Thursday, March 18, 2010

More G430 Notes

Studying new material triggered some student instinct deep within me and I made Kraft Dinner for lunch. I had forgotten how orange it is. Canadians eat more KD per capita than any other nation. It's the national food of poverty, like ramen noodles in the States. I think it's also how we dispose of the radioactive waste from CANDU reactors. But enough about what fuels my studying. Here are some leftovers from the rest of the manual.

  • We can put up to nine 30-item checklists in the unit, but I don't think I will be using it for checklists. Sometimes the checklist item involves checking something on the nav setup and I don't want to be swapping windows when I don't have to.
  • The INTEG flag means the unit is communicating with insufficient satellites to obtain a position. Even worse, "Searching the Sky" could take ten minutes. It means that the unit doesn't know where it is, probably from repositioning with the unit turned off or not flying for over a month. Both are possibilities for our operation, so note to self: turn on GPS at start up, even if it isn't needed, and when rejoining the airplane after it has taken a long break, turn on the GPS before the walkaround and make sure it has a position so clients aren't waiting for me.
  • The unit can be linked to traffic alerting hardware and XM [?] weather inputs for even more screens of data.
  • Standard abbreviations: WPT: destination waypoint, DIS: distance to waypoint, DTK: desired track.
  • The "nearest" function provides information on facilities within 200 nm. I guess it sucks to be in Animal Waterbody where the nearest published facility is 201 nm away. I think that feature should have some flexibility and show from one to five screens of "nearests." It's not like you're going to use the nearest key and page down through twenty screens when you want to find an airport two hundred miles from KJFK.
  • Airspace said to be "ahead" is within 10 nm.
  • Through a feature called crossfill, you can transfer direct-to data from another Garmin unit. I guess you can be flying on one while working what-if scenarios on the other. Unlikely.
  • "To use the vertical navigation features, ground speed must be greater than 35 knots." Heh. I picture some poor pilot in a tricked out Cessna Commuter struggling against a strong wind and losing VNAV capability.
  • A track given as a result of a direct-to input is by the great circle route, not a rhumb line.

Here's some communications radio-specific stuff that I hadn't guessed.

  • The comm can be operated with 8.33 kHz spacing for Europe, but is in American 25 kHz spacing by default.
  • Press the com volume button to disable/enable automatic squelch.
  • Under some circumstances if the COM system loses communication with the main system, the radio will automatically tune to 121.500 MHz for transmit and receive, regardless of the displayed frequency. That's probably a consequence of the insta-121.5 feature.
  • The unit has stuck mike protection If you transmit continuously for more than 35 seconds, the radio stops transmitting and the words "Push to talk key stuck" are displayed as a message. These guys really sat down and made a list of every annoying thing that can happen in an airplane and set out to fix them.

You can choose an absolute altitude or an altitude above a waypoint and have the unit guide your descent profile to put you on target. I doubt it's much better at it than a pilot with a grasp of basic arithmetic, and seeing as the pilot takes into account the reduction in airspeed from engine output due to stage cooling, the winds aloft and the reported winds at the airport, the pilot might do it more efficiently. Still, cool for the arithmetically challenged or the too busy to think.

Direct-to is probably the most used feature of aviation GPSes. It even has a standard symbol, a D with an arrow pointing right. (I guess that's not in Unicode, eh?) Instead of drawing up a flight plan you just press the button and tell it where you want to go, then it shows you the way. This unit unit knows pilots like that, so on any page that displays only one waypoint, you can fly direct to it by pressing the direct-to key, then enter and enter again. If the page shows more than one waypoint you have to first select it by activating the cursor and using the right scroll wheel to highlight the desired waypoint. You can cancel a direct-to and return to the flight plan you were on before with menu then cancel I like that. It's common if a pilot is tracking direct-to a waypoint and they have wandered off track a bit to just hit direct-to again and generate a new track, direct from the current location. The manual points out that if you are on the approach you are direct to the MAP, but if you recentre the CDI with this trick, you will cancel the approach. Obvious, really, because the approach is direct to the MAP along a specified track, so as soon as you specify another you aren't on the approach. But worth saying, I suppose.

And we're back after a Firefox restart. Apparently having tabs open for Blogger, three Garmin manuals, the CARs, a Google search for html footnotes, Kraft Dinner, Gmail, a video on the iPhone app for the GNS430, and CANDU is too much for Firefox to deal with you try to switch between tabs at the same time as Eudora polls for mail.

