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Iphone 6+ versus aware box

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Iphone 6+ versus aware box

Old 3rd Jan 2015, 20:17
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Central London
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Iphone 6+ versus aware box

Hi all,

Im weighing up options for budget in-flight gps capability for low level vfr flights around south east England. I navigate the old-fashioned way and will use GPS only as backup, hence don't need any whizzy plog generation or flight planning features.

I have used a NATS aware box belonging to a friend on a few occasions and been very impressed. The version I have used is the top of the range version which I understand cost around 500. This seems quite an outlay given there is now an app available which replicates the aware box on a smartphone.

My question is whether this app running with the standard iphone GPS receiver would be functional and reliable enough in flight to not need to buy the external device at all?

I have an iphone 6+ with a large and very clear screen which is slightly smaller but higher res than the airbox screen. Have people found the iphone 6/6+ screen good enough in the cockpit?

More importantly, how reliable is the iphone 6/6+ in-built GPS receiver? External GPS receivers for the iphone are available but for the price of a decent one I suspect it would be more economical to buy a used aware box from eBay.

Keen to hear thoughts from those who have used similar kit.

Cheers.

T.
taxistaxing is offline  
Old 3rd Jan 2015, 20:52
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Join Date: Feb 2002
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You might also consider UK AirspaceAVOID from PocketFMS.

Totally free, runs on your iPhone (and iPad and Android) and the database is constantly updated.

You don't need to buy any maps etc. It's totally free.

It was awarded the NATS compliance mark too.

UK AirspaceAVOID by PocketFMS

You can get it from the Appstore.
dublinpilot is offline  
Old 3rd Jan 2015, 21:16
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The iPhone 6+ will do fine stand alone and an external GPS is not mandatory, but advisable - see below.
The iPhone 6/6+ have a real nice screen, much better then most boxes.
Internal GPS ist fine and reliable.

BUT, there is one special drawback and that is mobile network. If you have an a/c sensible to electronic distortion, you want mobile networking off. Designwise cutting off mobile net on the iPhone also cuts off GPS, as they sit on the same chip. In this case external GPS is your only way. Given the options I would rather go for a cellular iPad, which does not have this restriction. It is the far more flexible device.

As a backup the iPhone is fine. I usually use an iPad mini as prime GPS and keep an iPhone 5s as backup - both internal GPS and doing fine. The iPad has current SkyDemon on it and the iPhone SkyDemon and AirNavigation Pro as backup, just in case SD has a principal problem. I am flying iOS since iPad2 came out and would no longer consider any aviation boxes an option. IFR certified GPS if needed and tablet/smartphone are the modern options.
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Old 5th Jan 2015, 15:58
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Thanks for the responses guys.

Chickenhouse thanks for the clarification re. the iPhone. I have noticed the mobile signal cuts out frequently at 2000 feet so the gps feature will be quite unreliable.

On balance I suspect an external device will be the way to go. My flight case is getting heavier and heavier!

T.
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Old 5th Jan 2015, 16:31
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You've slightly misunderstood re mobile signal and GPS. You don't need a mobile signal to use GPS so signal dropouts won't matter. It's just that if you turn off the mobile phone part of the device by going into Flight Mode, it turns off the GPS as well. If you are happy to leave the phone on and it doesn't interfere with your ac, you will be able to use the GPS without problems.
tmmorris is offline  
Old 5th Jan 2015, 23:42
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Tmmoris,

Quite right, thank you for the clarification. I was a little lazy in my reading of the previous post.

Nonetheless I have noticed that the iphone gps is temperamental even at ground level e.g. when using a speedometer app. This gives me a few concerns around using it in flight even as a backup. By definition a backup must be infallible!

Given that airbox devices are available very cheaply second hand I suspect this is the way to go for me.

Thanks again.

T.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 11:34
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Since iOS 8 the performance of GPS navigation on the iPhone is highly dependent on the programmers skill. There appears to be a change in time slicing in the system, which may cause some apps encounter GPS dropouts. Most VFR navigation apps seem to programmed more thoroughly then street navigation apps, so I would not worry about. These dropout you will see also with external GPS, maybe masked a bit by the external GPS buffering, but the trouble is multitasking in the device, not the GPS.

When you encounter GPS dropouts you will face two situations: the moment the GPS picks up the next satellite transmission it is not far from the last one - in that case you only have a small dropout, but if the next signal is not within dead reckon distance, the iPhone needs to get a new first fix - which will last longer without mobile net (remember it is A-GPS and the assisted part uses mobile net as well as wlan sources).

Last, guess why used airboxes are so cheap ;-) - their value is not much given the iDevices world.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 12:29
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Last, guess why used airboxes are so cheap ;-) - their value is not much given the iDevices world
Well that is certainly true

I think the problem is we are all now so used to the fantastic touchscreen devices which companies like apple pour millions into developing. The offerings from aviation gps manufactures inevitably seem clunky and slow in comparison. I suspect in a few years external devices will disappear entirely and we will use smart phone apps to navigate both in the air and when driving.

In terms of aware versus other products on the market it offers everything I imagine most vfr ppl pilots would want- a simple to follow menu system for easy use in flight, clear and unambiguous warning of airspace using the CAA charts we are all familiar with. I struggle to justify the cost of e.g. Garmin 795 - at least for my purposes - when the aware box would do the same job for a fraction of the price.

Last edited by taxistaxing; 6th Jan 2015 at 12:56.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 16:33
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TT.

Don't let feisty folk put you off if you want an AWARE.

I have used the AWARE products since the early days and with the free for life airspace updates to its standard CAA chart display, it's dead easy to use.

May be slower to make screen display changes, but having it dedicated to the plane has saved my idiot bacon at least thrice when the wx didn't improve en-route. Around the many London mainline aerodromes, airspace depiction and plane position is spot on.

Hooke off the a/c power it never runs down (!), but brightness and on it's internal battery are perfectly O.K. In bright Sunlight I simply shield it with the chart to see detail.

If you get one 2nd hand ensure you also have the update facility. Anyway 'AirBox' offer real support, they are friendly, helpful, accommodating, AND in England.

My additional French Chart works well alongside the UK ones too. My current AWARE FastPlan was something over 200 new when I bought it. Planning is allowed and on one's big screen home p.c. too.

Good hunting.

mike hallam (Sussex).

Last edited by mikehallam; 6th Jan 2015 at 16:55.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 18:03
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Mike,

Thanks for the useful comments. A friend in my flying group has an Aware box and it certainly seems excellent. I'm pleasantly surprised by the used prices on eBay some are well under 100.

Noted re. updates. Do you happen to know if you can purchase updates as a second hand owner?

TT.
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Old 7th Jan 2015, 19:54
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Best talk to them, or mail.

[email protected]

01235 227 250.

mike.
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