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MicroAir Radio Transceivers - JUNK and Zero Support


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Firstly let me say that I've been a Pilot for 20+ years so I'm no newbie. Plus, I'm an Automotive Electrician and I own an electronics repair shop. I bought a brand new MicroAir from a local Victorian Aviation supplier. I have a Jabiru SK55 which had an ICOM Flip/Flop IA-C200 which worked total fine, i.e. no strange noises or anything. After fitting an alternative dash panel I removed the under dash ICOM and install the new MicroAir into the dash panel. I just re-used all the original aircraft wiring, soldering up all connections. I had done some basic testing on my bench first, and the radio seemed OK, but in the aircraft it was crap. When you press transmit you get this dreadful like feedback noise in the headset which is louder on some frequencies than others - again, the ICOM didn't have these problems. I asked my supplier about it, who referred me back to his contact at MicroAir, QLD. He told me the reason he doesn't want to supply MicroAir was because of their terrible service and after sales support. Well, he was certainly correct. I choice to contact them via email so I could explain my issues and send pics etc. Normally when you send email an email to addresses such as [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected] they get directed to the correct person and you then speak to direct by phone or email. This has been an ongoing saga for me for months with them. You cannot talk to a tech, only the reception person can talk to a tech and relay your message to the tech and then maybe a week or more later they might respond back through the receptionist. At first they wouldn't even help me until I told them the serial number and firmware version indicating they must have known problems with some firmware versions otherwise it wouldn't be important. You NEVER get to see anyone's name on email, even though I asked many times for direct contact, you just get ignored. Eventually, after months they advised it might need suppressors (which they don't sell) but instead they refer you onto JayCar electronics to buy car radio suppressors or cable Ferrites or both. In the end I made a recording of the different transmitted sounds on each frequency like 118.0 119.0 120.0 etc and sent it to them. Again, no meaningful or timely response from them. I told them I was flying this weekend and that when I returned to base I'd remove the radio and send it to them. I get this reply in my email this morning. Absolutely outrageous and contrary to consumer law. The item is brand new.

 

Thank you for your email. Our technicians have recommended that you send it in to be assessed.

 

We are currently the only authorised repairer for your product.

 

To return your unit, please carefully follow the return instructions on our website under

 

http://www.microair.com.au/ Support > Warranty Support .

 

We will notify you on receipt of your Transceiver and send you a quotation when the unit is assessed.

 

Please note, our

 

Assessment Fee is $140.00 AUD ex GST,

 

Labour is also charged out at $140.00 AUD ex GST

 

Parts start at $15.00 AUD ex GST and

 

Return postage of your radio within Australia is $19.00 AUD ex GST.

 

Your RMA number will be issued when your unit arrives into our Building.

 

 

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They don't have a very good record for fitness for purpose.

 

I would guess that if you looked at some of the forums on avionics, you might learn what others have done.

 

I posted this, then went for a look at microair radio problems. No shortage of comment. Vans airforce suggest do not install.

 

 

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Actually the problems you describe are not usually of the radio fault. I hate to say this because Microair in the first and second instance allways say its an installation problem... by second instance I mean they get your new radio back but cannot find fault with it so they want to return it at your cost.

 

if you have the option, return to dealer and get something else, or reinstall the bulky A200.

 

This is better for you than continuing with an unsupported product - notice the transponders have been out of stock for several years now....and I have one which our CAA has said needs software remediation and the factory says it doesnt and they wont supply any service info

 

If you are going to keep the radio, then areas to look at - in order of most likely fix:

 

1/reduce the microphone gain adjustment inside the transmitter. If you dont know how to do this or measure it, you shouldnt. get help. Smaller avionics shops or radio hams are likely better experienced than the commercial outfits.

 

2/ antenna match. its a Jabiru, so you cant change this. You can put 2 or 3 ferrite beads from Jaycar over the coax cable in an attempt to let the transmitter see a better match. Wideband aero antennas are much better. If your squealy noise is worse at one end of the frequency range, antenna match could be the issue.

 

3/ the brand of headsets and the earthing (or isolation) of the socket outlets for the headsets. In most installations, its customary to have one common ground connection for everything, the other possible ground connections are insulated from contacting metal such as airframe. Not a problem for Jabiru, although there is much more radiation from the antenna getting into the mic circuits. If this is the problem, shielding or the lay of the cabling is more likely to fix than ferrites.

 

Ralph

 

 

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This feedback on transmission has been an ongoing issue with the MicroAir radios. I know quite a few people who have had this issue going all the way back to the revQ radios. In the cases I'm aware of (mostly on trikes) the radio was coupled to an intercom system. As an ex USAF avionics tech, my guess is that the radio doesn't have sufficient filtering on the mic inputs. When you key the transmitter, RF energy gets picked up by the mic elements and feeds back into the radio. I haven't done any specific testing on this, it just is an educated guess, so don't quote me.

