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Old November 23rd, 2009, 12:12 PM   #1
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Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

My Sporty's SP200 handheld isn't cutting it in the Chief -- Akaline batteries are done after 10 transmissions, and range is limited (in spite of an external whip).

I'm looking at other handhelds --- the Icon would require re-purchase of headset adapter and PTT switch -- while the Vertex requires no special gear except a BNC to SMA adapter.

Anyone using one of these? Experiences pro/con?

Thanks!
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 12:25 PM   #2
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

I've got the Vertex -300. Haven't had to use it for much more than monitoring so I can't say what the battery life is for transmitting. I doubt it has any more output power than the Sporties.

I believe that one of the guys at the field uses the -300 in his Pitts. I didn't look real close but it appeared to be the same as mine. At any rate, he sounds fine on the radio from 10 miles out.

Sorry I don't have a lot of useful info. If you were closer, I'd just loan it for a test. Maybe some of the trike guys have better info.
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 12:29 PM   #3
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark1961 View Post
I've got the Vertex -300. Haven't had to use it for much more than monitoring so I can't say what the battery life is for transmitting. I doubt it has any more output power than the Sporties.

I believe that one of the guys at the field uses the -300 in his Pitts. I didn't look real close but it appeared to be the same as mine. At any rate, he sounds fine on the radio from 10 miles out.

Sorry I don't have a lot of useful info. If you were closer, I'd just loan it for a test. Maybe some of the trike guys have better info.
I appreciate that...

The transmit output is listed as 5watts. I think the SP-200 is 1 or 2..?
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 02:13 PM   #4
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

There is a reason there is no electrical system in some planes.
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 02:18 PM   #5
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

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Originally Posted by EdFred View Post
There is a reason there is no electrical system in some planes.
When you're based at a Class D, you need comms once in a while.

It gets switched off the rest of the time.
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 02:22 PM   #6
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

Have you considered installing a small gel cell in the airplane?

Matt Michael (wbyonder) had a fly baby without an electrical system, but he's got a small gel cell that runs his radio, and other electrics.
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 02:24 PM   #7
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

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Originally Posted by vontresc View Post
Have you considered installing a small gel cell in the airplane?

Matt Michael (wbyonder) had a fly baby without an electrical system, but he's got a small gel cell that runs his radio, and other electrics.
No, I haven't -- I'm not familiar with gel cells. I'll do some googlization!

Thanks
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 03:00 PM   #8
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

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Originally Posted by dmccormack View Post
I appreciate that...

The transmit output is listed as 5watts. I think the SP-200 is 1 or 2..?
I have a Vertex VXA-200 and it has a serious problem with front end overload when connected to an external antenna. I use a KX-99 in my taildragger and it works very well there. From what I've read, I-Com handhelds are probably the best choice today.

But what makes you think the problem is in the radio? IME, antennas have more effect on transmit range than a doubling of power.

As to the battery life, something seems amiss. The 15+ year old battery in my KX-99 was getting to the point where it would cause a low battery alarm (contant beep every 15 seconds) after 10-20 transmissions or a couple hours of reception so I finally bought a replacement which appears to last longer than a whole day of flying before needing a recharge. And the 10 year old battery in the Vertex has always lasted as long as I wanted to use it although I do carry an alkaline pack for that in the Baron (where I keep the Vertex for emergencies and occasionaly ground use).
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 03:09 PM   #9
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gismo View Post
I have a Vertex VXA-200 and it has a serious problem with front end overload when connected to an external antenna. I use a KX-99 in my taildragger and it works very well there. From what I've read, I-Com handhelds are probably the best choice today.

But what makes you think the problem is in the radio? IME, antennas have more effect on transmit range than a doubling of power.

As to the battery life, something seems amiss. The 15+ year old battery in my KX-99 was getting to the point where it would cause a low battery alarm (contant beep every 15 seconds) after 10-20 transmissions or a couple hours of reception so I finally bought a replacement which appears to last longer than a whole day of flying before needing a recharge. And the 10 year old battery in the Vertex has always lasted as long as I wanted to use it although I do carry an alkaline pack for that in the Baron (where I keep the Vertex for emergencies and occasionaly ground use).
The Sporty's I have only has an Akaline battery pack. 8 AA batteries for 6 or 7 transmissions is not acceptable.

What is the result with "front end overload"?

(I'm NOT a radio guy, even though I repaired small electronics for a semester in college!)
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 03:10 PM   #10
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

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Originally Posted by dmccormack View Post
No, I haven't -- I'm not familiar with gel cells. I'll do some googlization!

Thanks
I've got one that I've been intending to rig up in the Porterfield for lights (it has wingtip and tail nav lights but no power source). A 5aH 12v battery weighs 3-4 lbs and occupies about 60 cuIn. They are lead acid based using a gelled electrolyte rather than a liquid one and can sit in any attitude. They are vented but the vent has a pressure valve so it isn't supposed to open unless you drastically overcharge them. Their life expectancy isn't great and suffers if you discharge them completely and/or leave them discharged for long. The energy density is much worse than NiMh but they are easier to charge.
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 03:24 PM   #11
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

I know you said you didn't want to change to an Icom, but they are a great radio, I have an A22 Nav/Com and it works flawlessly. You can pick them up off ebay for less than $200.00. The Icom A24 has a flip-flop mode that I wish mine had.
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 03:26 PM   #12
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean View Post
I know you said you didn't want to change to an Icom, but they are a great radio, I have an A22 Nav/Com and it works flawlessly. You can pick them up off ebay for less than $200.00. The Icom A24 has a flip-flop mode that I wish mine had.
I borrowed a friend's ICOM and will give it a try (won't be able to hook up headset but will be able to test).
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 10:40 PM   #13
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Re: Vertex VXA-300 Pilot III NAV-COM Reviews?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmccormack View Post
The Sporty's I have only has an Akaline battery pack. 8 AA batteries for 6 or 7 transmissions is not acceptable.

What is the result with "front end overload"?

(I'm NOT a radio guy, even though I repaired small electronics for a semester in college!)
I found that whenever I was more than 500 AGL in the Minneapolis metro area, the radio would break squelch unless I turned the squelch up so far that reception was limited to a few miles. I concluded that this was due to the relatively high power RF from several TV and FM stations in the area that would push the receiver's front end (first amp stage) into clipping. This was only a problem if the transceiver was attached to an external antenna. I tried multiple antennas on multiple aircraft with the same result. Far away from Minneapolis it worked OK but since my home base is only 15 miles from downtown I needed something that works there. I talked about this to Yeasu Radio tech support and they confirmed that the radio wasn't really designed to work with an external antenna.
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