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Thread: Non-TSO UHF marine radio installation?

  1. #1

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    Non-TSO UHF marine radio installation?

    A community of pilots that don't use a 6” runway centerline stripe, as much as other aviation communities, will probably have some experience and/or knowledge to share on my question.

    I am looking to buy a C180 and will be operating on floats. I would like to have a UHF marine radio installed and wired through the audio panel. I have recently seen AC listed that have UHF marine radios installed in the panel and years ago I flew an AC that had a car stereo and speakers installed. I don’t know if AC listings with UHF radios are wired through the audio panel? The car stereo was not.

    Installing non-TSO'd avionics in a certified AC is a real controversial topic on the web. I have read numerous articles and cannot come to a clear conclusion. I think most AC owners trying to do this want to purchase the more affordable “experimental version” and install it in their certified AC? I would like to do that, too. I know for a fact that there are DNR and Law Enforcement AC that have non-TSO'd radios installed. Fish spotters do this but I’m not sure how concerned some of them are with paperwork?

    I would like to install a UHF marine band radio in my Cessna 180 so that I can communicate with the “on the water” community from the cockpit. Has anyone got first hand experience with the FAA on this mater and what are the specific details?

    The common response that I get is - Field Approval & 337 will take care of it. Does that mean the FAA will approve a non-TSO'd radio in my AC? Does that mean I can install a non-TSO'd com 2 under a TSO'd com 1? I have a pretty good relationship with the local FSDO. I can call and get answers pretty quickly and have gotten some latitude on things over the years. I don’t think I’ll have issues with the UHF radio but I'm afraid that if I push the com 2 issue, I'll loose out?

    I will be persuing the UHF installation and will probably let someone else choose to fight the other battle. I'd like to hear about your UHF experience - make and model, wiring the mic, ptt, audio, antenna choice and placement, paperwork...

    Thanks
    MSS

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSS View Post

    ...


    I would like to install a UHF marine band radio in my Cessna 180 so that I can communicate with the “on the water” community from the cockpit. Has anyone got first hand experience with the FAA on this mater and what are the specific details?

    ...

    Thanks
    MSS

    I flew a Beaver out of the Seattle area for several years and marine radios installed in the panel were pretty common including in the one I flew regularly.

    Installed by Kenmore's avionics shop, they might be someone to call.

    http://www.kenmoreairharbor.com

    Ours was a standard Icom marine radio, run through the audio panel as Comm 3.


    Kevin
    N7521K




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  3. #3
    Fat Kid's Avatar
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    Review AC43.13-2B. I've always viewed the marine radio installation as a minor alteration has long as the data in 2B is followed.

  4. #4
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    very common installation...

    you might need a small box to convert it??? been decades... "NAT box"???? or something....

  5. #5
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    As long as you have ink in your pen, a log entry is good/legal.

    I can get as deep in the weeds as you'd like about the installation but here is the quick version: marine radios are (98% of them) low impedance radios just like a CB or business band. That means that they operate at 8 ohms. Aircraft radios and audio panels operate at 600 ohms impedance. If you connect an 8 ohm radio to a 600 ohm audio panel it usually sounds like Charlie Browns teacher. To make it work, an impedance matching box is installed between the marine radio and the audio panel. The most common one is the NAT (Anodyne now?) AA34 box. PS engineering has one called the 12100 adapter. Both work well, but the NAT box is smaller. Your mic and audio leads connect into the box and then the box's audio and mic leads are connected into the audio panel. 8 ohms in is converted to 600 ohms out.

    Also be aware that a lot of non aviation radios have what amounts to a 'hot mic'. Both of the above impedance matching boxes have built in relays that can be used to make the mic circuit work correctly with an audio panel.

    Let me know if you need more details or a drawing.

    Web
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  6. #6

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    Best thing it to talk it over with your IA. If you do it as a minor alteration, your IA will still be the one signing your annual and you want to keep him happy.

    Next thing, are you an A&P? Minor alterations need to be performed (or at least supervised) and signed off by an A&P.

    Next thing is the Installer is the one that decides if it is a major or minor based on regulations and guidance. If it is a major, then you need approved data, if a minor, all you need is acceptable data. An A&P needs to sign off on a minor. An IA (or repair station) needs to sign off on a major, and a 337 needs to be completed.

    You can ask all you want on the forum, but at the end of the day, the installer is the one holding all the liability.


