Overview ClearNav has developed the next generation of soaring instruments. They offer products which are designed to be extremely easy to use in flight. Their products include the ClearNav II color flight computer and the CNv Variometer.
Overview Videos By Paul Remde
ClearNav Vario with LCD Display - 1 of 2
ClearNav Vario with LCD Display - 2 of 2 - Thermal Assistant
I have received quite a lot of positive feedback from customers using the ClearNav Vario. Renny Rozzoni from New Mexico was kind to send the following note:
“Outstanding – It is the best vario I have ever flown with (and I’ve been flying gliders for 43 years)! It took me about 15 minutes getting used to it, and then over the duration of the flight I experimented with it and tried a few different settings, and I have to tell you – it is fantastic. The Thermal Assist tool is phenomenal and really helped out in some of those rough New Mexico thermals. In addition, the digital display screen is very easy to read, well laid out, and the key data can be seen at a glance. They have created a truly outstanding product!”
New Thermal Assistant and Software Upgrades for ClearNav CNv Vario with LCD Display ClearNav has been working hard and has made major improvements to the CNv variometer with LCD display. The latest software version features a new Thermal Assistant as well as new signal processing with noise rejection and "inertial principles" which make it faster while remaining easy-to-use in flight. The vario has been receiving rave reviews from experienced soaring pilots around the world. The built-in GPS provides the GPS position 5 times every second (most varios only receive GPS position once each second) - which helps explain why the Thermal Assistant is so extremely useful. Experienced soaring pilots who never thought they would find a Thermal Assistant useful are fans of the new feature - it really is amazing! You can see the new Thermal Assistant in the image below. In the image, the glider is on the right and circling to the left. The scale on the left side of the screen is the variometer scale. The glider has just gone through some sink at the edge of the thermal. As the glider continues to circle to the left, the cylindrical thermal strength graph rotates to the right (clockwise) while the glider icon remains stationary. The black arrow points to the strongest part of the thermal. The dashed line indicates when the pilot may want to roll to wings level for a second or two. The lead angle of the dashed line is user configurable. The length of the black arrow indicates how much of a centering correction is recommended. Note: The new Thermal Assistant is only available on CNv varios with the LCD display (the version without a mechanical pointer) and XC software upgrade. Customers with the CNv variometer head with mechanical pointer may want to upgrade to the LCD version so they can take advantage of the new Thermal Assistant feature. New software enhancements to the moving map screen are also in the works for release soon.
New ClearNav II
The ClearNav II is a much faster and brighter version of the ClearNav color flight computer. It uses less power than previous versions and works with all existing accessories. Reasonably priced upgrades are available for existing ClearNav users. Customers who purchased ClearNav units after June 1st, 2014 are eligible for a free upgrade. Customers who bought ClearNav units between January 1, 2014 and May 31, 2014 qualify for discounted upgrades. Details are available in the document below. Note: Customers who pre-order a ClearNav II before January 31, 2015 will pay the current price of $2950. Starting February 1, 2015 the price will go up to $3500. ClearNavI.pdf
ClearNav CNv Variometer Overview and Training Video Detailed overview and training video for the ClearNav CNv "Club" and "XC" variometers. It is great tool for customers interested in learning more about it prior to purchase, and existing users looking for a "spring refresher course". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RccpXWfHCk0 More product news and photos are available here:www.clearnav.net
I am extremely impressed with the ClearNav Navigation Display hardware and software. The display has a large and extremely bright screen without the overall dimensions being too large. I didn't think I was going to like the lack of a touch-screen, but I find the remote to be easy to use and the software very intuitive. The 3 software features that impress me the most are the way area tasks are supported, the "Glide Amoeba" glide range rings and the way it calculates estimated speed for the remainder of the task You can see some of those features in action in the screen captures below.
The purple arc is the "Glide Amoeba" to a user specified arrival altitude over the terrain. You can make it to the purple arc and still have enough altitude for a safe pattern and landing. The arrival altitude is user adjustable (1000 feet AGL in these examples). The left example is over flat terrain. Note how the rings are shifted to compensate for the wind. The right example is in mountainous terrain with a ridge in the lower right quadrant of the screen.
