Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Future of Avionics.

In the last two weeks a couple articles have hit my in box, showing me why the avionics market is about to make a huge change. The current system of all-in-one boxes is not gonna work, and we need to accept that. It is time to go component with the avionics.

The electronics in the boxes have a life. They don't really wear out, unless you believe in the smoke theory of electronics. The other parts do wear out, knobs, displays, and other mechanical parts. The manufacturers aren't making some of the components any more (chips, knobs, etc). J. Mac McClellan who writes a great blog for the EAA pointed out that the Garmin radios are starting to go obsolete. So 10 or 15 years ago, you spent $20,000 updating the panel in your airplane, and now you need a new radio. There are no slide in replacements, so do you glue on something for now, until you can afford a whole nuther panel?

Another company was mentioned in the Canard Squadron email I get where they are using Android tablets and phones for a PFD. The company is called Talos Avionics. The product is a-efis, and can be bought today! No nothing certified, but probably good enough for daily use, with steam gauges as backups. Sure why you can't use certified instruments as backups to your non-certified panel? Well, the non-certified panel is more functional.

Another project I am working on is based on the STMF429 discovery board. This board has a display, CPU, gyros and accelerometers, and costs under $25. Have a look at the picture on page 9, and how detailed the graphics are. Why couldn't a small AI or better device be built for about $100 using this technology. It would be aviation throw away ($100 hamburger range). Right now any hole in the panel will cost at least $500 to get filled. The 6 pack that IFR pilots rely on costs a minimum of $3000, could we take that cost down to under $1000, I think so.

I've been talking about doing engine monitor on Android for about 3 years, what is so hard about it. (I've had a few distractions...). There are challenges, certainly, but giving people a full time job to do this stuff, and it should be quick and easy.

Prove me wrong, until then, it is time to change the world.