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Variometer Comparison

This page includes an overview of variometers and a comparison table.  There are no example systems on this page because basic variometers are not connected to other devices.  There are advanced varios with speed-to-fly, final glide and flight recorder capabilities included on this page.  Example systems for flight records can be found on the GPS Flight Recorder Comparison page. Example systems for complete flight computer systems can be found on the Flight Computer Comparison page.

Overview
There are many types of variometers available.  Different pilots will be interested in different variometers.  My goal is to help you find the right vario for your needs by providing product overviews and comparison tables.

Links
Borgelt | Cambridge Aero Instruments | ILEC | LX Navigation | Tasman | Winter

Related Pages

Averagers
If you
have never flown with a vario that offers a 20 or 30 second averager, you will love it the first time you try it.  The averager gives you a more accurate read of how strong the thermal is and is especially useful when deciding when it is time to leave a weak thermal.  Often new glider pilots estimate thermal strength based on the peaks they see on the variometer needle.  Once you fly with an averager you will see that the averager reads only about half as much lift as seen in the short peaks.  That is important to know when using MacCready theory to set your speed to fly between thermals.

Please Buy from Me
I work very hard to provide detailed product comparisons for soaring pilots.  I hope you will find this web site useful.  I also offer excellent support to customers who buy from me.  The best way to thank me for the services I offer is to help support my business by buying from me - and telling your friends about my company.

Variometers
Manufacturer
Click on link to see details
Description

Photos
Click on image to see details

Logo

Butterfly Butterfly Vario
Cambridge Aero Instruments

302 - Speed-to-fly Vario with GPS Flight Recorder

ClearNav Instruments

ClearNav Variometers, CNv1000, CNv1500 and CNv2000

ILEC

SN-10 - Flight Computer & Vario
SC-7 - Club vario with averager
SB-9 - vario with built-in back-up battery

LX Navigation

LX16-D
LX Zeus
with USB D 60 vario

LXNAV

- S3 Audio Vario with averager, digital altimeter and Speed-to-Fly calculator
- S7 Speed-to-fly variometer with g-meter and FLARM display
- V80 Speed-to-Fly variometer with AHRS
- LX8000 Flight Computer
- LX8080 Flight Computer
- LX9000 Flight Computer

S3    
Winter

Mechanical variometers with optional custom speed-to-fly rings


Comparison Table
For detailed info. on the varios listed in the table click on the variometer name in the left hand column.  Certainly the table below is not perfect or complete.  I have done my best to make it as complete and accurate as possible but some of the data is difficult to find.  If you see an errors or have any suggestions, please send me an e-mail.

Variometer Comparison Table
Mechanical Variometers
Photo
(click on image to view larger version)
           
Product Sage
(I don't sell these - but I hear they are very nice.)
Winter            
Price $600 to $1500 $572 to $637            
Type Mechanical taut band and brass bellows Mechanical Vane            
Response Time
(seconds)
1, 1.8 or 2.2 1.8 or 3            
Audio No No            
Averager
(seconds)
25 (CVA model only)              
Speed-to-Fly Director No Yes with optional MacCready Ring            
G- Meter No No            
MacCready Ring Option No MC            
2-Seat Repeater Option No No            
Speaker No No            
Temp. Probe No No            
Capacity Required Capacity Capacity            
Size 57 mm or 80 mm 57 mm or 80 mm            
Power
(mA)
0 0            
Unique Features Fast and friction free, unique design allows for precise needle movements but with large range (20 kts), unique 25 s mechanical averager on CVA model. Rugged, extremely popular, reliable, low cost            
Electrical Vario with Audio and Averager
Photo
(click on image to view larger version)
           
Product ILEC SC-7 LX Navigation LX16-D            
Overview
Video
               
Price $795 $635            
Type Thermal flow measurement with thermistors at const. temp. Pressure transducer            
Response Time
(seconds)
1 or 3 Adjustable from 1 to 5 sec            
Audio Audio Audio            
Averager
(seconds)
25? 20            
Speed-to-Fly Director Yes with optional MacCready Ring No            
G- Meter No No            
MacCready Ring Option MC No            
2-Seat Repeater Option Repeater Repeater            
Speaker Internal or External External            
Temp. Probe Remote No            
Capacity Required No No            
Size 80 mm 57 mm            
Power
(mA)
               