 

The thing I most dislike about the MicroAir radios though, has nothing to do with their performance. I find the display on them too small to read without my glasses and the user interface is a bit fiddly to use in flight.

 

 

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You dont have to do much searching on this forum to see what they are like. I have had quite a few come to me to be repaired...I just say no now to any of them. POS...and I dont care what version they are. They are unstable and go out of lock quite regularly and end up on the ham band when they do, have major interference issues as well. Take it back for a refund if possible and pay the extra bucks and get a Xcom or a Becker or a MGL..far better radios hands down

 

 

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Oh and I hope the new Icom ( I havent seen inside one yet) doesnt have that stupid plastic pcb connecting the head like the older 210....I would hate to think how many I have had to fix with those..The radio works ok but just a stupid design

 

 

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Yes, under the Australian Consumer Law you are entitled to a refund if not fit for purpose. If it is a defect then it should be covered by warranty and the only charge should be for packaging and transport.

 

Note that the warranty implied by the ACL is invariably longer and better than that given the manufacturer.

 

You are entitled to pursue either the supplier or the manufacturer for the remedy. Talk to Counsumer Affairs in your State if the won't play ball.

 

Kaz

 

 

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Hmmm, if the radio works on the bench, that is, transmits and receives without any problems (with antenna as close as it would be on a plane) then any problems would have to be with the installation in the plane. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong. I have seen radios misbehave because RF is getting back into the wiring. Sqeals in the speaker/headphones are common when this happens. I miss the days when the radios were as big as a shoe box and weighed a ton.

 

 

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NO...vibration of the aircraft or the dash can cause microphonics in the VCO. This creates noise on TX and also RX of poorly designed synthesizers. There are also many other issues like RF and poor wiring practices etc etc....On the workbench is VERY different to actually in a flying aircraft with a big weight spinning around on the front

 

 

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The last time I looked inside a modern radio, I could identify the audio chip (LM386 I think) and a few components. All the rest has shrunk, never to be seen by old eyes again. Been out of the radio servicing game for thirty years after taking up digital electronics and programming. My retirement plan is chemical engineering, I intend converting port, wine and beer into urine, probably on a daily basis. Perhaps the suspect radio should be placed on a vibration table while testing its performance. My Microair has been faultless since 2009.

 

 

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Microair have had no reservations in saying they are leaving radio business

 

Was bought by someone wanting certification it owns to get into other products

 

They havent sold new units for a while

 

They are a low cost unit and radios are certainly stuffed up by poor installation setups.

 

The tech guy there are quite good but you cant talk to them.

 

The service charges are setup so people paid their account for diagnosis time

 

 

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What gets up my nose is that an aircraft transceiver is just a simple AM transceiver, like the old AM CB radios, just using VHF instead of HF. Now, if we have to pay $1000 for a simple piece of kit then I would assume that's because they are built to a far better standard than a CB radio. So, how would MicroAir be allowed to produce rubbish? There is nothing that justifies the ridiculous price for any equipment we put in planes. I know folks who still have working AM CB radios from the 70s.

 

 

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The only problem I have had with my M760 is me not following the installation instructions to the letter and believing other people whose opinion I now know to be rubbish. I threw out the original harness I made, and made a new one with proper shielded cable, earthed at the radio end only, installed a power filter and ferrite chokes where specified as per the manual. Now everything works well. I still get a bit of noise when hearing broadcasts from long distance in CTAF but then these are 40 or 50 or even more miles away so it doesn't matter. This can be improved with replacing the mag switch cables with shielded cable & earthing these at the engine so I will probably do this one day when I am looking for another project.

 

 

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The only problem I have had with my M760 is me not following the installation instructions to the letter and believing other people whose opinion I now know to be rubbish. I threw out the original harness I made, and made a new one with proper shielded cable, earthed at the radio end only, installed a power filter and ferrite chokes where specified as per the manual. Now everything works well. I still get a bit of noise when hearing broadcasts from long distance in CTAF but then these are 40 or 50 or even more miles away so it doesn't matter. This can be improved with replacing the mag switch cables with shielded cable & earthing these at the engine so I will probably do this one day when I am looking for another project.

You can add the shield over the existing mag switch wires; like you said ground one end only. Cheers

 

 

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Mike what is the theory behind grounding only one end of a shielded cable?

Hi Frank I was told to only ground one end of the shield for the mag wiring so you don't get a current through the shielding.

Must catch up at an airfield this season. Best regards Mike

 

 

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There will be a potential difference between spots of each attachment. Resistance between the 2 points..EG rivet connection ,seams etc. The standard practice it to have 1 earth bar connection and all earths go back to that one place. The radio case earth and DC negative will come from the earth bar and any shield attached to the radio case eath like the intercom shields are left open ended so there is no second return path

 

 

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