New \"Avionics\"

I picked up an Apple iPod this week. A very cool little toy; it’s basically an MP3/AIFF/WAV player wrapped around a 5GB Firewire hard drive, smaller than a pack of cigarettes. On top of being the coolest thing since sliced bread, it also has enough output (or the right impedance) to drive an unmodified Garmin audio panel to very comfortable volume levels. Sounds very nice in Bose X headsets, by the way. (There, it was a little bit aviation-related.)

Plus, if your laptop disk crashes while you’re flying, you can boot off of the thing (it’s a Firewire hard drive, after all.) That’s kind of aviation-related too.

Holds some 80+ hours of 128Kbps MP3s, prorated appropriately for higher bit rates. Battery purports to be good for ten hours or so, though I’ve never run it all the way down. Should definitely outlast the gas tanks in a Cirrus (there, I’m keeping it on topic.)

Will this only work with an Apple computer, or can it work with my PC? Relevant to my list for Santa.


I’m probably going to get an iPod. Yes, it is Mac only so far, a Good Thing, as integration with the excellent iTunes software for managing music is seamless. Another Good Thing: the interface is FireWire, so an entire CD can be transferred in 10 seconds! The entire 5GB load can be transferred in 10 minutes.

One minor note of interest to us. So far, a “cigarette lighter” adapter is not available. The power interface is also through the FireWire port. Their AC adapter/charger has a FireWire port/cable/connector. So what I plan to do is to get an extra power adapter and hack into the “wall wart” transformer and splice in a cig lighter adapter so it can be powered by the Cirrus’ console jack (which is 12V). Either that or simply wire up a FireWire cable/connector to a cig lighter plug.

I’ll keep the Forum posted on this and perhaps I can make the modified adapters available to those who would like them.

I’ve been very happy with the 20GB Archos player. It has a cigarette lighter adapter, and drives the Garmin system ‘ok’; not head-banging levels but enough. It mounts as a hard-drive through the USB ports. Now if I could direct the video out from a PC to the Arnav/Avidyne, then we could really upgrade our avionics!


Mac only, though I’d guess that some enterprising programmer will fix that if Apple publishes the directory hashing algorithm, or somebody reverse engineers it. Basically they try to make it a little bit hard to upload songs back to your computer by burying them all in a hidden directory tree (so they don’t show up when you mount the thing as a hard disk.) But if you run Mac OS X, you can open up a Unix shell and see the goods.

The trick will be putting the files down there where they need to be.

I bet you can get a used iMac cheap…