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.
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
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
Approximate cost of the system:
|Antennae: Single trucker 21941
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.