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Dumping mine for an XGPS150
on August 22, 2011
I'm a Flight Test Engineer by trade. IF the GNS 5870 were a piece of equipment in an airliner cockpit, it would be considered non-certifiable per FAR 25.1301(d). Granted, it's NOT a piece of equipment in an airplane cockpit, but that's where a lot of people who buy this device (myself included) will try to use it. So buyer beware. When I purchased the device, the Bad Elf was all the rage and this really sounded like a better product. I read the reviews For and Against, including several anecdotal descriptions about a quirky power switch. Admittedly, I chuckled at the thought of some who idiot couldn't get shut his device off. The day I got the device, I had ZERO problems switching the device on and off. "Swipe On, Swipe Off" I couldn't believe people were having problems simply swiping their finger across the device. It seemed ridiculously easy. Call it beginner's luck because the next day after my first flight with the device I had a couple of "mis-swipes." OK, Nothing to be concerned about. I'm sure even the swiftest of finger swipers occasionally need to recalibrate their digits. ---- To digress for a second, in terms of Bluetooth/GPS performance, the until synched instantly with my iPad and to use it with Foreflight HD is a thing of beauty. It captured a signal quickly, tracked very well and I was wowed. ----My next flight with the device required a fuel stop. Parked at the pumps, I tried to turn it off and it wouldn't. 10 - 20 - 30 swipes of varying pressures and nada. I took a deep breath, shook out my hand and tried again with a very very light touch - and again - and again and again and still couldn't get it to shut off. Frustrated, I left the device on while I refueled and dined on my $100 hamburger. Returning to the plane, I swiped once more - just for the hell of it- and it magically went off. Of course, now I was getting ready to fly again and needed to turn it back on. It took me 30 finger swipes to coax it back on. The I flew home and had to turn it off again. Let's not go there. This frustrating sequence of events now describes every flight on which I attempt to use the GNS 5870. I've now got over 50 flight hours of use on the thing (and calluses on my fingertips).
This of course assumes that the unit is fully charged. As difficult as the unit is to turn off, I find that when stowed / transported inside a protective case itself in my flight bag, all it takes is a mosquito fart's worth of pressure to bump the switch, turn the device on and drain the battery just in time for my next flight in IMC.
I must admit, the next point of contention could be true of any bluetooth device. Using the supplied suction cup holder, I fixed the GNS 5870 to the upper windshield of a C-172 and while flying found that the device spat out some rather interesting EMI that caused my glareshield-mounted magnetic compass to oscillate 30 degrees in each direction. Relocating the GNS 5870 to a side window eliminates this problem.
Lastly, I've also been unable to acquire a GPS signal whatsoever while flying in the cockpit of transport category airplanes. This blocking of the GPS signal is generally attributed to these airplane's heated windshield wiring/circuitry. Interestingly enough, the makers of the XGPS150 bluetooth GPS receiver have issued a firmware update to correct this issue in their device. This coupled with their device using a revolutionary concept known as "The Simple On/Off Button" (something the GNS 5870 designers apparently have never heard of) are two reasons why I've just ordered an XGPS150 to replace my GNS 5870.