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Old April 3rd, 2011, 11:04 AM   #1
murphey murphey is offline
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Narco - it's lights out

http://www.narco-avionics.com/

"Due to circumstances beyond our control, we regret to inform you that after over 65 years in business, Narco Avionics, Inc. has closed. A trustee will be appointed shortly to oversee liquidation of assets and assure return of Customer's property, such as Customer's Radios sent to Narco for service, as soon as possible. We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this causes and thank all loyal Narco Customers, around the world, for their loyalty over all of these years! Please monitor this web site as informational updates will be provided as soon as possible."
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 11:13 AM
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

Quote:
Originally Posted by murphey View Post
http://www.narco-avionics.com/

"Due to circumstances beyond our control, we regret to inform you that after over 65 years in business, Narco Avionics, Inc. has closed. A trustee will be appointed shortly to oversee liquidation of assets and assure return of Customer's property, such as Customer's Radios sent to Narco for service, as soon as possible. We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this causes and thank all loyal Narco Customers, around the world, for their loyalty over all of these years! Please monitor this web site as informational updates will be provided as soon as possible."
What does this really do to general aviation?

Does it mean all Narco radios are junk?
Does it mean that their radios can't be repaired as they have always been in the local shops?
Or does it mean there will be some pretty good deals on E-bay?
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 11:31 AM
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

I would guess that older radios (without the gas-discharge displays) might still be repairable in local shops. Newer stuff has proprietary components that would be available only from the factory, and really new stuff often has surface-mount microcomponents that make the thing pretty much impossible to fix. They're built by robotic machinery. And some of that stuff is then encapsulated in epoxy. Fun to try fixing that.

Garmin's radios aren't field-repairable now. When it quits you FedEx it to their plant and they "fix" it and return it to you for a flat rate. The ones we've done came back as brand-new units with the old serial numbers on new tags. Avionics have become like other consumer electronics: far cheaper to replace than repair, just like toasters and other small appliances did years ago. Larger appliances are getting like that, and cars will eventually become disposable, I suspect.

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Old April 3rd, 2011, 11:36 AM
Posted in reply to Tom-D's post "Re: Narco - it's lights out"
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom-D View Post
Does it mean all Narco radios are junk?
Does it mean that their radios can't be repaired as they have always been in the local shops?
If they break, and the local avionics shop can't get parts, then yes, they'll be junk.
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 12:28 PM   #5
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

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Originally Posted by Trapper John View Post
If they break, and the local avionics shop can't get parts, then yes, they'll be junk.
The parts for the KX 170s haven't been built for years they can still be repaired with off the shelf after market parts, the old Narco's will be too.

the simple fact that these,
http://www.valavionics.com/productPa...adios.htm#2000 at these prices, will make the endeavor too expensive.

my suggestion is if your old Narco quits, replace it. put the old one on E-bay. some one will use it as parts and keep theirs going

I'm really sorry to see them go. the Mark 12D was a work horse of the industry. The company decisions to have all units sent back to the factory and refuse to allow the local shops repair as required by not providing the skits and parts was to me a death blow to the company.

They were the leader of the industry at one time, poor company management is what got them here.
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 02:22 PM
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

I bet someone buys the assets and (at least) opens a repair station.
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 06:40 PM
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom-D View Post
The company decisions to have all units sent back to the factory and refuse to allow the local shops repair as required by not providing the skits and parts was to me a death blow to the company.
And how is that going to affect their repairability now?

Too bad, I always got a good laugh out of seeing them at trade shows hawking their brand-new 1970's technology. Unfortunately, after the experiences we had with Narco, I can't say I'm sorry to see them go. Luckily, we no longer have any Narco equipment in the fleet.
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 06:43 PM
Posted in reply to SCCutler's post "Re: Narco - it's lights out"
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCCutler View Post
I bet someone buys the assets and (at least) opens a repair station.
Fortunately there are a MX replacement for the Mark 12

http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalo...MK12radios.php

I don't know if it replace the "D"
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 06:47 PM   #9
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

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Originally Posted by flyingcheesehead View Post
And how is that going to affect their repairability now?
I do not know what will happen to the skits or parts supply the company had.
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 07:20 PM   #10
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingcheesehead View Post
And how is that going to affect their repairability now?
If it's a bunch of boards with surface-mounted devices that were wave soldered, the prospects of replacing individual components isn't too good.

Quote:
Too bad, I always got a good laugh out of seeing them at trade shows hawking their brand-new 1970's technology. Unfortunately, after the experiences we had with Narco, I can't say I'm sorry to see them go. Luckily, we no longer have any Narco equipment in the fleet.
Narco going TU probably isn't that big deal in the greater scheme of things. However, if Garmin were to be bought out by someone that thinks the risk/reward part of GA avionics just isn't worth it and wanted to concentrate on the consumer market or build up the ag/constuction market, a lot of people would be SOL. They have enough proprietary chipsets and firmware that they could slam the door tomorrow and your $12,000 GNS 530 would be worthless overnight.

It's easy to say that would never happen, but look at Cessna when the took the big SE hiatus. It's not like someone new stepped in and made everything all better.

