I'm learning about radionavigation, and all the various analog displays that can be used:
- Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) - Provides basic bearing information to practically any radio source the pilot can tune to. Designed for use with the older NDB system developed during WWII, still in use but about two generations redundant in the face of VOR and GPS. Later models include a manual compass card to reduce mental math.
- Radio-Magnetic Indicator (RMI) - A two-channel ADF with compass card slaved to the magnetic compass (or in some cases using an internal gyro like the Heading Indicator).
- Omni Bearing Indicator (OBI) - Used for VOR navigation and the cheapest way to do so, has a manual compass card that selects the desired VOR radial and a CDI needle to provide a steering aid to place the aircraft on that radial, with a "TO/FROM" indicator to resolve directional ambiguity.
- Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) - Combines the OBI with the aircraft's gyroscopic direction indicator to provide a simplified "moving map", with the aircraft's current heading, relative direction of the selected VOR radial, course deviation and glide slope all in one instrument. Can replace the Heading Indicator as well as an OBI to reduce instrument count and/or allow for redundant backups like a second artificial horizon. Biggest downside is cost (about $13k for the display unit itself).
- Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) - essentially IFF in reverse; the aircraft interrogates a ground station with radio pulse pairs, and the station sends a matching pulse pair after a specially-timed delay; total round-trip time of the interrogation and response, minus the preprogrammed delay and halved, is the time the signal took to reach the station at the speed of light through air (about one nmi in 12.36 microseconds), which can then be used to calculate distance. These transponders are often colocated with NDB or VOR stations on a corresponding frequency allowing aircraft to get an accurate fix from a single ground station.
My understanding is that, for an aircraft to be suitable for IFR flight, the aircraft requires all VFR instruments (airspeed, altitude, compass, tach, oil pressure, oil or coolant temp, fuel gauge) plus a timepiece, gyroscopic direction indicator, Turn Coordinator or Turn/Slip Indicator, adjustable pressure altimeter, artificial horizon, and "two-way radio communication and navigation equipment suitable for the route to be flown", that last requirement being just wonderfully ambiguous regarding what you as a pilot may want or need from the above listed equipment.
The standard configuration for the 172 and Cherokee seems to be two OBIs, one with glide slope and one without, plus a single-channel ADF. This seems like a fairly economical gauge cluster for modern radionavigation, but the ADF seems old-fashioned in the face of the newer RMI that allows triangulation from an ADF and a VOR or two VORs more or less at a glance.
Obviously the very newest and most expensive aircraft have full glass cockpits, but for the rest of us, what displays are typically used? Do people tend to upgrade the ADI to an RMI, or is that the display that's considered redundant with NDBs on their way to retirement? How many people spring for the HSI? Do you keep the non-GS OBI if you have an HSI, or do you replace that with something else too? Is DME standard equipment, can't fly without it, or do pilots more often rely on multi-station triangulation for a position fix?