Also it irritates me that when I use the Blogger buttons to insert formatting, the window jumps back to the top so I have to scroll down to continue blogging.


Blake said...

Awww Eudora! I miss that mail client. Reminds me of the dialup days. I remember later versions would rate how "hot" your email using chillies. The new email tune reminds me of Ren and Stimpy.
(skip to 0:30 into the clip!)

amulbunny said...

Re: Kraft Dinner. My son loved it. He had to have it with green peas though. Frozen not canned. And even better with a cut up hot dog.

Can't comment on your GPS as I have the technical understanding of a newt. That's why have a Mac and not a PC. Plug and play.

j said...

Not sure if this applies to your situation - depends if the text insertion point stays in the correct place post-formatting - you can keep typing and the window will auto-scroll.

Jeremy said...

The GPS receiver shouldn't really take 10 minutes to "find" the satellites every time - that's just a a CYA worst-case situation. The unit will save the almanac and ephemeris data, which should allow it to find the satellites quickly. However this data can get out of date if you've left the unit turned off for an exceedingly long time, and/or moved it a long ways with it turned off.

Here and here is some more detailed information on the various start modes for a typical handheld GPS, dating to 1999. I'd think your modern aviation GPS would be at least as capable. Based on that information, I think your GPS would have to be turned off for at least a month for the entire 12.5 minute almanac download to be required; otherwise the typical startup time should be 30 seconds or less.

(There are even ways to make it faster - my iPhone, for example, uses 3G triangulation as a way of "jumpstarting" the GPS by providing an estimated position. The alamanac data can also be downloaded off Internet sources if the phone has data service.)

Sarah said...

It sounds like Aviatrix has read all the way through all the manuals and is now researching the web for supplements. Yep, student mode has been triggered all right.

I have a rarely used Garmin 396, and it can be off a week or two without losing it's place too badly. However, as I recently discovered, if it loses track of what time it is ( the internal battery loses it's charge and the clock stops ) it will take hours. It turns out this internal battery only charges when the 396/496 is turned on and plugged in to a power source.

Aviatrix said...

Blake: That's the one. It's amusingly touchy. I can mention male or female-specific body parts and it's ok with the content, but if I mention both in the same e-mail, that's too racy for it.

amulbunny: I knew it was time to throw a treat to the newts. I'll start making fun of Lost soon.

Jeremy: Searching the Sky is one of several satellite acquisition messages, specifically the one displayed, as I said "from repositioning with the unit turned off or not flying for over a month." Such things might not be a concern for you, but I might fly VFR a thousand miles in a day without having all the avionics on, or I might park an airplane for a month and then be expected to fly a charter.

Sarah That's not a problem for people who fly for hours with it plugged into the cigarette lighter, but I guess people who go for short flights on battery could run into a problem.

Sarah said...

True, Aviatrix. But given the long 4-6 hr battery life, I'd gotten into the habit of charging it off line.

There is lots of competition for the lighter - er, "accessory" outlet, and being wireless is always nice.

Jonathan Ladd said...

Typo Alert:
SB: USA 25 kHz spacing

Aviatrix said...

Good catch. Fixed.

Dr.ATP said...

"The manual points out that if you are on the approach you are direct to the MAP, but if you recentre the CDI with this trick, you will cancel the approach. Obvious, really, because the approach is direct to the MAP along a specified track, so as soon as you specify another you aren't on the approach. But worth saying, I suppose."

When I was a check airman, I had to fail a few pilots for making this kind of error. It's very dangerous.

[Why do your posts always remind me of my mis-adventures as a check airman?]

Aviatrix said...

I didn't really think of it as something someone would do on approach, but it is something we do in cruise. I'm going to make sure that if I do it in cruise I do make sure I think about it, so as not to get caught in that trap on approach.

Cirrocumulus said...

Even Firefox cannot swallow another nine courses on top of Kraft Dinner.

Verification word: imall.

The Flying Engineer said...

Hello Aviatrix!

As said by Jeremy, it has an almanac, which Garmin claims to be able to settle quickly on power on within 4 hrs of the last power off.

I however doubt the necessity to download the Almanac. The Garmin eTrex H which I use has no download feature at all, but does have an almanac.

Interesting read! The Airbus A320 has the PTT protection you've mentioed, except that it has an alarm and stops VHF tx after 30 seconds of continuous TX...and is reset by releasing the PTT....