Intercoms for Noisy Campers

bajajoaquin

Adventurer
My camping rig is a 24' 4x4 Class C. It's been pretty good so far, and I have come to resign myself to how slow I have to go on washboard and my constrained mobility in general. It's been worth it to get to remote places that have soft sand or a steep, low traction grade between me and the goal. One thing I haven't reconciled myself to is how noisy it is. The big box squeaks, the pans in the kitchen rattle, the window blinds make noise (going with curtains, but still). When I'm driving, I can't hear or talk to anyone who isn't right next to me, and even talking in back among the rest of the family gets tiring. However, I read in the Cummins Canoe thread:

Cummins Canoe

that he has an intercom setup. I've messaged with him and got additional details:

"Check page 14 for the initial install. I used Signatronics Transcom III. It's a basic aircraft intercom system you would get for like a small Cessna plane. It's battery powered and has 12v ciggy plug. The control box has 2 cables that come out of it to plug into aircraft radio. I just taped those up and didn't use them. I also got the 4 person extender box that I mounted in the rear area to plug 2 extra headset into. The headsets each have 2 plugs, one for microphone and one for speaker.

From all my research, this was much cheaper than buying a system made for cars like you would see with racecars and off-road machines. The Transcom II will work, but the Transcom III allows you to use the system with a cellphone which is really nice so everyone on the system can join you in on phonecalls. I believe either model allows you to plug in music input. Noice cancelling headsets are nice, but the gel foam pads for the headsets are almost a must. Those pads wear out and don't last forever. "

I had some follow up questions around headsets: "I'm going to get the Sigtronics 6-person intercom, and am now trying to figure out headsets. I see you have DC and Faro headsets. Are there others? Any recommendations, or at least guidance on how to balance the different cost vs quality issues? I am buying for me and my wife, and our two kids (5 and 9 so not grown-ups). Secondary priority is for me and a friend or two. Trips are frequently 10-hour days so the noise gets to us.

And last, once I've got it installed, I'll create a post here. Mind if I share our correspondence on the forum?"

And this is his reply: "Oh, 6 person, nice! Kinda wish I had the 6 person. There are lots of different kinds of headsets. My main set I personally use are the David Clarks. They are the nicest I have, also the most expensive. Like most things in life, the more you pay, the better you get. You could spend $1000 for the Bose A20's. Those are all the rave from what I read. But a good pair of used David Clarks will run you in the $150-250 range. And they are built like a tank. I have 4 headsets. The 2 in the front have noise cancelling, but I don't like driving with that on because I feel safer if I can still hear sirens and horns and such. I don't think it's worth the extra money for noise cancelling.

Better quality headsets will also be more comfortable. 10 hour days wearing them, ouch. You might want to spend more money do they don't hurt to wear them for so long. Big thing about the comfort is the gel pads around the ears. Weight is also an issue to consider. All the headsets used to bother me after an hour or so. But I've now grown used to it and don't really notice them. Ebay is a good source for good, used headsets. I'm no expert, this is just from my own experience. Search pilot forums for more opinions on these things. Those guys really know what it feels like to wear headsets for 10 hours per day.

Yes, share all the good info! Spread the knowledge, let me know how it goes! "


I talked to the Sigtronics tech support line and they suggested the high-noise version, SPO-63N. Not sure I really needed it, since a loud camper is still not as loud as a GA airplane, but I figured the marginal cost was pretty low, and it was worth it do do once. The 12v adapters and extension cables weren't available on the Aircraft Spruce website, so I'm going to figure out those part numbers and order them separately. But I've ordered the intercom, and am starting to look for headsets on eBay now.

Because threads are worthless without pics, here's my camper on the beach.
IMG_0723-sm.jpg
 

PlethoraOfGuns

Adventurer
You think clanging pot and pans is loud? Try driving a Cummins powered aluminum step van at 70mph! Haha, good luck, save the ears!

PXL_20210304_191521037 copy.jpg
 

2.ooohhh

Member
I actually temporarily set up an old intercom out of a friends plane in our rover last summer, it's only a set up for pilot/copilot but it allowed the kids to both hear their movie on the ipad and talk to one another in the back seat. Also it helps them start to learn how to use the PTT aircraft comms.
 

bajajoaquin

Adventurer
Interesting. I had thought of using PTT for the adults in the front seat. Do the other passengers on the intercom hear the sound from the PTT circuit?
 

bajajoaquin

Adventurer
Although buying used was suggested, I bought new so I could get a complete 6-person setup. I see now that I maybe could have bought a used 4-person and gotten an extra box, but tech support was very helpful so I don’t mind buying new. Aircraft Spruce shipped quickly, too.

I am buying used for headsets though. I’ve got a set of Sigtronics S-58s and a set of David Clarks on the way.We will test fit those before buying anything else. My kids have big heads so the 9-yo is already in adult size head gear. I’m hoping the 6-yo is to so I don’t have to re-buy in a couple years.image.jpg
 

bajajoaquin

Adventurer
I know this isn't getting a lot of attention, but I thought I'd update again anyway, so someone else trying to get info would have a bit more information.

We ran a trial on the headsets this last weekend. I've ordered used sets off eBay, and it's been the most problematic experience with the platform I've had in 20 years (Support congratulated me on 20 years as a customer during this process). It seems that headset sellers alone out of everyone I've dealt with can't get their listings straight.

