Buying first plane and need to upgrade avionics

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by SC96, Feb 18, 2019.

  1. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Hello,
    I’m buying my first plane, a Piper Archer, and it needs avionics upgrades. I apologize ahead of time because I’m still fairly ignorant on all the options and needs that are out there. My head is spinning with all the combinations. I know I need an ADS-B solution.
    Background:
    Student pilot with around 20 hours.
    Married with 2 kids (10 and 8) and plans for the plane include vacationing, weekend trips, etc.
    I plan to immediately start IFR training after PPL attained.
    Currently, the plane has the following avionics (copied from seller document)

    Avionics Master Switch
    Horizon Instruments P-1000 Digital Engine Tachometer
    S-TEC System 30 Altitude Hold Autopilot With Directional Gyro
    PS Engineering PMA6000M Audio Selector Panel With 4-Place Intercom
    3-Light Marker Beacon Receiver
    Two Mono Music Inputs
    Yoke Mounted Push To Talk Switches
    Garmin GPS 150XL Receiver With Jeppesen Datacard (VFR)
    King KX-155 TSO 720 Channel NAV/COM With Internal Glideslope Receiver
    TKM MX-11 COM Transceiver
    Narco AT50A TSO Transponder With Encoding Altimeter
    Apollo 618 Loran (VFR)

    My budget is up to about $20,000 for upgrades.
    I also have an iPhone X and a cellular iPad Pro 2nd Gen 12.9”

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    What do you want to upgrade? 20k will go fast fast depending on what you want to put in. A 650 GPS and dual G5 will be close to 20k, that doesn’t include ADSB, ADSB alone if you decide go with Garmin will be 5-6k
     
  3. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    How long are you going to keep the plane? Garmin has a few options for ADSB that won’t break your budget. You can do your IFR with the avionics you have,
     
  4. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not sure where you’re located or your mission, but are you sure you even NEED ADSB?

    If you do you could just get this
    https://uavionix.com/products/skybeacon/

    When it comes to avionics, best to buy a plane 90% already there.


    And spend the rest of the money on any other snags, or if you get a good pre buy and have them addressed at that time via the price, you could be way better off spending the money on gas and getting more stick time.
     
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  5. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I know $20k doesn’t necessarily go too far. I suppose I’m looking for suggestions on what are absolute must change items. The nav seems like a no-brainer. I’ve looked at the 650 and the IFDs, but I personally have no brand loyalty so I think one would work for me as well as anything else. I want to be in 2020 compliance so I’m looking for the most bang for the buck.
     
  6. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Realistically, a few years unless something comes along that I can’t pass up. Unless the bottom falls out of GA, I think I’ve purchased the plane at the right level to where I can sink some money in the avionics without burying myself on it.
     
  7. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Welcome to PoA.

    If everything is functioning spend the absolute least amount of money you have to on the plane at this time. ADS-B Out appears the only thing you may have to do at this time.
    Don't get distracted with the hardware, focus on using it to become a proficient pilot and get your PPL. By then you'll have a much better idea of what you really want or need to do with the plane.
     
  8. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks,
    I’m not 100% that I’ll need ADSB, but I’d think that I will. We already do a lot of traveling by car so I can only imagine that we’ll go further and just as often via plane.
     
  9. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks! I appreciate the input.
     
  10. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-Flight

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    SC96...unfortunately the government decided to get rid of LORAN-C a number of years ago so that box can be removed. Your STEC 30 with a heading bug DG is good so keep it. A good used GNS 530W or GNS 430W can be coupled to your STEC and would be good for GPS LPV IFR approaches as well. Those units can be had for a decent price. Then you could remove one of your current comm boxes too. If you want the versatility of being able to fly in Class B,C etc. airspace then you might consider replacing the AT 50 A transponder with a 1090 ES box that includes the ADS-B in/out capability as a simple way to be compliant with the 2020 rule. A yoke mounted iPad would show traffic and weather from the xpndr on a bigger display. The KX 155 is a solid rig but if the display goes south that could be cause to replace it with a newer comm unit but wait for that to happen. The GPS 150 XL is no longer supported by Garmin (I believe) and there are much better units available now. But new GTN or IFD GPS boxes would push your $$ limit I think. Just my $0.02 worth!!!
     
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  11. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Awesome. Thank you so much for the reply. Yeah, I was told that the LORAN probably ought to go so you’ve basically confirmed that for me. Definitely given me a bunch to think about. I appreciate the thoughtful response.
     
