Friday, March 6, 2009

No Speedo? Use Your iPhone...

It's a situation that's probably happened hundreds of times. I was on the lake, gradually applying more throttle as I moved out of the no-wake zone. I was getting up to speed, and just got the trim tabs adjusted to bring the bow down nice and level...and then I started applying more throttle. Soon, the Formula was moving along nicely, it's hull slicing right through the light chop, and I watched the houses on the shore start passing by faster and faster. Wow! It sure FELT fast. Then I glanced down at the instrument panel: the speedometer said ZERO. "Awwww, crap..." I thought to myself.

The speedometer had been working before. But somewhere along the line, I must have got something in the pitot tube back on the transom, and it was no longer working. No flow, no water pressure, and nothing for the speedometer to measure. An attempt at cleaning it out the following week had no effect, and I resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to replace the pitot..eventually. An easy job, to be sure, but an annoyance, just the same. Of course if I had an instrument panel like the one pictured on the rig below, I wouldn't have to bother with this stuff; I'd have a fancy GPS speedometer that would be far less likely to go bad and a lot more accurate.

PHOTO CREDIT: Cigarette Racing Team

Which brings me to the inexpensive, handy-dandy iPhone app I found a few months ago (not in time for boating season, though) called simply SPEED. Sadly, this GPS-based speedometer was free when I grabbed it, but is just 99 cents now, so it's well worth the price. The display is clear and legible, and it reads in both kilometers and miles per hour. Plus, if you swipe the dial vertically, it will invert the colors, which makes it nice if reflection is a problem. You'll probably have to be moving at least 5mph to get a reading, but you can rest assured that the GPS speed reading it gives you is definitely more accurate than the old-fashioned analog speedo you might have been using. There is supposedly a new, improved $1.99 version coming out soon, but if you buy now, they'll upgrade you for free.

The nice iPhone bonus is that you don't need a separate camera to "shoot" your speed reading; just hit the "menu button" and the "on/off" button on the top at the same time, and the iPhone's camera takes a screenshot. Couldn't be simpler...

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