41 thoughts on “External GPS support

  1. Great app! Questions: is it necessary to delete and “re-buy” the app each time the charts are updated? also, why won’t my iPad delete the app on the first few trys?

    • Thanks!

      No need to delete and re-buy. Just reboot your device, then start app again and it should ask if you want to update your charts.
      The reason it sometimes takes a couple of attempts to delete is that the cache is so large the iOS doesn’t complete in time before its killed.
      The app should manage the cache when it gets updates, only delete&re-install if something weird is going on.

  2. Not being a Ipad owner yet and also not having ever used any Apple product, I want to make it clear that to get GPS positioned maps/positions inflight, one needs an external GPS such as the “Bas-elf”. I assume that even if one has a Ipad with full wireless, that does not work reliably in flight. There are too many locations where there is no cell coverage.

    • Correct, relying on wifi/3G triangulation in flight is definitely not reliable.
      However, the 3G model of the iPad actually does contain a GPS receiver. You do not need to enable 3G data service for it to function.
      The 3G model has the BCM4750UBG chipset for GPS functionality, and in most cases it works well, but there will be occasions when it does not work.
      The bad-elf gps should function better, since its WAAS enabled, and more frequent updates (10Hz vs 2Hz for the BCM4750)

    • Mark,

      What seems evident by these different posts and particularly yours, is the difference between Wifi utilization for positioning, 3G data coverage, and GPS positioning. There are too many out there commenting on this and leaving false impressions with would-be buyers. The GPS in the i-pad is like any other hand held device (Not WAAS enabled) which does not rely on cell service. Wi-Fi assisted location assist the positioning of initial gps fixes only and when not GPS equipped, helps triangulate postion via cell towers. The external GPS capabilities for the ipad enhance it by adding WAAS accuracy and in some cases, better antenna reception. Cell coverage is not necessary for the GPS enable ipad to function.

  3. Just got the Elf GPS and can report that it does in fact work with SkyCharts on an iPod touch 4G. Very simple. Just plug it in and it works with no settings to adjust. Also plugged it in to my iPad and it works fine there with all location enabled apps. FWIW the internal GPS in these devices appears to be disabled when in Aircraft Mode whereas this device still provides position data.

  4. Just got the gns 5870 this week and it works great with your app. I bought it instead of the bad elf because I wanted something that didnt have to plug into the iPad. Any chance the approach plates will be georeferenced?

    • Thanks for letting us know!

      Geo-referenced charts are not possible right now since the FAA doesn’t provide the geo-referencing, but as soon as they do I’ll try adding that data.

  5. You have a fantastic product. I just finished a 20 hour IFR/VFR flight from Canada to the Caribbean and back through the United States. I used fltplan.com for flight planning and skycharts as an EFB. I have iPad 3G without a 3G package and the GPS worked with no problem.  I was very impressed by the functionality. The mapping functions were excellent and I was able to see my plotted course both the IFR and VFR maps. When given routing changes, I was able to find the waypoints using the search function on the flight planning page.

    My home airport is in Canada and although the data base does not have Canadian data the low IFR/VFR maps covered the boarder region for both Canada and the Bahamas. Along the route, being able to switch between IFR and VFR charts was very handy. As well as your ability to select an airport and get all the airport information in one location was that a very nice feature.

    If you are open to suggestions, there were 2 minor points that would enhance the ease of use for the end user. The first a quicker way to switch between the sectional and low IFR map without cycling through the TAC, FLY and HIFR maps. As well it would be nice if you had an option to “lock” the rotation when using some of the airport diagrams, STARS and SIDS, so you can orientate the diagrams without the page flipping.

    Skycharts is an excellent product which is very easy to learn and use. When you factor in the price, I don’t think you’ll find a better value anywhere else. Thanks for developing Skycharts, it made my flight easy.

    • Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it!

      FYI: I tried to email you with some screenshots but your email here seems out of date, please contact me directly and I’ll send the screenshots.

      But your comment about ‘cycling through’ makes me wonder if you are using an older version of the application ?
      After a reboot/kill of the application, and you launch it the first time, what version does it claim to be ?

      The version number is in the top part of the name.
      With v4.1, you will be able to choose the charts in any order, and you’ll have more charts as well.

      If you have an older version, please use the AppStore to update it.
      If that doesn’t seem to work, see the note below how to download it again.

      For Canada: I would love to provide currents charts there too, but NavCanada have odd restrictions.
      I urge you to contact them again so its easier for 3rd party map applications like SkyCharts to get access to their
      charts, as it is I can’t legally add them.

      For rotation of some charts but not all others, the easiest is probably to setup the side switch on the iPad to
      quickly allow for rotation or not:

      Also, there is NEW version of the application available, so either try the updated old version

      Or the new version:

      Thanks again!
      / Heikki

  6. Great program, when will you have it ready for the Sprint htc EVO program? My co-pilot has this in this I Phone, (apple)but he is not always with me.
    Please help us who do not have the apple program.

    • Android is not supported (yet). I’m looking into porting to Android, but since there is a lot of Apple specifics and of course different languages its far from straight forward.

  7. Does anyone have a problem with reception with the plug in “BADELF” reciever when it’s mounted down in the cockpit such as to a yoke mount??

  8. anyone know if the Dual Electronics XGPS150 Universal Bluetooth GPS Receiver will work with this app? i like the small size and the fact its bluetooth so I can set it up on the dash or window mount it. thanks

    • I haven’t heard anything so my guess is that yes, it works.
      The new devices all claim to be ‘core location’ compatible, and that means that ALL gps type apps will take advantage of the better gps.
      If you get it and you have issues, please let me know.