  12. Datadriver

    Datadriver Line Up and Wait

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    Avionics aside - you've got a small window of time until your kids + bags will outgrow the plane.
     
  13. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    You’re absolutely right. I figure 3-4 years maximum before I’ll need to upgrade based on this fact alone.
     
  14. chemgeek

    chemgeek Line Up and Wait

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    The Apollo LORAN is a paperweight since the LORAN system has been decommissioned. (Too bad, it would be a great and easy to maintain ground-based backup to GPS).

    If you are planning on keeping this plane for a while and want maximum capability for traveling IFR, then a WAAS GPS and and ADS-B solution would be he highest priorities. The rest of your stuff (audio panel, VOR/ILS, STEC autopilot is quite good). You may able to just squeeze an IFR WAAS GPS and an ADS-B in/out transponder for $20K. That would give you a fully capable IFR aircraft. Choices abound for WAAS GPS and ADS-B options. For GPS you could go GNS-430W ($), IFD series ($$), or a brand new GTN ($$$). The latter may be pushing your price range if you are also adddressing ADS-B. For ADS-B, you could get a UAT ADS-B out only ($), or a 1090 ES in/out ($$) which brings weather and NEXRAD into the cockpit without additional portable equipment. I went the GNS-430W route 10 years ago, and added a Lynx NGT-9000 last year. The NGT-9000 alone is about $7000 total installed, but it has its own screen, an independent WAAS source, audio traffic annunciation, and can broadcast FIS-B to your tablet EFB. If you install WAAS GPS and a 1090ES transponder at the same time, you can save a bit on installation costs, as you will have to open up the aircraft only once for both installs. If you go the UAT adapter route (cheapest by far) you will still be stuck with an ancient AT-50 transponder and be looking at additional portable equipment for ADS-B in services. If you put in a GPS-COM, the TKM could be removed and sold. Any way you slice it, GPS + ADS-B will be expensive even with the most affordable options.
     
  15. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you, chemgeek, I appreciate the thoughtful response.
    I’ve been on the same page with the GPS and ADS-B being necessities for me. I’ll definitely check out the equipment that you’ve mentioned here, too. Thanks again!
     
  16. Baron62

    Baron62 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I upgraded my Archer a year ago. For the 20 AMUs you could get a GTN-650 plus a GTX-345 installed. Cockpit.jpg
     
  17. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Very NICE! I like it, keep ‘em coming!! Thanks, Baron62!
     
  18. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    You have a pretty decent starting place!

    It was me, I'd want to get into a solid WAAS GPS box right away, because you want to have it in place when you start your IFR training. GPS approaches are going to be the new standard going forward. I would not spend the money for a used one (like the ubiquitous and much-loved GNS430W), because they are already on the cusp of obsolescence and install cost is a huge burden, same for new or used.

    You did not tell us what you have in the panel for NAV indicators - from having a King KX155 with glide slope, I assume you have something like a GI109 indicator; is there a course deviation indicator of some sort attached to the old Garmin GPS?

    Also, will you be planning ever to take the plane across the border - Canada, Bahamas, Mexico? If so, you need to get a 1090ES transponder for your ADS-B out, rather than a 978.

    For my money, and still dependent upon what you already have in the way of indicators, I'd probably get:

    GPS/COM: Avidyne IFD440
    ADS-B: L3 NGT9000 Lynx (Transponder, ADS-B in and out and a damn nice screen showing traffic, besides).

    Avidyne is doing a humdinger deal if you buy both: https://lz314-0ddf28.pages.infusionsoft.net/

    I wish they'd been runnin' that deal when I bought my IFD440 and AXP340 transponder.
     
  19. flyer770

    flyer770 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My inclination would be to pull the Garmin 150XL, the TKM, the Narco transponder, and the Apollo Loran. You can sell the 150XL and TKM to get an AMU or two back. Replace with the IFD 440, one G5 for HSI, and AXP340 transponder. Do some of the prep work to install a second G5 later without having to go back under the panel as much later. The nice thing about the IFD is that it will interface out of the box with your Ipad with the IFD100 app and essentially give you another display (option on 440, standard on 540). You can also check to see if your current indicator is usable with the IFD, the list can be found here. That would definitely save a few bucks, though I'd be inclined to spend on a bigger screen 540. The Lynx is also a great transponder and traffic aid, and with the rebate not much more than the 340 with a lot more capability.
     
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  20. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you, Flyer770! Good idea on doing the prep work for the second G5. I was also surprised to see that there was still some value in what I currently have. Great feedback!
     
