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ADS-B Upgrade: My old Transponder needs repair


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My old Narco AT150 is giving me issues.  I really don't want to throw good money after old avionics. But as with everything in aviation, maybe the best solution isn't as simple as replacement.

I have really no desire to upgrade to ADS-B.  I usually don't need to fly in rule airspace (though the 10,000 foot ceiling is a bit irksome).  I had been hoping to wait for the tailbeaconX when they become available, but they don't seem to be forthcoming.  Any ideas when those will be available?  I haven't been comfortable with the add-on systems like the Uavionix Tailbeacon or Skybeacon or the Garmin GDL-82, relying on my VERY questionable transponder, even if fixed.

What about other solutions?  I like the idea of something stand-alone.  I don't have any installed WAAS sources...I don't fly IFR so I don't need an elaborate in-panel solution.

Call me a CB, but I just want to be able to fly.

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5 hours ago, cctsurf said:

My old Narco AT150 is giving me issues.  I really don't want to throw good money after old avionics. But as with everything in aviation, maybe the best solution isn't as simple as replacement.

I have really no desire to upgrade to ADS-B.  I usually don't need to fly in rule airspace (though the 10,000 foot ceiling is a bit irksome).  I had been hoping to wait for the tailbeaconX when they become available, but they don't seem to be forthcoming.  Any ideas when those will be available?  I haven't been comfortable with the add-on systems like the Uavionix Tailbeacon or Skybeacon or the Garmin GDL-82, relying on my VERY questionable transponder, even if fixed.

What about other solutions?  I like the idea of something stand-alone.  I don't have any installed WAAS sources...I don't fly IFR so I don't need an elaborate in-panel solution.

Call me a CB, but I just want to be able to fly.

Thousands of people put in Skybeacons and Tailbeacons and are satisfied - some used them as temporary solutions and now want to upgrade their panels and are pulling them and selling them. If you do that and find an AT150 that someone is taking out I can't think of a less expensive solution.

That being said if it was me I like to do it once and do it right, I'd buy a new ads-b in/out transponder and be done with it.

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29 minutes ago, LANCECASPER said:

That being said if it was me I like to do it once and do it right, I'd buy a new ads-b in/out transponder and be done with it.

I guess that's what I was trying to say.  I was thinking to do it once and be done with it.  That is why I was hoping for the tailbeaconx:  A fairly minimially invasive install and no need to place a gps antenna on the top of the airframe (and figure out how to rearrange the current antenna farm).

I was essentially looking for suggestions of possible integrated systems.  There used to be a L3 or Lynx solution I was interested in, but I don't see that for sale any more.

I didn't really consider the used market.  Perhaps there are more skybeacons or tailbeacons than I imagined, which I could use as a temporary solution.

Thanks!

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Best permanent option for a sketchy transponder is probably something like a used Garmin GTX330es - you get a new transponder and 1090mhz ADS-B out for about the same price as a used skybeacon. 

People are dumping these first-gen 1090 units in favor of in/out solutions, and you can find them for well under 2AMU. 

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Best permanent option for a sketchy transponder is probably something like a used Garmin GTX330es - you get a new transponder and 1090mhz ADS-B out for about the same price as a used skybeacon. 
People are dumping these first-gen 1090 units in favor of in/out solutions, and you can find them for well under 2AMU. 
I was going to suggest this except it needs a WAAS input.

The cheapest solution is likely a used Garmin 327 or 330 xponder and a used Skybeacon/Tailbeacon. Paying for a modern xponder installation would make me want to bite the bullet and get the Garmin all-in-one box though.

Sent from my LM-V405 using Tapatalk

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Might want to look at the GDL 82.  It can be purchased with a WAAS antenna and meets the ADS-B requirement (limited to below FL180).  And, I assume at some point, you are going to want to move to WAAS GPS - now the antenna is already in the plane.

Edit-  reread the post and realized this is not a good solution as it is only ADS-B out with no transponder function.  Cheapest solution would be to find a used take-out unit and swap it out.  You can probably still find these at a pretty low price.

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On 7/22/2021 at 8:17 AM, Warren said:

Might want to look at the GDL 82.  It can be purchased with a WAAS antenna and meets the ADS-B requirement (limited to below FL180).  And, I assume at some point, you are going to want to move to WAAS GPS - now the antenna is already in the plane.

But his transponder is on the way out. Might as well get a waas ads-b out (better yet In and out) transponder. It's not really that much more for the Garmin 375 which has a waas gps. ads-b in/out transponder all in one. https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/577174

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Best route cost wise would be a GTX 327 and a sky/tailbeacon. All-in should be 3k or under.

GNX 375 is a good value but unnecessary for a VFR pilot.

GTX 330 is mode S and incompatible with UAT systems.

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, I definitely am not in the market for the gnx 375...  Looks beautiful, but I don't have 1/4 of the value of the plane to spend right now.

I like the integrated fact of the gtx 335w...but that involves adding a gps antenna to the fuselage.  I can see that the 327 (or honestly, any modern, used transponder--seems to have to be mode-c, not mode-s) with a sky/tailbeacon would minimize installation work...

I really need to find an avionics shop that will work with me on installation.  I could do all of this under oversight with NO problem... (I'm an electrical engineer with a lot of experience as a technician).

