Dear Voyager User,
I was painfully reminded that fall is upon us as I
recently spent several hours on my roof cleaning the leaves out of the
gutters. Hopefully, some of you were out flying, but for many
pilots, the departure of the summer sun and arrival of the fall rains
signals a winding down of the flying season. Thankfully, the great
folks at AOPA have a terrific annual sendoff to summer that they call
AOPA Expo which was held this year in Hartford, CT. That's where
we were two weeks ago and we had a great time there.
Not only did we have fun seeing many existing customers and making lots
of new ones, it was the first time we demonstrated the long-awaited Voyager 4.0
that is almost ready to go. More on this below.
is a recurring newsletter for all Voyager users, with the latest Voyager news, tips and tricks.
I'm very interested in your feedback, either to the newsletter or to
Voyager itself. Please send any comments or suggestions to me
Back issues of Flight Log
are available from our Web site at
of the Month
Is this Google Earth or
Voyager? Hmmm... Maybe Voyager 4.0? Click for a larger
Releases & FAA IFR Chart Changes
As you may have noticed, AOPA just
finished an extensive rework of their Web site. We think the
result is tremendous. Unfortunately, it did break the way we
download FBO information from the site. A few days after it
was up, we had a new version of Voyager (3.68) ready to download.
We also corrected a few other minor issues. If Voyager didn't already mention that an update
was available, select Update Application from the Tools menu to download
it (if you have a current ChartData subscription). You can see all
the changes at
Also, the FAA is changing the
configuration of Low Altitude IFR charts as of October 25. Instead
of 28 charts, the US is being reconfigured into 36 charts to give more
space for RNAV routes. We expect a maintenance release (3.69) to
be available on that day with the new chart configuration. Click
the link below for more information.
The revised configuration is described
Major New Version 4.0 Almost Ready
At least to me, Voyager 4.0 is the most
eagerly awaited release we've ever made. It's been in the works
for nearly two years and it's almost ready for beta testing
(geek-speak for almost ready to release to volunteers who use the
software and find problems before we release it to the general public).
If you'd like to be on the beta list, please send email to
So what's the big deal? Well, it can
be summed up in one word: SPEED. As you may have noticed,
Voyager's strongest suit wasn't its chart drawing speed, so we rewrote the charting engine from the
ground up. This time we could take advantage of the same
technology that powers Google Earth and Microsoft Flight Simulator,
something called Microsoft DirectX. In essence, it means we take
all the aviation data, terrain data and the like and put it into
a virtual 3D model that mirrors the Earth. Thanks to DirectX, all
the heavy lifting of actually drawing the Chart is then handled by your machine's
video card at blinding speed. The result is
spectacular and essentially means real-time drawing. For example,
in places that the old charting engine might take five seconds to draw a
chart, the new drawing engine draws in about 1/5 of a second or less.
That is, very conservatively, the new engine is about 100 times faster,
better if you have a good video card. This speed makes a night and
day difference in using Voyager. Zooms and pans are now silky
smooth and GlassView GPS position updates are now every second rather than every
seconds (in fact, the charting engine can do much better than once per second, but
most GPS units only update that fast).
Click the links below to play example video
clips of Voyager 4.0 in action. Note: In order to make the videos
playable over the Internet, we had to skimp on the image quality a bit.
Apologies for the "bad VHS" look in a few places — the real images
Pan, Zoom, and Rotate
3D Virtual Flight
This speed also let us add one of the
most-requested features ever — scanned charts that show the flight plan
line and aircraft position. In fact, we went well beyond that.
In essence, we borrowed from Google's playbook once more and Voyager can now use
Sectionals, IFR Low Altitude and IFR High Altitude charts as just one of
the many chart layers. Thus, you can display radar and satellite,
not to mention current fuel prices and TFRs, over your favorite scanned
chart. Better still, rather than having to select which specific
chart to overlay (like the Seattle North Sectional), we seamlessly merge
all the scanned charts so when you turn on the Sectionals layers,
Voyager automatically pulls the pieces it needs from all the relevant
Sectionals, resulting in much less pilot workload.
