Sunday, September 5, 2010

Earl Went Thataway!

After all of the Thinking of Great Thoughts about Hurricane Earl (discussed earlier at (1), (2), and (3)), it turned out to be pretty much of a non-event.

The METAR in effect at the time N631S and I departed KBDR on Friday afternoon looked like this:

KBDR 031930Z 05007KT 10SM SCT021 27/23 A2961 RMK AO2 RAE01 PRESFR P0000
The strong, gusty winds from the northeast had not yet materialized, visibility was unrestricted, there was no precipitation and the overcast was quite high.

The weather "snapshot" in the FlightAware track above reflects conditions when N631S and I were between Allentown and Lancaster. As you can see, the echoes from precipitation associated with Earl hadn't yet reached Bridgeport.

As I noted in the previous post (linked as #3, above), one New York-based forecaster remarked (in the TAF Discussion) that the winds then being forecast "may end up being too high depending on the strength and position of Earl." Full points to that forecaster - he got it right!

There was one item of interest, unrelated to Earl, on this flight. When I flipped the avionics master to "ON", the Garmin GPSmap 396 did not wake up in the usual manner. It was unable to link with any satellites and after a minute or so it gave up trying. If the weather had been as predicted (i.e., rather nasty) then this would have been quite distressing. Without the GPSmap 396 I was deprived of the XM Weather product. But conditions were not bad at all so I decided to shut it down and troubleshoot the problem en-route.

After departing and getting up to cruising altitude, I turned the 396 back on. It still could not find satellites and offered up a dialog box with several choices for me, such as "Start Simulation Mode", "Continue Acquiring", and "Auto-Locate Mode". The "fine print" under the last said "Choose this option if today is not Sep 2, 2010".

Well, it certainly was not Sept 2nd, so I chose that option and the unit began to laboriously scan the sky for satellites. And that, of course, is when the little light bulb went on for me. Dead battery.

The 396 normally operates on ship's power. But when everything is powered down it uses its internal Li-ion battery to remember the data it needs to reestablish a picture of the GPS satellite constellation. If the Li-ion battery pack dies, the unit forgets where (and when) it is.

After a number of minutes of heavy lifting in Auto-Locate mode the 396 was back to normal...and I need to order it a new battery pack (for about $40).

Incidentally, this is Post Number 200. May I express my great appreciation to all of you for stopping by to read and occasionally comment. I hope that you'll continue to find these posts enjoyable and, perhaps, useful.


Rich Van Haste said...

Well I enjoy them, but I sorta have to given all that book learnin' of mine that you paid for. BTW, don't look now but here comes another TS.

Frank Van Haste said...

Dear Rich:


(Early days for the next one...will be watching.)