  21. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Again, thank you for the thoughtful response! I’m on the same page with the 430w. No disrepect toward it, but I’d have a really difficult time spending big money on it for the reason you mentioned.
    As to the Nav indicators, take a look at the picture I honestly have no idea. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I just don’t know. I’m definitely gonna check out the Avidyne deal! BTW, I doubt I’ll be crossing the border in this one. I live in Ohio, so the borders are pretty far from me.


    F2DE13A6-ECE9-4B9E-8180-386A661D1CF7.jpeg
     
  22. bradg33

    bradg33 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Another option to consider:

    Keep the audio panel (or slide in a new PS Engineering 8000BT or PMA450)
    Add a Garmin GTN625 (GPS Only), tie it to a G5 HSI and G5 Attitude indicator
    Add a Garmin GTR200 or GTR225 if your shop won't install a non-TSO comm
    Keep the King KX-155 as comm 2
    Add a Garmin GTX335 transponder, fed GPS data from the GTN625

    That's about $15-16k worth of gear alone, but will give you a lot of service life. You'll be over $20k by a bit, but might be worth stretching the budget a little.
     
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  23. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Another great idea. Thank you. So many options. I don’t mind to stretch budget if it means a nice upgrade and makes sense. I’ve gotta research more and make a spreadsheet! Thanks!
     
  24. lancie00

    lancie00 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I guess I'm in the minority but if you're looking at updating in 3-4 years, I'd fly the heck out of it the way it is. If you really want to spend money, take out the Loran and put in a Garmin GNC 255 nav/comm. Then you'd have a great bird for IFR training. The only down side is you wouldn't have GPS approaches (which are great but not needed for your mission) or ADS-b. However the ADS-b can be gotten with a $1800 skybeacon. Then when you update, get a "real" IFR bird.
     
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  25. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    The list price difference between a GTN625 + GTR 200 is more than a GTN 635.

    Bottom line, if you want a new VHF comm radio installed with a new WAAS GPS, get a GTN with the Comm in it GTN 635.

    If you want a new VHF nav in addition to that, then get the GTN 650.

    False economy in installing several separate radios to get the same capability.

    It doesn't make a lot of economic sense to install an HSI system without the GTN650 IMHO.

    I think a GTN (you need a CDI) and ADS-B is about all you budget can handle.
     
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  26. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you, lancie00. Being in the minority is fine and I’ve heard that same argument to just fly it as she is. I think part of the need/want to make some upgrades is for my passengers, too. As the panel is, it just looks old (because it is) and doesn’t inspire much confidence. Maybe that’s dumb, idk.
     
  27. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    He is correct, unless you want to keep the airplane long term and you want newer radios. There just aren't many airplanes for sale that even have newer avionics in them.
     
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  28. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you for the input, bnt83. I’ll take it into consideration.
     
  29. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    what ever you decide.....$20K won't be enough. :D
     
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  30. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Its a hard pill to swallow, I had trouble doing it myself. A retired airline captain friend of mine (really getting up in his years now) said the only thing he regretted about owning his 177B was NOT installing better radios when he bought it.
     
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  31. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Oh, absolutely! I’m famous for blowing my budget to pieces, though! :(
     
  32. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Well, I can understand that. The trainer that I’ve been flying (also an Archer) has junk radios in it. I know I’ll appreciate much better radios. Of course, this Archer puts the trainer to shame already in every category.
     
  33. bradg33

    bradg33 Cleared for Takeoff

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    In my experience, the 635 is hard to find. The 625 can be had for under $6k if you know where to look. Add $1100 for a GTR200 and you can get a GPS/Comm setup for less than $7k total. I don't think you'll find a GTN635 in that price range.
     
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  34. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    As purchased and after many, many hours and $s.
     

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  35. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Very nice! Thanks for sharing!
     
  36. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The rule of thumb is that you'll get back half of what you spent on avionics when you sell the plane. So, if you buy a $40K Archer and put $20K of avionics into it, it'll sell for $50K. Now, the market tends to like the Garmin gear so you may get more back on that, and less on something else.

    That was going to be my first question. With that in mind, you don't want to go overboard, because you will almost certainly be selling the plane for less than you spent on the plane plus avionics. Instead of stretching the avionics budget now, keep that money for the next plane, which hopefully you'll keep for longer.

    BTW, an Archer is a great first plane to own. Simple and easy to maintain, not too many systems, easy to sell when the time comes. Updating the avionics will make it an even easier sell.

