July 2009 Issue
Electronic Tachs: UMA is a Top Value
With electronic guts and an analog display, it combines the best of both worlds. Second choice is Horizonís P-1000, which has diagnostics, but needs a facelift.
If youíre like us, youíre flying around in something built during the last century but lusting after some of the panel-mounted goodies available in newer aircraft. While itís easy enough to shoehorn in a color moving map and some digital radios, modernizing other areas of your panel isnít. And thatís a shame, since much of the engine and systems instrumentation in older aircraft appears borrowed from a 1947 Buick. But, as usual, the aftermarket has provided in the form of engine monitors, fuel flow instruments and a smattering of tachometers. The tach market is not widely populated, so if you want one, the choices are somewhat limited. Hereís a run-down on the pros and cons of this technology, plus a look at the major players in the field. Of course, the microprocessor in digital instruments does little more than count. Conveniently, a mechanical tachometer does the same thing. The big difference between the two involves how they receive a signal: The microprocessor counts electrical impulses sent to it via wiring, while the mechanical tachometerís many moving parts count the number of times a cable attached to the engine revolves. The former is lighter, more accurate and less likely to fail, at least as long as the aircraftís electrical system powers the microprocessor. The latter is none of those things.
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