January 1, 2001
Headsets Inc. made a name for itself with its conversion kits, which transform many popular passive-attenuation headsets into active noise reduction (ANR) models. In 1997, we converted my faithful David Clark H10-13.4 to ANR with the Headsets Inc. conversion kit (see "Pilot Products," August 1997 Pilot). That headset is still my favorite and performs very well. And David Clark, despite the fact that we had heavily modified one of its headsets, still honored its legendary warranty when the microphone recently began malfunctioning.
With Headsets Inc.'s background in ANR technology, it has decided to introduce its own headset, the EM-1. The chassis is a David Clark H10-series clone with more conservative dark-green ear cups. Nice features such as an Oregon Aero Softtop padded headband, gel ear seals, and a place-it-anywhere mic boom make the EM-1 ergonomically friendly. The EM-1 is stereo capable with individual volume controls for each ear and a switch on the cord for mono or stereo audio. Changes from the company's original conversion kit include new ANR modules that are made of softer material for better noise absorption. The ear cups are also rubberized for the same reason. A separate battery box is used and it shares a cord with the mic/phone jacks, eliminating the need to unite two separate cords as we did with the David Clark conversion. The cords are heavily reinforced at attach points to avoid wear or breakage. The cords separate at the end so that you can find a convenient place to stow the battery box in the cockpit. Optional power sources allow the EM-1 to be powered by the aircraft's electrical system, a cigarette lighter, or a rechargeable battery.
The mic boom swings to either side of the ear cup, which is handy for those switching between the left and right seats in the cockpit. Those using the EM-1 with a stereo intercom should always have the ear cup with the mic boom on the left, however, for proper left/right audio. With the gel ear seals and new hardware, the EM-1 weighs in at a somewhat hefty 20 ounces. However, the Softtop pad distributes the weight well.
In a few different GA airplanes, I found the EM-1 to be the quietest headset I've ever put on my head. Headsets Inc.'s use of both passive noise canceling (gel seals, insulation, and just enough clamping) and active noise reduction gear combined to make a Cessna 172's four-banger purr almost like a turboprop. In two separate turboprop regional airliners, the EM-1 had some inexplicable issues with the hot-mic intercom system that made it unusable in those airplanes. In other GA airplanes with voice-activated intercoms, there were no similar problems. I noted a distinct amplification of radio volume when the ANR switch was thrown. And like most ANR headsets, the sound quality of the speakers becomes noticeably tinnier when the electronics are turned on.
The EM-1 lists for $399 and comes with a three-year warranty, a headset bag, the Oregon Aero Softtop, and gel ear seals. By this spring the company hopes to have an auto shutoff feature added to the unit. Initial EM-1 buyers can add the auto shutoff as a no-cost upgrade when it becomes available. Headsets Inc. offers a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with the EM-1's performance. For more information, contact Headsets Inc., 2320 Lakeview Drive, Amarillo, Texas 79109; telephone 800/876-3374 or 806/358-6336; or visit the Web site ( www.headsetsinc.com). — Peter A. Bedell
All of the big, beautiful panel-mounted GPS displays may have you lusting after your own moving map. Like most new avionics, however, the barriers to entry may lie in a prohibitively high cost and lack of real estate on the panel. Well, feast your eyes on C-Map's new AvMap product line.
The first of these products, the EKP-II NT GPS, is a kneeboard-style large-format moving-map unit that combines many of the same features as its panel-mounted brethren. From the main menu, you may select the moving-map screen, which brings up as much detail as you'd like. The screen centers either on your position or, in cursor mode, on any destination you select. Access to the various functions is through a relatively simple keypad: Once you figure out the logic, inputs are intuitive.
Other screens lead you through the database, supplied on a Jeppesen card, and flight-planning functions. One unique feature, though we didn't test this function in flight, is the horizontal situation indicator (HSI) screen. The EKP-II generates an HSI-like display, which incorporates a vertical situation indictor (VSI) tape along the side for complete navigation information. Of course, you should use caution when using any GPS's altitude data, since its accuracy can vary.
A separate slot for a user or C-card allows you to upload and download flight plans and waypoints. A yoke mount is also available, though some users may prefer keeping that space free for charts.
