Avionics Report

July 2010 Issue

Portable VHF radios: Sporty’s SP-400 Shines

Call ‘em suspenders with over-equipped glass panels or a belt in a stark LSA, but we think portable transceivers still have a place in today’s cockpit.

Despite the ridiculous backup common to modern cockpits, the portable radio is the last resort when all other options fail. But not all are created equal, and add-ons, such as an external antenna connection, can play seriously into performance and cost. Here’s our hard-nosed report. Our criteria: Portables must have a high-end transmitter with a modulator that can reach reasonable distances at altitude. They must offer a headset interface. They must be small enough to stow in a map pocket but large enough for easy use in high-workload emergencies.

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