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The Amazing Rob

First digital altimeter

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After 78 jumps I’ve finally realized that a digital altimeter would be better than my current needle and dial one. Each time I start my final into-the-wind leg I can only guess that I’m at 300ft as the needle shakes between 200 and 400 ft!

What can you recommend?

I use a Cookie G3 helmet. Is it worth buying an audible device? I’m a little pensive about relying on a beeping noise in my ear to open my chute, considering I’m used to looking at my wrist.

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1. In the old days, nobody worried about exactly what altitude to make turns at.  Guidelines on downwind / base / final turns are just rough numbers to help people get used to what is reasonable. And always make your turns to conform to other parachute traffic, and by your actual flightpath over the ground, with the aim of getting into the landing zone. Never robotically make a turn just because your altimeter says a particular number.

 200 to 400 feet is fine for turning final and over time you'll get a visual feel for whether you are on the low or high end, and get a feel for what works for you.

That being said, most jumpers have gone digital and many also have audible alarms for under canopy altitude checkpoints. That's for regular folks too, and not just competition canopy pilots.

2. Used to looking at your wrist for altitude? Great! That's what you are supposed to do.  An audible altimeter is supposed to be an aid only, not your primary way of deciding when to deploy. 

That being said, people do get very used to relying on their audibles to signal breakoff and pull altitudes. That's just the way it is, but people should still be using their eyes and altimeters to help confirm their altitudes, even if much of the time their eyes are focused on the formation work they are doing.

3. A good digital alti to get?  Sorry I can't help, I'm old school....

 

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Really depends on what you want from your alti and your budget. The most popular option (don't have a paper to reference) seems to be Viso. If you want a big screen with lots of options you can take a look at Dekunu. Want to go cheaper with bigger numbers on a display and a usb rechargable option, you can take a look at Skylife altimeters.

There's no "the best", take a look at the options available at the stores, see how they differ in features (screen size, total size, mount options, logbook, tetris you can play during the climb, etc.) and decide what you would prefer the most.

What I can specifically recommend is having a wrist mount as it is easy to turn it to the back of your arm once under canopy to more easily see it while holding the toggles/risers/other.

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An L&B Optima or Quattro is a great addition to your gearbag. The canopy alarms are easy to hear and they allow you to keep your eyes on the traffic around you and your approach rather than continually looking at your wrist. If you start doing higher performance landings in the future, they allow for much greater consistency on your final turn so you can start to fine tune your turn technique (but get canopy coaching before you start this). I have a wrist mounted digital alti (Neptune) but after opening, I rarely look at it again. I did try using the canopy alarms on the but couldn't reliably hear them so I got myself an Optima. The Quattro wasn't available at the time but it seems to have additional log book functionality for the same price so that's probably the way I'd go if I was buying again.

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16 hours ago, pchapman said:

An audible altimeter is supposed to be an aid only, not your primary way of deciding when to deploy. 

I use the VOG audible as my primary. It's different from most audibles in that it speaks your altitude to you in increments. So you're always altitude aware without having to think about it, and if it quits working you'll notice. I recommend it highly.

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17 hours ago, The Amazing Rob said:

What can you recommend?

Most popular ones are from:
L&B (Viso or Ares).

Most cool factor / new kids / data acquisition are:
Aon2 X2 (I own it)
Dekunu One 

I second the wrist band option

17 hours ago, The Amazing Rob said:

I use a Cookie G3 helmet. Is it worth buying an audible device? I’m a little pensive about relying on a beeping noise in my ear to open my chute, considering I’m used to looking at my wrist.

Yes definitely buy an audible as a backup device. Most people use 3x freefall alarms and 3x canopy alarms.
I have the cheapest one Aon2 Brilliant pebbles and it works just as well as the most expensive one

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Old school here...An audible with 3 preset altitudes (break off, canopy out and flat-line) and analog altimeter on my mud flap.  Mudflap is always there, easy for me and other to see and out of the way. Little to remember...

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9 hours ago, nwt said:

I use the VOG audible as my primary. It's different from most audibles in that it speaks your altitude to you in increments. So you're always altitude aware without having to think about it, and if it quits working you'll notice. I recommend it highly.

Good point. And to clarify, the real point is that it doesn't just make noise when you're supposed to break off, but is saying things all the way down. That's why one would notice early if there's a problem with it. 

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I jumped with a friend's VOG this weekend.  While the accent was weird (I felt like I was being yelled at by  schoolmarm the whole way down) it was kinda cool knowing the altitudes the whole way.  But it is CRAZY more expensive than a regular audible and I'm not sure its worth it.  I did like it telling me the numbers as we came down but is it worth $200 more than a regular audible?   

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i love the brilliant pebble i have.  cheap as hell and reliable.  i think it has up to 20 alarms and 10 different tones to set.  you can set it to chirp on the way up so you  can check the preset altitudes with your wrist altimeter and to make sure it's working.  not bad for $100, and the customer service is awesome.  i had one that had a charging problem, worked just fine but came on when you plug the cord in.  i mentioned it to the guy at aon2 while discussing something else and they said it was a bad batch and sent a new one, no charge, and they said i could keep the old one.  i like playing with electronics.

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On 3/20/2021 at 9:19 PM, faulknerwn said:

I did like it telling me the numbers as we came down but is it worth $200 more than a regular audible? 

That's a personal question only you can answer. For me, it's an easy choice. It's unusual for a device to change your skydiving in such a fundamental way for only $100-$200 more.

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