RAM Smart-phone Mount
I have been using first-generation iPad mini for displaying charts while flying, but it's getting slow. I am ready to invest $500 to $600 if Apple makes a new-generation iPad mini, but I know it is unlikely. Eventually iPad mini 4 will be erased from the line up. iPad mini 4 is already 2.5 years old. If I invest for iPad mini 4 now, Apple call it obsolete in one or two years. If I invest for a new device, I want it to last at least three years, ideally five. iPad mini 4 is not a good investment. Full-size iPad is too large for a small cockpit of Cessna 172.
I have too many iOS Apps to switch to Android. I have Dragon Quest 1-8 and Chrono Trigger. All save data in iCloud. I don't want to grow my characters again on Android. Well, I am interested in Chrono Trigger for PC though.
Temporary or permanent solution: how about replacing my iPad mini with Zen Phone 2, which has been totally under utilized. Zen Phone 2 is a pretty bad phone. I guess ASUS just followed the trend and made its bezel very small, which was one of the mistakes. If I hold the phone with my palm, it detect my palm as touch and won't respond to my fingers. Stupid, isn't it? The second problem is its power button, which is perfectly placed for my index finger when I hold with my left hand. I ended up with shutting down the phone while talking. I was wondering why this phone unexpectedly crashes while talking, but later realized I was pressing the power button. If you are looking for the worst place to put the power button, look at Zen Phone 2. That'll tell you where to place the power button.
Zen Phone 2 is useless as a phone. But how about for looking at charts in flight? It has pretty large screen. It may be good enough for replacing my iPad mini. I used it for that purpose for the first time in San Francisco, which didn't go well. I was keeping it on the binder on my lap. It was too light and jumps around when the airplane hits a turbulence. I tried to re-position, then it recognized my fingers as touch even though I was holding the edge of the phone and kicked my FltPlan Go into unexpected mode. Now I don't think smaller bezel a good idea.
But, the flaw of this phone is the bezel that is too small. What if I mount it on the yoke so that I don't have to re-position all the time? I ordered RAM Yoke Mount from Sportys.
RAM Claw Yoke Mount Kit with Phone X Grip ((RAP-B-400U, RAM-B-201U, Ram Phone X-Grip Cradle)
RAM Double Ball Adapter (RAM-B-230U)
Ram Small Arm (RAM-B-201U-A)
This RAM mount is excellent because it can add joints. I am not rich enough to own my airplane and renting a Cessna from a flight school. Therefore I don't have control of the aircraft equipment. Some of the Cessnas come with a yoke-mounted chart clip which I have never seen anyone using. If I want to mount a phone on the yoke, I need something that goes around the chart clip. Like my Garmin 96C yoke mount couldn't do it. I could only use it in a Cessna without the chart clip. But, I can add a joint and go around the chart clip with the RAM mount. I used it for the first time in today's flight.
Conclusion: I even didn't have to add a joint. The Claw Yoke Mount is large enough, and I can connect a short arm, which extend to the aft side of the yoke, where I can put Phone X-Grip cradle.
Today's flight was my first time to fly Cessna 172S model (but without Garmin G1000). Since it was my first time to fly S model, I initially asked an instructor to fly with me, but I was told I should be all right. S model is pretty much same as R model, but it allows higher RPM. This particular airplane comes with the auto-pilot with altitude-hold capability. It would be nice for a long cross country.
I recently learned the good altitude to fly over the downtown. The regulation tells that I need to be at least 1,000ft higher than the tallest building within 2,000ft radius. There are some tall buildings in downtown, which are marked in the chart. If I took the tallest among them, which is 1,759ft MSL, I need to stay above 2,759ft over the downtown. However, Pittsburgh class B airspace starts at 3,000ft. I have only 241ft window, which I should be able to stay within, but somewhat stressful. But, the tallest building is somewhat far from the river. If I stay over the river, maybe I have a little more altitude window. After asking some instructors it looks to be ok as long as I am staying over the river between 2,500 and 3,000ft. 500ft is easy to maintain. Unless otherwise directed by ATC, I stay 2,800ft. This time I took my wife for circle-downtown tour.
Actually, this was what we were doing in December. So, it did not take place in 2018. But anyway. We were in San Francisco during the winter break. We were born in Japan. I have been in Pittsburgh for almost 20 years, but I still feel it is funny to go to San Francisco as a domestic travel.
Since we are starving for fresh seafood, the primary purpose was seafood. Also the population of Japanese and Japanese Americans in San Francisco is far larger than in Pittsburgh. There are two large Japanese supermarkets called Mitsuwa and Marukai. Also there is a large Japan Town there. Those were our primary destinations.
