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PIREP: Onix 400

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Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2010
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For those of you who, like me can't justify $1500 down and $420 a year to get weather into your cockpit; I have found a viable solution. Bushnell has a failing GPS product which was intended for the hiker community that receives (your choice) XM radio and/or XM Nav-weather or XM SkyWatch. The weather is $10/mo by itself or $3/mo if added to a $15/mo radio subscription. So I get weather and XM radio for $18/mo.

There are some challenges with this product which is probably why the product is a failure (for its target market) and also why you can buy it so cheaply. I got mine for $99 as an impulse buy on Woot.com. I will take a minute to describe what some of the challenges are and how I solved them.

Connectivity: The Onix has 3 connectors audio out, USB and a consolidated power/audio/antenna connector. Bushnell offers no product that combines external power and external antenna functions. They did use the same connector that is used for the Pioneer Inno / Samsung Helix. The Inno/Helix have a built in FM modulator designed to be interlocked to their base station for home use. An aftermarket product, "FM Buddy" http://www.myradiostore.com/fmmodulators/fm-buddy.html is offered that breaks out the power and antenna connections for the Inno/Helix and also works for the Onix. An external XM antenna and 5v cell phone charger are also needed.

Antenna: I started with an external car antenna sitting on the glareshield. Reception was intermittent. If you plan to go this route get a high gain antenna. I later happened on a Commant CI-420-420 on eBay. It really works well and I recommend it highly. It also contains a TSO WAAS GPS antenna which I hope to use some day.

Power: Take $5 to the flea market and find any cell phone charger that will fit the adapter, other end is cig lighter plug. I plan to refine this but for now it is serviceable.

Mount: Ram mount cradle available, works fine. GPS is a little clunky but an acceptable trade to get near real time weather.

Performance: I like it. The map overlay is updated every 5 minutes. Sunlight viewability is excellent (transreflective TFT) Pixels are 3.6 NM wide and 3.8 NM tall.
Useful stuff: There are 4 intensity levels for rain (none, light, moderate, heavy), 4 intensity levels for clouds (clear, partly cloudy, mostly cloudy and cloudy), 2 levels of fog (fog, heavy fog), cloud to ground lightning, snow and winter mix. Range ring on map good for showing distance to indicated weather although more ranges would be nice.

Less useful stuff: Visibility (good, poor, very poor) levels don't seem to correlate to anything useful. Radar summary does not work (maybe a skywatch feature?); I have the Nav Weather. Range ring diameters are 2.39, 5.97, 23.86, 59.65, 239, 597 and 2386 miles; sure would like a 10 mile range ring. Coverage is CONUS only, extends about 20 miles offshore and that is all so you can't see what is coming in off the ocean and no coverage in the islands. Weather overlay only works in North up orientation. Wind advisory is not too helpful: It alerts when winds hit about 20 knots; no directionality. I guess if you have a wind alert you should take it seriously since you might exceed demonstrated crosswind.

So while not the best possible system I consider this well worth the money and effort spent. I probably have $200 and 10 hours in it.

Oh yeak, the XM radio feature is great. I feed the audio to my portable intercom thru a standard 1/8" stereo cord. Love the commercial free music etc.

Two thumbs up,

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