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  • Radios/Helmets/Comms

    Interested in feedback or suggestions from anyone who is using handheld radios hooked directly into helmet/headset. What systems work and will maintain what hearing I have left! In order to contain costs I would prefer a portable system, which may not be possible in an open frame Gyro, but am sure there will be plenty of excellent info on the way. I fly in a CTAF so need VHF and am also needing UHF for ground support etc.

  • #2
    I use a moulded ear plug.
    mike I use is
    Mounted in a motor bike helmet.
    Radio is a Icom A22e (old radio)
    There is a splitter box wired up to switch across to a portable UHF as well (I do not have a UHF, so cannot test it, was used once on properties)

    Not saying this is the answer.

    Pilot communications also sell helmet, do not know what they are like

    further info

    not sure where Tony D got his radio from, but is a vertex standard VXA-220
    Remember: no matter where you go, there you are


    • #3
      G'day Waraton,

      Don't know anything about UHF radios at all so can't help there.

      However, for VHF, I've used both Icom and Vertex handhelds. I like the Icom but that's just personal. Whatever you end up with you'll need a headset and headset adaptor. With the headset, make sure it is fitted with GA plugs. These plugs are the most common and help with trouble shooting if that ever becomes necessary. Headsets are often available with passive or active noise cancelling features. The passive system uses the ear pads only to mitigate noise but the active ones use electronics to cancel out a heck of a lot of noise. Obviously, the active system will be more expensive than the passive. Also suggest you purchase a 12 volt power adaptor. These are usually fitted with a 12 volt cig lighter plug but this can be cut off and it can be wired into the gyro electrical system.

      Here's a link to a typical Icom handheld. They are in the US but will ship to your address here in OZ.

      For some reason, I can't load the full link so when you click on the one below, then go to Avionics, then scroll to Handhelds, then Icom, then have a look at the AC - A14. What it comes with is there as well as available accessories.

      Good luck,

      Last edited by Waddles; 02-04-2018, 05:36 PM.


      • #4
        Chook may be able to advise also if overseas radios are allowed.
        IC-A15 maybe the one for use in Australia.
        Remember: no matter where you go, there you are


        • #5
          Warwick - great question. Not a simple answer.
          Xcom radios have produced an Xcom/ GME VHF/UHF solution for aviation needs but I am unsure of the price (you can come in here anytime Matt) We have had varying success with this combination which I believe Rosco was also using for some of his builds. 3 weeks ago I was asked to add a UHF radio to an existing Xcom installation in a Sportcopter for mustering work. Because of the tight time frame (I had to do some R&D for this install) and the remoteness of the owner I chose to have 2 separate systems but using the common helmet.
          I chose a Flycom helmet (Yarrawonga flying school in Victoria are the agents approx $1200) because of the audio characteristics of that brand (they have great padding and good quality electrics). It is here that we run into problems - the standard Xcom radio is designed to run with GA (general aviation) 150 ohm speakers and microphones. The GME UHF radio however uses 8 ohm speakers and electret microphones and this is where the additional printed circuit had to be installed and tested so that the helmet would work seamlessly between to the 2 radios. The other variant is that Flycom manufacture both a GA and an ultralight matched helmets. The impedance mismatch (150/8 ohm thing) is reasonably easy to correct by using a matching transformer which are a little larger than your thumbnail and less than $5 each.

          Now to completely upset things although these helmets are really good for most aircraft, our open frame gyros produce dangerous amounts of complex noise. For example my Amax EA81 powered machine produces 130 dBA of noise level at 5000rpm at my helmet(I have actually measured this with a dosimeter and its the same process for all of my installs). The Rotax powered Sportcopter is the same. These levels of noise positively frighten audiologists because continued exposure will destroy your hearing. So in this case because this customer will be spending extended periods of time in this Sportcopter I installed an Active Noise Reduction system into his helmet which was obtained from DM electronics in NSW (approx $300 + install charges)

          Ok so we seem to have the receive part sorted (hearing your radio) what about the microphone which is exposed to the same noise that your ears without protection were. The Flycom helmet also has a flip-able face shield with a wet suit rubber material attached to the bottom of it which covers your throat area and assists in keeping that engine noise reduced. To further reduce the noise that would normally also be transmitted with your voice we have noise cancelling microphones. They generally can only tolerate about 15 dB of noise before they become overloaded and remember our engine is tossing out 130 dB so that rubber beard further reduces this noise. The microphone that Ross suggested will be good at this. And finally the microphone needs to be accoustically separated from the helmet as the noise comes from the engine/prop/rotors, hits the helmet and is mechanically directed into the microphone. So they need to be isolated with rubber mounts.

          The next area is powering your radios. A lot of pilots just connect their radios to the 12 volt battery and can't understand where all of the static comes from. An avionics filtering system is mandatory - your power supply needs to be exceptionally "clean" as noise from the alternator, its regulator, strobe lights, ignition leads, ignition points, LED landing lights, mobile phones will all have an impact on your avionics.

          And finally your antennas require careful placement and tuning along with no sharp bends of the coaxial cable connecting your radios to their respective antennas. My guides for antenna installs are not to run the coax cable near any existing wiring (within 100mm), not place antennas within a meter of the rotor path, and at least a meter between antennas.

          The question of hand helds - DON'T EVEN CONSIDER USING AN ICOM A6. I have spent approximately 80 hours trying to marry one of these into a gyro and if you read the "net" even Icom have walked away from them by producing the Icom A15 which has a special dispensation in Australia as an aircraft fixed installation. You will need to investigate the ACMA site for other radio types and approvals.

          Incidentally I have no affiliation with any of the products I have previously mentioned. I avoid microair radios because they are difficult to deal with and won't sell spare parts or answer technical questions. They have also stopped repairing their early model radios but will happily sell you a new one.

          There now wasn't that simple.


          • #6
            Thanks you guys, as always a lot of effort, experience and helpful advice in all the responses. The portable option still remains a preference, which brand of portable uhf gives the best results for our application based on real life experiences.


            • #7
              Like I said, my gyro came with a ICOM A22E VHF radio. It did not come with the battery. It is plugged into the 12V gyro supply, via a ICOM transformer to drop back to I think 9 volts. After I start the gyro I flick the toggle switch to turn the radio on.
              The gyro also came with a ICOM IC-40S UHF radio. The battery was dead, I have not bought a replacement, so just have the radio stored in the shed.

              Some plugs from both these radios go to a 'box' where also the push to talk button on the joy stick goes into as well.
              There is a toggle switch on the box to choose between the two radios. You would (if both radios were in the gyro) hear communications from both radios, but will only transmit on the radio selected. from this box, a cable goes the another box with the GA plug sockets.

              With the decibels Chook said that there is (I would not doubt this reading). then double hearing protection would also be a consideration. If I was working for a long time at work in a area with high noise (not as loud as the open gyro) I would wear plugs and muffs.

              I also bought a old ICARO helmet of the previous gyro owner.
              I got sore ears after an hour of flying, probably due to the fact that the seals are due for replacement, and also new sound absorption foam in them.

              The ear moulds just plug into the GA socket, just use an adapter to change plug size.

              Thinking of either adding sound foam and ear muff seals in my bike helmet, to give a bit of double ear protection. Too tight to buy these. pump up ear muffs for bike helmets.
              Last edited by RossM; 02-05-2018, 09:26 PM.
              Remember: no matter where you go, there you are


              • #8
                Ross one of our members over here flies an EA81 engine with a partial low cabin and a windscreen and uses an Icom A20 with a Flycom helmet and interface electronics between the radio and the helmet with great success. It also runs off the gyro battery.
                There are is another member who flies with an American product called a halo headset. This essentially uses tiny hearing aid speakers which transmit their sound into the ears using hollow audio tubes attached to in ear industrial hearing plugs (compressed foam types. He has used the moulded in ear variety and says that the Halo's are superior in clarity and noise exclusion. The downside is that these units are generally on a waiting list of months and cost around $600 aussie dollars delivered. I have been trying to manufacture our own similar design between radio works over here.

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                These are extremely lightweight and fit under your standard helmet earcup which precludes most of the external noise.
                This was my first choice for the aforementioned job above but that customer flatly refused to have anything in his ears. Fair enough.

                So another option.



                • #9
                  ROSSM, how do you find the moulded in ear speakers, the link you provided makes some reasonable claims. I haven't seen anyone using this set up but it seems a logical option. I already own noise cancelling headsets but Chook pointed out these are not designed for open cockpit operations. I can't imagine Lightsoeed engineers looking at a poster of an open frame ROSSCRAFT as they were building the prototype Zulu!


                  • #10
                    Hi Warwick, the moulded plugs work, though could block more noise. Brian Reid uses them, plus others.
                    Contact earmould and ask what rating they have to block noise.
                    Some people have tried them and don't like them.
                    The helmet Chook suggested seem to have a good reputation.
                    Remember: no matter where you go, there you are


                    • #11
                      Yep, you could write two books & still not cover everything. Only ever used a UHF so know nothing about VHF but am going to be putting one in my Peter Green machine shortly using Chooks recommendations.
                      Interesting to hear the that 130dba's are being produced in the cockpit .No wonder hearing problems are common place !!! Just wish I had the earmoulds from the start as they are terrific at reducing the noise & delivering crystal clear reception [ provided incoming reception is good. The earmoulds only work well if you put them into clean ears. If you are working in a dusty yard for hours, then go stick your earmoulds in it takes one little bit of grit & you will think your ear is going to fall off after a few hours. But they do work well ! I hope to use them inside a helmet with the VHF radio.
                      Interestingly when I put a UHF into this Peter Green gyro the noise level produced through the gyros battery made hearing & transmitting illegible, connected up a battery that wasnt connected to the 12 V system & all good !


                      • #12
                        Has anyone tried using a Bluetooth adaptor on the radio and Bluetooth earplugs?


                        • #13
                          Flycom helmets are the best by far. I can barely hear my engine at 120db with this helmet without anr. An Icom a15 will work with this helmet for vhf. The GA boys always mention how clear my radio transmissions are. They don't realise that I am in an open frame gyro ( no pod ) until they see me.

                          An Icom ic41 pro handheld works really well for uhf. I haven't tried them with they Flycom helmet but I have it working perfectly with a headset. The earmuffs will clip into the Flycom helmet as they are peltor defenders.

                          I am not at all a fan of the xcom stuff. Ridiculous amounts of prop/engine/wind noise gets transmitted.

                          One day I will catch up with Chook and see if we can't marry these two handhelds into one helmet (sorry Chook) Worst case senario it would be two ptt's (or one with a two postion switch), uhf mic and earphone and a vhf mic and earphone on the other side. Effectively you would have uhf on the left for example and vhf on the right. Really expensive but definitely works. One thing that I have worked out is that there is nothing cheap in aviation. Buy once, cry once.

                          Cheers Matthew
                          Last edited by WEST OZ FLYER; 02-27-2018, 04:44 PM.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by almar View Post
                            Has anyone tried using a Bluetooth adaptor on the radio and Bluetooth earplugs?
                            After much deliberation and in consultation with Adrian Parfrey in SA (Backpack Airsports) I have ordered a bluetooth unit which will be connected into hand held radios and mounted onto a wearable harness. Fitted with a PTT and easily switchable between radios. Going to be difficult changing frequencies airborne but seems the easiest solution for my needs. I will let you know how it works in the air, will be about a month away. Thanks again for the shared experiences.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by waraton View Post

                              After much deliberation and in consultation with Adrian Parfrey in SA (Backpack Airsports) I have ordered a bluetooth unit which will be connected into hand held radios and mounted onto a wearable harness. Fitted with a PTT and easily switchable between radios. Going to be difficult changing frequencies airborne but seems the easiest solution for my needs. I will let you know how it works in the air, will be about a month away. Thanks again for the shared experiences.
                              Update on the radio situation. Adrian is supplying the following;

                              Icom A25 VHF Bluetooth GPS Navigational Radio, ($685) This is a Bluetooth Radio (so no cords!)
                              Sena S3 Bluetooth Headset,
                              Bluetooth PTT
                              Peltor X5 Muffs with Gel ear cups

                              I am hoping we can set up a UHF with Bluetooth as well so I have both bands covered - Easy!. I am planning on mounting the radios so I can easily get to them. A simple easily transferable system between machines with a bit of luck and planning.