Tim Bruno of RAD Electronics has designed a "black
box" intercom system that is said to reduce background noise
and combine a lot of options for ultralight pilots.
Flying open-air ultralights often presents a problem in communication
because of the high noise environment. Over the years many headsets
and intercom designs have helped pilots overcome much of the noise.
A new company called RAD Electronics has come up with an affordable
"black box" intercom system that is claimed to reduce
background noise and combine a lot of options for the pilot.
"I ended up going with a type of noise reduction which
has never been done in an ultralight intercom," claims RAD
owner Tim Bruno. "My wife Shari and I wanted to get something
on the market that was [affordable], really versatile and does
everything in one box."
Called the TAC 100, the intercom features a unique electronic
noise-limiting design, allowing for comfortable intercom volume
while it reduces unwanted ambient noise. Powered by a 9-volt alkaline
battery or 12-volt DC power, the intercom comes with a music jack
for CD, tape or radio; two transceiver ports for air-to-air or
air-to-ground communication; dual volume and threshold controls;
user-adjustable output gain controls for push-to-talk arrangements;
and durable anodized finish.
Measuring 1.5 by 4 by 4 inches, the intercom can be panel mounted
or placed in a portable "RAD Pak."
"Electronic noise and ambient noise are two different
things," Bruno explains. "Electronic noise is caused
by the engine, lighting coils, tachometer, magneto switches and
strobe lights. That's all usually taken care of by putting a circuit
board in the intercom box. The protection is the circuit board
and the aluminum box.
"Ambient noise is just what comes into your microphones
and ends up going through your speakers. Therefore we have adjustable
noise-attenuation so you can actually limit your background noise.
And it's not a squelch like in general aviation. It's never been
done in this market before. It's a compressor-limited circuit
that actually compresses the waveform when there's low voltage
coming through the microphone such as ambient noise. But when
you speak into the microphone, it agitates the microphone diaphragm,
creating more voltage break but you don't hear it working as fast.
Again, it's not a squelch. You won't cut off first and last words,
you don't have to yell to break it. You can talk pretty naturally
even at full-power takeoff. You don't have to throttle back, because
the intercom works well enough even to fly as a single-place and
plug into the intercom just as you listen to music or whatever
you want to do while you're flying.
"We've also gone to a 4-layer circuit board in our intercom
box, which is heavily shielded. The box is usually what does a
lot of the noise suppression."
What if a pilot already has a helmet and headset system and
he just wants the intercom box? Is that retrofittable?
"If it's a single-plug system, yes," says Bruno.
"So you don't have to replace your whole system, just your
intercom if you want better noise attenuation. They're all surface
mount, all the jacks are surface mount, eliminating the wires
in the box."
RAD Electronics also manufactures communication helmets and
headsets. "We have 8 different color earcups, four different
color helmet combinations, and interface cables for all the popular
radios," says Bruno.
Info: RAD Electronics, Inc., W9509 County Road JJ,
Dept. UF, Wautoma, WI 54982.
Phone: (920) 787-3572.
If your ultralight has an electric starter and battery
and is powered by a Rotax engine, you have all you need to run
the Skydat GX1 - a digital avionics system.
If you're looking for one all-around instrumentation system,
check out the Skydat GX1. It monitors all Rotax engine functions,
and includes airspeed, altitude and climb rate readings - all
in one package.
Designed and manufactured by Amptronic in South Africa, the
Skydat GX1 is available in the U.S. through Rainbow Aircraft.
The unit features functions that can be displayed in three
different sets of units: Imperial (UK), Imperial (US) and metric.
Most of the functions are displayed in analog format with dials
or bar graphs being utilized. Also, there is a visual alarm that
warns the pilot if an important engine parameter has been exceeded.
According to the company, one of the great features of the
Skydat is the installation. "All senders are connected to
the Engine Management Module, which is located in the proximity
of the engine," according to Skydat's literature. "This
module processes the signals and transmits them via 4 wires to
the GX1 instrument face."
