STec 3100 vs. Garmin GFC 500 autopilot opinions sought

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by Artimas, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. Artimas

    Artimas Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I currently have an Stec 30 autopilot. I want to upgrade to a full function digital one.

    I can get an STec 3100 and keep my existing servos to save money, but to get full function including altitude preselect, I need a baro source. The most obvious choice to me means adding an Aspen ProMax which will probably be a total of around $30,000 installed.
    or
    I can get a Garmin GFC500 with dual G5s which will probably be around $22,000 installed for similar functionality.

    Navigator is a Garmin 530W.

    The Aspen probably has slightly more functionality, but I have friends who have had problems with them (perhaps the Max will make them more reliable with built in AHRS).

    Garmin has redundancy.

    I'd sure appreciate opinions to help me work through this pleasant dilemma.
    Thanks.
     
  2. Unit74

    Unit74 Final Approach

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    Question is going to be do you want an air data computer or not. The G5/GFC is a very powerful combo but lacks the air data, FD, AoA and Syn Viz among other things.Very basic functions for a PFD, perhaps by design. The Aspen/Stec is going to mirror the Garmin offering but give you more flight data and options. For $8k, I'd take the Garmin gear unless you are a serious, serious pilot racking up serious hours a year and making serious money doing it.
     
  3. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route

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    Does the G5/GFC500 combo not have a flight director? Which AP _does_ the G5 have FD capability on then!?
     
  4. chartbundle

    chartbundle Cleared for Takeoff

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    Well, according to the G5 Pilot's Guide, yes the GFC500 does have a flight director on the G5(single or dual cue). Which makes sense because the control head has an 'FD' button.
     
  5. Unit74

    Unit74 Final Approach

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    Yes my bad. The GFC/G5 gives you the purple FD bars. I was reflecting on my plane and the convo about the GFC vs TT set up and FD came up in my mind. As of right now, it’s still locked into the Garmin navigator for the STC though for the G5.
     
  6. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route

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    Yep. We just put in a G5 with an STEC 55X (existing). No FD.
     
  7. Raymo

    Raymo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Might want to consider the Aspen E5 (upgrade-able to SynVis and AOA) with the TruTrak AP, as well.
     
  8. Artimas

    Artimas Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks to all. I am mulling this over. I have until September to decide (date of my avionics install), so I can take my time.
     
  9. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    OP didn't say what airplane he's fitting out. TruTrak has a rather limited STC list for certified models at present.
     
  10. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have the same existing AP. I looked at the same choice, the current list for the STEC 3100 is limited to some higher end types. Definitely want to check if it's really an option.
     
  11. Unit74

    Unit74 Final Approach

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    OP.... Have you done a dollars to doughnuts side-by-side of each APs features yet? Like, make a spreadsheet or go Ol' Skool and stick and paper? May help you decide. That's how I decided I wanted an Aspen E5 and Trutrak someday.... Maybe...
     
  12. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    Can't you get a G5 AI for the source? If you want to save some vs the Aspen. I would think, especially considering Genesys's upgrade option for you, the 3100 would be the best option for what you're looking for.
     
  13. Artimas

    Artimas Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm not sure the G5 I plays nice with the 3100.
     
  14. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    Depends on what your definition of plays nice is. It will hook into the G5 HSI via the GAD29B and you can set the heading bug, fly nav, gpss, flies the vertical portion of an ILS/LPV, etc. It doesn't connect to the G5 AI so you can't set your altitude there, you would need to set it in the 3100.

    I'm really happy with everything the 3100 offers (GPSS, envelope protection, IAS climbs/descents, yaw damper, etc)and how it connects to a dual G5 setup. I don't mind setting the altitude on the 3100 vs the G5. If I'm lucky, I will have some videos showing it in the next few months. :)
     
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  15. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-Flight

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    I have looked into upgrading my S-TEC 30 (with auto-trim) to the 3100 BUT S-TEC does not have an STC for the PA 28R model and, when I contacted them, they have no plans at all to include this Piper model series for the 3100. Very disappointed in that decision enough so that I'm looking at scrapping the entire S-TEC install and going with the Garmin GFC 500 product.
     
  16. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-Flight

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  17. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-Flight

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    Forgot to add that I also have the dual G5 set-up and had looked forward to coupling them with the S-TEC 3100 to save some $$ by using the existing servos. Best laid plans!! On to the GFC-500!!
     
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  18. Bob Weber

    Bob Weber Pre-Flight

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    Perhaps if you think more about the tasks ahead wrestling with software updates, and compatibility "conflicts", you will most assuredly be swimming in.
    To maintain your navigation, autopilot, and flight display system and be able to deal with only one manufacturer, will most importantly make this routine far more palatable.
     
  19. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-Flight

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    Excellent point, Bob. I have come to that conclusion so now it is just (!) a matter of saving the required AMUs as well as waiting for Garmin to obtain STC for the P28R200 models.
     
  20. Unit74

    Unit74 Final Approach

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    As a side bar, Aspen and Trutrak are in bed with each other so going that route would be just as fruitful as an all Garmin stack..... Buuuut...... If Garmin had my PA32T on the GFC list right now, I would probably be all in on Garmin. My last convo with them however, left me with a nickle in hand and a 25 cent parking meter to pay. Alas, Aspen and TT will get my money.
     
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  21. Ralph E Barnhart

    Ralph E Barnhart Filing Flight Plan

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    I had a stec 500 and decided to update my panel on a PA32R. I updated with a whole new panel - G500, 750, 650, etc. The only thing I kept was an upgrade to STEC 3100. What a mistake. I has been problems for 3 months with NO support from Stec. If you have a choice - stay with all garmin!!!
     
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  22. Bob Weber

    Bob Weber Pre-Flight

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    Ralph, what kind of problems? Did they warranty your servos? What year is your aircraft?
     
  23. N1120A

    N1120A Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Well, the GFC500 is, unfortunately, not an option for the 310 anyway. IDK what the OP has, but it seems like it would be on the STC list.