I mentioned in a previous post that I’d ordered a new f.u.n.k.e 8.33 kHz radio, and indeed I had. However, between ordering and receiving it I had a bit of a re-think.

As well as the radio, I also really need a Mode S transponder. More and more controlled airspace is being created the whole time and having to always fly around rather than through it, especially on longer flights such as when I fly to the UK, makes flight planning more difficult, flight times longer and flights themselves more arduous as a result.

I could just remove 77ASY’s panel and install the radio right now but that would leave the panel itself in an untidy mess with gaping holes in it and also needing to come out again and be completely revised at such time as I decided to fit a transponder. So it makes sense to bite the financial bullet and do the whole job just the once now, fit both the new radio and a transponder and do the panel design changes that will be required.

So what about the f.u.n.k.e radio? It’s based on a Dittel design and made under licence from TQ Systems who have since acquired Dittel (at least, that’s how I understand it). TQ and f.u.n.k.e each have a range of radios and transponders which are similar in design and functionality with the latter’s range being more expensive than the former’s and considerably more so in the case of the transponder. I had initially considered therefore buying the TQ transponder at some time in the future and on thinking about it decided that it really didn’t make sense to buy the f.u.n.k.e radio now if I was going to do that.

In fact I decided that it would make more sense to exchange the f.u.n.k.e radio immediately for the TQ version, and save a small amount of money by doing so, and to order the TQ transponder at the same time. So that’s what I’ve done. I contacted Fischer Flugzeugservice last week in the hope that I’d be able to make the order changes before the f.u.n.k.e radio had been shipped but was told that I was too late. I therefore had to wait for it to be delivered before immediately turning it around to send it back again without even opening the package.

It makes sense to have an avionics package installed with units from the same supplier. This is obviously true from the point of view of aesthetics as it’s much easier on the eye if the products match, but technically it also makes sense to fit products that you know are compatible as there’s nothing worse than trying to trace and eradicate cross-interference or compatability issues between avionics products such as radios and transponders.

And as the following pictures show, the TQ products do match each other very well. First the TQ-KRT2 radio and then the TQ-KTX2 transponder.

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So I’ve also had to think about the changes that I’ll have to make to 77ASY’s panel and here’s what I’ve come up with.

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Here’s the panel as it looks currently by way of comparison.

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As you can see, the old Icom radio (1) and Alphatec intercom (2) have been removed, together with the electric turn indicator (3), which is replaced by the ‘new’ 80mm revcounter that I recently came across on Le Bon Coin. The existing 57mm rev counter is also replaced by a slip ball and the fuel pressure gauge below it moved to be the top right in a revised bank of engine gauges on the right-hand side of the panel.

The space it was in is then filled with the new transponder and the space below that, which was previously occupied by the old intercom, with the new radio. The latter doesn’t have an ’emergency button’ facility as far as I’m aware, so the existing panel button (6) is also disposed of.

The redesign requires a certain amount of minor repositioning of gauges etc and as there would otherwise be several gaping holes remaining afterwards, I’ve also sourced a new sheet of aluminium from which to fabricate a completely new panel. As it is only 1.5mm thick, I’ve been able to source a sheet pre-lacquered on one side and I was very pleased to discover a supplier who could provide one with a satin ‘white aluminium’ finish that will look great without creating distracting reflections and the like.

I’ve also done another redesign in which I’ve shifted things around a bit more and created a space in the middle of the panel for my Asus 7″ tablet on which I run my MemoryMap navigation software. However, I need to do some more accurate measurements in order to confirm that the space is actually large enough so for the time being I’m just holding it on file as a possibilty. Clearly it would be a big advantage if I could get my tablet onto the panel as up to now it’s had to be held on a mount above the panel on the right-hand side, so not ideal by any means.

So I think that I’ve made the correct decision and I’m just waiting now for the f.u.n.k.e radio to arrive back with the supplier and for the replacement and the TQ transponder to be shipped out. I now have only one reservation, and it’s a major one. When I originally ordered the f.u.n.k.e radio, I would have had a choice between it and the TQ-KRT2. However, the supplier’s web site is now showing that the latter is out of stock and on a 2-3 week leadtime.

If this is so and I don’t receive it until the end of April, my plans to fly to the UK will be completely dusrupted as I’ll have missed the first two of my preferred windows. But there’s nothing I can do except wait and hope that things will turn out favourably 😕

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