Installing the LYNX NGT-9000
by bob pastusek
You probably are aware that the deadline for equipage with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) -Out is almost upon us, and likely will not be extended. The FAA estimates that at least 20% of the GA fleet has not yet been equipped with ADSB-Out, and these airplanes won't be able to operate in the areas most of us routinely use after 1 January 2020. Specifically, you must have a functional ADS-B Out capability in your airplane to fly within airspace covered by the ADS-B mandate ("Rule Airspace"), which includes all airports serviced by or lying under the Mode C veil of an ATC terminal radar. Here in Fort Worth, the local avionics shops are fully booked through April for airplanes awaiting installation—airplanes that will effectively be grounded until they are ADS-B-Out compliant.
Steve Colwell (Legacy N15SC) called me earlier this year to ask if I thought one of the very inexpensive ADS-B Out (only) offerings would be suitable for his aircraft. Research on the results/satisfaction of homebuilders in the RV community indicated that while cheap, this was not a very good solution for our Lancairs—for a number of reasons. At the same time, I found that the LYNX NGT-9000, while relatively expensive, offered ease of installation and compatibility with our Chelton Electronic Flight Information Systems (EFIS) displays. We eventually opted to install one in each of our Lancairs—a Legacy and a IV-P. You can't buy these directly from the manufacturer, so we chose SteinAir as our supplier, and received a small discount off the MSRP.
How Good Is It?
Steve's installation was too recent to get flight reports for this post, but I have several flights with mine and could not be happier with it. The NGT-9000 is a self-contained ADS-B In/Out 1096 MHz transponder with a built-in WAAS GPS. It requires external power, a GPS antenna, a baro altitude source and 2-wire connections to your audio panel and Chelton system. The NGT-9000 displays transponder functions, traffic and weather on its own built-in display (click image to right for a larger view of the NGT-9000 installed in Steve's Legacy), so no external connections are required, but putting this data on your Chelton displays is highly recommended. Display of traffic and weather on the Chelton screens was, after all, a principal reason for chosing this unit in the first place. In addition, audio traffic reports—previously an extra-cost option—are now an included feature, so a connection to your audio panel is most beneficial.
How Does It Fit?
The NGT-9000 will replace your existing transponder and ALMOST fits in the "standard" instrument panel cut-out for a Garmin GTX-327/330. It's the same width and depth, but about 1/8" taller than the Garmin transponders we replaced. This required moving Steve's audio panel up just a bit to accomodate the taller NGT mounting frame, putting the display right at eye-level in the center of his cockpit—an almost perfect location for it's secondary function of air traffic display.
In my case (click image to right for larger view), I had to open the radio stack cut-out in my panel downward. My new transponder is in the center of my panel, but lower than ideal for optimum viewing of the traffic display. Relocating it higher in the radio stack would have been ideal, but would require a complete re-wire of my panel—perhaps a future project...but probably not...
Neither installation required rewiring any existing equipment.
What's the Bottom Line?
While these installations were not trivial, and we made some wiring and software configuration mistakes that had to be corrected, this project is well within the capabilities of most homebuilders. It does require some specialized pin crimpers for the wiring, and there is no substitute for these tools. Other than that, installation and configuration are straightforward. The kit and instructions provided are very detailed and complete. I'd estimate the total effort at 30-40 man-hours, including canopy removal/re-installation for Steve's airplane, and instrument panel removal/re-installation on my airplane. Rather than re-do Tim Olsen's excellent write-up on the wiring details and capabilities of this system, I've included a link to his web site. If you're considering this as an option for your Lancair, click here to visit Tim's site for the full write-up.
For questions/comments on this post contact Bob via email: r.pastusek [at] lancairowners.com.