Q What do I need to get Navgps going?

A We get the above question quite a bit, so here it is. To use Navgps in an airplane, you'll need:

  • a PocketPC pda (a small handheld computer)
  • a gps receiver
  • a pda yoke-mount

Each one is just as important as the other two. We hope the following information will help you select the optimal "system".

PocketPC PDA

These are small hand-held computers that are extremely versatile. Just as you can use Navgps on them - you can load just about any kind of software on them. You can also play music and video on them. The biggest advantage being that you can always easily install the latest upgrade of software. Click here to learn more about PocketPC.

There are quite a few different manufacturers out there that make PocketPC pdas. The most critical criterion for aviation use is whether the screen is visible in direct sun-light.

The Compaq iPAQ series of pdas are very nice and also very popular. Because of that,it also has a lot of accessories. There are 3 series of models - 36xx, 37xx and 38xx priced from around $400 to $650 USD. Obviously, the later models have more features and therefore more expensive. But if you plan to use the pda exclusively with Navgps, the 36xx models are just fine.

There's also a new model from Dell - Axim. Though not tested by us at this time, we feel that this is a superior model - just/almost as good as a late model HP iPAQ but costing half as much ($299 USD w/ rebate).

We do not sell these pda units at this time - but you can get them from several sources (no-affiliation with any of them):

GPS Receiver

This is a small hardware unit that actually calculates your physical position by receiving data from the satellites up in the sky and connects to the pda (relaying the information to Navgps).

There are quite a few different kind of units out there:

  • Handheld - these are standalone portable units. They have built-in display and are battery powered. The units from Garmin are particularly nice. Unless you already have one, we would not recommend buying one for exclusive use with Navgps. Mainly, because they require separate batteries and usually cost more - especially if you get the aviation models.
  • External Dedicated Receiver - these units are very small and are meant to be used with pdas and laptops. They connect to the pda via a cable and are usually powered by the cigarrette-lighter adaptor - which also powers the pda (very nice!). Downside is that it does require the dc power source in the cockpit.
  • Compact-flash - these are a type of expansion card that snaps directly onto the pda - your pda requires a compact-flash (CF) slot. We like these units because of they minimize cable clutter inside the cockpit. They also free up the serial-port to hook up other devices - for example telephones. Great performers especially with an external antenna!

We've tested several of the serial-port units. Some brands will lose the satellite lock when you bank and pitch suddenly. We think that these units were tested for ground-navigation and the manufacturers never expected sudden changes of attitude.

On our hardware products page you'll find some gps receivers that we've air-tested with Navgps and feel are excellent performers.

PDA Yoke-Mount

The last critical piece of hardware. Again, there are several kinds but we really suggest that you get one specifically designed for aviation use - i.e. a yoke mount. It's much better have the pda screen right in front of you on the yoke as opposed to some other location.

iPAQ users who have gps connected through the serial-port have found out the connection mechanism is not very secure. The cable will fall off at the worst time. We've partnered with Autel (manufacturers of excellent yoke mounts) to come up with a solution.

That's it...get one of each of the above (and Navgps software of course) and you should be set. You'll have an excellent navigation system that rivals those costing hundreds, if not thousands, more.