Inexpensive but Capable. What have you done?

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by Rusty Coonfield, Mar 11, 2020.

  1. Rusty Coonfield

    Rusty Coonfield Filing Flight Plan

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    Hey All, I’m hoping to not reinvent the wheel here and learn from the extensive research that you all have done.
    I am looking at purchasing a plane and unfortunately nothing in my price range has what i feel is a minimum panel for extensive IFR flying.
    Goals are to be able to do WAAS approaches and ditching the vacuum system. Also, to have decent autopilot integration. Ideally with altitude capture but at least altitude hold.
    So I ask you - What’s the cheapest way to do it?
    Garmin 430W and 2 G5s??? What autopilot?
     
  2. TCABM

    TCABM Cleared for Takeoff

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    Club is the way to go. If not, then partnership. There’s several ways to get there from an avionics perspective.
     
  3. Rusty Coonfield

    Rusty Coonfield Filing Flight Plan

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    I totally agree!!! Unfortunately my needs are such that a club or partnership are unlikely to work. I need to commute to work and keep the plane away from base for 7 days at a time.

     
  4. aftCG

    aftCG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What's your price range? The panel you're asking for is $25-30k.
    Go retro and hand fly and you can get a plane for that much
     
  5. AA5Bman

    AA5Bman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just went down this road, ended up with a $30k project. So... is that cheap? It was not an extravagant panel like some.

    It could be done, using new equipment, for $15-$20k, depending on the autopilot. If there is no current autopilot in the plane, then the sky is the limit. If you need ADSB, then you’re going down the GNX375+Single G5 road, if you don’t, then the absolute cheapest option is probably doing the GNX175+Single G5, and you might be able to do that for $10k, but you’ll have to live with all your existing radios (and potentially forego having a VOR/LOC if the plane doesn’t already have one).
     
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  6. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    Cheapest? On the radio stack side, that would probably be the Garmin GPS175 ($5k), GNC355 ($7k) or GNX375 ($8k) depending on what NAV/COM and transponder/ADS-B is already in there.

    For flight instruments, a pair of G5's is hard to beat.

    Edit: Forgot to add that unlike the G5's or the radios, which autopilot is very much going to depend on which airframe.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2020
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  7. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    I like this approach for new equipment, and for an AP a Garmin GFC500 would be hard to beat if it is approved in your model. 430s still work but I wouldn't put in new. My config is a GNS430W, dual G5s and a legacy STEC AP. It works, but is sometimes kludgy.
     
  8. MarkH

    MarkH Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I wanted the same thing, but it is way out of my price range.

    The 2 G5/ GTN650/GFC500 upgrade on a club plane cost more than my plane did, so I know I will not be going that far.

    My current panel is a vacuum 6 pack with a single nav/com (MAC 1700, No GS) and a VFR GPS (Aera 500).

    My plan is to do some of my training and my check ride in a rental, and some small upgrades to my plane to allow basic IFR.

    I will be carrying a handheld with an adapter to plug into my aux port to listen to ATIS, but long term I would like to add another radio that is compatible with the Garmin serial controls.

    Already done:
    Added a GDL39 for ADS-B in and a uAvionix Tailbeacon for out.

    But for most of the capability you are looking for, my upgrade plan is:
    uAvionix/Aerovonics AV-20S - this will give me the reliability of an electronic stack in addition to my vacuum system, I won't get the useable load back, but I also won't have to worry (as much) about loosing my vacuum pump in IMC. It will still be a threat to my bank account, but not to my life.

    A second Com (possibly nav, but not a priority)

    A Glideslope and indicator (I have a line on a KI-214 if I can find someone to test it)

    After flying that config for a while, and getting a feel for how much capability it adds, I may step up to a GTN 175 if budget allows, and possibly a digital autopilot if one is ever STCed for the Yankee.

    If I were to do all of that, the cost would be about the same a installing 2 G5s:
    (prices are from Aircraftspruce, unless noted)
    GDL39 3D - $400 - Ebay
    Tailbeacon - $2K
    AV-20S - $900
    KI-214 - $500 (used from a fellow aviator)
    Phase 1 = $3800 + labor

    Garmin SL40 - $1400 -Ebay
    GTN-175 - $4300
    Phase 2 = $5700 + labor

    Total = $9500 + labor

    Trutrak (if Bendix/King ever certifies it for the AA1) - $5100

    Labor is to varied for me to predict.
     
  9. MarkH

    MarkH Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Something to note, the GDL39 3D has built in AHRS, so I could use the attitude and synthetic vision with FF rather than the AV-20s, but I'm not 100% comfortable with leaning on the iPad that much in the long term. If you are, you can save $1000 by cutting out the AV-20S.
     
  10. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    You could replace the GPS175, TailBeacon and GDL39 ($4300+$2000+$400=$6700) with a GNX375 (est $6900) for the same functionality. Alternatively you could replace the GPS175 and SL40 ($4300+$1400=$5700) with a GNC355 (est $6000). The advantage to either swap is weight and space saving as well as potentially less labor.
     
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  11. AA5Bman

    AA5Bman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    OP needs to say what is in his plane currently vis-a-vis indicators, nav/coms, ADSB, and autopilot. The barest bones way to get to WAAS would be just adding a GNX175 and using the existing indicator, but who knows what is already in there.
     
  12. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Line Up and Wait

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    Rusty, you seem to be posting incongruous goals -- panel equipment vs. airplane purchase. You ought to start with a realistic price range for an IFR machine which meets your basic range, payload and other parameters. Once you settle on that, see if there's anything in your price range in that category of aircraft which feature the avionics you prefer. You definitely want to purchase the aircraft with the avionics you want already installed, if possible. The avionics always lose a lot of value when they're installed and sold in a used aircraft.

    After that, lay out an operating budget. As they say with aircraft ownership, it's not the cost of admission that does you in, it's the cost to stay in the ballpark. I spent a lot less on my Twin Comanche, purchased for average price in 2000, than I've spent on it since then. In fact I've probably spent triple its purchase price keeping it running, fixing things and upgrading it over twenty years -- not including the actual operating expenses.

    Operating an IFR-equipped aircraft on a regular basis simply isn't cheap. Finding a panel that includes autopilot and WAAS GPS isn't going to make that any easier. Make sure this is feasible for you -- it's better to wish you were an aircraft owner, than to wish you weren't.
     
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  13. Heftiger

    Heftiger Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The cheapest way to do it is to buy a plane where somebody already paid for it.
     
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  14. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    As others have said, it really depends on where you are starting. If you get a plane that has, say, an STEC30, then you can get away with 2 G5s and a WAAS GPS and you'll have WAAS approaches, Alt hold and GPSS. If the airplane doesn't have an AP, you should probably get a GFC500 in there, or buy the STEC30 coming out of someone's plane.

    As for which GPS, it depends if you want to have all in one NAV/COMM/GPS or if a GPS is all you need. I personally like having at least one all in one box. Others are happy keeping a KX155 or SL30 in for ILS and using something like a 175 or 375 as their primary.