Dare to hope, prepare to be disappointed?

(No, this isn’t an Obama post.)

I went to see a new doctor yesterday. This was the first time Vicki has managed to convince me to convince a doctor to give me a referral to a neurologist. I’ve asked before, and the doctors always said “no, it’s not neurological”, and then given up on finding an orthopeadic or other cause. This time, I got my doctor to promise that after his idea failed, he’d refer me to a neurologist. And it did, and he did.

I hate to get my hopes up, but this guy (or rather his physician’s assistant) outlined a multi-pronged approach to figuring out how much of it is orthopeadic, how much is neurological, how much is caused by sleep apnea (evidently apnea can make you more susceptible to pain – who knew?), how much is due to rheumatoid arthris, etc. I’ve got a blood test script here (Comprehensive Metabolic, CBC + Platelet, Sed Rate, Protein Electrophresis, C-Reactive Protien WR, Creatine Kinase (CK), Angiotensin-1-Conv Enzime, ANA, Anti-Cardiolipn Ab, Lyme Antibody), then I’m going to have three days of a powerful steroidal anti-inflammatory (can’t remember the name, but I’ll never be allowed to compete in the Tour de France now), and three days of a powerful neurological drug. All I have to do is figure out how to accurately compare one day’s pain to another, something I’ve never been able to do. They’re also talking about various tests of nerve function and sleeping with a pulse oximeter and maybe even a sleep study.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for me. I would give my left knee to be able to cross country ski again.

AvMap EKP-IV complaints and kudos

I’m using this post to track the problems and user interface deficiencies that I’m having with the AvMap EKP-IV.

  • The damn CF card is busted, and they they’re currently giving me a run-around instead of sending me a new one! was busted, and the replacement came with a return envelope that wasn’t postage paid.
  • There should be a single keystroke to get to the currently active flight plan, instead of having to hit “Menu”, “Menu”, “Flight Plans”.
  • You should be able to name flight plans.
  • Calling the button for the nearest airport “Page” is stupid.
  • Hitting the “nearest” button twice should take you to the nearest airport button instead of forcing you to hit “Page”, “Menu”, “Airport”. If you need the nearest airport, you generally need it FAST.
  • Why do I keep end up in the cursor mode just about every time I go to the map page, even if I haven’t touched the joystick? It should only be in a cursor mode if I move the cursor with the joystick.
  • The joystick is way too sensitive.
  • There should be a half-arc on the display with DTK and TRK on it like the Garmin 296 and 530W have. The only thing close is to use up a lot of screen real-estate for a HSI display.
  • The way the vertical navigation works is stupid – as far as I can tell, you have to put in the top altitude, the bottom altitude and the glide slope every time you use it. In the Garmins, you just say “I want to be at 1000 AGL when I get 3 nm from the airport, and I want to descend at 500 fpm”, and it calculates where to start your descent based on your current altitude and the altitude of the airport.
  • The manual wasn’t included in the box, even though the Quick Start booklet said it would be.
  • The manual, which I downloaded from the web site, sucked rocks.
  • The power switch evidently turns itself on if you just breathe on it. I’ve discovered the batteries dead numerous times, and it’s just sitting on my flight bag.

I’ll probably think of others.

To answer Gordon’s question in the comments below, what I like about the EKP-IV:

  • It has a really great screen. It’s big, it’s bright, and it’s very clear
  • Even better, it’s in “portrait” mode. My original GPS, a Garmin 195, was in portrait mode, and I never understood why they went to landscape mode for later models. I don’t know about everybody else, but I want to see where I am and where I’m going, not where I am and 30 miles to each side. And the AnywhereMap Travel Companion and the new Bendix King AV8OR are landscape mode too. I don’t get it.
  • It’s about the same price as a 296, much cheaper than a 396, 496 or even a 495. I don’t need XM WX yet, but if I do, I like the idea that it will someday be an optional extra on this unit, rather than having to make the decision at purchase time like the Garmins.
  • It was strongly recommended by a friend who had one, sold it to buy a 496 for the weather, but then wished he’d kept the EKP-IV.
  • It doesn’t have a road mode. That way I won’t be tempted to leave it on the dashboard of my car. Let the next car thief steal a Nuvi or other car type GPS and leave my aviation GPS alone!
  • I looked longingly at the AnywhereMap new iPaq Travel Companion, and while it had some amazing features, it was incredibly slow. This one looked like it had some of the features, without the horrible slowness.

Oshkosh purchases: a mixed bag

Update: Did I sound a little annoyed with AvMap when I posted this? Well, I suppose I was. But I think I’ve finally managed to convince the support person that I’ve done everything I can, so they’re finally going to send me a new CF card. So I’m a lot less annoyed. I still wish there was a way to get them to listen to my ideas about the user interface, though. It doesn’t seem right to open a support ticket for that, but there isn’t anything else I can see on their web page for other feedback.

I made three major purchases at Oshkosh.

  1. iCom A14 handheld radio
  2. Clarity Aloft headset
  3. AvMap EKP-IV GPS

It’s been a mixed bag.

The iCom worked out of the box, I was able to use it on the trip home, and now I’ve had a chance to go through the manual it looks like it will do everything I need and then some (I didn’t know about the automatic marine weather mode, for instance). It’s slightly annoying that the free headset adaptor is a mail-in thing, and I have to make copies of the sales receipt and registration card.

The Clarity Aloft didn’t work, and I didn’t discover that until I fired up the engine for the flight home. I wrote to them as soon as I got home and they were very apologetic. They shipped a replacement immediately, and it arrived today. I took it out to the airport to make sure it worked fine, and it did. They didn’t send a pre-paid return shipping slip, so I’m going to have to pay to return the broken one and get reimbursed. I’m going to keep the extra eartips from the first one as a compensation for my troubles.

The EKP IV did work, after a fashion. There are a few items of the user interface that absolutely drive me bonkers, and a few that are minor annoyances. After I got home, I thought I’d grab the latest firmware to see if some of the worst bugs have been fixed. That involves putting the CF card in a card reader on my computer and copying some files over. Seems simple enough. The manual suggests very strongly that you keep a copy of the files on your computer, so I did. But after updating the CF card and putting it back into the unit, though, the unit says “DEVICE not PRESENT”. (Yes, that’s the capitalization.) I tried restoring the backup files, but it didn’t help. I tried copying the files to a different CF card, and the unit boots with it, but can’t access the aviation database – that’s not entirely unexpected, because the aviation database is somehow keyed to the CF card. The problem is that I just can’t seem to convince the AvMap people that the CF card is toast and I need a new one. I’ve exchanged a number of emails with somebody in Italy where I set out my very strong evidence that it’s not what I’m doing, or the version of the firmware I’m using, and they send back instructions that basically assume that I’m doing something wrong or using the wrong version of the firmware. If they don’t ship me a new CF card in the next 24 hours, I’m going to go to my credit card company and get them to cancel payment on this. And then I’m going to buy a reconditioned Garmin 296 or a 496.