There are lots of other changes in Voyager
4.0, mainly subtle but useful changes in GlassView, but I'll wait to go
into more detail when it ships. In the meantime, my main message
is simple: Don't let your ChartData subscription lapse or you'll miss
the free upgrade to Voyager 4.0. Which brings us nicely to our
Web Site and Pricing Changes
Over the years, we've heard many times
that's it's hard to figure out which products to buy from our Web site.
All the different modules and ChartData subscriptions could give anyone
a headache. Even
Aviation Consumer, which truly gushed about
Voyager when it crowned the best flight planner, went out of its
way to mention how confusing purchasing was. Well, we've fixed
that. Not only have we changed the way we present our offerings,
we've lowered our initial purchase prices to make it easier to get into the Voyager
family. For example:
While you can still buy Voyager a module
at a time, we put a lot of emphasis on common bundles of modules and
ChartData, with a nice discount, of course. For example:
Additional offers are on the Web site. These are just some
examples. Click the links to buy any of these bundles.
We also changed our ChartData
subscriptions a little, both in terms of what each level includes and
Our VFR ChartData subscription is
unchanged, remaining at $99. It's probably the best bargain in all
of aviation as it includes all application updates, digital
navigational data downloaded every 56 days, scanned Sectionals and TACs,
and the recently added daily fuel price downloads — in essence, everything you
need for VFR pre-flight planning. And, when used with Voyager 4.0,
the Sectionals become geo-referenced so you can view
them just like any other Chart layer.
The IFR ChartData level is now $199 (up
from $149) and includes everything in the VFR subscription plus scanned
IFR Low, IFR High and WAC Charts. Also, and most significantly,
this level also includes the standard non-geo-referenced approach
plates. Put differently, buying SmartPlates no longer provided
free plates. If you currently own SmartPlates
and do not have a ChartData subscription, we will, of course,
honor our original promise to provide the plates to you for no
additional fee; this new policy only applies to new purchases.
The EFB level of ChartData is now
$299. It adds geo-referenced approach plates and airport diagrams
to the IFR level and is what you want if you fly with Voyager on a
Special ChartData Subscription
The prices changes are effective
immediately. However, if you buy with Coupon Code Renew2007, you can
extend your existing ChartData subscription for up to an additional two
years at the old prices. In fact, if you extend now for another
two years, we'll add an
additional six months of ChartData for free. In other words, you
can purchase 30 months (two years + six free months) of IFR ChartData for just $298, versus $498 at the new prices.
Click below to take advantage of the offer.
FAA versus Department of Defense Data
The US Department of Defense used to
provide navigational data for airspace and airports all around the
world. About a year ago, they began to limit the data to the US
only, which is why our Canadian and Mexican data have not been updated
in a year. As of October 1, they no longer produce the data at
all. The FAA is in the process of filing the gap with their own
digital data, but they're not entirely done yet. In particular,
their airspace data doesn't include communication frequencies and is
missing Class A definitions. There probably will be
other subtle differences as well. We've been working with them for
some time on these issues and they promise corrections but they aren't
ready yet. On the other hand, their data is better updated and
includes some additional airway and preferred route information so,
going forward we're excited to get the data closer to the original
source. The next ChartData update, due October 25, will use the
FAA not DoD data.
Finally, the DoD used to update their data
every 28 days while the FAA uses a 56-day cycle. Approach plates
are still updated on a 28-day cycle. Thus, in the near future, we
expect our VFR ChartData to be updated every 56 days while the IFR and EFB ChartData (which now include approach plates) will be updated every
We're a computer software company not a computer hardware company.
That means we lose money every time we sell a tablet PC or other
hardware once you take all the overhead into account. Even worse, we haven’t been able offer you the
lowest prices. Therefore, we're pleased to announce a partnership
with Complete Tablet Solution (CTS), a leader in tablet PCs and an
authorized Motion Sales and Service center. The arrangement is
simple; you purchase software from us, hardware from CTS, then CTS
installs and configures it all so the unit
delivered complete and ready to fly.
CTS offers the complete range of Motion Computing tablets and
accessories, plus other hardware you need like Lind DC power
adapters, GPS receivers, and XM satellite weather receivers.
Special for LS800 owners: We sold 32GB solid state
drive upgrades for $949. The new price from CTS is only $799 plus
freight. You can contact CTS at
1-866-780-7480 x105, or on their Website at
Tips and Tricks
As always, please send your questions and
favorite tips to
A reminder that past Tips and Tricks are
available from our Web site at
Keep Current. As you've
probably noticed, we're constantly adding new features to Voyager.
