Bad Elf was one of the first companies to offer an external GPS option for iPad in late 2010, and it was an instant hit. Their plug-in style GPS allowed owners of WiFi-only iPads to add precise position data to the iPad, enabling the moving map and navigation features in the popular aviation apps. Even pilots flying with iPad models containing an internal GPS still found that using an external GPS like the Bad Elf provided a more reliable GPS signal (read more info on the benefits here).
The original Bad Elf plug-in GPS connects to the bottom of the iPad using the 30-pin connector and is powered from the iPad’s battery, meaning there’s not a second battery to worry about. However, when Apple switched to the new Lightning connector last year this model was no longer compatible, unless you wanted to use a clunky 30-pin to Lightning adapter. Fortunately, Bad Elf released a new model GPS that incorporates the Lightning connector, and is compatible with the new iPad Mini and Air.
In addition to standard GPS reception, the new Bad Elf also supports GLONASS, meaning you’ll get faster lock times and better reception in cockpits with limited outside visibility. The new version still includes a mini-USB port so you can charge your iPad with the GPS plugged in. And like with the original Bad Elf, remember to rotate the iPad 180 degrees in your lap or with a kneeboard so that the GPS chip sticks out at the top and out of the way. During our flight test the unit work flawlessly with ForeFlight. It received a GPS lock very quickly out of the box, and provided a reliable and consistent position feed for the entire flight.
The Bad Elf for Lightning Connector is now shipping and sells for $99.99. Bad Elf also makes a Pro model GPS, which is connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to up to 5 iPads simultaneously. We also recommend that you download Bad Elf’s free GPS utility app, which provides basic information on the status of the unit and GPS reception status. It’s not required to use either GPS model, but it’s a nice companion app to keep on your iPad in the unlikely event that you need to troubleshoot a reception issue.