  9. Heikki,

    I will be getting an Ipad 2 soon. It is a wifi version, therefore I needed an external GPS. I was wondering, from your experience, did you experience any reception issues when you place the ipad inside the cockpit. I am planning to get a kneeboard for ipad to use inflight.


    • I assume you intend to use the BadElf gps ?
      I would go for one of the bluetooth GPS devices, like the GNS5870 or the new XGPS150 since you can place those on the dash and thus get a good gps signal.

  10. I am really debating between the XGPS150 and the GNS 5870, both seem great with Bluetooth. I like the XGPS150’s support for other devices and their iPhone/iPad app so think I will bite the bullet and get the 150. I believe the 150 also tracks a greater number of satellites although probably not important. Any comment is appreciated but will do this soon since I acquired a new iPad 1 for $399 (32GB WiFi) and want to start using it.

  11. XGPS150 Stationary review: Received my XGPS150 today figured I’d post an initial first review since people were looking into buying it. Pairing it to the IPAD 2 took approx 2 min to setup. I installed the app for the XGPS150 that it will prompt you to do after pairing (if you want). I setup the receiver outside on my patio to do the stationary testing. I used the XGPS app and cross referenced its GPS coordinates with Google Earth so there might be some slight miscompares. Anyway after approx 2 minutes the GPS got a signal and initially told me my position was a few blocks away from where I was, after another 2-3 minutes it tightened up to my location exactly. It locked on to 9 satellites using an average SNR of 35.8 at the time of the test. The GPS location did bounce a little bit sooooo minimal. It displayed 35 06.1724 +/- .0030 and 106 33.8820 +/-.0030. Comparing the location the GPS app said and Google Earth it had a difference of 100 feet or so between the two but thats probably just a difference between the app and Google Earth. Altitude seems to be pretty spot on. I will do a moving test on it within the next few days to let you guys know how it is on the go. Post any questions you have and I’ll try to answer them / test them.

    • I test it quick driving around the city. The location is accurate. The altitude is pretty accurate as well. If the GPS signal isn’t strong the altitude will bounce around +/- 30 feet. The one thing I didn’t like that I think has nothing to do with the GPS but more of the SkyCharts program itself. With regards to the ground speed the SkyCharts program lags. If you accelerate to say 40. It will start with 0 and count 1,2,3,4,5,6,all the way up to 40. If you decelerate from 40 it does, 40,39,38,37…etc so you might be at a complete stop and the program still says your doing 20+ until i counts all the way down to 0. I know most car GPS will actually jump and not count by 1’s during acceleration/deceleration. So if you go from 0 to 40 it’ll start at 0 might jump to 10 then to 15 then to 25 etc. Which at slower or constant speeds its not a problem but if your doing 100 and slow to 0 it could take approx 1 1/2 minutes to show 0.

      • Yes, the reason why the app is trying to average the GS is since its using that for ETE calculation, and with the built in gps that number could be very jumpy.

        However, assuming you get a fix every second it only takes 30 seconds at most for the average GS to go back to your present speed. Also, planes normally fly at a constant speed..
        Thanks for the information.

  12. Question about the BadElf GPS receiver.

    Why would one want to use a GPS receiver like the BadElf that you have to plug in to the iPad, rather than a GPS receiver that uses bluetooth that you can: 1) place in a prime location, and 2) not need to worry about breaking off the iPad?

    • The BadELF was the first Apple approved external GPS.
      I concur, I would also pick up a bluetooth receiver instead of using the BadELF, but if you happen to have one it will work.

  13. Hi, I live in brazil, and we have no app like yours, with our plates and charts.
    Are you thinking about to make a Brazilian version?
    We he thousands pilots with iPad here!
    Think About it !


    • Yes, its very likely that will happen at some point. The problem is finding time for it.
      Thanks for your feedback, the more pilots that show interest the more likely it is that it happens.

    • Neither the airport diagram or the approach plates are geo-referenced.
      Currently the only provider for geo-referenced data is a 3rd party and that’s why its an extra cost if apps have geo-referenced approach plates.

      However, once FAA will release geo-referenced plates I’ll try to support it as soon as possible.

  14. Does the small gps receiver, about 2 inches square and costs $100, work with the charts? I am specifically interested if it works with the CH22 in Mexico. FYI it is advertised in Sportys catalog on page 3 in the latest copy.

    • I don’t have the catalog, but it sounds like its the XGPS-150 which works great with SkyCharts.

      But just to be clear, if you have the iPad 3G you do NOT need an external gps, the built in gps usually works well enough.

  15. It would be very useful if one could save a flight plan. I use the program for flights to Mexico and none of the identifiers there work so I have to enter the locations with lat/lon numbers.

  16. Thanks, that works just fine with the notes program that was in the ipad. I also notice in my latest download that you have now included terrain for the rest of Canada east of BC…thanks! That is useful.

    • Great. Maps: just be careful, when you cache a region it ONLY caches the maps I produce. It does NOT cache any other maps. So the new terrain will most likely not work once airborne.

  17. Hi there, after loading ios 6.1.3, my gps signal drops off. Im using the gns 5870 external gps. Before I updated to 6.1.3, everything was fine, now I am constantly having to reboot to get the location enabled on skycharts. Do you have any suggestions?

    Note: emailed reply 6/23/13

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