Unique Features The only electric vario with audio and averager that also allows the use of a MacCready ring, digital average display, voltage and temp. display Nice, simple, low-cost variometer with audio and averager and flight timer.            
Electrical Vario with Audio, Averager and Speed-to-Fly Calculator
Photo
(click on image to view larger version)
S3              
Product LXNAV S3              
Price $695              
Type Pressure transducer              
Response Time
(seconds)
               
Audio                
Averager
(seconds)
               
Speed-to-Fly Director Sort-of...              
G-Meter                
MacCready Ring Option No, but it functions like one              
2-Seat Repeater Option                
Speaker Built-in speaker
optional external speaker
             
Temp. Probe                
Capacity Required No              
Size Fits in small 57 mm (2 1/4")
instrument hole
             
Power
(mA)

Power input 6 to 16 V DC

95 to 135 mA at 12V depending on LCD brightness, without audio

             
Unique Features The S3 variometer is a fresh new type of variometer. It is a total-energy compensated electrical variometer with audio, digital altimeter, mechanical pointer and brilliant color display. The innovative feature is that it can display the recommended "speed-to-fly" airspeed number based on the selected MacCready setting, glider polar and measured lift or sink rate. It is not exactly a speed-to-fly variometer because it does not have pitot and static input ports. It doesn't know the current airspeed so it can't compare the recommended speed to the current airspeed. It can't display "push/pull" arrows like a traditional speed-to-fly variometer can. But it can display the recommended speed-to-fly airspeed as a number (shown in the middle of the screen in the image at right). The pilot then compares the recommended speed-to-fly on the S3 with the airspeed on the glider's airspeed indicator - just as he/she would do when using a MacCready ring on a mechanical variometer. It is neat that you get speed-to-fly functionality in a low cost "club variometer".              
Electrical Vario with Audio, Averager and Speed-to-Fly Director
Photo
(click on image to view larger version)
           
Product ClearNav CNv Club ClearNav CNv Cross-Country            
Price $1550 $2300            
Type Pressure transducer Pressure transducer            
Response Time
(seconds)
               
Audio                
Averager
(seconds)
               
Speed-to-Fly Director STF STF            
G-Meter G-meter? G-meter?            
MacCready Ring Option Not Applicable Not Applicable            
2-Seat Repeater Option Repeater Repeater            
Speaker External External            
Temp. Probe ? ?            
Capacity Required No No            
Size Fits in small 57 mm (2 1/4")
instrument hole
Fits in small 57 mm (2 1/4")
instrument hole
           
Power
(mA)
               
Unique Features Speed-to-fly variometer with audio and averager.  GPS receiver for "Get Home Navigation" and accurate wind measurement while climbing or cruising.  Very good price for a speed-fo-fly variometer.  The "Get Home Navigation" makes it perfect for use in club owned gliders.  The hardware is the same in the CNv Club and CNv Cross Country so it can be upgraded at any time by purchasing a software upgrade that is tied to the unit's serial number.  The upgrade is done using a USB Flash Drive. Speed-to-fly variometer with audio and averager.  GPS receiver for "Get Home Navigation" and accurate wind measurement while climbing or cruising.  In addition to all the features in the CNv Club, the CNv Cross-Country also offers task navigation, PDA communication and an IGC approved (not yet) GPS flight recorder.  Very good price for a speed-fo-fly variometer with PDA support and an IGC approved GPS flight recorder.  The "Get Home Navigation" makes it perfect for use in club owned gliders. Rhe hardware is the same in the CNv Club and CNv Cross Country so it can be upgraded at any time by purchasing a software upgrade that is tied to the unit's serial number.  The upgrade is done using a USB Flash Drive..             
Electrical Vario with Audio, Averager, Speed-to-Fly Director and Glide Computer
Photo
(click on image to view larger version)

Product Butterfly Vario ClearNav CNv2000 ILEC SN10

LXNAV S7

LXNAV V80

LXNAV LX8000 LXNAV LX8080 LXNAV LX9000
Price $3299 $2000 $3655 $1595 $??? $4695 $4595 $4895
Overview
Video
             