The biggest advantage to the EKP-II is the size of the display: 6 by 4.5 inches. The screen is large enough that, once you are familiar with its functions, you can acquire information from it at a glance, keeping your eyes out the window where they belong. Of course, some users may find the unit bulky, but our testers did not find it overly so. The display has three backlight levels for you to select from, and at night, the screen is lit evenly.
The EKP-II is powered from the aircraft's cigarette lighter; a separate battery pack is also available. One suggestion may be to incorporate an internal emergency battery. By relying on the electrical system, users miss an important part of the unit's functionality as a backup.
The unit retails for $999. At that price, it competes well against smaller handheld units because of the added situational awareness and ease of use the large display provides. For more information, contact C-Map Aviation, 133 Falmouth Road, Mashpee, Massachusetts 02649; telephone 800/363-2627 or 508/539-3115; or visit the Web site ( www.c-map.com/aviation/). — Julie K. Boatman
Paul Bowen's follow-up to the 1998 book Air to Air is now available. Air to Air Volume II documents Bowen's career as an aviation photographer, with sections devoted to business jets, turboprops, and piston aircraft. A section of the book is dedicated to a gathering of famous pilots, including Chuck Yeager, Bob Hoover, and Bud Anderson, and a fleet of Mustangs in April 1999 in Kissimmee, Florida. Outtakes in the back of the book go behind the scenes on many of Bowen's adventures and give the reader a feel for the man behind the camera. For more information, contact AvArt, Post Office Box 3375, Wichita, Kansas 67201; telephone 316/263-5537; or fax 316/263-4877. — JKB
Some of the flight planning software programs available today have a lot of bells and whistles. They also take up a lot of space on your hard drive. If you're looking for a program that gives you the tools you need most in a tight package, you may want to try the latest incarnation of AirPlan from Razor's Edge Software.
This small Idaho-based company has produced an easy-to-use flight-planning program that delivers the basics on a CD-ROM. Standard is a full-color map depicting user-selected features such as terrain, airspace, navaids, and airways. The database is worldwide and can be downloaded into a handheld GPS for VFR use. You can customize aircraft or select from several examples given. Probably the biggest advantage of AirPlan is the fact it doesn't take up a lot of space on your hard drive once installed, compared to some larger programs: The worldwide database takes about 50 MB of disk space—nice if you plan to install it on a laptop with limited memory. Minimum system requirements are a Pentium 133 MHz processor, 32 MB of RAM, 12 MB of free disk space, VGA with a color mode greater than 256 colors (lower color modes will work), and Windows 95/98 or NT 4.0 with more recent versions.
Razor's Edge also prides itself on staying in contact with its users and incorporating their suggestions in future versions. Although you won't see it in the current version, the company plans on adding a fully featured DUAT interface for Web access to both GTE and DTC services, a pilot logbook function, and a moving-map function (both north-up and track-up modes) in the upcoming months. For $59 you get the latest version plus a year of updates, whenever they become available. For more information, contact Razor's Edge Software, Post Office Box 170055, Boise, Idaho 83717; or visit the Web site ( www.razorsedgesoft.com). — JKB
Pilots tend to concoct their own ways to avoid making unnecessary pit stops while flying cross-country. American Innotek, which has provided lavatory products to the military for some time, now introduces a unisex disposable travel toilet for civilian cockpit use. The plastic pouch contains absorbent crystals that turn liquids into an odorless gel. A funnel and one-way valve inside the bag and a splash guard help prevent unwanted spills. A set of four retails for $7.99. For more information, contact American Innotek, 501 South Anderson Drive, Escondido, California 92029; telephone 888/924-6666; or visit the Web site ( www.whennaturecalls.com). — JKB
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. Links to all Web sites referenced in this issue can be found on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/pilot/links/2001/links0101.shtml).
Safety and Education,
The silence on the approach control frequency is broken as the controller speaks your N number and advises, “Traffic, two o’clock, westbound, type and altitude unknown.”
The FAA announces completion of the ADS-B ground radio network, but AOPA says there's a lot more to do before there are significant benefits for general aviation pilots.
Google buys Titan Aerospace, builder of high altitude solar-powered unmanned aerial systems.
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