Educational by Chapter of the Powered Paragliding Bible

I: First Flight

01 Training Process

02 Gearing Up

03 Handling the Wing

04 Prep For 1st Flight

05 The Flight

06 Flying With Wheels 

II: Spreading Wings

07 Weather Basics

08 The Law

09 Airspace   

10 Flying Anywhere

11 Controlled Airports

12 Setup & Mx

13 Flying Cross Country

14 Flying With Others

III: Mastery

15 Adv Ground Handling

16 Precision Flying

17 Challenging Sites

18 Advanced Maneuvers

19 Risk Management

20 Competition

21 Free Flight Transition

IV: Theory

22 Aerodynamics

23 Motor & Propeller

24 Weather & Wind

25 Roots: Our History

V: Choosing Gear

26 The Wing

27 The Motor Unit

28 Accessories

29 Home Building

VI: Getting the Most

30 Other Uses

31 Traveling With Gear

32 Photography


--- Not in book ---

33 Organizing Fly-Ins

34 Places To Fly

35 Preserving the Sport

36 Tandem

Paramotor Communications

Staying in touch is always problematic. Finally, a solution.| Ham License in a Day | Home Built Comm

Being able to talk with fellow paramotor pilots has been a struggle since I got into the sport. Electronics wizards like Nick Scholtes, Robin Rumbolt and others have helped but still many pilots go without reliable comm.

During a trip with Jeff Hamann, Phil Russman and others to Baja, where communications was especially important, I found the answer. Both Jeff and Phil were always perfectly clear, more so than any other pilot. And more clear than any I'd ever heard. The key to their success was simplicity itself, the M101 mic wired without any resisters or electronics whatsoever and through a equally simple Push-To-Talk (PTT). Jeff wore ear buds that plugged right into the radio's earphone jack and the mic plugged into its mic jack.

I took the system up to try it with Phil Russman and the clarity was incredible. In fact, the Powered Paragliding Bible's cover picture was made possible by being able to talk so clearly to Phil using this system.

So I set out to get the gear for myself and make it available to others. After working with Sport Link Communications, I am happy to now offer it on FootFlyer. You can either buy it here or build it from the instructions below. My hope is that more pilots have reliable communications.

Simplicity: M101 150 ohm

The beauty of this is that, not only is the audio exceptional, but it requires no electronics, no batteries and is completely portable.

The M101/AIC dynamic microphone itself was developed eons ago to military specs for various aircraft communications needs. Whatever noise canceling properties they needed turn out to work perfectly for our application. Engineering types prefer electret microphones but, for simplicity sake, this works amazingly well. New M101's are expensive, costing an average of $40 to $50. Most M101's are 150 ohm but there are some 5 ohm models used primarily in military applications. We use the 150 ohm version.

Reliability and portability are major benefits. So many times I've gone flying with a group who don't have comm because either their helmet stopped working or it won't work with the radio they just bought. Matching radio to helmet can be a nightmare. This system eliminates the problem by separating the mic from the helmet. Ear buds are available anywhere.

M101 Mic sources: David Clark Model 09168P-42 Acousticom

Building it

For those who would like to save money and build the system yourself, it requires no electronics. You could even use an off-the-shelf PTT from Sporty's pilot or other catalogue sales outfit.

To build it, purchase an M101/AIC microphone and wire it in series to the PTT and then into a 2.5mm plug. Mount the microphone to your helmet's existing boom using wire ties. The one that FootFlyer sells comes with a small extension to make that easier.  We'll sell just the microphone, too, but you could probably find it cheaper (see the used ones above).

Compatibility

We've tested the system with a number of radios and, so far, have found it is extremely compatible. Having said that, my experience suggests not to trust any radio that's not listed.

So far, the models that we've tested it with are:

1. Vertex VX 150 and Vertex 170 2-meter (requires Ham License). This is the best quality communications we've ever had. Numerous groups around the country are using these radios and have proclaimed exceptional reliability. You have to have their optional (CT-44 for the vx150, different for each radio) 1-to-2 prong adapter.

2. Midland two-prong. We've tested the small, cheap radios from Wal-Mart. Range is questionable but audio quality, if the squelch is broken, is decent.

3. Motorola. Just say no to Motorola. First of all, they're almost all single prong radios. You'll need an adapter that goes from single prong to two-prong (like all single jack radios). But what's worse is that Motorola insists on using a proprietary, and slightly longer hole than everyone else so just using a regular single prong plug doesn't work.

I've actually used the FootFlyer system with Motorola radios but had to file down the radio's case so our more-standard 2.5 mm plug fits. You can see in the picture at left how the case of the right-hand radio was filed away around its single-hole mic/speaker jack.

4. Insignia. So far, works good. I don't even know where we got these FRS/GMRS radios but the FootFlyer system keys them and has good audio.

5. Cobra. We've tested the two-prong wx 310's which work well right out of the box. We've also tested two models of their microTALK through our 1-to-2 prong adapter and they worked fine.

6. Aviation Radios. The FootFlyer system does NOT work with aviation radios. Robin Rumbolt tells us that's because aviation radios key the microphone by shorting one of the radio pins to ground whereas the FRS and 2-meter radios key by connecting the microphone and a resister.

Note: Using 2-meter radios require a Ham license and, strangely enough, so does GMRS which most FRS radios now incorporate. Some channels are GMRS and some are FRS. You need an $85 FCC license, good for five years, to operate on the GMRS frequencies.

Why

Our hope is to improve the communications in this sport so more pilots will benefit from being able to talk. Lord knows there's not much profit in it. Thanks to Sport Link Communications who is building these for us.

Enjoy and, by all means, stay in touch.

Footflyer's comm system has been tested with Vertex VX150 and several FRS radio models (see list at left).

Included is a mic with mounting tab, 2.5mm plug and push-to-talk button. You provide your own earbuds with standard 1/8" plug (3.5mm) or use the earphone built into your helmet. The beauty of this system is that there are no electronics.

We have them in stock and will put them up for sale within the next few days.

 

About the Ham License

The best communications you can have is with 2-meter radios but they require a ham license. And unlike other bands, there are ham operators who seek out illegal users for sport. They love hunting with direction-finding gear and other tools. That can be expensive for the prey.

It turns out that getting the requisite "Technicians" license isn't that hard and Morse code is no longer required.

The quickest approach relies on short term memory. You spend an intense session of studying the questions and correct answers (PDF file) then immediately take the test. Note these tests are updated periodically so check the dates.

Find the nearest AARL testing facility and make sure to have studied just prior to taking the test. Ham Operators are notoriously friendly and willing to help so chumming up with one would actually be quite helpful. Local radio clubs would be the best source.

Find testing sites here.

Here is the program on which "License in a day" is based.


© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!