Well, I finally had the opportunity to do a really good, hands-on test of the GliderGuider this weekend. I used it during a 3 hours cross-country soaring flight and – in a nutshell – it was brilliant.
Since my last post on using the system we’ve had the power routed from the main batteries to the GliderGuider so no issues there now, plus we’ve linked it in to the EW microRecorder so hopefully all ready for recording Badge flights. We’ve also put a permanent mounting into the glider for the device; it’s a RAM mount (excellent quality) which is compact and easily allows either landscape or portrait positioning.
The weather was good, with only about 1 Octa of cloud so plenty of sunshine and glare – plus, I was heading north-west so the sun was behind me for most of the flight. That combination of bright sunshine direct on to the screen would have washed out most PDAs but the screen on the GliderGuider stayed visible and readable throughout. Even wearing sunglasses it was clear and there was no need to keep bobbing my head around to avoid glare on the screen (which I had to do with my old iPaq).
The software I was using was LK 8000 – already loaded on the system along with a trial version of SeeYou. On the surface the two programmes do pretty much the same thing but for some reason I’ve always struggled with SeeYou but really took to LK immediately. It’s a fantastic programme made even better by the fact that it’s free. It’s also been recently updated but, so far as I can see, the main update features are really beyond my level of flying at the moment (many seem to be to do with mountain flying and I don’t think the South Downs really qualify as ‘mountains’!).
I’ve done some tinkering around with the menu/screen display options to get the information I prefer and I’ve spent a few hours playing with it in simulator mode at home. As a result it all felt very familiar and easy to use once airborne, allowig me to concentrate more on the soaring rather than the software. The combination of familiar software and the bright screen of the GliderGuider made the whole navigation experience easy and allowed me to concentrate on flying the aircraft. By the end of the flight I was going to the next level of understanding and really making good use of things I thought somewhat complex at the start. For example, when thermalling the system automatically changes the information that is displayed and I found it really useful to be able to compare average thermal performance against height gain over the last 30 seconds – indicating to me when I needed to think about leaving the thermal and heading off for the next one. All very easy to see and understand.
(As an aside I’ve also put Sky Demon – power flying navigation software – on GliderGuider and that seems to work fine too although I’ve yet to test it as thoroughly as with LK 8000).
All in all a very good experience with the GliderGuider and LK. The only thing I have not been able to do so far is connect up my PC and Condor flight simulator with theGliderGuider so that I can practice more at home. I know it’s possible, as others have done it, so I think that is more to do with my lack of technical ability than GliderGuider!