We Fly Dynon’s New D1 Pocket Panel

Portable EFIS the perfect budget standby instrument?

Dynon D1

Dynon D1

Dynon D1

Dynon Avionics has unveiled a portable backup EFIS that might just be the perfect budget emergency flight display.

The Dynon D1 Pocket Panel makes use of the same micro AHRS (attitude and heading reference system) technology as the company’s panel-mount EFIS displays for the experimental market, but packaged in a small LCD that can be mounted just about anywhere in the cockpit.

Dynon officially unveiled the product at Oshkosh on Monday, but we got the chance to fly with it before the show. At first, we were skeptical that the capabilities of the portable unit could match its $1,425 price tag. After all, the D1 overlays readouts of speed, course and altitude derived from an internal GPS receiver and not actual flight data. Then we took the D1 up for a real-world test and quickly understood its potential value.

The AHRS technology in the unit works wonderfully, and the GPS speed, course and altitude data perform well enough that we became convinced the unit could indeed be a lifesaver if critical systems installed in the airplane started failing in IMC or at night.

Best of all, the D1 has an internal battery good for about four hours’ use (or it can be plugged into a power receptacle) and the ability to align its AHRS even in mid flight, making it potentially extremely valuable in case of, say, vacuum system failure in IMC or an electrical system failure at night.

The unit’s speed and altitude readouts coupled with magenta trend lines and artificial horizon would make even a really bad situation at night much more manageable. We tested powering the unit on in midflight and were impressed by its ability to provide basic pitch and roll information in about 15 seconds and become fully functional after locking onto GPS satellites after about a minute.

Even in full 360-degree turns, the unit’s AHRS performed without a hitch. While we wouldn’t want to use the unit to shoot an instrument approach in IMC, it would be valuable for getting out of IMC and into VMC in the event of a critical system failure.

But Dynon says the D1 is more than just an emergency backup.

“The number one question we receive at air shows is, ‘Can I put Dynon avionics in my airplane?’” said Dynon Marketing Manager Robert Hamilton. “If they flew a type certificated airplane, our answer was always no. But now for the first time, we can say yes.”

Accessories included with the D1 Pocket Panel are an AC power adapter, DC vehicle power adapter, a RAM suction-cup mount, 3.25-inch “pinch” mount, internal Li-ion battery and external GPS antenna. The unit measures 3.5 inches wide, 3.25 inches high and one inch thick.

The product went on sale Monday, and is available at AirVenture 2012 at Dynon dealers Aircraft Spruce, Wicks Aircraft Supply, Pacific Avionics, Gulf Coast Avionics and Sarasota Avionics.