Update to InFlightFuel

I’ve been pretty happy with InFlightFuel. There haven’t been any issues – no crashes, memory leaks, inconsistencies – it’s been great. One feature request I’ve had a few times was to add a timer. This way you can still use the totalizer as your primary switch tool, but have a time based backup in case something goes wrong. I think that’s a good idea, so I added it.

With InFlightFuel you can now specify two timer values: an initial timer and subsequent timer. I find this useful because departure legs are done ROP (rich of peak) so your fuel burn is much higher. Additionally, for your first leg you want to use half as much fuel as the subsequent legs so that you can maintain a nice differential (ex: 8.5 gl, 17 gl, 17 gl … will result in 8.5 max difference on each leg). If you don’t like this, you can set the initial timer to 0 and it will just use the subsequent timer.

Here’s the new configuration screen:

Screenshot 2013.05.08 11.44.58


And here is what things look like with the timer running:

Screenshot 2013.05.08 11.18.59


If you have InFlightFuel in the foreground when the timer expires, then you will get a little modal popup window alerting you do this fact. If the app is closed or you are using a different app at the time, you will get a little notification tab at the top that says that your fuel timer has expired.

I hope people like this!


Grand Canyon VFR Howto

Last weekend me and my brother and step-father flew over the Grand Canyon.  As a heavy user of Foreflight on the iPad I was disappointed that they don’t have the Grand Canyon VFR Chart available.  I wasn’t near anywhere where I could purchase the paper chart, so what to do?

My brother wound up finding a copy of the Grand Canyon VFR chart over at ChartBundle.  They don’t charge for things but they do ask for donations and I think he left them a few bucks.  I stored the chart in the “documents” section of Foreflight.  This method of looking at the chart is pretty painful though because to be able to get enough resolution to be able to read the numbers on the chart you have to keep it at fairly high resolution, which makes a huge document (I think it was something like 40M) and takes forever to render as you attempt to scroll around.  It also of course doesn’t do moving map over the pdf.

What I realized was that you really only need 3 pieces of information from the chart and then you can put it away:

  1. Vfr corridor lat/long gps coordinates
  2. Altitudes for the corridors
  3. Frequencies

You can take the gps coordinates from the chart and type them directly into Foreflight (and your Perspective / G1000 / 430 / whatever you have, Perspective in my case).  Here’s the list of coordinates for the corridors:

Foreflight will take Lat/Long as time based coordinates as long as you follow the values with a “T”.  north is positive values, south is negative, East is positive, West is negative.  I made waypoints for each of the north and south ends of the corridors.  For example, for Dragon corridor I made DRAGONN and DRAGONS.  Using this method, DRAGONS would be: 360100T and -1121551T.  After typing these all in I made a reference route which contained all of the corridor waypoints, connected on the south of the Canyon.  Here’s what that looks like (including the northeast edge of the canyon which heads up to Page AZ):

So now we have a reference about where we can fly across the canyon.  Don’t deviate too far from the center because there are “no fly” areas in between each of those corridors.  Adding these to Perspective was even easier because user waypoints of type “Lat / Long” take time based GPS coordinates directly.

The altitudes they want you are are 11,500 or 13,500 northbound and 10,500 of 12,500 southbound:

As for frequencies, it’s basically just 127.05 on the south of the Canyon and 120.05 on the north and east of the canyon.  The chart says to “monitor” these frequencies.  Are you supposed to self announce?  It doesn’t say that, but we did just to be careful: “Cirrus 812CD crossing Dragon corridor northbound and 11,500”.

We came up the Dragon corridor, flew up the Page AZ, and then came back down via the Zuni corridor.  The FBO named “Classic Aviation” in Page AZ was really nice and let us take their car into town to get some lunch.

That whole area is really beautiful looking from the air.  Here’s the departure from KPGA:

It was a great flight.  I’d definitely do it again if I wind up in the area.

InFlightFuel in the app store

InFlightFuel is now available in the ipad app store.  I’ve been using it as my main tool for fuel management.  The tank gauges on the Cirrus are notoriously inaccurate, but the totalizer is pretty good.  It watches fuel burn over time and simply adds up the results.  As long as you update InFlightFuel when you switch tanks, it works out great.

In truth, I’m sorta bummed that this app was needed.  Isn’t this something that should be part of Garmin Perspective?  It sure would by a lot more convenient if it were actually hooked up to the tank switch so that you didn’t have to update a separate app.  I do remember the Avidyne system in the Piper Archer I used to fly had this functionality built in.