Edited by cctsurf
Mode-C
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I had the exact same situation; an old fussy Narco.  I replaced the Narco with a used but mint GTX-327 and a GDL-82 (in the tail near the battery).  To minimize wiring changes, I installed a new altitude encoder with dual outputs.  The GTX-327 does everything I want a transponder to do and there are infinite spares available for a few hundred dollars.  I'm not sure how much I spent total, but somewhere close to $3K.   If you're an EE with ET experience, buy a prefabricated wiring harness; at that point it's plug and play.  You just need a shop to work with you like you said.  

Edited by DCarlton
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On 7/23/2021 at 11:29 AM, DCarlton said:

I had the exact same situation; an old fussy Narco.  I replaced the Narco with a used but mint GTX-327 and a GDL-82 (in the tail near the battery).  To minimize wiring changes, I installed a new altitude encoder with dual outputs.  The GTX-327 does everything I want a transponder to do and there are infinite spares available for a few hundred dollars.  I'm not sure how much I spent total, but somewhere close to $3K.   If you're an EE with ET experience, buy a prefabricated wiring harness; at that point it's plug and play.  You just need a shop to work with you like you said.  

Do you have to have an AVIONICS shop supervise your work, or can an A&P legally sign it off?

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Do you have to have an AVIONICS shop supervise your work, or can an A&P legally sign it off?
An A&P can sign for a transponder as it is minor, you will need an IA to sign the 337 for the GDL-82. Neither item is required to be installed by a Garmin dealer.

The install manual for the GDL-82 requires a power check of the transponder to be performed. You will most likely need a radio shop for that, it can be done with the 91.413 inspection.
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2 hours ago, N231BN said:
6 hours ago, Schinderhannes said:
A Garmin GTX330ES with a Freeflight 1201 would be one alternative and most likely less costly than Mod C transponder and 978MHZ UAT. 

The OP does not have a WAAS position source to send to the -330ES.

Therefore I had recommended to use the GTX330ES / Freeflight 1201 combination. The 1201 is a legal WAAS GPS position source and they are available in the $600 range.  

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Therefore I had recommended to use the GTX330ES / Freeflight 1201 combination. The 1201 is a legal WAAS GPS position source and they are available in the $600 range.  
I wasn't aware of that product. Do they have a STC to provide position to a GTX or do you need a field approval?

For a VFR airplane I would much prefer a UAT system with anonymous mode.
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4 minutes ago, N231BN said:

I wasn't aware of that product. Do they have a STC to provide position to a GTX or do you need a field approval?

For a VFR airplane I would much prefer a UAT system with anonymous mode.

Not what you asked, but the GDL-82 does provide anonymous mode.  If I remember correctly, it was one wire to a switch to ground.  Very simple.  I've never used it but I installed it.  

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Not what you asked, but the GDL-82 does provide anonymous mode.  If I remember correctly, it was one wire to a switch to ground.  Very simple.  I've never used it but I installed it.  
That's correct, personally I would prefer a GDL-82 over the tailbeacon. The OP was looking for the lowest-cost with the least intrusive installation.
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11 hours ago, N231BN said:

personally I would prefer a GDL-82 over the tailbeacon

I'm curious how the GDL-82 is less intrusive than the tailbeacon?  The tailbeacon replaces a light, the GDL requires being wired in-line with the transponder antenna, and the installation of a gps antenna...  Am I missing something?

Thanks!

 

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I'm curious how the GDL-82 is less intrusive than the tailbeacon?  The tailbeacon replaces a light, the GDL requires being wired in-line with the transponder antenna, and the installation of a gps antenna...  Am I missing something?
Thanks!
 
Sorry for the confusion, my initial recommendation to the OP was the tailbeacon due to it's simplicity. In the last reply I was simply stating I would prefer the GDL-82 if I was spending the money.

I don't think there is any question it is a more robust unit with better technology (actual transponder interrogation).
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On 7/26/2021 at 8:03 AM, cctsurf said:

I'm curious how the GDL-82 is less intrusive than the tailbeacon?  The tailbeacon replaces a light, the GDL requires being wired in-line with the transponder antenna, and the installation of a gps antenna...  Am I missing something?

Thanks!

 

Nope.  You're not missing a thing.

It's why I went Tailbeacon; took all of 30 minutes to install.  VERY happy I only had to spend a little over $2K to solve the mandate problem.

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On 7/26/2021 at 11:14 AM, N231BN said:

I don't think there is any question it is a more robust unit with better technology (actual transponder interrogation).

Really?  As a very satisfied Tailbeacon owner for nearly two years, I'm just not seeing a lack of 'robustness' in the product.  I periodically run performance reports to verify integrity.  Not seeing a problem.

Do you have actual data to support such a bold statement?  You know, like demonstrable field failure rates, warranty returns, etc.

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14 hours ago, MikeOH said:

Really?  As a very satisfied Tailbeacon owner for nearly two years, I'm just not seeing a lack of 'robustness' in the product.  I periodically run performance reports to verify integrity.  Not seeing a problem.

Do you have actual data to support such a bold statement?  You know, like demonstrable field failure rates, warranty returns, etc.

Don't worry, I'm sure your tailBeacon will give you many years of trouble-free service. I have installed a number of both units, I never have to worry whether the GDL-82 will read the transponder on first power-up. Also, I have seen plenty of smashed nav lights over the years without any damage to the airplane, not sure I want to hang that much money out there.

With that said, I think the sky/tailBeacon is a great way to get someone compliant at minimal cost.

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