When I first started planning the instrument panel layout for my RV-9A, I knew I wasn't going to be able to install an expensive certified GPS. Instead I planned to install a handheld GPS in the panel. I was hoping to mount it flush with the instrument panel. I wanted the installation to look professional. I also wanted to be able to remove the handheld GPS when necessary.
After considering exactly how I wanted the installation to look and feel, I realized that what I wanted could not be accomplished with the mounts supplied by the manufacturer. So I started working with a friend who does product design. We soon realized that this might be something that others might be interested in as well.
The result of our labor is, in my opinion, totally cool. When I installed the prototype in my panel for the first time it was clearly nicer than any other mounting solution I had seen. Best of all, I can quickly and easily remove the portable unit whenever necessary. This is a great feature that I will take advantage of when I want to plan my flight in the FBO instead of the cockpit. I also use my portable GPS for road trips, and being able to quickly remove the unit from the plane will definitely be a plus.
How about some details. The Panel Dock® is designed to fit the Garmin GPSMap 196, 296, 396, 495 and 496 handheld GPS units. The GPS is held firmly in place, but can be easily removed by pulling the release tab, located on the left side of the unit.
The Panel Dock is designed to fit in a standard 6.25" avionics stack, but it can also be flush-mounted anywhere else in the panel. We've worked hard to make it look like it belongs in a panel.
The antenna and power cables slide through prefabricated "keyholes" in the back of the unit, which keeps the connectors from slipping back into the panel when the unit is removed.