Using a Real GPS

Can I hook up a real GPS unit to X-Plane?

Amazingly enough, yes! With a power suply, serial cable, and plugin software, you can drive a Garmin GNS 430 or 480 with X-Plane and have it behave as if it were flying in a real plane. Jim McNeill explains how (with a bit of editing on my part):

I have hooked up my Garmin GNS 480 (can't speak for the 430). You need to get a 14V or 24V, as appropriate to your GPS, 1000 mA power supply (available from Radio Shack or other consumer electronics store) and have your avionics shop make up an I/O cable to connect the GPS to your computer. You don't have to modify the 430. You just run it in simulator mode. Details on how to do it are in the Garmin owner manual, also available as a free download from Garmin.

I'm not familiar enough with 430 to tell you where to look. The GNS 480 has a separate section that covers simulator operation. All I have to do is  push a button 3 times on start-up and it switches to simulator mode. On a  GPSMAP 196 handheld that I used to have, I had to go to one of the pages and switch it into simulator mode. [Discussion by others on the tech list suggests you need to buy a special simulator-capable version of the GNS 430 to be able to run in simulation mode. - Andy]

I use the XNO2 plugin and a made-up serial port cable. XNO2 inputs and outputs standard NMEA sentences that your GPS should be able to interpret. XNO2 is available for both Windows and Macintosh. Details and download are available at

Garmin also distributes software simulators for their products. These simulators run on Windows only. If you go to and click on the "free simulator" link on the right side of the page, it pops up a download page for all 3 versions of the simulator software. XNO2 was designed to run the GNS530 simulator program through a freeware "wrapper" program from FSAvionics called fsgarmin530. Details are at the XNO2 site.

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