The red arc is the"Glide Amoeba" to ground level.
The black circles are turn areas
The heavy black line is line from your current position to the active waypoint. Simply turn the glider until the line is pointed straight up an you will be on course.
The fineblack lines show the task course line. They are drawn automatically.
The blue arc in the turn area is a locus of points of equal task distance. Simply fly to any point on the blue arc and you will complete the task in the desired task time. The blue arc moves out and back if you change the estimated speed around the course. There is no need to move turn points within the turn area.
The Team The team of people working on the product is very impressive. It includes:
Richard Kellerman - Soaring Pilot (recent Hilton Cup Winner), businessman
Dave Ellis - Soaring Pilot, Ran Cambridge Aero Instruments for 14 years, Driving force behind the Cambridge C-NAV, M-NAV, L-NAV, S-NAV, and the first IGC Approved Flight Recorder - the GPS-NAV. He also developed the Cambridge 302 and 303. In my opinion the Cambridge products were industry leaders in regard to ease-of-use.
Chip Garner - World level soaring competition pilot, Software Engineer, developer of Glide Navigator and Glide Navigator II (originally Cambridge Pocket-NAV) soaring flight software. Big proponent of the "keep the instruments simple - keep your eyes out of the cockpit" instrument design philosophy.
Phil Schlosser - Worked with Dave Ellis at Cambridge Aero Instruments for 14 years or so. Firmware developer for the Cambridge 302 and many other products.
Rick Sheppe - Soaring Pilot, functional designer of the Cambridge S-NAV, L-NAV and GPS-NAV.
ClearNav Overview I have sold PDA systems for use in gliders for many years. I'm a fan of graphical moving map displays because they present key information to the glider pilot in a clear way so that one can glance at the display and get a quick overview of how you are doing. You know instantly which airports are within gliding range. That is powerful information and dramatically enhances safety. The problem is that currently available PDAs have small screens that are quite difficult to read in sunlight - they just are not bright enough. NK has designed what I consider to be a fantastic solution. It is a large display that really is easy to read in sunlight. Key Features
Large, extremely bright 5.5+" diagonal color LCD screen (the largest PDAs are 4" diagonal).
The display is not a touchscreen - to maximize screen brightness
Built-in GPS engine (calculating position and altitude 4 times each second) and connector for external GPS antenna
IGC Approved Flight Recorder - Recording at 1 second intervals
Remote Keypad - Simple operator interface for operating the screen
Moving map with selectable layers
Comprehensive task optimization
Glide "amoeba" (gliding range footprint) shows areas you can reach, taking wind, glider polar, and terrain into account
New Method for Area Tasks - A blue arc shows where to turn in the turn area.
Landability status monitor
Size: 4.25"w x 5.83"h x 1.22"d (108mm x 148mm x 31mm)
Display Size: 3.39"w x 4.53"h (86mm x 115mm)
Screen Resolution: 240 x 320 pixels (1/4 VGA version), 480 x 640 pixels (VGA version)
Backlight: CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp) backlight. Nominal luminance is 700 Candelas/m^2 (nits), achieved with a single lamp that goes around 3 sides of the LCD. NK provides lamp overdrive capability up to 1100 nits for severe ambient conditions such as flying into a hazy late afternoon sun. This increases battery drain, so the display is normally operated at its nominal luminance.
Weight: ~1 lb (450 g)
Operating System: Windows CE.NET
Memory: 2 GB of internal memory for turnpoint, terrain, map and airspace information
Data Transfer: USB Flash Drive and perhaps a built-in SD card reader
Power Requirements: 9 to 16 VDC
Power Consumption: 600 mA at full brightness, 300 mA at min. brightness, In power-save mode the backlight goes to full brightness when any key is pressed on the remote keypad. It backs down to min. brightness about 25 seconds after the last key press.
Compatible with Cambridge 302 - The ClearNav can receive Vector Wind (speed and direction), Real Time Headwind and True Airspeed from the 302. The Vector Wind (speed and direction) and Real Time Headwind can be displayed. The Vector Wind is used for final glide (as the auto wind) if it is available. The True Airspeed is used for the total energy final glide calculation.
