Pilot Products

August 1, 1997

Headsets, Inc. ANR conversion kit

Headsets, Inc. recently sent AOPA Pilot its active noise reduction (ANR) module that converts many existing passive noise attenuation headset models into active noise canceling headsets. Currently, the fit list covers headsets from Avcomm, Aviall, David Clark, Flightcom, Marv Golden, Peltor, Pilot Avionics, Sigtronics, Softcomm, and Telex. For specific model applicability, call Headsets, Inc.

The $169 kit can be self-installed or the conversion can be performed at the company's facilities in Amarillo, Texas, for a $50 charge, not including shipping. My brother, a friend, and I (the most electronically challenged of the group) elected to try the self-installation method because the instructions said that it required only minimal soldering skills. After opening the package of materials, we realized that the 28-gauge wires were far smaller than anything we had worked with before. The instructions, too, could have been a little friendlier to those who don't know the difference between tinning and soldering, for example. Regardless, we pushed onward with my faithful David Clark H10-13.4 as the lab rat. It's worth noting here that the deciding factor to go ahead and perform the operation was made when we checked with David Clark regarding its warranty and unusually generous service terms. Surprisingly, David Clark said that it will still service and/or replace any original component regardless of what customizing we'd done. Check the warranty of your headset's manufacturer before pressing on with such a purchase.

We removed the ear seals and the insulation from the ear cups. The five pages of instructions are complemented by one page of five illustrations. Because active noise reduction requires a power supply, a mini wiring harness that includes a power-supply wire will need to be made. All of the wires are color coded in order to help quell the confusion. By far, the worst part of the conversion was taking a drill to my favorite headset. The hole is for the power cord, which is connected to a small box that contains a 9-volt battery. Battery life is a claimed 20 hours, and at 30 logged hours it continued to work fine until someone left the ANR switch on.

The small wires and the pencil-tip-sized soldering iron (not included) required to splice them may necessitate sending the headset out for conversion. Also, some headsets have fragile innards that require a very delicate touch. The David Clark H10-13.4's volume control wire terminals are a good example. The soldering iron we used was a little large for the task but worked adequately if we kept a steady hand. About one-and-a-half hours was required for the installation, which is what the directions specified.

With the conversion complete, there is one more cord in the cockpit to contend with, as well as a battery box to find a home for. The power cord should be tie-wrapped to the main headset cord to reduce the spaghetti-in-the-cockpit effect. Overall comfort was the same as that of the preconversion DC although there was a slight gain in weight. The 13.4-ounce DC headset was probably up to nearly 16 ounces after the installation, thanks to the extra weight of the power cord and noise-canceling hardware (previously installed gel earseals also added a little weight). Still, it weighs much less than the 22-ounce Bose headsets, the standard of active noise-canceling headsets. Unfortunately, the Headsets, Inc.-converted David Clark will not be mistaken for a Bose in terms of sound quality and non-vise-like comfort, but there is a noticeable noise reduction from the standard DC 13.4.

In the cockpit din of an older Beech Baron, the converted headset did an admirable job of canceling the low-frequency noise such as that produced by the airplane's two-blade propellers. Higher-frequency noise, such as wind noise, was still very apparent but somewhat muffled. However, it seems that some of the passive attenuation of my original headset has been lost. When the ANR is turned off, the noise level is much greater than that of the standard headset. Headsets, Inc. claims a 15-decibel reduction through active attenuation, but that 15-db reduction appears to come from the revised elevated noise level in the passive mode.

With a stock David Clark in the cockpit at the same time, we spent some time swapping headsets in flight to determine the effectiveness of the ANR modification. My copilot and I both concluded that the conversion resulted in a quieter headset, but not by a large margin. This conversion will probably have a much more dramatic effect on headsets of lesser quality. The DC H10-13.4 was a fine headset from the start, and it's hard to top it.

Regarding the self installation, if you feel comfortable with your soldering skills and have the correct tools, such as a small soldering iron, small screwdriver, drill, lighter (or other heat source for shrink wrapping), tweezers, and a steady hand, the installation should go well, and you'll save $50. If not, send your headset out for the conversion. Either way, you'll spend a lot less money converting your headset than buying a high-end ANR set. Headsets, Inc. also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. For more information, contact Headsets, Inc., 2320 Lakeview Drive, Amarillo, Texas 79109; telephone 800/876-3374; e-mail ( [email protected]) or see the Web site ( http://members.aol.com/anrsets/). — Peter A. Bedell

Flight Instructor's Lesson Plan Handbook

Every flight instructor needs a library, but money and shelf space necessitate that it be limited to essential books. AOPA member Edwin Quinlan has written just such a book. He holds the usual handful of ratings that the author of such a book should have, but as it turns out, he also has organizational skills that most instructors would envy. Not only that, but he has been writing lesson plans for college aviation courses since 1976.