In the mean time, Garmin's pushing Honeywell/Bendix/what used to be King Radio out of the GA market. Given the sucky GA market, who would be nuts enough to step up and fill the gap? Avidyne? Aspen? One of the non-cert homebuilt people?

Last edited by Trapper John; April 3rd, 2011 at 07:22 PM.
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 07:28 PM   #11
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

I've got TKM slide in replacements.
I like them.
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 08:29 PM   #12
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trapper John View Post
If it's a bunch of boards with surface-mounted devices that were wave soldered, the prospects of replacing individual components isn't too good.
It's not.

I know this because last time we sent in a Narcrap radio to them for repair, they replaced a single capacitor... For a cost of over $500.
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 09:04 PM   #13
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

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Originally Posted by flyingcheesehead View Post
It's not.

I know this because last time we sent in a Narcrap radio to them for repair, they replaced a single capacitor... For a cost of over $500.
Ugh. So, was it a cap that the local shop couldn't source? Or that they couldn't troubleshoot? Or did the local shop not want to try to repair and told you to send it to Narco?

Not that it really matters - stuff like that probably killed a bunch of potential new Narco sales, which is why they're in the dumper.
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 11:42 PM   #14
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

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Originally Posted by Trapper John View Post
Ugh. So, was it a cap that the local shop couldn't source? Or that they couldn't troubleshoot? Or did the local shop not want to try to repair and told you to send it to Narco?
I believe it was #2.

At least that time, we got the radio back in a reasonable amount of time. The previous Narco repair took them OVER A YEAR. Completely unacceptable.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 12:12 AM
Posted in reply to murphey's post "Narco - it's lights out"
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trapper John View Post
If it's a bunch of boards with surface-mounted devices that were wave soldered, the prospects of replacing individual components isn't too good.
Actually, SMT isn't that bad. Most people, with a steady hand, can even learn to solder fine pitch chips if the lay off the caffeine. The hardest part is the test fixtures. Something like a Genrad, custom incircuit, or HP 3070 Series, with the proper fixtures and schematics is all that's required for component repair. The hard part is the boards themselves. Some will have burnt traces.

Heck, get a nice heatflow, and it's even easier to replace chips.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 03:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JesseD View Post
Actually, SMT isn't that bad. Most people, with a steady hand, can even learn to solder fine pitch chips if the lay off the caffeine. The hardest part is the test fixtures. Something like a Genrad, custom incircuit, or HP 3070 Series, with the proper fixtures and schematics is all that's required for component repair. The hard part is the boards themselves. Some will have burnt traces.

Heck, get a nice heatflow, and it's even easier to replace chips.
I've had more luck with the tiny heated air systems/pens and just gently lifting on the chip with long tweezers. Careful application of a good quality (Read: Kestrel) solder paste with a toothpick on the pins of the new device and reheat/reflow the thing pack in place.

I do so little of it though, that the paste dries out. I hear keeping it in the fridge works great, but wife isn't so keen on using the butter dish door as a solder-paste holder...

The problems are mostly as you say, from caffeine/shaky fingers. And a nice well-lit bench and magnifier or those goofy-assed magnifying goggles that never play nice with my eyeglasses, helps tons.

Another problem with resistors/capacitors smaller than 0208 or maybe 0206 is that one good sneeze will send your parts inventory everywhere...

Some of the really small stuff is also an inhalation hazard if you're a heavy mouth-breather when gawking at a tiny surface-mount board. Very bad juju if a component takes up residence in a lung.

I should post a photo of the "repair" someone did to the RF traces on a GE MASTR II RF power amp's board-printed Wilkinson divider/combiner right after the high-power RF transistor torched it, that's currently on-air from my basement as a link radio. A lovely shaky hand job with a silver pen.

I was amazed when the thing still worked after a one-week key-down test into my 500W Bird dummy-load, after what I thought would turn out to be a bad eBay purchase, so I decided to put it on-air and see how long the nut-job golden-screwdriver fix lasted.

It's going on 5 years of heavy-duty service with the power backed off to 65W (EIA/TIA rated at 100W continuous-duty). No spurs, no problems. Amazingly bad "repair" seems to be going to hold up until the thing takes a lightning hit or power surge during a thunderstorm.

Granted, it ain't no surface-mount small gear, but it proved to me that sometimes really ugly burnt-trace fixes do sometimes work.

On the other hand, I had one once that burnt the board to board "jumper" area so badly that the board had almost zero resistance across that gap, and every time it was keyed it would arc in the burnt area no matter how nice a path I'd made for the happy little electrons. I gave up after repair attempt number three, pulled the hard-to-find components off the board and scrapped it.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 11:08 AM   #17
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

The bottom line here is the fact another American company is gone, beaten by its own management. Their decisions kept the company in the dark ages of technology, and the industry marched right by.

I'm sure that the need is the mother of invention, and if a market is found there will be some body to fill that need.

Time will tell.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 11:41 AM   #18
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingcheesehead View Post
It's not.

