October 1, 2002
JULIE K. BOATMAN
Other headset companies had better watch their six, as the fighter pilots like to say. (In case you don't speak fighter pilot, that means be careful of who is behind you.) At $389, the Flightcom Classic ANR (active noise reduction) headset appears to offer all the advantages of comparable noise-canceling headsets costing twice as much.
I tested the Classic ANR, so named because of its more traditional design compared to Flightcom's Denali headset, right-side up and upside down. With the aid of another AOPA staff member, I tested the headset through the rapidly changing airstream and engine noise levels experienced in a Cessna Aerobat during a loop. The airspeed goes from 120 to 60 knots, and engine power varies from full power to nearly idle power. Any electronic noise-reduction circuitry would be sorely tested, but the Classic kept up with the changing decibels. Although a few Kunces heavier, it has the same ANR electronic circuitry found in the $559 Denali. I found that, like all ANR headsets, the Classic canceled mostly the lower frequency sounds, such as the rumbling of the engine.
The Classic was lighter than my more expensive personal headset and as comfortable, canceled noise just as well, and included features I wish mine had — like the drop-in nine-volt battery. Nine-volt batteries usually require a snap-on connection; with the Classic, just drop the battery into its case against two metal contacts. Close the in-line compartment door, and the battery is shoved against the contacts. You'll get 20 hours of continuous use from one nine-volt battery, says Flightcom. The battery box has indicators for power-on and low-battery conditions and a stereo/mono selection switch.
For more information, contact Flight&om, 7340 Southwest Durham Road, Portland, Oregon 97224; telephone 800/432-4342 or 503/684-8229; fax 503/620-2943; or visit the Web site ( www.flightcom.net). — Alton K. Marsh
The Vantage Pro wireless weather station measures all of the basic weather variables including temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind direction, and wind speed. It uses the data to calculate, among other things, the rain rate, dew point, wind chill, and heat index. All the information appears on a 3.5-by-6-inch liquid-crystal display.
But before you can collect all this information you have to assemble the station. If you're a real weather geek, this shouldn't be a problem: You've probably already worked on spacecraft and top-secret projects in the Nevada desert. The number of extra parts might confuse nongeeks, especially if you invest in the optional tripod. Davis provides customers with many ways to mount the device, so don't feel too stupid if you have leftover nuts and bolts.
I mounted it on the roof at AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Maryland, for a month to see how it performed. The wirelessness is a nice feature; however, the unit was at its range limit and ended up losing data for good chunks of the day. Under optimal conditions the station has a line-of-sight range of up to 400 feet. Once I moved the receiver 20 feet closer to the station, the data reappeared and updated every two and one-half seconds. The comp;ny sells wireless repeaters to boost reception and range.
The screen cleanly packs an amazing amount of data into a small space. Besides the aforementioned variables, you get sunrise and sunset, phases of the moon, time, and date. A compass rose shows current and dominant wind direction. There are also graphs, alarms, and cute icons to let you know what's going on, such as an umbrella when it's raining.
The data agreed with the AWOS at Frederick Municipal Airport. The highest wind speed recorded was 44 mph during a thunderstorm that produced a distant tornado.
There are many accessories to customize the station to meet your needs, including a PC application for storing and interpreting data.
The cabled Vantage Pro sells for $495, while the wireless version is $595. More expensive models come with solar radiation and UV sensors, and fan-aspirated radiation shields for more accurate temperature readings. For more information, contact Davis Instruments, 3465 Diablo Avenue, Hayward, California 94545; telephone 800/678-3669; or visit the Web site ( www.davisnet.com). — Nathan A. Ferguson
Aviation Communications has introduced its latest panel-mount intercom, the DX-AC6PA, which can be installed in less than two hours. Individual connectors come in "quick-install" kits, with color-coded wiring and a panel template. The DX-AC6PA is compatible with either 12- or 28-volt systems and allows for up to six-place us. The retail price is $399. For more information, contact Aviation Communications; telephone 800/845-7541; or visit the Web site ( www.avcomm.com).
Do you find yourself buying new sectional charts before the old ones expire because you've marked so many course lines on them that they're confusing to read? Erasable highlighter pencils, now available from Sporty's Pilot Shop, may be just the ticket. Available in yellow, green, pink, orange, and blue, the highlighting can be erased with a standard pencil eraser. Individual highlighters are $1.95 each, and .a set of all five is $8.95. For more information, contact Sporty's Pilot Shop; telephone 800/543-8633 or 513/735-9000; or visit the Web site ( www.sportys.com).
PS Engineering debuted the PXE7300, a multi-mode disk player that can handle both CDs and MP3 cards. The PXE7300 includes an AM/FM radio with seek functions for locating news and sports scores while en route. The FM antenna can use an existing VOR antenna installation, helping to shrink the antenna farms cropping up on aircraft fuselages. The unit will be available by the end of 2002, pending certification. For more information, contact PS Engineering; telephone 800/427-2376; or visit the Web site ( www.ps-engineering.com).
Garmin has committed to providing terrain information, including terrain awareness warning systems (TAWS), on its newer panel-mounted avionics. Certified Class-B TAWS will be available on GNS 500-series units, with terrain information only on GNS 400- series units. This feature is expected within a year. For more information, contact Garmin; telephone 913/397-8200; or visit the Web site ( www.garmin.com).
Control Vision introduced a three-axis attitude indicator that will display on PDAs in concert with its AnywhereMap software. The attitude indicator uses a proprietary attitude reference module (incorporating a digital attitude heading reference system [AHRS], a resident GPS receiver, and a battery pack) to provide self-erecting attitude information. The system is expected to retail for $1,495 and be available this fall. Control Vision also announced a partnership with WeatherData to provide weather products, including Stormvision, which projects a Nexrad-style image 20 minutes into the future with 90-percent accuracy. The data will be delivered via satellite datalink or AirCell telephone systems. For more information, visit the Web site ( www.controlvision.com).
Skybound II, the upgraded datawriter for Jeppesen NavData subscribers, debuted, giving pilots access to updates via the Internet for most avionics database customers. Jeppesen also released two new chart training tools, Jeppesen Chart Training DVD and Chart Training CD. Both spin off of Jeppesen's Web-based program and offer interactive quizzes for self-guided study. For more information, contact Jeppesen; telephone 800/621-5377; or visit the Web site ( www.jeppesen.com).
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.shtml).
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