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Rsaaronson

Digital altimeter or Audible altimeter 1st?

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I’m currently thinking about getting either a LB optima II or a Viso II/ Ares. Which should I go for first? I’m currently using a altimaster and have a hard time seeing those ity bity numbers when altitude really matters during my landings. As a result I’ve made my turns into my base + or - 150 feet or so multiple times when the heat of the moment got to me and required a decision. Maybe I just need more experience instead of the gadgets. But regardless, this is equipment I intent on purchasing at one point or another, and with that, which is most important to you and why? Looking forward to hearing what you all have to say.

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16 hours ago, Rsaaronson said:

I’m currently thinking about getting either a LB optima II or a Viso II/ Ares. Which should I go for first? I’m currently using a altimaster and have a hard time seeing those ity bity numbers when altitude really matters during my landings. As a result I’ve made my turns into my base + or - 150 feet or so multiple times when the heat of the moment got to me and required a decision. Maybe I just need more experience instead of the gadgets. But regardless, this is equipment I intent on purchasing at one point or another, and with that, which is most important to you and why? Looking forward to hearing what you all have to say.

First priority is a visual altimeter.  As for your turns, you should think of it as a range in which you turn, not an exact number but yes you want your visual altimeter to be accurate so that your range is accurate.

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17 hours ago, Rsaaronson said:

I’m currently using a altimaster and have a hard time seeing those ity bity numbers when altitude really matters during my landings.

Go ahead and buy a digital alti that you like. But just remember that we all used to have analog ones, and that was no problem. Altitude doesn't matter, except when you actually flare to avoid hitting the ground.

There was never any big need to turn onto a particular part of the circuit at a particular altitude. We used to have suggested numbers for altitudes for the start of downwind, base, and final, but nobody expected to follow it exactly. Only nowadays are newbies fretting about whether they actually started to turn base at 600'+/- 50 '. Who cares. An accurate circuit is all about ANGLES not altitudes anyway.  If there's lots of traffic, fit in with the traffic, which is likely to be approaching at a variety of angles and altitudes anyway.

You'll get a feel for the circuit over time. Maybe 20-30 seconds on final, time to adjust a little and plan your flare and landing area. Maybe another 20 seconds on base, enough to judge drift and separate the downwind to the side of the landing area. I'm just making the numbers up, but you don't need an altimeter at all for a circuit.

 

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If money were an issue, and I already had an analog altimeter I'd get an audible first - for use in freefall, not for use in the pattern (unless/until you are swooping, where altitude of final turn is very important). 

Analog altimeters work fine.  If you have issues seeing the numbers, don't focus on them. Instead think of it like a clock. If the little hand is pointing straight down, it's 6 oclock, right?  Same with the analog alti; a quick glance at it to see where the hand is pointing and you'll have the info you need just like that. 

As mentioned above, +/- 100 feet isn't a big deal in the pattern (well, as long as you aren't making your turn from base to final at 100 feet ;-)). You'll be able to eyeball turn altitudes soon. Don't get in the habit of relying on technology. It's awesome, but it's also far more likely to fail than your eyes are. 

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(edited)

Unless you are doing high-performance turns, I would also say that an altimeter for judging turns in the pattern isn't really necessary. I think it's much better to train your eye to judge altitude and turns in the pattern. Get used to what it means for your ground speed during landing at a given wind strength, when you turn higher or lower onto final, and how to do turns that do or do not loose a lot of altitude. I think this is done best visually (and carefully), and not by reading altitude off an altimeter.

 

Personally, I use an analog altimeter (because I feel that the needle gives me a much better sense of altitude during freefall--altitude is an analog phenomena, after all, and I feel it cuts out one intermediate step where my brain has to convert a number into a "delta" function...but I'm sure others would disagree, and of course there are digital altimeters with a needle readout, which are more accurate). Since the analog altimeter isn't very useful in the pattern, I use at least one audible low speed alarm at 700 ft. which lets me know exactly where I am during the pattern. I don't use that alarm to start a specific turn (I may be in my downwind leg, just start it, or have turned to the base leg, depending on wind conditions and many other factors, but I like getting confirmation of how high I really am, and it helped me hone my visual sense of altitude.)
Now, in special situations (night jumps, etc.) I may have additional low altitude alerts (at 1000 and 300 ft, for example) to make up for the reduced visual reference (I still don't use them as a signal that I have to start a specific turn, just to know where I am.)

So, in conclusion: If you don't have an audible, I'd definitely buy that first.

Edited by mbohu
one more thought...

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i would go with an aon2 brilliant pebbles audible.  you can set up to 20 alarms and it only costs around $100, depending on exchange rate from pounds.  the only drawback i have found so far is that you need a computer or android phone to change the settings.  works for me as i don't change them often though. 

i would agree with the not using it precisely on landings, just as a suggestion.  our dz only has about 300' of width and the base leg is always more of a sweeping turn into the final, as there is just not enough room.  i started hitting the target consistently when i started to use my eyes instead of adhering to the altitudes completely.  but then again, there are never more than 4 of us landing anyway and the patterns are easier to keep track of.  it can be a little bit intimidating making your downwind completely over the ohio river, but you get used to it and it is usually the other way. 

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On 11/6/2019 at 7:55 AM, sfzombie said:

i would go with an aon2 brilliant pebbles audible.  you can set up to 20 alarms and it only costs around $100, depending on exchange rate from pounds.  the only drawback i have found so far is that you need a computer or android phone to change the settings.  works for me as i don't change them often though. 

i would agree with the not using it precisely on landings, just as a suggestion.  our dz only has about 300' of width and the base leg is always more of a sweeping turn into the final, as there is just not enough room.  i started hitting the target consistently when i started to use my eyes instead of adhering to the altitudes completely.  but then again, there are never more than 4 of us landing anyway and the patterns are easier to keep track of.  it can be a little bit intimidating making your downwind completely over the ohio river, but you get used to it and it is usually the other way. 

I would second this ... especially as a new skydiver like me.  You already have an altimeter, get an audible.  My Brilliant Pebbles is set up for break off and track (5500)', pull altitude (4000') and then a single beep at 1000', 600', and 300' for my landing pattern.  But those beeps are just there to remind me of my altitude ... my main gauge is always visual.  

Case in point:  on my last jump there was a low pressure system coming in and the winds were howling East above 4k, very confused and gusting up to 14mph below 4k.  My 2-way was first out the door and from pull time to landing I made exactly 1 flat turn of approximately 120* around 400' to land. Dont rely on a set pattern ... rely on your eyes.  My partner, on the other hand (new skydiver as well) mis-judged the wind and had to land downwind (Not enough altitude to turn-in) which was no fun for him.  

Since we are newer skydivers, we cant rely on the experience we dont yet have ... but you should rely on your eyes more than a set altitude.  I have a digital altimeter, and I really only use it as a guide under canopy.  On top of that, two altimeters are better than one, it is always nice to have a backup. 

 

With that being said, I do like the digital altimeter under canopy as it lets me play with my canopy and see how my altitude is affected.  I did always find it tough to judge the altitude loss in a turn with the sticky old analogues .... again, because I dont have the experience of 1000 jumps to pull from so I do need the information laid out easier for me. 

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