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I beta-tested a pre-production uAvionix skyBeacon on my STOL 750. As you probably know, the skyBeacon incorporates a blade antenna to "sniff" your transponder's squawk to obtain pressure altitude and squawk code. The 750's wingtip has a protrusion to mount the nav/strobe light, but it is along the top edge of the wingtip. Unfortunately, this positions the downward-pointing blade antenna more-or-less in the middle of the wingtip. Since we have all-metal wings, I found in testing this effectively shields the skyBeacon's antenna from line-of-sight reception of my transponder antenna on the belly of the aircraft. This resulted in unacceptable pressure altitude errors on the FAA Public ADS-B Performance Reports.
This early model did not have integrated strobes, so I fabricated a "pod and boom" mount that let me re-mount my nav/strobe in the original location and positioned the skyBeacon forward and slightly clear of the leading edge of the wingtip. The end result was I still had my strobe and the skyBeacon works flawlessly!
However, uAvionix has come up with a clever solution to eliminate the wingtip design affecting transponder squawk reception! They shortly will have a new design that incorporates a "transcoder" circuit that detects the transponder data from the nav light's electrical wiring! It will also have integrated strobes! I don't know if the "transcoder" uses the wiring as an antenna or if it somehow picks up data the transponder has induced into the wiring, but apparently it works! This will allow the skyBeacon to be mounted on any configuration of wingtip without concern about transponder squawk reception. It will still require a clear view straight up for the GPS antenna, but this will not be a problem since it protrudes from the wingtip.
I am supposed to be receiving the new model with the transcoder and strobes for beta testing in a few weeks. I will be mounting it back in the original wingtip location. I'll be glad to update the testing results once available. I "think" it will likely sell for the same price or little more than the original design, so obviously, if I were you, I would wait for the new model to become available. Also, as I understand it, it will be identical to the certified model that will follow, so the performance of the integrated WAAS GPS, the ADS-B transmitter, and the strobes will be to certified standards.
P.S.: I wrote this blog a while back to detail the skyBeacon installation in the original location on the wingtip. In my case, I had an oversized base plate/reflector I had fabricated to mount my strobe on and mounted the skyBeacon to that. However, If the wingtip itself is sufficiently flat in the mounting area, the Click-Bond nuts could be directly adhered to the wingtip. Small irregularities could be accommodated with a soft rubber gasket.
Keep us informed, glad it has a strobe.
Thanks John, looking forward to your update. Cheers,,,,,,, Lynn
Thanks to John Austin's excellent Beta test input where he pointed out the communication problem I looked for another simple yet elegant solution and decided to purchase the Garmin GDL 82 which is a relatively new offering. Very simple to install and uses an existing Bendix King KT76A transponder with altitude encoder attached that I had already installed in my 750 Cruzer. All you do is place the unit between the transponder (Mode A/C only) antenna cable and the transponder's existing antenna, (cable goes into and out of the GDL 82) add power and up-load the appropriate Garmin software and configure. Nice detailed manual. Price is $1905 with the 10 foot harness and GPS antenna (this assumes you don't have a WASS GPS source). I too thought that the SkyBeacon was so easy even I could do that install myself but there is a serious problem as John has pointed out and I get to keep my strobes and position lights too. hope this helps and hats off to John Austin for letting us know what he has learned about the SkyBeacon. For ADS-B in and navigation I purchased the Level Technology 3W and a subscription to WingXPro. This has turned out to be an excellent choice but I still have key non-electronic 6-pack instruments in my panel as primary instrumentation. I elected to use the MGL E3 unit to monitor my Spyder Corvair engine. Hope all this helps you make that expensive but important decision. Fly safely!