We were pretty much eating and shopping there. What a perfect vacation! But, to make it more perfect, I contacted a flight school called Nice Air, and reserved an airplane and a CFI to fly over San Francisco. This flight school is taking many Japanese trainees, and the chief instructor is running a web site. So I've been wanting to visit the flight school.
I had more than 600 hours of flying time, commercial, multi-engine, instrument rated, plus UAS certificate. But, can I talk with ATCs in San Francisco area smoothly? Aren't the ATCs mean in such a busy airspace? I was unfamiliar with the airspace. Not only unfamiliar, the airspace itself was much more complex than Pittsburgh. Here in Pittsburgh, there is Pittsburgh class B with some isolated class D airspaces. In San Francisco, huge class B airspace centered at San Francisco International (KSFO), and Oakland and San Jose class C under class B, plus three class D airports closely located each other between San Jose and San Francisco. I think I need to fly with a CFI several times before I feel comfortable flying solo in this airspace.
I started the engine and called ground.
"Reid Hill ground, Cessna 739HE at Discovery Air, ready to taxi for Bay Tour with Information Mike"
When I fly from Beaver, I say intention after ATIS code, but here they say ATIS code last. So, I followed the airport's convention. "Bay-Tour" seems to be a such a common flight path from there, so just saying "Bay Tour" will set up a flight following.
"Cessna 739HE, Reid Hill ground, 31R via Z, zap!"
The ground controller didn't actually say "zap" but that's how it sounded to me. It was too fast to catch. "What?" I was expecting approach controllers may speak very fast, but I was not expecting to miss what a ground controller say to me. Do all ATCs around San Francisco speak twice as fast as Pittsburgh ATCs? If I were solo, I would have asked again because that's the only option, but this time I asked the CFI to follow up. I suddenly lost confidence in ATC communication in San Francisco area.
Then we taxied to the run-up area. Run-up was smooth. It's same Cessna 172P. I have flown N9417L many times. Taxied up to the runway threshold, and called the tower.
"Reid Hill Tower, Cessna 739HE ready to take off 31R for bay tour."
"Cessna 739HE cleared for take off."
So I took off. The CFI told that a general aviation aircraft is support to make a 10 to 15 degree turn to the right as soon as taking off. So, I followed the instruction. We climbed up to 1,500ft avoiding San Jose class C. We were handed off to San Jose tower, then made a left turn and flew directly above San Jose International airport as directed from the tower. Then we followed highway 101 northbound. Around this time, I was able to handle ATC communication with little difficulty. What was that Reid Hill ground???
But, the next ATC or the next of next ATC was fast again. So, I think I was able to communicate well with many of the ATCs there, but I really couldn't talk with a few ATCs. They were way too fast for me. Then we were expecting to here "Cleared for descend through class B", but the airspace seemed to be busy this day. We turned left and flew over the water toward Golden-Gate Bridge.
Soon we were above ground again, and saw the Golden-Gate bridge on the left, and downtown on the right. We have sooooo many bridges in Pittsburgh. I'm living next to a large bridge in Pittsburgh means pretty much same as I'm living next to a tall building in Manhattan. But, this Golden-Gate bridge was huge.
Around this area seemed to be a common sight-seeing flight course. There were four other aircrafts flying in this area. The CFI took over the airplane, and I took some photos.
I was hoping to be able to handle radio communication better. The CFI said I was doing well, and very good in terms of flying technique. But I guess I need more training to get used to the San Francisco area airspace. One day I want to be able to fly solo with confidence in such busy airspace. By the way, you can buy a chart explaining the bay-tour course from a nearby pilot shop. It's a good souvenir. I bought one. I don't want to hinder their sales, so I only upload a small bitmap of it.
After landing, we drove to a supermarket called Marukai for final grocery for the New Year's celebration. Then we made a quick trip to Apple visitor center, next to the new Apple headquarter. Until I were there, I didn't know why Apple built a circular building for the new headquarter, but now I see. It's the home button. From the air, it looks like a large home button. And, they get rid of it in iPhone X? No way. I want to have a phone with a home button. I personally prefer fingerprint authentication than face recognition.
Well, and I tried to buy some souvenier there, but unlike the Apple Store at the headquarter, only thing that I could find there that can be a good souvenier was a shopping bag for $25. Isn't it too expensive? I bought one anyway though.
Then we flew back in a red-eye flight to Pittsburgh. That was a torture. I couldn't sleep well. Then I caught cold and had to stay in bed for two days :-P
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