A current ChartData subscription is all you need to get all the new
versions of Voyager
automatically — like the highly-anticipated Voyager 4.0 — when they come out. Conveniently, we're having a
ChartData sale this month.
Click to renew now.
Read The Book. We know that
most Windows program have lousy Help systems so no one thinks to use
them. But if you haven't tried Voyager's Help system you're in
for a pleasant surprise because we put a lot of effort into making it
complete. In most dialog boxes, just click the Help
button. Or, from the main window, select the Help menu, then
Common Tasks, for answers to common questions, or Index to
lookup by keyword.
Increase Your Performance.
To keep things simple, most Voyager aircraft profiles use what we
call a "Quick" profile that includes just one entry for Cruise TAS
and Fuel, one for Climb, and one for Descend. If your aircraft
flies high, you'll get more accurate speed and fuel burns if you
provide specific values for different altitudes. Select
Aircraft from the Lists menu and double-click on your
aircraft. Then select the Performance tab and
Talk to Your GPS. No one
likes to enter data more than once. If you have a handheld
Garmin or Lowrance GPS, Voyager can send a flight plan directly to
the device. Open a flight plan, then select Send to Device
or Application from the File menu (or click the button
shown on the left) and pick your device. Click the Help
button for any details on your particular GPS.
My Charts. The Chart Manager
makes it very easy to automatically keep your frequently used scanned
charts current. Select Chart Viewer from the View menu, then
and put checkmarks next to your favorite charts. Every time that
Voyager starts it confirms that it has the latest of each of these
charts and, if not, it downloads the revised charts in the background while
PDF a Go Go. Sometimes you
want to email a flight plan to a friend who may be using one of those
Brand X flight planning programs or put the flight plan on your PDA or
cell phone. If so, open the flight plan,
select Print to PDF from the File menu and create a PDF
file that's easy to email to anyone or put on your portable device.
Hide and Seek. Halloween
is approaching so, since I have two small children at home, I can't
help but use a Halloween reference somewhere. While having the
NavLog waypoint names and numbers on the Chart and Profile is
obviously helpful, sometimes, especially when zoomed far out or for
very crowded flight plans, everything would be more clear if it hid the
waypoint identifiers. Right-click on either the Chart or
Profile and uncheck Show Waypoint Identifiers. Also,
Voyager defaults to showing both the waypoint sequential number and
name. You can turn off either of these. Select
Options from the Tools menu, then select the
Preferences and Planning tabs. Use the Waypoint
identification style selector to change the display style.
What's New? We make
changes frequently so it's easy to lose track of things if you don't
use Voyager every day. For a quick refresher, select What's
New in This Version from the Help menu.
Voyager Your Way. As we
discussed last issue, it's pretty easy to create your own custom
themes (chart settings). By default, Voyager uses a theme
called Default when displaying a VFR flight plan and IFR
Enroute when displaying an IFR plan. If you'd prefer to
use different themes, select Options from the Tools
menu and change the settings in Default VFR theme and/or
Default IFR theme.
Yeah, I Got it Already.
Those automatic pop-up Help bubbles are handy when you're learning
Voyager but we've heard that some people prefer not to see them all
the time. Select Options from the Tools menu,
click Preferences and uncheck Show screen tips.
Change Your Wizard. No,
this isn't an allusion to Harry Potter (again, I have small kids at
home). The New Flight Plan wizard has up to nine distinct
steps so that you see all your options. After you've used Voyager
for some time, you'll probably find that you never use some of the
pages. If so, you can remove those steps and streamline the
planning process. For example, if you've seen enough of the
Eclipse 500, you can remove the first page from the Wizard.
However, be warned that we changed the plane for Voyager 4.0 so
you'd miss out on all the fun of seeing what we changed it to.
Select Options from the Tools menu then the Wizards
Seattle Avionics Software will be showing Voyager
at the following upcoming events. Stop by to say hello, see the
latest Voyager features, and ask the experts any questions you have about
February 23 - 24, 2008: Northwest
Aviation Conference and Trade Show. Puyallup, Washington.
April 8 - 13, 2008: Sun 'n Fun
Until next time, happy flying.
- Steve Podradchik, CEO (and Editor)