Anyway, we have two Sigtronics headsets right now, an S-58 and an S-45. We tried them out on battery power in the house and I was pretty disappointed. The mics were extremely sensitive to volume and placement near your mouth, and you couldn't really talk normally. I had just done some work on the camper, so I didn't want to reduce my hearing at all while I was listening to the sounds. My brother and my kids (9 and 6) each took turns using them first. I was super impressed at how they immediately lowered the volume of their voices and were very quickly able to talk almost completely normally. The 6 year old had a couple more rounds of "can you hear me?" than the older one, but she quickly got the mic sorted.

On the drive home, I shared the headset with my younger daughter in the passenger seat, and I was equally impressed with how they worked. Almost completely normal conversation and much quieter. We have two more Sigtronics headsets on the way (S-65 and S20), and I'm currently looking at a set of DC H20-10s. I need six total, so I'll see if I prefer the DC or the Sigtronics for our primaries, and use the least-liked for our two spares. I'm imagining they wil be the S-20 and S-45).

We will be doing a mulitiple-thousand mile trip in July, so this will be very nice. The Transcom III has the ability to run Aux Input, so we can listen to music or audio books while we drive. I'm also really looking forward to using them on washboarded dirt roads this fall and winter in Baja. I won't be able to go any faster, but at least it won't be so mind-crushingly loud during those long transits.
 

Regcabguy

Expedition Leader
My camping rig is a 24' 4x4 Class C. It's been pretty good so far, and I have come to resign myself to how slow I have to go on washboard and my constrained mobility in general. It's been worth it to get to remote places that have soft sand or a steep, low traction grade between me and the goal. One thing I haven't reconciled myself to is how noisy it is. The big box squeaks, the pans in the kitchen rattle, the window blinds make noise (going with curtains, but still). When I'm driving, I can't hear or talk to anyone who isn't right next to me, and even talking in back among the rest of the family gets tiring. However, I read in the Cummins Canoe thread:

Cummins Canoe

that he has an intercom setup. I've messaged with him and got additional details:

"Check page 14 for the initial install. I used Signatronics Transcom III. It's a basic aircraft intercom system you would get for like a small Cessna plane. It's battery powered and has 12v ciggy plug. The control box has 2 cables that come out of it to plug into aircraft radio. I just taped those up and didn't use them. I also got the 4 person extender box that I mounted in the rear area to plug 2 extra headset into. The headsets each have 2 plugs, one for microphone and one for speaker.

From all my research, this was much cheaper than buying a system made for cars like you would see with racecars and off-road machines. The Transcom II will work, but the Transcom III allows you to use the system with a cellphone which is really nice so everyone on the system can join you in on phonecalls. I believe either model allows you to plug in music input. Noice cancelling headsets are nice, but the gel foam pads for the headsets are almost a must. Those pads wear out and don't last forever. "

I had some follow up questions around headsets: "I'm going to get the Sigtronics 6-person intercom, and am now trying to figure out headsets. I see you have DC and Faro headsets. Are there others? Any recommendations, or at least guidance on how to balance the different cost vs quality issues? I am buying for me and my wife, and our two kids (5 and 9 so not grown-ups). Secondary priority is for me and a friend or two. Trips are frequently 10-hour days so the noise gets to us.

And last, once I've got it installed, I'll create a post here. Mind if I share our correspondence on the forum?"

And this is his reply: "Oh, 6 person, nice! Kinda wish I had the 6 person. There are lots of different kinds of headsets. My main set I personally use are the David Clarks. They are the nicest I have, also the most expensive. Like most things in life, the more you pay, the better you get. You could spend $1000 for the Bose A20's. Those are all the rave from what I read. But a good pair of used David Clarks will run you in the $150-250 range. And they are built like a tank. I have 4 headsets. The 2 in the front have noise cancelling, but I don't like driving with that on because I feel safer if I can still hear sirens and horns and such. I don't think it's worth the extra money for noise cancelling.

Better quality headsets will also be more comfortable. 10 hour days wearing them, ouch. You might want to spend more money do they don't hurt to wear them for so long. Big thing about the comfort is the gel pads around the ears. Weight is also an issue to consider. All the headsets used to bother me after an hour or so. But I've now grown used to it and don't really notice them. Ebay is a good source for good, used headsets. I'm no expert, this is just from my own experience. Search pilot forums for more opinions on these things. Those guys really know what it feels like to wear headsets for 10 hours per day.

Yes, share all the good info! Spread the knowledge, let me know how it goes! "


I talked to the Sigtronics tech support line and they suggested the high-noise version, SPO-63N. Not sure I really needed it, since a loud camper is still not as loud as a GA airplane, but I figured the marginal cost was pretty low, and it was worth it do do once. The 12v adapters and extension cables weren't available on the Aircraft Spruce website, so I'm going to figure out those part numbers and order them separately. But I've ordered the intercom, and am starting to look for headsets on eBay now.

Because threads are worthless without pics, here's my camper on the beach.
View attachment 725100
That's very uncrowded for that spot.
 

Todd n Natalie

OverCamper
Forgive my ignorance, but I thought it was illegal to wear headphones while operating a motor vehicle as you could not hear warning honks, emergency vehicles etc...
 

NatersXJ6

Explorer
Forgive my ignorance, but I thought it was illegal to wear headphones while operating a motor vehicle as you could not hear warning honks, emergency vehicles etc...
In many jurisdictions, yes, it is. California has Vehicle Code Section 27400, and campers don’t fall under one of the exceptions. One might successfully argue that you fall under one of the exceptions, or decide that you are willing to deal with court in a far away county. It is a risk discussion to have with yourself. Just because an act is illegal does not mean it is universally avoided.
 
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