Ultralight aircraft radios, a radio system for ultralights, radio communication for ultralight aircraft.

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C.B. radio communication for your ultralight aircraft.

Communication, in general aviation can mean the spending of literally thousands of dollars, for aircraft band radios, headsets, intercoms etc.

A single headset can cost upwards of $450. In general aviation the headset and radio are normally mounted into the aircraft, on a permanent basis.

The aircraft like a car protects the instruments inside from wind and weather, sun and rain.

Another advantage is that the pilot can lock his expensive gear up in the plane which is stored in his hangar, protected from the midnight aircraft supply folks.

Ultralight pilots and their craft are usually not as lucky! To leave an expensive radio in an open or semi open cockpit, on grass strip, subject to prying eyes and mother nature is just asking for trouble. Still it would be nice to communicate with your buddies on cross country flights or for that matter with the wife and kids if you are up flying and just want someone to talk to.

The answer to the communications problem is actually very simple to solve. In our case we fly a little plane called the Buccaneer Amphibian, and if there is one thing we know it's that there are only two kinds of amphib or float pilots, those that have gotten wet and those that are going to get wet. So for us to spend thousands of dollars setting up with aircraft band radios etc., would just be a waste of time and money.

The solution was to find something relatively cheap, easy to install, easy to remove, with a repair centre close at hand, that could be bought anywhere we sold a plane, and that was backed by a large company so that if we needed parts or repairs that company would still be in business, years down the road. Of course most important, the system also had to work!

The solution was CB radios from Radio Shack, (model TRC415) at about $100., mirror mount mid loaded antennas from Radio Shack, (model 21941 single trucker) Ultra com audio equipped helmets from Comptronics Engineering, mated to one of Comptronics CB patch cords with a push to talk switch the Ultralight Aircraft News.

 Also required is a Rotax voltage regulator, available from, the Ultralight Aircraft News and a small 12 volt battery (if you want you can simply hook the radio up the battery it draws very little power and the battery can be charged from your cars cigarette lighter). We also found that a slide in quick disconnect panel for the radio from Radio Shack worked nicely. All you have to do when you want to remove the radio is pull it out of the quick disconnect disconnect mount, no cables, lines or plugs to undo.

Once you have hooked up your two yellow leads from your engine to the two yellow leads on the regulator, (on Rotax and Cayuna engines) you have 12 volt power coming off the red lead on the regulator. Now run a ground to the battery, run the positive from the regulator to the battery and you have a charging system. The next step is to connect the antennae, using the mirror mount bracket supplied, it will mount to almost any round tube, or you can remove half the bracket and bolt it to the root tube on most root tube style ultralights.

Once the antenna is mounted, and the power supplied to the radio via the battery, the next step is to mount the quick disconnect mount using worm drive clamps or whatever else is handy. (Most of the Shack radios come with mounts to mount under a car dash and they are easily adapted). With the mounting complete find one of those local CB enthusiasts and have him come over and check your radio for output. Our radios when properly matched, at 1,000 feet can reach close to 7 miles clearly, plane to plane and over 30 miles plane to a base station. You might find that you will have to turn your squelch up about half way to eliminate all the static and skip, but communication between planes is effected very little.

Approximate cost of the system:

Radio: TRC415 $100.00
Helmet: $
Patchcord: $
Antennae: Single trucker 21941 $32.00
Quickmount: $15.00
Voltage Regulator $

Another advantage that we have found with the CB system over conventional aircraft radios is the ability to talk to boaters, cars, police etc., and even other conventional aircraft. In more than one case we have been unable to reach one of our aircraft, because of distance between us, but have been able to contact a base station, and they have relayed messages back and forth until communications were restored. In other cases pilots were able to arrange for help to come to their aid when down in a field miles from nowhere, when a passing motorist picked up their call for assistance.

Believe me there is nothing like CB communications when 6 aircraft set out on a cross country and 1 gets lost. We have not found engine noise to be a factor, and the initial cost is quite inexpensive, when you consider you should fly with a helmet and ear protection anyway. In our case we use the battery to run a little bilge pump, and on wet days use the aerials to hang our wet clothes.

U.B. Judge  

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  1. How to minimizing noise in radio and intercoms:

    Most strobe driver units are designed with filtering and internal shielding to keep radio interference to a minimum, however occasionally noise will be heard over the radio or intercom This noise is almost always caused by the way the systems have been installed. One must remember that noise does not always come from the power that is being supplied to your equipment.
    Click here for more information
    This information is provided as a guide for shielding your aircraft for the successful installation and operation of any AM radio system. Engines used in ultralight aircraft are traditionally two stroke 20 to 75 horse-power units which use a magneto to generate electric current in order to produce a high energy spark for ignition. This type of ignition is reliable and effective and used on most aircraft utilizing gasoline-fueled engines.
    Click here for more info!

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