I’m finishing up an iPad app called InFlightFuel.  The purpose of this app is to assist in calculating when to switch fuel tanks based on total fuel used as shown on the perspective (via the fuel totalizer).

Welcome to InFlightFuel!

The purpose of this app is to help in fuel planning and projections for tank switching.

Mode of Operation:

With the InFlight switch set to “Off”, use the Tabs or Full buttons, or manually set your starting fuel levels with the slider.  Once you have your initial starting fuel levels set, switch the InFlight switch to “On” before you begin your flight.

With the InFlight switch set to “On”, InFlightFuel will track your in flight tank switches as well as make projections about when (in terms of total fuel used) you should switch to maintain your target tank differential.  The pink line is showing your current tank use segment and the black lines show historical tank switches.  Don’t worry if you switch early or late, we will recalculate the next switch projection on the fly.

Comments, suggestions, or bug reports to pmikesell@gmail.com


More About Data Cards

    The top card in the MFD is where you install your standby nav database.  But this card is also where your engine monitor data gets logged to.  Pop the card into your laptop reader and look for a director named ‘data_log’.  Inside of this directory will be a bunch of .csv files.  These are comma separated values files, which means it contains rows of data of a consistent format where each column is separated by a comma.  The files are named for data, time, and location.  If it cannot determine your location, the location will just blank (a bunch of underscores).  I think the only reason it can’t determine your location if you do something like fire up the system just to taxi over to the wash rack or something, and the gps doesn’t get enough time to figure out where you are.

    Ok, so what do you do with these files?  By default, your computer will probably try to open up excel when you click on a .csv file, which is worse than useless.  Excel is terrible at handling large volumes of data, and even if it weren’t, you wouldn’t get anything out of this data without some sort of visualization.

    I spent some time building a gnuplot based utility to display this engine data for me.  I sent some of the images to Savvy for analysis and they pretty quickly clued me into the fact that there’s this amazing website out there called cirrusreports.  This website is awesome.  It displays all of your engine data on a beautiful graph, and also shows your location based on your gps readings via a cute little google maps interface.  I’m blown away by what a great job they did.

    I also learned that you have to periodically clean data off of this data card.  The logs will keep getting added and there is no auto-delete functionality.  Your card will get full and then you will simply stop logging data.  I’m on mac OSX.  The first time I tried to do this I screwed it up.  I dragged the old .csv files into the trash, popped the card, and took it out flying.  I went to the AUX page and its status said that it wasn’t logging data because the card was full.  What’s that about?  Well, on OSX when you drag stuff into the trash it doesn’t actually free up the space, it just makes the files hidden.  It actually keeps references to the data on the device.  That’s how come you can recover stuff from the trash.  So, to actually clear space from the card I had to take it back home, plug it in, and select “Empty Trash” from the finder.  I can’t be the only person who has made this mistake.

New Cover / Local Mountain Airports

Having the T-Shade at KSQL is nice, but I still get dust and dirt on the airplane.  I ordered a cover from Bruce’s Custom Covers.  As far as I can tell, this seems to be where everybody gets covers from.  He has patterns from most of the major airplanes out there.  I ordered one for my SR22-G3 and it fits like a glove:

It took about a month to get made and about 1 day to ship to me.  Bruce is just down the road in Sunnyvale.  It’s not that hard to get on and off, but you definitely need a system or you’ll spend all your time figuring out which way is up.  I got used to having to use a cover with the little archer that I did my training in.  Number one rule – have a system.

I always wanted to check out Columbia (O22), so finally I did!  Here’s the “pilot lounge”:

Jeremy Zawodny’s blog got me interested in visiting Pine Mountain Lake, so I did that too.  It was BKN50, so I flew the GPS 27 approach, though over the actual field it was scattered.  E45 doesn’t have Atis/Awos/Asos, so I was going off of what O22 was reporting.  Here’s what it looks like on the ground:

And here’s a shot of the runway from the runup.  The runway has a big “dip” in the middle of it:

I’ve also done a bunch of flights down to KSBA.  It’s been cold and cloudy though:

Those are both from 10,000 ft.  Here’s a shot of the TKS doing its job just after I broke out over BSR on my way back home:

Speaking of TKS fluid – I need to order some more.  Apparently the general spec is called TKS 406b, and there’s a bunch of companies which make it, according to google.