I know this because last time we sent in a Narcrap radio to them for repair, they replaced a single capacitor... For a cost of over $500.
That's just too bad... I did some research on mine (my bird has dual Mk12d's, and the loc on Nav#1 was acting weird.) Those aluminum electrolytic capacitors have a service life of 20yrs tops. When I had my radio open, I counted three. They can be sourced for about $10 for the set, and a decent electronics guy can probably replace them in an hour, maybe two if you never had the radio apart before...

I have the A+ filter cap on my desk for each of my radios, ready to solder in... And the parts were $6.10 plus $6 shipping...

That said, I'm planning to install a GNS-430w someday soon, but I may just keep one of my MK12d's until it pukes... Might just keep the one with G/s in the plane, and have a spare on the shelf...

Cheers!
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Old April 4th, 2011, 11:47 AM   #19
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

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Originally Posted by denverpilot View Post

The problems are mostly as you say, from caffeine/shaky fingers. And a nice well-lit bench and magnifier or those goofy-assed magnifying goggles that never play nice with my eyeglasses, helps tons.
Go into one of the big fabric/sewing stores. They have flip-up magnifyers that clip to your glasses, just like clip-on sunshades. Great idea, and about
$10. Perfect for contorting yourself under the panel trying to tie-wrap stuff out of the way of the controls.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 12:24 PM
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom-D View Post
The bottom line here is the fact another American company is gone, beaten by its own management. Their decisions kept the company in the dark ages of technology, and the industry marched right by.

I'm sure that the need is the mother of invention, and if a market is found there will be some body to fill that need.

Time will tell.
I think that the need for more modern radios has already been met by several other companies, and Narco's lack of any sort of development in a REALLY long time (I mean come on, when did their latest "new" product come out? 30+ years ago?) meant that everyone else got people's business. They probably haven't sold very many radios at all in the last 10 years, and those that they did sell were probably replacements for existing Narco radios that had crapped out. Seems most people are going to 430's, or at least KX155's or SL30's or one of the numerous other newer options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasdr72 View Post
That's just too bad... I did some research on mine (my bird has dual Mk12d's, and the loc on Nav#1 was acting weird.) Those aluminum electrolytic capacitors have a service life of 20yrs tops. When I had my radio open, I counted three. They can be sourced for about $10 for the set, and a decent electronics guy can probably replace them in an hour, maybe two if you never had the radio apart before...

I have the A+ filter cap on my desk for each of my radios, ready to solder in... And the parts were $6.10 plus $6 shipping...
Sigh. Reminds me of the old engineer joke... "Chalk mark: $1. Knowing where to put it: $50,000." It's quite possible that the avionics shop didn't feel like putting the work into replacing those caps without knowing if that would fix the problem, though the electrolytic ones should physically show a problem.

Or, maybe as an official "FAA Repair Station" they have to use "approved" procedures, which Narco did not provide.

Quote:
That said, I'm planning to install a GNS-430w someday soon, but I may just keep one of my MK12d's until it pukes... Might just keep the one with G/s in the plane, and have a spare on the shelf...
Sounds like a good plan. I hope your two aren't as problematic as our one was! Not too overly bad - But two pull-it-out-of-the-plane issues in 5 years, as much as our other five radios combined... 1 G430, 4 Kings, some of which had the MAC 1700 upgrade... These days, we have three remaining King radios, all with the MAC 1700 upgrade, and they've been completely bulletproof. The other three are the 430W and the two that are part of the G1000 system.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 12:46 PM
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom-D View Post
The bottom line here is the fact another American company is gone, beaten by its own management. Their decisions kept the company in the dark ages of technology, and the industry marched right by.

I'm sure that the need is the mother of invention, and if a market is found there will be some body to fill that need.

Time will tell.

Remember, Garmin didn't exist "x" number of years ago either. Its a cycle, with some companies that just don't innovate. Innovate or die. How about King? Would they have surivived this long without their parent?
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Old April 4th, 2011, 12:49 PM
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

Narco did have some new product, their solid-state transponders are well-received, and the one-piece navs were sound products. The 12D+ was newer than 30 years... not sure when, though.

I know Kent had bad luck with his Narco - mine has been fine, while during the time I've owned my plane, I've had one dead King, and intermittent issues with my GNS-430W.

My point being, Narco were the instruments of their own failure, through widely-variable customer service and moronic business decisions - no need to pile-on with hyperbole.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 12:49 PM
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

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Can King be far behind?
Only when Honeywell decides to stop spending money on 'em.

They certainly need to do SOMETHING. Garmin is The Thing right now, and that's largely because they don't have any real competition. They're way ahead of everyone else, yet they continue to innovate and keep their lead, if not expand it even more. Anyone who wants to catch up is going to have to spend some SERIOUS dough on R&D, and given the small market, I doubt anyone will do that.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 01:14 PM   #24
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

I wasn't surprised to hear that Narco is going out of business. I WAS surprised that they were STILL IN business.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 01:32 PM   #25
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Re: Narco - it's lights out

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I wasn't surprised to hear that Narco is going out of business. I WAS surprised that they were STILL IN business.
(LOLOLOL)
Poor form of me to say "+1", but I just have to shrug and say +1.
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