New Product: Speed Brakes for RV-10

RDD Enterprises, LLC announced the availability of the electrically actuated Speed Bra-X for the Van’s RV-10. RDD’s David McRae headed up the development program for the design, working with Precise Flight, Inc., which holds a number of Supplemental Type Certificates for speed brakes on a range of aircraft, many of which are installed as original equipment. “At cruise speeds, Speed Bra-X deployment will give you a steady speed descent rate of 1000 feet per minute or a level flight reduction of 20 KIAS,” McRae said. “The RV-10 performance envelope is already very impressive and utilitarian; we’ve just added a vertical dimension to it.”

The company says the benefits can be realized in virtually every phase of flight including initiating rapid descents without the need to reduce power, maneuvering without increasing airspeed, quickly reducing airspeed upon encountering unexpected turbulence and increasing wing loading for a smoother ride in rough air.

The Speed Bra-X kit is $3995, and the installed weight is 9 pounds. It offers power-failure protection, and a lighted on/off switch indicates deployment.

For more information, visit RDD Enterprises.

VedaloHD Sunglasses

We recently tried out a set of VedaloHD sunglasses and are quite impressed with them. They're made in Italy and have the look of sophisticated style that one expects of Italian products.

More importantly, they function as well as they look. Rather than depend on polarizing or bizarre lens colors, VedaloHD has embedded a proprietary material right into the lens. The effect is to boost the red end of the visible range, reducing the effect of haze. Chris Pederson, the marketing director, says the drawback is that they've been unable to offer a prescription version. From what we've seen (pun intended), that's not a problem for most folks in that VedaloHD offers a clip-on for regular eyewear.

They're offered with titanium wire frames that are hinged so that annoying springy-ness is avoided when they're being put away. The standard frames stood out a bit too far for one of the testers and allowed noise in past the headset cushions. The other tester, with not so narrow a face, had no problem.

While a bit pricey at $165, they're hard to beat for comfort and function. For more information, visit VedaloHD.

New Product: Klein LED Flashlights

Klein Tools has introduced a new line of flashlights designed for long life and superior lighting. Made from polymers and using LEDs for illumination, the products range from a pocket-size X3 penlight to the Xenon X44 NiMH rechargeable spotlight, whose head pivots 180°; it can lay flat or stand upright.

There is also a mini pocket flashlight (X5) and the Xenon pocket flashlight (X7), which is submersible to 500 feet and outputs 7 lumen. The Recoil Grip-It flashlight (X19) focuses 100% of its light forward to produce a collimated (parallel rays) light as bright as incandescent lighting, the company says. The Recoil Grip It 90 (X21) has a 90° right angle head that swivels and provides up to 10,000 hours of lamp life.

Accessories including nylon holders, lanyards, luminescent shrouds and helmet-mounting kits are also available.

For prices and more information, visit Klein Tools.

New Product: Anywhere Travel Companion

Anywhere Map made quite a splash in the pond of low-cost GPS devices when the company introduced its PDA-based systems in 1999. Early users were attracted to the ability to upgrade the software through their computer, and even get the latest TFRs just before a flight. The separation of the hardware from the software also meant that as the hardware got better, the user could keep it up to date as well.
The Achilles heel had always been the need to interpose ActiveSync. It didn’t always work smoothly, and with a half dozen files to work with, it could be downright frustrating. Discussions with Alan Kirby, product manager at Anywhere Map, revealed that, “Most of our Tech Support requests centered on that one issue; it was too easy to set it up wrong.”

Anywhere Map has addressed this with the release of its Anywhere Travel Companion, cleverly named ATC. It does its downloading without going through ActiveSync by shifting from trying to be all things to all people to being a GPS only. The product's genesis was as a PDA with GPS added, which meant it needed to use the PDA interface. Now that many of the PDA functions are on your cell phone, PDAs are passé. However, the small screen size of the phone works against it being employed as a GPS.

AWM’s approach was to see that divergence and offer a much larger 4.3-inch screen without the problems of ActiveSync. Early users will also appreciate that this is a touchscreen device as before, but the larger screen means larger buttons and no more using a stylus. This new dessert is topped with a street database, so you still have a multifunction device.