Buy and use this book and not only will you as an instructor be well-served, but so will your students. Quinlan obviously hopes that it will be adopted by university-level aviation courses, so he made it as thorough and accurate as a college textbook; but he also kept it practical as well — a reference meant to be used on the front lines of flight instruction. It is a tremendous aid to the part-time instructor.

Also included with each lesson plan are the most common errors likely to be made by students. Plans cover private, commercial, and instrument courses, as well as instrument proficiency checks, transition to turbine aircraft, presolo written tests, and flight reviews.

Students will save money and time, instructors will gain a reputation for thoroughness, and pilot examiners will appreciate getting better-prepared applicants. If that sounds like oversell, take a look at it for yourself. Available for $49.95 at pilot shops or from Aviators Publishing, 19 West 074 Avenue, Barbizon, Oak Brook, Illinois 60523. Add $4 for shipping. Also available by calling Bookmasters at 800/247-6553 or 419/281-6883. — Alton K. Marsh

Aux landing lights for Bonanzas

Alpine Aviation of Alexandria, Virginia, is now offering an auxiliary landing light system for Beech Bonanza models 33, 35, and 36. Inspired by the main-landing-gear-mounted landing lights on some Beech Dukes, inventor Adrian Eichhorn set out to supplement the lighting of his own Bonanza.

Eichhorn claims that the completely independent system illuminates an area four to five times greater than the factory-installed landing and taxi lights. The kit can be installed in 3 to 4 hours and provides everything needed for installation, including a sample FAA Form 337. Installed weight is less than 4 pounds.

Alpine is offering the aux landing light system for an introductory price of $1,250, not including shipping. Retail price is $1,495. For more information, contact Alpine Aviation, 2121 Jamieson Avenue, Suite 1511, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone 703/567-3103. — PAB

Jeppesen TechStar Pro

Jeppesen is now offering its latest aviation computer, the TechStar Pro. This seven-function handheld flight computer, combined with an eight-function personal organizer, figures time/speed/distance, altitude/airspeed, wind, weight and balance, latitude/longitude, and conversion calculations for the aviator. As an organizer, the TechStar Pro has a telephone/address list, to-do list, daily scheduler, trip-expense log, monthly calendar, local/world times with Zulu conversions, a timer, and a calculator.

The $149.95 TechStar is easy to use in that it prompts you for the information it requires. For example, to make a true airspeed calculation, TechStar asks whether you would like to use true temperature or indicated temperature. It then prompts you to input pressure altitude, temperature, and calibrated airspeed. After what seems like an eternity, the TechStar spits out — on its eight-line liquid-crystal display — true airspeed, density altitude, mach number, temperature rise, true temperature, degrees above or below standard temperature, and other information.

The only gripe we have with the TechStar is its sluggishness. The price is also an issue, but, as we see it, if you're the type of person who actually uses a personal organizer, the price is justified. If you were to use it strictly as a flight computer, there are others on the market that perform almost as many functions for less money — like Jeppesen's TechStar, which lists for $74.95. For information, contact Jeppesen at 55 Inverness Drive East, Englewood, Colorado 80112-5498; telephone 800/621-5377 or 303/784-4422. — PAB

Briefly Noted

Avionics Innovations, of Ramona, California, has obtained parts manufacturer approval for its AI-CD compact disk player and FM tuner. The AI-CD is designed to slide right into a standard 6.25-inch-wide avionics stack. Avionics Innovations says that the unit operates with every intercom system and is powered by a DC source of 12 to 30 volts. An external antenna is required on the airplane and is not included with the purchase of the unit. The AI-CD has an anti-vibration mechanism to minimize CD skipping in turbulence and has many playback features found on automotive CD players. On the FM side, the AI-CD has a 25-frequency memory, auto frequency store, and seek functions. The unit weighs 3.5 pounds and lists for $1,595. For information, call 760/788-2602. — PAB

PS Engineering has introduced the PM3000, a six-place panel-mounted intercom with stereo capabilities. Features include a Crew mode that keeps the pilot and copilot on a channel separate from that used by the passengers. Two music inputs allow passengers to listen to one source of music while the pilot and copilot can be on another if so desired. For information, contact PS Engineering at 423/988-9800. — PAB

Unless otherwise stated, products listed herein have not been evaluated by AOPA Pilot editors. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors. However, members unable to get satisfaction regarding products listed should advise AOPA. To submit products for evaluation, contact: New Products Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701; telephone 301/695-2350.