Everyone loves electronic maps. But while plenty of developers are releasing fancy map updates, there’s still the worry that our iPads or tablets will lose connectivity or be inaccurate – and positioning your device so that it can see the satellites sometimes means you can’t see it. Garmin reckons it has the answer with the GLO Bluetooth GPS antenna.
This unobtrusive little box – it’s not much bigger than a matchbox – can be positioned anywhere in your aircraft where it will receive the best GPS signal, such as on top of your glareshield or even above the sun visor, and its non-slip rubber mount will hold it in place. It then connects via Bluetooth to your device to give reliable, accurate GPS info.
User controls are simple: an on/off switch, a blue light to indicate Bluetooth connection and a green/yellow light to indicate battery level.
With the battery installed and charged, (charging from empty takes about three hours), we switched on the device, and in two clicks, it coupled wirelessly to both our iPad and Galaxy tablet – it can connect simultaneously to up to 10 devices, so even your pax can have their selfies accurately tagged. Importantly, the GLO captures both GPS and GLONASS (the Russian navsat) satellites, adding 24 more satellite points to your pool and improving positional accuracy, stability and speed of connection.
Before trying the GLO on a flight, we ran static accuracy tests on the iPad with the in-built GPS versus the GLO. Using its built-in GPS, the iPad had a lateral ‘position drift’ of around 14 metres, but with the GLO connected, this dropped to less than two metres.
The next test was battery life, done by simply leaving the device connected to the iPad with the nav software working and checking it occasionally during a busy day. Garmin claims up to 12 hours of battery life and we recorded 13 hours before getting bored and ending the test. The GLO’s battery life will exceed the endurance (and the pilot’s bladder capability) of most private planes.
In-flight, the GLO proved its worth. At flying speeds, a faster GPS connection is essential for accurate positioning and the GLO provides position updates up to 10 times per second (10 Hz), whereas most handheld mobile devices only update once per second. Some tricky flying around and above the Cape mountains immediately gave us confidence in the speed and accuracy of updates on our nav software and not once did it lose connectivity. The included rubber mount didn’t lose its grip in very steep banked turns and kept the GLO firmly in place on the glare shield. It was also tested on the top of the sun visor and was equally at home there. Landing at Morningstar, the unit had the runway threshold and centreline pegged to within a metre – this was a significant boost to our L-NAV confidence.
The less there is to worry about during flight, the more you can enjoy yourself and the safer you are. If you do any more than simply flying in the circuit at your airfield, the GLO will be a valuable contributor to your safety – and your ‘grin factor’. It’s available from your local Garmin dealer for around R2,000.