New LX9000 Overview & Training Video
Type Pressure Transducer and Inertial Measurement Unit Pressure transducer Flow Pressure Transducer Pressure Transducer Pressure Transducer Pressure Transducer Pressure Transducer
Response Time
(seconds)
    1 or 3          
Audio Audio   Audio Audio Audio Audio Audio Audio
Averager
(seconds)
    20 20 20 20 20 20
Speed-to-Fly Director STF STF STF STF STF STF STF STF
G-Meter G-meter G-meter? G-meter G-meter G-meter      
MacCready Ring Option Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable
2-Seat Repeater Option Repeater Repeater Repeater Repeater Repeater Repeater Repeater Repeater
Speaker Up to 2 speakers External Internal External External External External External
Temp. Probe     Remote Remote Remote Remote Remote Remote
Capacity Required No No capacity flask inside unit No No No No No
Size fits in 57 mm instrument hole Fits in small 57 mm (2 1/4")
instrument hole
57 mm vario readout
80 mm flight computer display
61mm x 61mm x 95mm
(2.4 x 2.4 x 3.75 inches)
81mm x 80mm x 45mm
(3.2 x 3.2. x 1.8 inches)
57 mm vario readout
3.5" diagonal flight computer display
98 x 88 x 80 mm (display unit)
57 mm vario readout
3.5" diagonal flight computer display
98 x 88 x 80 mm (display unit)
57 mm vario readout
3.5" diagonal flight computer display
98 x 88 x 80 mm (display unit)
Power
(mA)
100 ? 100 to 150

180

100

550

550

550

Unique Features Powerful set of sensors, accurate wind calculation while cruising, artificial horizon, simple navigation, simple final glide, FLARM display Speed-to-fly variometer with audio and averager.  In addition to the features found in the CNv1000 and CNv1500 it offers bi-directional communcation with the ClearNav MFD over the high-speed CANbus.  It also offers task management which can be used to navigate around a task if the PDA or ClearNav MFD fail.  The hardware is the same as the CNv1000 and CNv1500 so those units can be upgraded to this functionality at any time by purchasing a software upgrade that is tied to the unit's serial number.  The upgrade is done using a USB Flash Drive. Custom user screen is very well liked because you can select which parameters you prefer to view.  Thermal Height Band Graph, Optional additional vario readout.  No Pocket PC required. Awesome color display.  Speed-to-fly variometer with built-in g-meter, FLARM display, and digital logbook.  Simple final glide computer - navigates to take-off location.  5V power output for Pocket PC.  12V power output for GPS.  Sends air data to a Pocket PC along with the GPS data. See Air Data Transfer for more info. Awesome color display.  Speed-to-fly variometer with built-in g-meter and AHRS artificial horizon, FLARM display, and digital logbook.  Simple final glide computer - navigates to take-off location.  5V power output for Pocket PC.  12V power output for GPS.  Sends air data to a Pocket PC along with the GPS data. See Air Data Transfer for more info. Color graphical display, IGC approved flight recorder.  No Pocket PC required.  Integrated FLARM.  Supports 2nd seat display and up to a total of 4 different "analog style" meters.  Sends air data to a Pocket PC along with the GPS data. See Air Data Transfer for more info. Small, color graphical display, IGC approved flight recorder.  No Pocket PC required.  Integrated FLARM.  Supports 2nd seat display and up to a total of 4 different "analog style" meters.  Sends air data to a Pocket PC along with the GPS data. See Air Data Transfer for more info. Large color graphical display, IGC approved flight recorder.  No Pocket PC required.  Integrated FLARM.  Supports 2nd seat display and up to a total of 4 different "analog style" meters.  Sends air data to a Pocket PC along with the GPS data. See Air Data Transfer for more info.

Air Data Transfer
Several soaring instrument systems are able to send air data (airspeed, vario, etc.) to a Pocket PC in the data stream with the NMEA GPS data.  Software packages such as WinPilot Pro, pocket*StrePla, SeeYou Mobile and Glide Navigator II can take advantage of the data.   For example, SeeYou Mobile and WinPilot Pro offer climb maximizers and other nice features when connected to an instrument which sends airspeed and vario data. 

 

Cumulus Soaring, Inc.
Paul E. Remde

8661 Connelly Place
Savage, Minnesota 55378
USA


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