Archive for May, 2009

Craggy Aero “Ultimate” Flight Computer

The Craggy Aero “Ultimate” flight computer is better than good.  The glare-free screen is amazing in sunshine and it runs all the major soaring programs easily.

Ultimate Flight Computer in Full Sun

(Click for large size - new window)

You’ve probably seen the photo on the Craggy Aero web site with the shadow line of the glareshield crossing the computer and you can’t see the shadow at all on the screen?  You would think that that the digital photo contrast was adjusted or you have to hold the camera just right to get that effect.  No, it’s real.  You absolutely cannot see the sunlight on the screen.  It’s like a hole in the universe and you’re looking at a really high resolution VGA screen as clearly as sitting at your desk in your office.  It is uncanny.  Look at the glare on the mechanical instruments in my photo and then look at the Ultimate - there simply is no glare at all.  It has a brightness control but you never need to turn it up to maximum.

The computer runs either WinPilot or SeeYou Mobile, so you’re not locked in to proprietary software.  You could probably run XC-Soar or even install Linux on it.  It has a CNC aluminium case, so there’s no PCB hanging out the back like the ClearNav (now known as the ClutterNav.) It has USB ports for downloading the files onto USB sticks and every other possible connector you might need.  The processor is 4 times faster than the ClutterNav, the screen has 4 times the resolution and it has so many gigabytes of memory that you’ll never run out, even with maps for the whole world loaded.

Ultimate flight computer, with mini trackball mouse

The only thing that counts against the Ultimate is that all of the software is designed for use on a touch screen PDA but this screen has no touch-sensitive overlay, to keep down the glare.  You must plug a mouse into it to use it.  Richard has found these really great little trackballs that you hold with your index finger and your thumb operates the ball.  It just uses a standard USB port so you can plug in any corded or cordless USB mouse that you prefer.  The trackball is visible lying on the seat in my second photo.

Like all of these computers and PDAs, it works best with an input from a proper GPS vario such as a Cambridge 302.  You would also want to have one of those as a secure logger, since the Ultimate would not be approved by the IGC.  It will work with any logger or Flarm, even displaying the Flarm traffic on the map (dependent on the software chosen.)

Disclaimer: Richard did feed me dinner and let me sleep on his couch for a night but he didn’t ask me to write this review.  I just had to share my great photos of this amazing device.

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