| To the Left is a
screenshot of my echo UAT monitor page after I hooked it
up. My altitude encoder is feeding altitude to this
box via 9600 baud ICARUS format, my transponder is feeding
it squawk in GTX format at 9600 baud, and the output is
9600 baud GDL format into the Echo UAT's COM Port
1. COM Port 1 is configured for control panel
type EFIS control of the UAT, and COM 1 transmit is not
COM Port 2 is configured for 115,200 baud Traffic and weather output of the UAT, which feeds into this filter box, where the traffic is coasted, and filtered by altitude and distance. I am currently using 80 miles as the filter distance, which would normally be a bad deal because the EFIS would be flooded with targets, but, since this filter sorts and filters and transmits only about 20-25 targets (depending on preference) and transmits the closest ones first, and follows GDL90 protocol specs, you always will see all of the nearby targets if they are being received. So no more flooded RS232 lines that are overflowed at 38,400 baud. The filtered GDL90 output can be configured for whatever baud rate you want, but for me it's set to 38,400 baud, so my EFIS is plenty happy with it. It also sends all of the weather packets in a timely manner as well. The only reason I don't have Lat/Long showing up in the screenshot is because the airplane was inside the hangar. It also adds collision alerting, which you'll be reading more about below.
Once you have the board built, you want a nice box to put it in, and he found a nice aluminum box that it slides right into with no effort. The ends were then cut for the DB15 connector and on the opposite end a hole was made for the micro USB connection that is used for programming the box.
I created a label for it, with the pinouts, and have them labeled so I know which airplane they go into. It's important to have them programmed for your specific plane because the de-ghosting filter relies on having your ICAO code to never list you in the traffic table if the Echo happens to pass your ICAO code accidentally.
There are some parameters that are user configurable in the software, but it needs to be programmed using the micro USB cable with a PC that has the programming software on it. (Freely available)
This may actually be a very good way for a lot of people to go. If you're already committed to an all-Garmin panel I'd just do a GTX345 for interoperability purposes, but if you're not, this is possibly the best transponder out there for you. It's available in a few different models with and without diversity antennas and with and without active traffic. The lowest model they have is still a tremendous transponder with a built-in GPS that will definitely satisfy the 2020 mandate. The biggest downside is they do not offer it WITHOUT a built-in GPS, which puts the cost in the higher $4000's. But, if you get this system, you get one that operates with GDL90 out, at many baud rates including 38,400bps, and it also has a nice touch screen display that displays weather and traffic on screen. There is an ipad app demo for it and if you play with it, you will be hooked. If you have only 2 EFIS screens, this is an especially attractive way to go, as it gives you some Nexrad info available constantly even when you are viewing perhaps engine gauges on your EFIS. It does have wifi available, via a wifi module that appears to also just be taking a 115,200bps GDL90 stream and "Wifi-ing" it, exactly as NavWorX used to do, so you CAN use it with FlyQ, WingX, Aerovie, Foreflight, FltPlan Go, or the other popular EFB apps. There is only one other downside and that's that it's about .10" taller in the bezel than the other transponders, so in order to fit it in your panel you may need to vertically enlarge your hole where the mounting tube goes, at least slightly. So if I ever upgrade again, it is likely to be to this transponder.1) Does not limit traffic to any distance or altitude around you
2) Does not alert to traffic when there may be a collison
3) Does not follow published standards for GDL90
4) Transmitter Power is only 20W
5) Can't run RS232 ports at Asynchronous speeds -or-
6) Too few RS232 ports available to do all necessary functions
7) No collision alerts and no filtering or sorting make me feel that it isn't built with safety in mind
8) uAvionix leaves EFIS to do filtering but many EFIS systems can't
9) Weaker signal reception than some systems
10) Traffic targets "blink out" occasionally
11) No Traffic Coasting option
12) Lower quality and Less-robust connectors than some systems
13) That darn MCX GPS connector
14) Poor Baro Alt operation with Tranponder Monitor Mode (also, receiving the maint flag)
15) No security on their Wifi, and no user-changeable SSID
16) non-integrated GPS and odd footprint makes for messy install in some cases
Now, a product is generally not all bad, so here, I'll try to balance it out with what they do right:
1) They do at least offer various baud rates
2) They have a good configuration interface via ipad/iphone app
3) Software upgrades are very easy enough, but could be made even easier
4) Monitoring page to see if your GPS position, Baro Alt, and squawk work is nice
5) System isn't overly large, nor hard to install
Basically, if they did a lot more work on programming, and threw it all in a nice package with D-Sub connectors with gold pins, and SMA or TNC connectors on it, it would be a much better system. But NavWorX from a hardware perspective had that and it appears to have been all done to a higher level standard than the Echo UAT is. The biggest thing it lacked was a TSO'd GPS, and dual-frequency receivers. Until removing the NavWorX and installing the Echo, I didn't have nearly the appreciation for the actual quality of the hardware and software that the NavWorX provided. uAvionix seems to be leagues behind on both fronts yet. I sure hope they improve things for their other products, but until I test one first hand and see the data they put out, I won't believe that other products they make are any better off. This one left a bad taste. As a non-EFIS integrated system to be only used with an iPad, I'd say it would actually be ok.
What about Garmin's GTX345?
Garmin's GTX345 is a common solution for many people. It would work for a lot of users, but, here are some gotchas. First, if you're a Chelton or non-Garmin EFIS user, you might be out of luck depending on your needs. These transponders don't offer an interface with Nexrad weather and traffic, in GDL90 format, at anything but 115,200 baud RS422, especially if you want CONUS Weather. In my case, I have a Chelton EFIS that requires 38,400 baud RS232, so this one is a non-starter without building some sort of converter box for it, or buying an RS422 to RS232 converter.
Now, once you get done, be aware that although it works with ForeFlight with Bluetooth, it does NOT work with Wifi, so I don't belive it will work for FlyQ, WingX, Aerovie, FltPlan Go, or the other popular EFB apps. I may be wrong, but learn that up front. In short, Garmin once again made themselves look bad by trying to be proprietary.
What about the Lynx NGT-9000?