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  7. #7
    Speedo's Avatar
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    As Mike mentioned above, it’s routinely done. Marine radios don’t necessarily access all the marine frequencies - we received some new ones that needed tweaking in order to talk to all our village agents - so be sure you know the frequencies you’ll be using and confirm that the radio you buy will be able to access them.
    Speedo

  8. #8

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    NORSEE is not a major unless doing welding or cutting holes into pressurized fuselages. This radio would be NORSEE equipment.
    https://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgPolicy.nsf/0/1790b02f1833357486257f9200592110/$FILE/PS-AIR-21.8-1602.pdf

  9. #9
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Just installing a radio in a non pressurized aircraft is a minor. Hanging the radio is NOT modifying any structural items and installing the antenna is a minor as long as there is no pressure vessel.

    Web
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by astjp2 View Post
    NORSEE is not a major unless doing welding or cutting holes into pressurized fuselages. This radio would be NORSEE equipment.
    https://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgPolicy.nsf/0/1790b02f1833357486257f9200592110/$FILE/PS-AIR-21.8-1602.pdf
    For NORSEE, the manufacturer (US manufacturers only) needs to apply for it and be granted by FAA. You can’t just say since it isn’t certified you can call it NORSEE.


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  11. #11

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    Non-TSO UHF marine radio installation?

    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    Just installing a radio in a non pressurized aircraft is a minor. Hanging the radio is NOT modifying any structural items and installing the antenna is a minor as long as there is no pressure vessel.

    Web
    I agree, but like I said, the installer makes that determination. I remember years ago when the FSDO I was working in said EVERY radio installation need a Field Approval! The pendulum swings back and forth, each FSDO and each inspector has their own idea, relight or wrong. That’s why it is the installer that has the responsibility to decide based on regulation and guidance. AC 43.210A is your friend.


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  12. #12

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    Great info and as always some additional tangents to inspire more thought.
    I was able to investigate the AA34 box and the distributor told me there is a new version available, the AA34-300.
    An avionics shop that I've used in the past was also recommended to me and has experience with exactly what I need.
    Did not look into the PS Engineering unit but will consider it if recommended?
    I've always had luck with Icom equipment and they are a big sponsor for an airshow I enjoy so the UHF will probably be an Icom in the panel.
    Thanks for all your offers and input.
    I'll report back with the results.
    MSS

  13. #13
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Both units work, but the AA34 box is smaller. They are expensive so don't rush off to by a new one if you need to save money. AA34-100, -200. -300, models all work the same with only minor wiring changes from one model to the other. I've found them for less than $200 used. New they are around $700. Big difference when you are using it to make a $250 radio work in your airplane.

    Web
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  14. #14
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    MSS,
    Just a general question here.
    Not ment to be coy, but what makes you feel the " marine band" is located in the UHF spectrum ????
    For what ever its worth, you may want to reevaluate that as Marine Band radios are located mostly in the 156/57 mhz part of the band. With a few of the duplex freqs just over 160mhz. This is normally refered to as VHF and the designated freqs normally refered to as UHF: Are normally considered above 400mhz.
    So not ment to be corrective, just for your general information.

    Similar to saying I want a 12ga rifle.

    As for distance with a marine radios, I once talked with a friend flying for Alaska Airlines that was decending out of 26,000ft in a 737 that had a marine radio in it, just about over Cold Bay, while I was sitting on a hill off the
    Mulchatna River! Do the math on that one sonetime! Actually NASA talked to the Moon on 1 watt at some freq devoid of man made interference.
    Good Luck with your installation
    E


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  15. #15
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Be aware that lots of radios, now, come from the factory with no programming. When you contact the dealer and tell them you need a 'marine band' radio, they just plug in the correct frequencies. In the US that means channels 1 thru 88. Some odd freqs are skipped and some have the base number and number with 'A' suffix. Google up the specifics and assigned frequencies if you are curious.
    This set up allows the company to program multiple freqs on the same model radio, as required. This also means that you guys that have the license to operate on specific freqs may need to prove that to the dealer before he does the programming.

    Web
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  16. #16
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    My memory was that we started installing 2 meter radios that had the programing possibilities Web mentions above instead of a standard 'Marine' VHF.

    Lots of float operators have discrete frequencies on the 2 meter for company calls, much easier than aviation band around here.

    Quality Antenna is really important to the system, like all radios.

    Most shops around Alaska do these installs as a matter of form, no big deal.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  17. #17

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    It was my mistake on the UHF/VHF. I'll be flying in and out of two marinas that have heavy boat traffic and communicating with hand help marine radio is what some pilots will do for the extra safety margin. I did see that there are used AA34 boxes on the market.
    I'm learning a lot from you guys, thanks!!!
    MSS

  18. #18
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    Lol.
    When we fishspotted in the 90's I had
    7 antennas on the top of my plane. Besides the airband and elt antennas.
    We had radios for 2meters, 6meters,10 meters, 450mhz, and a Kenwood HF that had a fixed and longwire antenna. Alot of us ran Cycom Scramblers. Broadcasting herring positions, was kinda high tech. My Cub looked like a porcupine.

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