Avionics News January 2012 - 42

AUDIO PANELS

Continued from page 41

“If you buy an audio panel with two unswitched audio inputs and your aircraft has six devices that need connections, you have made a bad choice and created a lot of extra work for your installer. A lot of things that pilots believe are important in a new unit don’t have a lot to do with the practicality of the selection. It’s easy to get caught up on the features and capabilities and lose sight of what you really need. That’s where the real value of a good avionics shop comes in.” Another value from working with an established avionics shop is it will most likely have demo units so you can experience how the buttons and switches work. “Usually what sells them are the aesthetics and preferences in types of buttons and controls,” Miller said. “Some people like knobs. Some people don’t. There’s something for everyone.” REPAIR OR REPLACE? Let’s face it, every pilot loves to buy new equipment for their airplane. But, other than to cure a major case of “cockpit envy,” what guidelines should someone use to determine when the right time is to upgrade an audio panel? “Start with the type of audio panel currently installed in the airplane and the cost to repair,” Truglia said. “If it’s going to be $600 or $700 or more to repair and a suitable replacement will cost $1,000 or so, then go with the brand new unit and get a warranty. It comes down to the type of owner. Some just don’t like change.” Of course, in many cases repairing the current unit can be an affordable option. “Spare parts aren’t much of a problem for the more popular models,” he said. “But, when you get into some of the models that have been out of production for years, they’re really not worth fixing. It’s just better to invest in a new unit.” As Truglia pointed out, whether because of familiarity, the need to save money or the desire to keep the cockpit looking “stock,” some pilots just aren’t in the market for new audio panels. In those instances, the only option is to buy a used unit. And, that’s not a bad thing. “We’re starting to see the prior-generation audio panels, like the Garmin GMA340s and PS Engineering 7000 Series, come up as used now,” Miller said. “These are very good audio panels, and you can get them for a fraction of what they cost new. As far as quality and value, they’re a good way to go.” Miller cautioned against going with some of the older
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units. “They’re at the end of their operational lives, especially when it comes to replacement parts,” he said. About the only other reason a pilot would have to replace a perfectly good audio panel is when he/she upgrades the aircraft’s radios. According to Miller, the typical old-generation audio panel won’t offer the switching capabilities required by the new generation nav/comm/GPS units. Besides, a new audio panel will make the new radios look much better. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE INSTALL While many audio panel manufacturers tout that their units are “plug-and-play” replacements, unless you are replacing a new-generation box with another new-generation box, they aren’t. For most of us, a cool, new audio panel that retails for $1,195 is going to end up costing the customer a bit more. “When you put in a new audio panel into your 30-year old airplane, you have to figure everything is going to have to be replaced,” Miller said. “That not only has to do with the different features, but also the change in technology and thought processes behind the installations to bring it up to current FAA guidelines and specifications. “Also, a lot of the new audio panels have much more stringent installation requirements when it comes to the type of wiring used,” he said. “Shielded wiring, shielded terminations and floating jacks – a lot of different technologies than what we used to see.” Even if you’re not doing a drastic technical upgrade with your new audio panel, Truglia strongly suggests you upgrade the wiring. “Some of it can be 40 or more years old,” he said. “It’s just going to cause you problems down the road. That’s an issue many owners have – they don’t see the need to put in new wiring when everything is working fine. But, you see it all the time. Sooner or later they are going to have problems caused by the old wiring.” Miller shared one last thought on installations. “The typical A&P is not going to be able to install these audio panels any longer,” he said. “No offense to anyone, but they probably don’t have the tools and experience to do the job properly. There is a lot more involved in installing these sophisticated units today.” “Just make sure any piece of (new or used) avionics equipment you buy is from a reputable avionics shop and is being installed by professionals,” Truglia said. “Also, make sure they give you proper documentation with your installation and some kind of warranty service.” q

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january

2012



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Avionics News January 2012

Point of Communication
AEA Now
The View From Washington
International News and Regulatory Updates
Rockwell Collins' Fusion Upgrades
Member Profile
Where Are They Now?
Before & After
Next Step in the GPS Battle
A Conversation With...
Touchscreen Avionics: Training Required
Sounding Off On Audio Panels
Member Profile
Advertisers Index
Aviation Aces
Business Basics
Meet the AEA Board
Theory & Practice
Legal Ease
Special Report
What's New
Marketplace Classifieds
Avionics News January 2012 - Cover1
Avionics News January 2012 - Cover2
Avionics News January 2012 - 1
Avionics News January 2012 - 2
Avionics News January 2012 - 3
Avionics News January 2012 - Point of Communication
Avionics News January 2012 - 5
Avionics News January 2012 - AEA Now
Avionics News January 2012 - 7
Avionics News January 2012 - 8
Avionics News January 2012 - 9
Avionics News January 2012 - 10
Avionics News January 2012 - 11
Avionics News January 2012 - 12
Avionics News January 2012 - 13
Avionics News January 2012 - The View From Washington
Avionics News January 2012 - 15
Avionics News January 2012 - International News and Regulatory Updates
Avionics News January 2012 - 17
Avionics News January 2012 - 18
Avionics News January 2012 - 19
Avionics News January 2012 - Rockwell Collins' Fusion Upgrades
Avionics News January 2012 - 21
Avionics News January 2012 - 22
Avionics News January 2012 - 23
Avionics News January 2012 - Member Profile
Avionics News January 2012 - 25
Avionics News January 2012 - 26
Avionics News January 2012 - 27
Avionics News January 2012 - Where Are They Now?
Avionics News January 2012 - 29
Avionics News January 2012 - 30
Avionics News January 2012 - Before & After
Avionics News January 2012 - Next Step in the GPS Battle
Avionics News January 2012 - 33
Avionics News January 2012 - A Conversation With...
Avionics News January 2012 - 35
Avionics News January 2012 - Touchscreen Avionics: Training Required
Avionics News January 2012 - 37
Avionics News January 2012 - 38
Avionics News January 2012 - 39
Avionics News January 2012 - Sounding Off On Audio Panels
Avionics News January 2012 - 41
Avionics News January 2012 - 42
Avionics News January 2012 - 43
Avionics News January 2012 - Member Profile
Avionics News January 2012 - 45
Avionics News January 2012 - 46
Avionics News January 2012 - Advertisers Index
Avionics News January 2012 - Aviation Aces
Avionics News January 2012 - 49
Avionics News January 2012 - 50
Avionics News January 2012 - 51
Avionics News January 2012 - Business Basics
Avionics News January 2012 - 53
Avionics News January 2012 - 54
Avionics News January 2012 - 55
Avionics News January 2012 - Meet the AEA Board
Avionics News January 2012 - 57
Avionics News January 2012 - 58
Avionics News January 2012 - 59
Avionics News January 2012 - Theory & Practice
Avionics News January 2012 - 61
Avionics News January 2012 - Legal Ease
Avionics News January 2012 - 63
Avionics News January 2012 - Special Report
Avionics News January 2012 - 65
Avionics News January 2012 - 66
Avionics News January 2012 - 67
Avionics News January 2012 - 68
Avionics News January 2012 - 69
Avionics News January 2012 - What's New
Avionics News January 2012 - 71
Avionics News January 2012 - 72
Avionics News January 2012 - 73
Avionics News January 2012 - Marketplace Classifieds
Avionics News January 2012 - 75
Avionics News January 2012 - 76
Avionics News January 2012 - Cover3
Avionics News January 2012 - Cover4
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