Avionics News July 2019 - 38

AUDIO CONTROL PANEL OR SIMPLE INTERCOM?
Continued from page 37

The simplest are nothing fancy, controlling two or three
audio sources, but may also house and route audio from a
marker-beacon transmitter, connect with music players or
cellphones.
Many audio-control panels incorporate other related
functions: A marker-beacon receiver, for example, with its
three separate lights and switching to route to headphones
or speaker the three different beacons' signature beeps
broadcast by each marker-beacon
transmitter.
The most-advanced fulfill not
only the described functions
but also function as an interface
between the aircraft's intercom
system and peripheral devices such
as music players and cellphones.
Features common today include a
mode that splits the use of the comm
radios. The split-comm mode allows
the pilot-in-command to transmit
and receive on one VHF comm
while the co-pilot or first officer
hears and talks on one or more of the
remaining comm radios. The value
in the feature comes when demand
on voice communications peaks,
such as when preparing to depart
- or arrive - at a busy controlled
airport. With the split mode, the PIC
can handle PIC duties while the SIC - second-in-command
- tends to checking the weather, picking up a clearance and
taxiing instructions, and monitoring ground or tower for
expected instructions.
Comm split modes allow a handy feature when things
get busy. The co-pilot can check on the weather or call
ahead to the FBO, while the pilot can stay in constant
communication with ATC.
Now a split-comm function seems decidedly a function
of the audio panel, but isn't it actually a function of the
intercom? The lines blur.
Another useful feature found on more-advanced audio
panels: a so-called clearance recorder.
This integral, digital recording function provides for the
audio panel to record the prior minute of received radio
transmissions for playback as needed and is helpful for
checking a clearance or other instructions from air traffic
control.

Selecting an intercom:
Start with a seat count
Many older, light general-aviation aircraft left its
factory with little more in the panel than the basics
required of the type certificate for VFR flight: altimeter,
tachometer, oil-temperature gauge, airspeed indicator,
oil pressure gauge, fuel gauge and maybe a compass and
manifold-pressure gauge.
Notice that radios, intercoms and audio panels aren't on
the list?
Tens of thousands of general-aviation aircraft left Lock
Haven, Kerrville, Wichita and
sundry other manufacturing homes
with just such a panel. Radios
and audio panels, if they came,
they came via the dealer or as an
aftermarket upgrade.
Thus, intercoms and audio panels
also came if and when the owner
wearied of shouting into the handheld mic between straining to hear
the distorted, over-modulated audio
coming from the cockpit speaker.
Until and unless the panel gained
more than two VHF radios, the
audio panel remained a luxury.
But for thousands, those portable
intercoms provided the desired
solution to the intra-cockpitcommunications needs.
Portable or panel-mounted, the
choice of an intercom should first
take into account the number of seats in the aircraft.
Intercoms come in versions capable of connecting two,
four and six seats - at least, those iterations are the most
common. Systems for even more seats do exist, some
natively, others via an expansion module. But the two-,
four- and six-place versions are most common.
And the big question should focus on use: Will the
intercom be used in one aircraft, exclusively? Or will the
intercom's owner need to move it from aircraft to aircraft?
That's a common situation for aviators who always rent
versus those who never rent.
An operator moving a six-place intercom between
multiple rental or club aircraft may also be traveling with
the headsets - making a dedicated carry bag an idea worth
considering.
If shopping for a stereo portable, be sure that the
headsets selected support stereo audio. And if the operator
regularly flies with music or movie fans, it would be worth

FORTUNATELY
FOR TODAY'S
AVIATORS,

THE AVIONICS
INDUSTRY PROVIDES
A WIDE RANGE OF
OPTIONS IN BOTH
INTERCOMS AND
AUDIO-CONTROL
PANELS.

38

avionics news

*

july

2019



Avionics News July 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Avionics News July 2019

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