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Sat, Jul 28, 2012

Which GPS + ADS-B Receiver Is Right For Me

Is It Even The Right Time To Buy One?

By John Ylinen

This year at Airventure saw the launch of several new GPS + ADS-B In receivers. Aero-news spent time going around the different booths and seeing what was available and how the features compared. We did no actual hands on testing in flight, so this is just a feature comparison article. If you have an Apple IPAD or Android tablet; these devices provide significant capabilities to provide more situational awareness in your cockpit.

This article will focus on the follow receivers:  Stratos,  Dual (pictured), Sagetch, and Garmin.

The first differentiation is what technology is used to connect the device to the tablet. Only Dual and Garmin use Bluetooth. All the others use Wi-Fi. This will be important to the pilot depending on what other devices they want to connect to their tablet. You can only have one Wi-Fi and on Bluetooth connection to your tablet at a time.

The next major differentiation is Traffic. Currently Stratos can receive traffic info, but has turned off that feed to the Tablet software.

Then there is the issue of Synthetic Vision and AHARs. Only Sagetech Clarity has a built in AHARS in their top of the line receiver and this will allow a PFD like capability with Hilton’s WingX Pro.

The final decision point for the pilot is which application or applications does the pilot what to use on their tablets. Initially it appears that software and hardware companies are teaming up to bring these products to market. For Example; Foreflight, Stratos, and Sporty’s have teamed up. So if you like the Stratos product, you can only use it with Foreflight. Same for the Garmin GDL39 (pictured, below) which only works with the Garmin application. Dual and Sagetech to date have not aligned with any single software vendor and are trying to get as many as they can to take their Software Development Kit (SDK) and provide their DataStream to the application.

So why do pilots want to investigate these products? With ADS-B coming in to the picture; these products provide weather, traffic and situational awareness on very low cost hardware. They allow the pilot to take this capability from plane to plane. The pilot can do flight planning and execution on their tablet device. The weather information provided is without subscription.

So if you purchase one today; you are an early adopter with all the risk that comes in buying early. The price point and capabilities are very compelling. ADS-B is still very young and there are areas of the country not covered by ground transmitters and there are gaps for weather. If you do not have an ADS-B out transponder, you may not receive the traffic information.  We recommend the pilot do research and determine their requirements and then try out the products that fit their needs. Some of these products will not be available until September (Sagetech and Dual). Pricing for these products range from $599 to $1200 depending on capabilities. Prices will probably fall as competition and even newer products enter the market.

FMI: www.sportys.com/stratos, www.sagetechcorp.com/clarity, www.xgps170.dualav.com, www.garmin.com/adsb

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