to develop good Dead Reckoning skills. I guess you can't blame newly trained pilots for buying a GPS asap! Even more difficult to persuade them that they still need the traditional skills. I also hold an offshore skippers ticket and used to deliver yachts all over the place before GPS was available. I believe the yachties are even more guilty of blind faith in their electronics these days.

I have a 96 I bought for £90 on Ebay last Summer and I use the HSI page all the time, as a compass really (my magnetic compass is naff and due for replacement!).

I don't see how anyone can safely navigate without a line drawn on a chart (well yes you can WHILE the GPS is functioning).

I was even minded to try and use my whizzy wheel and realised to my horror I could'nt even get started with it - another boredom buster for these cold evenings!

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mikehallam
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Post by mikehallam » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:04 pm

For Nick Allen :-

I think I've sent you a reply to you via the LAA PM but the site doesn't seem to let the draft enter the out box !

Perhaps it's more straightforwards if you could e-mail direct to me,

mikehallam at btinternet.com

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JonKil
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Post by JonKil » Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:57 pm

Really good article on re-programming the car units on http://www.microlightforum.com where the guy goes into detail how it is done... a good read.
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Dave Hall
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Post by Dave Hall » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:59 am

Re Brian Hope's response, I did question it publicly exactly because there did seem to be doubt at the Strut meeting, which certainly went against my understanding and practise. Indeed, I annually order a batch of charts for Strut members when Flightstore offers them at a favourable pre-publication price. If there's doubt in one strut, there's probably doubt in them all.

I like planning and plogging, and the satisfaction of navigating the 'old' way, but I did buy a 96C last year as a cross-check - I wish I had delayed a little longer though.

I repeat my challenge to NATS to make the digital and paper chart available as a package at a decent price reduction over the cost of the individual items. There must be an element of paying twice for the mapping data.
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