Archive | July, 2011

NATS AWARE GPS Lanyard Problem


A fantastic and simple aid to safety!

OK, so you have the nice little NATS AWARE GPS unit for your microlight. Because you are doing things by the book, you are going to submit TIL109a to the BMAA to show that you have been duly diligent in the fitting of the unit to your aircraft.

However, if like most pilots, you fit your AWARE unit in a removable manner, Section 2 on page 4 of the TIL (specifically section 2.1) asks “Lanyard fitted – Ensure GPS is not a hazard if supported only by the lanyard.”

OK, I’m not knocking the AWARE or Airbox in any way. I love my Aware, and heartily recommend one to anyone who wants a simple GPS device to help keep themselves away from controlled airspace – but…

It’s ironic that the AWARE, developed by Airbox in association with NATS, and supported by the BMAA with it’s own fast track TIL minor mod submission, doesn’t actually have a Lanyard loop anywhere on it’s shiney orange and black casing.

To make an omelette

To make a lanyard hole I needed to know where to drill (oh my! there goes the warranty!) two holes. So, it was time to take the back off. Doing so would also reveal the location and type of LiPo battery powering the unit – thus making it easier to replace in future.

Note: I really shouldn’t have to say this, but taking your AWARE apart is at least going to invalidate the warranty, and if you’re ham fisted, quite likely to end in tears…

The case is a bit fiddly to open up – 4 tiny grub screws (circled in BLUE) hold the back of the case to the orange screen mouting frame, so whizz those out, and then there are four snap tabs on the inside of the case loacted as shown below (circled in RED):

Opening up the NATS AWARE

Opening up the NATS AWARE

You just have to sneek a small blade/tip into the gap between the black and orange plastic to locate these and apply a bit of pressure to click them free. Be carefull not to push too hard and break the tabs!

I first considered the corner where the speaker is mounted but discounted this as it would be too weak, relying on a little bit of the black casing, which is pretty thin.

The better solution would be a single hole near the stylus hole itself. If drilling into the case blind while it is still assembled, be VERY careful, as if you bodge your drill bit in too far you may rupture the LiPo battery with spectacular results… The drill bit should not go in any more than 2mm.

Potential Lanyard Hole Sites

Potential Lanyard Hole Sites

Once drilled, pass a nylon tie/zip/cable wrap into the stylus hole, and out of the new hole in the case and pull it tight. A standard/generic lanyard can then be fitted around the exposed portion of the cable tie and fixed to a point in the aircraft (or the mounting bracket – see below). Although this denies the stylus it’s storage hole, this is a very strong solution, which easily passed a 9G load test.

Another solution

Large piece of PCB circuit board glued to the back of the case with a hole in! – Hysol 9462 is probably one of the better epoxies to do this with.

Mounting bracket

We used the RAM-HOL-PD3 universal PDA mount in our Skyranger, which has plenty of opportunity for an extra hole for a lanyard fitting. It’s a great mount, with a spring loaded side claw, so popping the GPS in and out is easy.