    That's a good baseline. If you can get an avionics shop to put in a GTN-650 and GTX-345, you'll have a WAAS GPS/Nav/Com radio and full ADS-B In and Out capability that will give you ADS-B on your iPad/iPhone in ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot. If you go this route, I would recommend the FlightStream 510 to make updating the databases a piece of cake too.

    This. If you already had a GNS 430 in the plane, it might be worth updating to WAAS or sliding in an Avidyne. But, used 430Ws are going for almost as much as new GTN 650s are, and as Spike notes, the install cost is going to be roughly the same, so you might as well buy the new gear.

    Wow. That should be your other contender (along with the Garmin 650/345 combo). I would recommend getting a quote for each of those two setups.

    It might be hard to even get the first G5 installed with the other things and stay in budget... It's a nice unit, but not necessary. For getting started with GA travel and taking your family places, the WAAS GPS is very important, the ADS-B is also important (traffic and weather are excellent things to have on long trips) and the G5 is just a nice-to-have. I certainly wouldn't recommend against it from anything other than a budgetary standpoint, but again, I would save that money for your next airplane.

    Now, with all of that lined up, here's what I would do on a piece-by-piece basis:

    This, I would keep. The main knock against it is that, unlike traditional tachometers, this one counts time on a 1:1 basis beginning at 800 RPM so if your plane's total and engine time are based on tach time, this tach will increment time faster than a traditional mechanical tach. If your plane's TT and engine time are based on a maintenance Hobbs like mine, no biggie.

    This is a good entry-level autopilot. No need to do anything with this. You'll have altitude hold and be able to follow navigation signals.

    One thing you might want to add to it is the ST-901 GPSS (GPS Steering) converter. This will allow it to track a flight plan from your GPS to an astounding level of accuracy. Someone here is selling one right now I think - Check the classifieds, otherwise consider making this part of your upgrade.

    PS Engineering makes a damn good audio panel. I would leave this as is too.

    This stuff is pretty much all tied to the audio panel too. Leave it alone.

    For working on your instrument rating as well as traveling in the real world, you'll want an IFR WAAS GPS. In your situation, I would recommend the Garmin GTN-650 or Avidyne IFD440 if you can get that rebate Spike linked to above.

    This is a good radio, and was the state-of-the-art Nav/Com radio until Garmin started putting radios in their GPS units. I would keep this as your #2 Nav/Com.

    Either the GTN650 or IFD440 will have built-in Nav/Com capabilities, and you should keep the KX-155 as the #2, so this radio can go. You might be able to sell it - If you want an idea of what you'll get for it, go to eBay, search for TKM MX-11, and then check the box on the left to show "Sold listings only" to see what the final prices have been recently.

    Some ADS-B solutions allow you to keep your current transponder. I would not do that in your case. Narco is out of business, and honestly they've been effectively dead for much longer. You'll probably gain a couple pounds of useful load pulling out such an old transponder anyway. If you decide to get the Garmin GTN650 as your GPS, I would get the Garmin GTX345 transponder. If you decide on the Avidyne GPS, then get the Lynx NGT-9000 transponder. Both of them have ADS-B In and Out functionality as well.

    LORAN was turned off several years ago. This is nothing more than a boat anchor at this point, and a waste of useful load. Pull it.

    Bottom line, I would take a look at the Garmin setup (GTN 650, GTX 345, FlightStream 510) and the non-Garmin setup (Avidyne IFD440, L-3 Lynx NGT-9000). With that rebate from Avidyne, I would expect the latter option to be somewhat cheaper, but I would expect that you'll probably also get back at least part of not all of the difference between them when you sell the plane because the market loves Garmin.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  37. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You fly her IMC much?
     
  38. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Wow, thank you for taking all this good feedback and digesting it for me. I got what I asked for, but you’ve crunched it down into a much easier (for me) format. I greatly appreciate the time. Very good point on the Garmin resale being somewhat higher. Definitely pulls the cost of ownership down. Thanks again!
     
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  39. iflyvfr

    iflyvfr Cleared for Takeoff

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    Canada is just on the far side of Lake Erie or Detroit and well within range even in my lowly 172. 3+ hours to Toronto. I'm planning a Bahamas trip for next year. Airplanes are for going places...
     
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  40. SC96

    SC96 Filing Flight Plan

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    Well, you’re right on that point, for sure. We actually drove to Holland, MI last year and stopped in Detroit. I guess its definitely more of a probability that a possibility! I am in Southern Ohio on the Ohio River so I just don’t think of Canada as being so close.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019