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Media (Apple) Media Hardware

iPods to be Used as Flight Data Recorders 200

udamahan writes "Flight Global reports small aircraft manufacturer LoPresti is introducing a system that uses an iPod as a flight data recorder. The company states that they chose the iPod for its size, low power requirements, and the 'thousands of developers passionate about writing applications for the iPod.' The article notes that data recorders are typically used for maintenance, flight/safety analysis, or, assuming proper protection, crash investigation."
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iPods to be Used as Flight Data Recorders

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  • Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RFaulder ( 1016762 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @03:44AM (#18204340)
    I would assume that they would be using flash-based iPods rather than HDD models, as I doubt a 1.8" drive could withstand an airplane crash.
  • by WarwickRyan ( 780794 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @04:03AM (#18204432)
    ..as they are virtually indestructable.

    Mine has been dropped, smashed, been through both washing machine and dryer. All with no noticable damage and no dataloss.

    My HDD recorder, on the other hand, was destroyed by a small amount of coca cola :(
  • by cheater512 ( 783349 ) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Friday March 02, 2007 @04:26AM (#18204528) Homepage
    My Lifedrive with its tiny compact flash hard drive has had some pretty spectacular falls.

    The most notable would be flying off a lecture room table and hitting the floor two meters below.
    Still works perfectly.
  • by AlphaOne ( 209575 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @04:34AM (#18204572)
    can you hook this thing into the avionics?

    On experimental aircraft, yes. On certified aircraft, no.

    I'm not sure what value would be gained, though... about the best that could be recorded is OBS position and CDI deflection, maybe turn rate and bank angle if the turn coordinator/artificial horizon can provide feedback.

    If the aircraft has a GPS (big if), I guess you could record position and velocity data.
  • Trouble (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TrappedByMyself ( 861094 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @04:41AM (#18204602)
    Without fail, my iPod used to die on me every time I flew. 20 minutes into the flight and BAM the drive goes into wacky mode. The unit locks, heats up, makes a sickening grinding noise as the battery quickly drains.

    I finally fixed it by ripping the thing apart and re-seating the drive cable. But still...
  • Re:Shocking... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spagetti_code ( 773137 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:49AM (#18205112)
    My flash drive says its good for 2000Gs ! I've been wondering how to test that. iPod's flash is probably something similar. It doesn't matter if the circuitry survives, just the flash.
  • Re:Shocking... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by webbod ( 1032868 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @07:18AM (#18205234)
    I killed an iPod by knocking it off a desk onto a wooden floor - planes work a lot higher than desks and the ground is a lot harder. Crazy idea - what kind of a moron would want to 'open source' avionics ?
  • by adamscottphotos ( 681121 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @07:22AM (#18205256) Homepage
    I live at approx 7000' in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, and very frequently spend time over 10,000'. I've noticed that nearly everbody in our town has a cranky or dead ipod. When a strong Sierra storm rolls through, the lowered air pressure gives us an effective altitude of nearly 9000'. I've noticed a strong coorelation between blizzards here and dead drives an iPods. I spoke with a friend in Leadville, CO (12,500') and he claims they flat don't work at his altitude. Also many reports can be found via google of people's iPods not loving the tops of ski areas (Breckenridge goes to like 13,800'). I know most planes are pressurized... but... Would be nice if stock drives were happy at 15,000' - there's no real way to locally increase the air pressure around the drive, and the thinner air brings the head closer to the platters.
  • what about the car? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sjs132 ( 631745 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @07:43AM (#18205354) Homepage Journal
    Ok, now a days, every car seems wired for iPod... Why not add that to the car features, a car crash data recorder (ok, shhh... We have it built in already... I know... I know...)

  • Re:Shocking... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joelfabulous ( 1045392 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @08:14AM (#18205522)
    Also, see the Otterbox...

    They say the case they sell is crushproof, waterproof, airtight and they make iPod enclosures.


    I might buy one eventually because I like listening to music when I swim, and I've heard good things about them. Does anyone know if the iPod stops working at something like 35000 feet or so, and would the container somehow negate this effect? I'm pretty clueless about this stuff, but I assume that case would help somewhat...
  • Streaming Blackbox? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nbritton ( 823086 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @09:39AM (#18205970)
    Why not just have a live feed of the blackbox data streamed directly to the FAA?
  • Re:Shocking... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by koyangi ( 926760 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:48AM (#18207208)

    My flash drive says its good for 2000Gs ! I've been wondering how to test that. iPod's flash is probably something similar. It doesn't matter if the circuitry survives, just the flash.

    I am sure these guys [ntscorp.com] can help you out there.

    The MIL-STD-901D light weight hammer test [aerospacet.com] will get you there (we see over 2,000 Gs all the time), but I my personal favorite is the 901D heavy weight barge test [hitestlabs.com]. It will only get you about 300Gs worst case (although the shock duration is much longer), but you get to set off 65lb TNT charges. Well worth the price of admission.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_