The Skydat GX1 shows flight and engine functions. Flight information
includes airspeed in kilometers or miles per hour; altitude in
meters or feet; vertical speed indicator in m/s or feet per minute;
flight duration in hours, minutes and seconds; air temperature
in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit; and glide ratio. Engine information
includes engine rpm; engine hours in hours and minutes; depending
on the type of engine or configuration selected, CHT, EGT or CHT/CHT,
EGT/EGT; water and oil temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit; oil
pressure, bars or PSI; and battery voltage.
Designed for Rotax engines, the Skydat GX1 "needs clean
12-volt power," says the company. "If the aircraft is
fitted with a battery and electric starter, then you will have
all you need to run this system. If your aircraft does not have
a battery, then you will need to fit a regulator/rectifier to
the engine and connect a capacitor to the regulator output."
Info: Rainbow Aircraft, 162 Quincy #G, Dept. UF, Long
Beach, CA 90803.
Phone: (310) 251-7560 * Fax: (562) 433-0738 * e-mail:
Fort Vancouver Ultralights Exclusive Six Chuter Distributor
Six Chuter Dealers to Set Prices,
Offer Customer Financing
Fort Vancouver Ultralights president Doug Maas, the new
exclusive distributor of Six Chuters line of powered parachutes,
displays the new 2-seat Spirit powered parachute at the U.S. Ultralight
Association annual Convention and Air Sports Expo in Ontario,
California this past February. "The Spirit by Six Chuter
is the result of totally reengineering the most popular powered
parachute in America, the SR-7xl," Fort Vancouver Ultralights
Six Chuter, the Yakima, Washington manufacturer of single-
and 2-seat powered parachutes, has announced "significant
changes in the Six Chuter method of distributing powered parachutes,"
says newly appointed Six Chuter distributor Doug Maas of Fort
Vancouver Ultralights. Six Chuter president Dan Bailey calls the
new marketing method "a radical approach to marketing and
In conjunction with the new distribution deal, Six Chuter is introducing
two new 2-seat powered parachute models c the Prowler and the
Spirit (see article in this months "Industry Watch"
on page 10). "We are simultaneously launching production
of the best powered parachute in the nation," Bailey claims,
"responding to anticipated implications of FAAs Sport Pilot/Light-Sport
Aircraft NPRM * (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), and opening
the market with a radical approach to marketing and distribution."
The new distribution deal has the father-son team of Doug and
Brian Maas of Fort Vancouver Ultralights exclusively handling
the marketing and distribution of Six Chuters complete line of
single- and 2-seat powered parachutes, while Six Chuter does the
manufacturing, including the "subassembly" of the new
Spirit powered parachutes, according to Fort Vancouver Ultralights.
Spirit owners will do the final Spirit kit assembly, estimated
to take about 40 hours. "Six Chuter will handle all manufacturing,"
Brian Maas says, "and Fort Vancouver Ultralights will handle
the sales and distribution."
"Washington state corporation Fort Vancouver Ultralights
approached Six Chuter with a proposal to build the Spirit and
allow the partner corporation to handle exclusive marketing and
distribution" of Six Chuters powered parachutes, Bailey explains.
"Doug Maas, president of Fort Vancouver Ultralights and the
former chief of police in Vancouver, Washington, recently retired
as president of the local Chamber of Commerce. Maas is one of
our top-performing dealers. His family corporation made this proposal,
and we have accepted."
As Six Chuters new distributor, Maas announced that Six Chuter
"sales associates" (dealers) will offer financing on
Spirit sales to their customers. "The financing package extends
72-month financing on the Spirit," Maas says. "With
as little as 10% down and interest rates as low as 8.5% to qualified
purchasers, a customer can buy the Spirit for payments of around
$215 a month."
The total price the customer pays will, of course,
depend on which powered parachute model is purchased and the options
chosen, but it will also depend on which dealer you buy from,
as Six Chuter dealers will determine their own pricing. "Final
retail pricing will be established by Six Chuter dealers, based
on the level of service the customer requires," Fort Vancouver
Ultralights notes. Commenting on Six Chuters new distribution
deal with Fort Vancouver Ultralights, Maas says, "We challenged
Six Chuter to design a new powered parachute that incorporates
the best of industry practices, while maintaining the strength
of the former line of powered parachutes. They did that and more."
