Hobbico Pro Series Big 5 GPS Meter Logger
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
Input Connection: Micro USB
Output Connection: 2-pin micro
Controls: 3 push-buttons
Dimensions: 2.56 x 1.57 x 0.82"
Weight: 1.45 oz (41 g)
Operating Time: 2.5 hours
- Great quality
- Accurate speed readings
- Good amount of options and functions
- Excellent price
- Compatibility with google maps
- Altitude/gps readings can be inaccurate*
* See testing section below
Before I got my Big 5 GPS meter I read and watched a few reviews on this device. Most of what I found was really over-technical, and really didn't answer the very basic questions I had. "Is it good?" and "Should I buy it?" I hopped on over to my local hobby shop and asked my trusted guys there what they knew about the Big 5. They had positive comments about it and recommended it over the similar product from Dynamite.
Out of the box:
I ordered the Big 5 from Tower Hobbies to get the extra few bucks off using their coupon codes. The Big 5 comes nicely packaged and with everything you need to get your started. I used the included USB cord and plugged it into my Mac right away and waited for the charge light to turn off so I could start messing with it. One thing I had read in other reviews was that it comes defaulting to kilometers per hour, and that it required software to change it to miles per hour. Either Hobbico has started to change these in the warehouse or I lucked out because mine was already set to miles per hour. I also noted that the device was much smaller and much lighter than I expected, which is awesome for aerial use.
Before attaching the Big 5 to anything RC, I wanted to see how accurate the speed readings were. I drove at low speeds, and I drove up to 70mph. The Big 5 would go between being exactly what the digital read out in my car said to being off by a single mile per hour. I got to wondering, hmmm, which one is a mph off, the car or the GPS meter. After doing a bit of research, I found out that car manufacturers (real cars that we travel in) are allowed a margin of error in the speedometer. Adding to that, if you use after market tires, or over or under inflate your tires, you speedometer can measure less accurately. GPS has a slight margin of error too, but in my tests, I'm siding with the Big 5 over Toyota.
So after the initial tests, I put some velcro on the Big 5 and tested a few ground rc vehicles with it. I was happy to see that I had the options of viewing current speed, average speed and top speed. We all have our different scenarios we want to measure, and in my case, it's pretty much speed runs. Testing a couple ARRMA vehicles (reviews on those coming soon), Traxxas vehicles and my trusty HPI WR8, I found the speeds to be pretty close to what they advertise. I think one thing that might bother some guys is when they find out the perceived 50+mph they think they have been doing, is actually closer to 35 of 40. I was really happy to get real readouts and to get a feel for what 30, 35, 50 really looks like! I think it will help in my future reviews also.
For kicks I tossed it into one of my planes. I was happy to see that the plane I tested was actually faster than I thought! Perhaps the size made it look slow. It is not something I plan on using, but I did check out the logging software briefly. You can in fact use it on a Mac if you need to, but you will have to use BootCamp and a clean copy of MS Windows. The software is pretty straight forward, but I won't get into it so much here as I think most of you reading this pretty much just want to know how fast your vehicles are.
One of the common complaints I saw in reviews by Tested and RCG, was that the altimeter was not very accurate. I looked into it and found out that different devices use different methods for measuring altitude. Some devices use barometric pressure, and some, like the Big 5, use GPS. The measurements will always vary depending on a host of scientific data. GPS is used more often in paragliding while barometric is the standard for aviation. To get truly accurate readings on either require tons of calculations that your small portable devices will not do for you. If you want the science behind it, check out this article. What I'm getting at is the Big 5 GPS meter, is inaccurate by an industry standard level. It is not because the Big 5 is not good at what it does.
The Big 5 GPS Meter by Hobbico is a must have for any lover of RC. Aside from our own curiosity (or ego), we always want to know how fast we are driving or flying. We all know that non-rc folks that watch us always want to know how fast we are going too! The Big 5 gives you the answer to that question with awesome accuracy. The ease of use and amount of functions allow the device to answer much more than just speed if we want it to also. The coupon codes from Tower Hobbies put this at about $80, well below the competition or anything you'll find from Garmin. Make sure you secure it well in an area that won't take an impact; but know that on one of my speed runs, I lost control and cartwheeled my car and the Big 5 survived. The one thing I have been asking myself is why did I wait this long? Forget the idea of an expensive (and often inaccurate) radar guns, and pick one of these little guys up. You'll be happy you did.