We’ll be doing a review in KITPLANES, but for now visit Anywhere Map for further details.

New Product: SVT for G900X Is Like G1000

EFIS in light aircraft is approaching its eight-year anniversary, and all I can say is, you’ve come a long way, baby. Just this past month I had the opportunity to fly, guided by one of the most elegant systems just now available, the Garmin G1000 SVT, plumbed into a Diamond DA40 XLS being offered by Premier Aircraft Sales, Inc. at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), in South Florida. The Diamond is anything but a kit aircraft, but it did have the new software upgrade, the very same upgrade that will be shown in a Garmin G900X in a few weeks at the EAA AirVenture show, according to Garmin sources. So from that perspective you could say that flying it in the DA40 XLS G1000 configuration offers a good idea of how the SVT software will behave in the G900X setup.

Whatever the rationalization, I can say that the trip was worth the time. The system is drop dead gorgeous to look at. Sure, the JepView Taxi program is cool, but I can see that on my portable Anywhere Map display for a lot less (albeit on a much smaller screen). And it was cool to see the runway roll into position in front of me on the 1024x860 pixel screen, with numbers and markings in place. Could I take off heads down, without even looking out, using only the high-resolution graphics? Yes, yes, it was beautiful. The grids across the flat Florida landscape helped with the 3D effect, too. That wasn’t what got me, though.

What got me was the 3D presentation of both obstacles (the church steeple ahead painted as a red, and then as I climbed out, yellow tower clear as day in front of me) and the TIS traffic. The traffic floats, as white, then yellow and even red triangles on the blue of the virtual sky. If you see a dot threatening on your screen, it is in exactly the position where you will see the traffic when you look out the window. It just doesn’t get any easier to spot threats.

Only Chelton paints the traffic in 3D that way, but with a smaller screen it is hard to see. The obstacles and terrain I’ve seen on many systems (Garmin does a great job with its presentation), and those functions in an SVT that is a $9000 to $10,000 add-on are nothing new. (The voice prompts to “pull up” are nice, I’ll admit.) But on the other hand, the traffic right where I need it on a big, beautiful display actually made the aircraft’s TIS system intuitive to me.

What else do you get for your ten grand? Flight director, a gorgeous HITS that is cued on the ILS...all good stuff. If you’ve already bought into the G900X, I’d see it as a worthy upgrade. It will certainly tame the Chelton crowd a bit (after all, they did synthetic vision first, and still do it very affordably). I believe that the up and coming Grand Rapids Technology Horizon HX is a good low-cost alternative, if you are looking for high-resolution synthetic vision and can live without the avionics integration, as are the Blue Mountain Avionics products. AirVenture may reveal a couple of other possibilities, so stay tuned.

As for me, I’ll continue flying behind my Grand Rapids Technology Horizon I screens for the time being. They may be smaller and low resolution and a couple of years behind in terms of “box” technology, but the software continues to impress me with all of the high-end features that hide behind a simple button-push or two.

Sportair Sirius SLSA Makes First Flight

TL-Ultralight has recently completed a series of test flights of the TL-3000 Sirius in the Czech Republic. The Sirius is a two-passenger, high-wing, carbon-fiber design powered by a 100-hp Rotax 912 ULS engine. It is being manufactured in the Czech Republic in versions for the U.S. and European markets, and will be distributed in North America by Sportair USA.

Piloted by Jiri Tlusty, president of the company, the first Sirius is said to have demonstrated lively acceleration and responsive slow flight characteristics. The project was begun in 2006 and was introduced last year as a proof-of-concept at shows in Friedrichshafen, Germany, and at Oshkosh AirVenture. The production prototype is slated to be complete this summer, and tooling is underway for the first European production runs later this year. The SLSA version for the U.S. market will be ready in the first half of 2009, the company says.

In keeping with U.S. SLSA standards, the Sirius is designed for a max gross weight of 1320 pounds with a useful load of 600 pounds and extended range with 30+ gallons of fuel. Standard equipment in the trigear will include a steerable nosewheel, toe-actuated disk brakes, adjustable rudder pedals and a ballistic recovery chute.

For more information, visit Sportair USA.