Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

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jackhodgson
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Re: Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

Postby jackhodgson » Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:42 pm

I've been limping along with my really old icom a-22. I suspect that I will eventually replace it, but not yet.

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champguy
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Re: Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

Postby champguy » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:32 am

The traps with these handhelds are the user interface/too many damn modes and options, the internal charging circuit which may melt if you transmit while plugged into the pannel, and the rechargable batteries which may be down when you finally need the radio and drag it out of your flight bag. The Double A battery packs "recharge" quite quickly from a stash of double "A"s and require less planning ahead. On the other hand, if you are using the radio every day the standard rechargable setup works well.
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Mike
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Re: Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

Postby Mike » Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:17 pm

I picked up a Vertex VXA-220 for a great price at AOPA expo last year.
It works well. I get ATIS off of it while heading to the airport, and call UNICOM from our parking to request fuel.

Whatever you decide AOPA Aviation Summit may be a place to get a good price.

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Re: Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

Postby Andrew B » Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:44 pm

Hello everyone,

I understand im a little late on these posts but thought maybe someone would see this and give me some help.

Im a student pilot working my way towards a solo soon. Once I solo as you know I will be taking some cross country flights. Im think that maybe a handheld would be a good idea to purchase considering the amount of flying I plan on doing in the future. Is that reasonable to say? (And like any pilot I want to potentially listen to the local traffic when Im not up there.)

Now, If you agree with me (and if you don't please tell me) what radios do you prefer? As of right now I am looking at the ICOM IC-A6 or Vertex Standard VXA-300 Pilot III. Both to me at least seem like quality radios at a o.k. price. Any suggestions or comments on these models? Pros vs. Cons?

Thanks --Andrew
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CaptainCode
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Re: Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

Postby CaptainCode » Thu Dec 10, 2009 1:10 pm

Might as well add my thoughts to this thread.

I bought the Vertex Pilot III a while ago and I like it a lot. I have not used it to transmit yet since I'm usually only around controlled airports but the receiving is quite good even with the stock rubber antenna. I can receive some signals from planes 1000 AGL or so from 20KM away depending on ground obstructions.

The interface is quite complicated since it has a VOR receiver in it. I still haven't really figured out how to use it but the radio portion of it is great. The battery lasts for months for receiving only and I typically use it an average of 7 hrs per week. It's 5W max transmission power so I suspect the battery would drain fairly quickly if you are using it for 2 way operation.

I am looking to get a better antenna though. Does anyone have any thoughts on which antennas work well for handhelds to replace the stock antenna?

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Re: Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

Postby Dave Higdon » Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:54 pm

Are you seeking to plug the handheld's antenna connection into an external antenna on an airplane? If that's the thought, check with an avionics shop for some recommendations...if it's for the handheld itself, haven't a clue on where to start on that one -- I almost always live with what brought it to the dance.

Dave

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Re: Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

Postby CaptainCode » Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:25 pm

I'm looking for an antenna that I can replace the standard antenna with which is basically just a whip antenna. Not looking to have an external antenna connected to an airplane. I have an adaptor that I got for the handheld which converts the SMA connector to a BNC connector which you can use for most external type antennas.

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Laminar
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Re: Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

Postby Laminar » Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:10 pm

I'm looking for an antenna that I can replace the standard antenna with which is basically just a whip antenna.

While it is true that a whip antenna outperforms a "rubber duck," the difference is small, only a couple of dB. I doubt if you would notice the difference without test equipment. Assuming you want an omnidirectional, portable antenna, I think you should stick with the rubber duck.

But if you really want to try a whip, you can make one out of a coat hanger. Just cut it to 75/F meters, where F is the frequency in Megahertz.

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Re: Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

Postby CaptainCode » Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:13 pm

Thanks for the reply. I'm not sure if it would be too easy to rig a coat hanger to test out since I don't think it would fit in the connector properly but you're right that I might not see too much improvement in reception, at least on the ground.

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Re: Buying an Aviation Handheld Radio

Postby Soccer-Jock » Sun Jan 03, 2010 8:27 am

Being a radio aficionado, and a licensed HAM ( amateur radio operator... hello from N1IVC ), I thought it would be simple to pick a radio. Man, I was wrong.
In the Ham world there are arguably three leaders: Kenwood, Yaesu, and Icom. It seems that in the aviation world It's Yaesu (aka. Vertex Standard), Icom, and Uniden (makers of the Sporty's handheld).

I bought the Vertex Standard VXA-300. The radio has a ton of features, and has performed well. However I would not recommend it, and I will not replace it with another. My biggest gripe is that the radio is cryptic and confusing to use. It is not logical in any sense of the term. Sure, with a handbook and perhaps some repeated use the controls become easier. But the reality is that I bought, and have used, this radio as a "backup emergency" radio. An emergency or pressured condition is the worse time to be confused on the operation of a radio! Hind sight is 20/20.

Having taken more time and actually used several others I would chose the Icom handheld. Icom, at least in the amateur world, is know for ruggedness and reliability. And it's operation far more clear than the Vertex. I haven't played with the Sporty's model yet. It appears very simple to operate, but it's huge.


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