And in what sounds like a direct challenge to the rest of the
powered parachute industry, Maas states, "Not only did Six
Chuter make every change we asked for, they even managed to reduce
the overall weight, as well as reduce the production cost to a
level I dont believe can be matched by anyone else in this industry."
With the 50- to 75-pound reduction in overall weight, the 2-seat
Spirit flying with a high-performance canopy wing and both pilot
and passenger aboard can successfully utilize the popular 50-hp
Rotax 503 dual carb 2-cycle aircraft engine, making it "an
extremely economical 2-place powered parachute," Bailey says.
Fort Vancouver Ultralights is located at the Brush Prairie Aerodrome
(5WA9), a privately owned ultralight-friendly grass airstrip.
Six Chuter is introducing the new Spirit "at a sustainable
price that no one can match over the long run," Bailey boldly
predicts. "The 2-seat Spirit will be offered starting at
$12,025." With the popular 65-hp liquid-cooled Rotax
582 2-cycle aircraft engine and an APCO Mark II canopy or new
Osprey canopy from South African company Hawkwing, it will sell
for as little as $13,495. This is for a complete subassembled
kit with a Grand Rapids Technologies Engine Information System
(EIS) instrument package and a Powerfin 3-blade composite propeller.
And it will be offered with "every option imaginable,"
Bailey says, "including split seating, windshield kit and
the Rotax E gearbox reduction drive with electric start."
*See "Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft NPRM Info," April
02 Ultralight Flying! magazine
- Buzz Chalmers
Info pack: free. Video: $5 (plus shipping). Fort Vancouver Ultralights,
1232 NE Cedar Ridge Loop, Dept. UF, Vancouver, WA 98664. Phone:
(360) 896-8916 * Toll-free: (888) 944-8916 * Fax: (360) 896-7234
Flightstar Releases Service Bulletin and Airworthiness Directive
Flightstar Sportplanes, manufacturer of the Flightstar line
of single- and 2-seat ultralights, has issued a service bulletin
and an airworthiness directive. The service bulletin affects
all Flightstar models equipped with a Rotax 2-stroke engine, and
the airworthiness directive affects aircraft manufactured after
1995 that are equipped with the molded cross-link polyethylene
10-gallon fuel tank.
Service Bulletin: Inspection
and Replacement of Impulse Line
We are recommending all owners of Flightstar aircraft equipped
with Rotax 447, 503 and 582 engines to inspect the impulse line
and replace it with new impulse line if found to be opaque and/or
rigid," says Flightstar. "The daily preflight inspection
of the Rotax found in the manual recommends checking the impulse
line daily. The maintenance schedule we supply in our kits recommends
closely inspecting the impulse line every 50 hours, with replacement
at 150 hours or annually."
Description: The thick wall (1/4-inch inside diameter to
1/2-inch outside diameter) Tygothane tubing supplied by Flightstar
in all kits since 1996. The impulse line is the tubing that runs
from the impulse nipple on the lower case of the engine to the
Required Action: Inspect your aircraft. The fuel pump
is operated by the vacuum "impulse" from the crankcase,
and if the impulse line is cracked or leaks, the engine could
stop, says Flightstar. Inspect the impulse line for flexibility
and discoloration. If it is either dark brown or opaque and not
flexible, replace it immediately with 1/4- by 1/2-inch Tygon-Tygothane
tubing only. Do not use standard fuel line.
The replacement impulse line can be purchased from Flightstar
or Flightstar-approved supplier Lockwood Aviation Supply. Phone:
Replacement of Fuel Drain Rubber
Grommet with Threaded Plug
We are requiring all owners of Flightstar aircraft manufactured
after 1995 that are equipped with the molded cross-link polyethylene
10-gallon fuel tank to replace the rubber grommet and barbed fitting
with the threaded drain plug fitting at the sump drain location,"
Required Action: "We recommend that within 30 days
of reading this notice you equip your aircraft with the threaded
drain fitting," says Flightstar.
We will supply the fitting for a nominal fee to cover the cost
of the parts only. These are available to all owners."
Info: Flightstar, Inc., PO Box 760-UF, Ellington, CT 06029. Phone:
(860) 875-8185 * Fax: (860) 875-8185 * e-mail: