Bits and Pieces
Electronics Corner - Flightcom 403 Intercom
Flightcom 403 intercom
By Ian Brown, Editor - Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159
The Flightcom 403 panel-mounted intercom is compact and relatively easy to install. It ships with a choice of switch panels so that you can decide how you want to orient it for your specific application. Included in the installation kit are sufficient headphone jacks for six stations, so if you're building a two-seater you will have lots of spare jacks. There is also a light-sport option, which is the same product but kitted for two-place aircraft. It's perhaps the better choice for the amateur construction market, although it wasn't available when the author bought his. An online search shows the best price for the two-place LSA version at $189, and $240 for the six-place kit.
When planning a panel for a new aircraft, you'll find that an entertainment system for long flights often includes a CD player. These are surprisingly heavy, often weighing six pounds or more. The CDs that you might want to bring along on a trip, and perhaps their container, also weigh a bit and take up space.
The 403 intercom has an input that can be connected to a 1/8-inch stereo music jack compatible with most MP3 players. This is a lower cost, better quality, lower weight option. You can queue your favourite playlist or listen to downloaded podcasts of the Vinyl Cafe! Using this option also saves panel space, as you just have one small 3.5-millimeter jack. It doesn't really need to be on the panel at all. There's a switch at each headset jack to allow you to change between stereo and mono. Remember that you will have to have a stereo headset to take advantage of the stereo capability. The music will automatically mute during both transmitted and received radio. You have the option of continuing to hear your favourite tunes while listening to radio transmissions, but that's a configuration option during installation.
The manual is quite insistent about mic positioning, stating that the mic must be between zero and 1/8 inch from your mouth. This is surprising to most passengers, even pilots, and they rarely get the mic close enough. The ratio of your voice to the background noise is directly related to how close you can get the boom and mic to your lips.
At only 5 ounces this product also has the potential to save weight if you are upgrading from an older intercom. A digital clearance recorder option will record up to 32 seconds of transmissions if you choose to add it to the base product. You can record both your ATC instructions and your responses.
This is a well-documented product from a major company.
Note: We're looking for submitted articles from you for Electronics Corner. As a community of pilots, we always welcome input on what you've just installed and what you like or dislike about it. (Sometimes the "gotchas" are just as informative as the report on the advantages a new avionics device provides for you.) If you recently added some new avionics, please let us have the benefit of your experience. This is not intended to be an advertising section of our newsletter but simply a means of sharing our product experiences.