Area TaskSupport - Brilliant! When I first started playing with my ClearNav demo I was extremely impressed with the brilliant new way the ClearNav handles area tasks. Competitive software requires that you move the turn point within the turn area. That can be cumbersome and even dangerous to do in flight. The ClearNav is much simpler and more intuitive. There is no need to move or manipulate the turn location in any way. A blue arc is shown inside the turn area. It is a locus of points within the turn area that lie along an ellipse such that making your turn at any point on the line will give you the same distance around the course. The software places the blue arc automatically based on your estimated speed around the course and the task time. Task course lines are drawn in fine black lines from the start point, to a point on the blue line and then on to the center of the next turn area. If you are flying fast then blue arc moves to a point on the far edge of the turn area. If you are flying slowly the blue arc moves to a point on the near side of the turn area. When the blue arc reaches the far or near side of the area then the turnpoint in the next turn area moves away from the center of that area to compensate. For example, if you are flying slowly then the blue arc will move to the near side of the turn area you are headed for and the turn point in the following turn area will move closer to the near edge of that area. I think this way of handling turn areas is revolutionary and brilliant! Congratulations Chip Garner, Rick Sheppe and the NK team on this innovation! It is brilliant because you never need to move the turn point manually, you just glance at the screen and fly to a point on the blue arc. That makes flying safer because you will keep your eyes out of the cockpit and it also makes you faster because you can focus your efforts on flying fast - not fiddling with the software.
Glide Amoebas The glide amoebas show your gliding range graphically on the map. They take into account the wind, glider polar, altitude and surrounding terrain. Over flat terrain they look like circular rings. Over mountainous terrain they look like, well... amoebas. A ridge shows up as a flat "impassable" line while long extended "fingers" show where it is possible to glide through mountain passes or down into valleys. In flat land soaring the footprint will be much more circular or ellipse shaped. This is a very powerful feature. Past generations of soaring software highlighted reachable airports on the map - which is also nice, but in ClearNavigator you can see at a glance not just what airports are reachable (any airport inside the glide amoeba) but you also know how far you can glide over the ground - or down into a valley. To me the most powerful feature of any soaring software is the ability to glance at the screen and know instantly whether or not you can make it to a nearby landing site. The Glide Amoebas makes that very clear and intuitive and easy to use in flight - Fantastic!
The purple arc is the "Glide Amoeba" to a user specified arrival altitude over the terrain You can make it to the purple arc and still have enough altitude for a safe pattern and landing. The arrival altitude is user adjustable (1000 feet AGL in these examples). The left example is over flat terrain. Note how the rings are shifted to compensate for the wind. The right example is in mountainous terrain with a ridge in the lower right quadrant of the screen.
The red arc is the "Glide Amoeba" to ground level.
Remote Control A handheld remote control or stick-mounted remote is used to control the software. It includes Arrow Keys (Left, Right, Up, Down), Enter, Zoom In, Zoom Out, Focus (yellow), and Menu buttons. The operation of the buttons is quite intuitive. The yellow Focus button changes the focus of the software between the user selectable data shown on the bottom of the screen and a black rectangle in on the moving map. The rectangle can be used to pan the map to view regions outside the current view, or to select items inside the rectangle. For example, you can use the Arrow Keys to move the rectangle over airports or airspace on the map. Then press the enter key and you can view airport or airspace data or make an airport in the rectangle the active waypoint so you can fly directly to it. The Ribbon key is used to display and hide the pop-up menu icons. They are shown and described below. They appear near the top of the screen.
