I've had my glider for a few months now and I'd like to get a vario. A useful piece of advice I've had is to think long-term and get something that I'll want to use for a few years. So what should I look for? Do they normally come with integrated altimeters? Do they all have audible warnings? Are these (or do they need to be) configurable. What are the best models about? What should I be paying.
Oh and if anyone's got a decent second hand one they'd like to flog me (UK) I'd be interested.
If this subject's been done to death on here before; would someone point me to a suitable archive?
The table below is about 5 years old, but might give you an idea of what entry-level varios were offering in 1996. Our club bought one of each of these, working with the manufactures in some cases and with dealers in others, to ensure we could return the ones that no one wanted to buy. Anyway, I had fun comparing the different models and I hope you find the info useful.
Steve from Flytec USA was nice enough to convert my Framemaker file into a web page, and it got archived out there somewhere - every time I want to refer to it, I just to a google search on 'brent vario' and up it comes <grin>:
The one glaring omission in that otherwise excellent table is any mention of a model name or number!
Ball Variometers (http://www.ballvarios.com) makes the GraphicsComp (GC-2000) in versions for just about every type of soaring aircraft (sailplane, hang glider, paraglider) and balloons. I've used one for paragliding since they first came out in '96, and I have nothing but good things to say about them. Go to their website, download their manuals, and get a list of their UK distributors.
The GC-2000 is a stand-alone instrument in a flat housing 3.5 cm thick x 12 cm wide x 15.5 cm high, with an 8 cm x 10 cm high-contrast monochrome LCD graphic display. It has static and dynamic pressure ports and thus works with a pitot tube (not one of those inaccurate little propeller thingies). It also has a GPS input, and can store barograph and flight logs to your PC with the included software. Third-party software will even allow you to view your flights in 3-D (well, 4-D if you include time). Most configuration data (including things such as waypoints) can be saved and restored from a PC. The Owner information is programmed at the factory, and cannot be changed by the user (a valuable security feature).
The GC provides a wide array of screens, only three of which are primary flight screens. It can be configured to automatically switch between these screens depending on current flight dynamics (sudden lift -> thermalling screen, slight sink -> Speed-to-Fly screen, all other conditions -> normal vario/navigation screen). Of course, you can switch screens manually at any time, and can disable automatic screen switching as well.
From what I can tell, they are one of the very few vario manufacturers to truly get the math right: As I understand it, they hired an aeronautics professor to design, implement and test all the key algorithms. The GraphicsComp is also the ONLY paragliding vario I've used that gets TE compensation right (and TE compensation for a bobbing and swaying paraglider is no easy task). And they had Dennis Pagen write the manual for the instrument.
The owners, Mark and Paul Ferguson, are both avid pilots who fly what they sell. Their support and service are the best.
Very interesting! I suspect that I must have had a cover letter or something which gave an introduction to the varios reviewed. All were the lowest-level varios ('entry-level' available from the manufacturers... let's see if I can recall:
Ball M-19e Aircotec Piccolo Roberts 'Breadpan' Cloudbase - I think they only make/made one model Flytec 3005 (I think) Brauniger (almost identical to the flytec, but I don't recall what it's model was) Digifly - hmmm... don't recall its model either.
Anyway, all the major manufacturers have probably released new models by now anyway, so the table is really dated.
Sorry for the omission...
As a side note, the results of the trial: I bought the Ball, my friend Steve bought the Aircotec, another club member bought the Digifly, and a few months later, another club member ordered a Flytec, albeit an advanced model. I guess we all have our unique preferences!! It was really cool to get to try them all out together though. Highly recommended as a club project, especially if you can get the manufacturer to agree to take the ones you don't like back.
Personally, I want a vario with the form factor of the piccolo, the sound of the Roberts and the memories of the Ball. I decided the memories and the adjustable sound of the Ball were worth the most.
Speaking of Varios, I have a Flytec 3030 Pro for sale. This vario has 2 altimeters and a barogragh function that lets you record your flights and print them out or download them to a computer. It comes with the Flytec remote airspeed indicator (needs no wires to connect to the vario) and the manual. I'll even throw in the dot matrix printer I used to print out my flights.
While I paid $1100 for this vario I'll sell it for $500.US plus shipping or best offer.
Note: This vario does not connect to a gps unit. I still used a gps unit in addition to the vario for wind info etc. That said, it's a good high end vario if that's what you are looking for. Located in SoCal USA, I can email pics on request.
-Marc remove the period in my name to mail me
the Aircotec Picollo has been replaced by the new Champion. Its smaller, lower priced and have more functions. Please visit the webpage below for more details. Achim Hagemann Aircotec USA
I have heard the asinstrument.com FlyNet module is pretty good It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and logs your flight real time, so anyone who has Internet connection can see where you are! technology is amazing isn't it!