Ribbon Icons (from left to right)
Change active waypoint (sorted by distance from current location or by name)
The ClearNav has a very innovative and powerful algorithm for calculating the estimated speed for the remainder of the task - so that you can finish at the desired time. The estimated speed is used to estimate how long it will take you to finish the task - and the total time on task. In contest tasks top pilot do their best to arrive home as close to, but just after the minimum task time. The reason for that is that the final glide will be a larger percentage of your total task time. Since final glides are fast (no thermalling), your achieved speed is faster for the entire task when the final glide is as high a percentage as possible of the total task. Since it is considered important to finish just at or just after the minimum task time, it is important for your soaring software to accurately calculate the estimated time on course. All brands of soaring software do calculations for the approximate time on course. In Glide Navigator II the pilot is required to enter his/her best estimate of the speed that will be achieved for the remainder of the task. That is tough to do accurately because you have to take into account the remaining cross-country speed while thermalling and the speed on final glide. Great contest pilots like Chip Garner have the experience to do that pretty accurately, but most contest pilots (myself included) have a hard time knowing what number to enter into Glide Navigator II for the estimated speed for the remainder of the task. Other soaring software (SeeYou Mobile, WinPilot, etc.) have several options available for the calculation of the estimated speed for the remainder of the task. Most pilots select the option to use the MacCready setting to calculate the estimated speed for the remainder of the task (taking into account thermalling and final glide phases). They do a pretty good job but they are assuming that you don't find lift while gliding and don't work great when ridge running. Chip Garner has designed a powerful new algorithm for the ClearNav that is better than all previous methods. Before the start, it uses the MacCready setting. Once on course the speed is computed based on your climbing and gliding performance so far, predicted out and including the final glide. It includes the wind and a final glide at the current MacCready setting and altitude. If you exceed final glide height it switches to the MacCready glide speed corresponding to that height. It is not very sensitive to the MacCready setting because it using actual calculated climb and glide data. The glide netto and average climb used in the calculation are shown on both the performance and task dialogs. The prediction works extremely well if conditions do not change appreciably, in which case you can adjust the speed. Chip Garner says he has been able to consistently finish within about 30 seconds of the minimum task time on area tasks using the ClearNav. This is a very powerful and innovative tool for accurately arriving home at the desired time.
Chip Garner (ClearNavigator software designer) playing with his ClearNav prototype at the Region 4 Soaring Contest in 2007
Waypoint and Airspace File Compatibility
The ClearNav comes loaded with maps and elevation data for the entire world. It supports waypoint files in either the Cambridge (Glide Navigator II) ".dat" format or the SeeYou ".cup" format. It supports airspace files in the Tim Newport-Peace ".sua" format. Soaring site data is readily available on the internet at the Worldwide Soaring Turnpoint Exchange. I often use SeeYou or StrePla to import the latest FAA database of public and private airports and then export a subset of local airports to a Cambridge or SeeYou waypoint file. What Vario to Use with It? ClearNav's new variometer will be able to connect to the ClearNav display by April of 2013. That will be the best solution. The 2nd best option is a Cambridge 302 because the ClearNav can accept airspeed data from the 302. Many will probably use a Cambridge 302 because it offers many features in a small box. The IGC Approved flight recorder in the 302 is redundant, but it is always nice having an extra flight recorder. The ClearNav now also supports communication with Cambridge L-NAV (or S-NAV) and GPS-NAV combinations. My Impressions As stated above, I am very impressed with the product. I am a big fan of Dave Ellis and Chip Garner's "keep it simple - keep it safe" philosophy and the unit seems to keep to that principle well. I love the Glide Amoebas and the Area Task support. I like that the screen is not overly cluttered and it is easy to hide the terrain data if you want to see only airports, airspace and "culture" data such as rivers, lakes, cities and roads. The fonts are large and easy to read. I must admit that 2 design items surprised me at first. I was surprised that the unit is not a touch-screen because I have long been a fan of the simplicity possible with touch-screens. However, I have been told that this compromise was necessary to ensure maximum screen brightness. Touch-screens consist of plastic layers placed between the LCD screen and the operator and they reduce the amount of light that gets to the pilot's eyes. Another reason to do without the touch-screen is that touch-screens are not ideal for use in a glider cockpit - while bumping along in ridge lift. A handheld or stick mounted keypad is a much better option for use in a glider. I have found the keypad solution to be an easy-to-use and intuitive alternative to a touch-screen. A nice side-benefit to the use of a keypad rather than a touch-screen is that there is no need to mount the screen in a location where it is within reach. Often PDAs are mounted on gooseneck or RAM arms to get them closer to the pilot - within reach. That is not necessary with the ClearNav - just mount the handheld remote within reach.