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Variometer Comparison

This page includes an overview of variometers and a comparison table.  There are advanced varios with speed-to-fly, final glide and flight recorder capabilities included on this page.  I have seperated the variometer comparison tables into 3 categories:

  • Mechanical Variometers
  • Club Variometers - Electrical variometers with Total Energy ports, but no ports for Pitot and Static connections. Some of these offer MacCready Ring like functionality, but they don't know your airspeed, so they can't tell you to speed-up or slow-down.
  • Speed-to-Fly Variometers - Electrical Vario with Audio, Averager, Speed-to-Fly Director and Glide Computer

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
Air Avionics | ClearNav | LX Navigation | LXNAV | 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. Even better is to fly with a vario that shows the average climb rate for the entire current or recent thermal. That is the best number to use when setting the MacCready number.

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

Air Avionics Air Glide Vario Systems
ClearNav Instruments

ClearNav Variometer, CNv

LX Navigation

- LX Helios
- LX EOS
- LX Era
- LX Zeus
Flight computer with EOS or Era vario

LXNAV

- S3 Audio Vario with averager, digital altimeter and Speed-to-Fly calculator
- S8, S80 Speed-to-fly variometer with g-meter and FLARM display
- S10, S100 Speed-to-fly variometer with GPS and IGC logger, g-meter and FLARM display
- LX8000 Flight Computer with V8 or V80 variometer
- LX8080 Flight Computer with V8 or V80 variometer

- LX9000 Flight Computer with V8 or V80 variometer
- LX9050 Flight Computer
with V8 or V80 variometer
- LX9070 Flight Computer with V8 or V80 variometer

S3

Tasman

VRM10 Sprite Variometer

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 or image.  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 Winter              
Price $540 to $605              
Type Mechanical Vane              
Response Time
(seconds)
1.8 or 3              
Audio              
Speed-to-Fly Director (push/pull indicator)              
G-Meter              
MacCready Ring Option              
2-Seat Repeater Option              
Speaker              
Temp. Probe              
Capacity Flask Required              
Size 57 mm or 80 mm              
Power
(mA)
0              
Unique Features Rugged, extremely popular, reliable, low cost              
Club Variometers - Electrical Varios with Total Energy Port, but no Pitot and Static Ports
Photo
(click on image to view larger version)
         
Product LX Navigation
Helios
LXNAV
S3
Tasman
VRM10 Sprite
         
Overview
Video
  S3 Vario Overview
S7 Vario Sounds (applies to S3)
Tasman VRM10 Sprite Vario Overview          
Price $725 $630 $495          
Pointer Type Mechanical
(Stepper-motor driven)
Mechanical
(Stepper-motor driven)
Graphical          
Display Color LCD Color LCD Black and White LCD          
User-Interface Control knob with turn and push functions Control knob with turn and push functions Two push-buttons          
Number of Numeric Data Fields 2 large and 2 small 2 large and 1 small 2          
Type Pressure transducer Pressure transducer Pressure transducer          
Audio Audio Audio Audio          
Speed-to-Fly Director (push/pull indicator)          
MacCready Ring Functionality          
G-Meter          
Product LX Navigation
Helios
LXNAV
S3
Tasman
VRM10 Sprite
         
GPS Built-in          
IGC Approved GPS Flight Recorder built-in          
GPS/FLARM Input Port            
PDA Output Port          
AHRS (Artificial Horizon)          
Thermal Assistant
(when connected to a GPS or FLARM)
         
Simple Navigation (fly back to takeoff point)
(when connected to a GPS or FLARM)
         
Waypoint Navigation          
Task Navigation          
Airspace Display          
FLARM Traffic
(when connected to a FLARM)
         
ADS-B Traffic
(when connected to a PowerFLARM)
         
PCAS (Mode C and Mode S transponder) Traffic
(when connected to a PowerFLARM)
         
Digital Inputs for Landing Gear, Airbrakes, etc.          
Back-Up Battery Built-in, 3-hours External, optional External, optional          
BlueTooth          
WiFi          
Product LX Navigation
Helios
LXNAV
S3
Tasman
VRM10 Sprite
         
2-Seat Repeater Option Repeater Repeater Repeater          
Speaker External Internal or Optional External Internal or Optional External          
Pneumatic Sensors Total Energy Total Energy Total Energy          
Temp. Probe Optional          
Capacity Flask Required          
Instrument Hole Size 57 mm 57 mm 57 mm          
Dimensions 60 x 60 x 61 mm
(2.36 x 2.36 x 2.40 inches)
60 x 60 x 50 mm
(2.4 x 2.4 x 2.0 inches)
61.3 x 61.3 x 69mm
(2.41 x 2.41 x 2.72 inches) 
         
Input Voltage Range 9 to 20 VDC 6 to 16 VDC 6 to 16 VDC          
Power
(mA)
150 mA 95 to 135 mA (volume low) 50 mA (volume low)
200 mA (volume high)
         
Firmware Updates microSD card port
on back of vario
using RS-232 serial port
on back of vario
firmware chip change          
Product LX Navigation
Helios
LXNAV
S3
Tasman
VRM10 Sprite
         
Unique Features The Helios offers a lot of features for a "club" vario. It has a stepper-motor driven mechanical pointer and color LCD display. It has a Thermal Assistant and simple final glide and navigation to the take-off point when connected to a GPS or FLARM. It can display FLARM, ADS-B and PCAS transponder traffic when connected to a PowerFLARM. Since the unit does not know airspeed (it doesn't have pitot or static ports), it can't tell you to speed-up or slow-down, but it can tell you how fast you should be flying given MacCready setting, entered glider polar and current lift/sink. It is very much like using a MacCready Ring on a mechanical variometer. The S3 offers a lot of features for a "club" vario. It has a stepper-motor driven mechanical pointer and color LCD display. Since the unit does not know airspeed (it doesn't have pitot or static ports), it can't tell you to speed-up or slow-down, but it can tell you how fast you should be flying given MacCready setting, entered glider polar and current lift/sink. It is very much like using a MacCready Ring on a mechanical variometer. The built-in speaker makes it easy to install. I like that the MacCready setting (blue arrow), 20 second average (red diamond) and instantaneous vario (red mechanical pointer) are all displayed on the same scale. The Tasman VRM10 Sprite vario has no moving parts - making it reliable and fast. The black and white LCD display is extremely easy to read in any lighting condion. The built-in speaker makes it easy to install. The VRM10 Sprite’s key design element is a software module that is able to reject rather than filter inputs from the pressure sensor/TE probe. Because the filter is not” loaded up” working on inputs that are not relevant to the pilot, a faster response in the filtering can be used than otherwise would be possible.          
Speed-to-Fly Variometers - Electrical Vario with Audio, Averager, Speed-to-Fly Director and Glide Computer
Photo
(click on image to view larger version)









Product AIR Avionics
AIR Glide Display-S
and AIR Glide Sensor Unit
ClearNav
CNv Variometer
LX Navigation
Era 57 Lite & Era 80 Lite

LX Navigation
Era57 & Era80

(Available as stand-alone
variometers, and for use with
Zeus flight computers)

LXNAV
S8 Club & S80 Club

LXNAV
S8 & S80

LXNAV
S10 & S100
LXNAV V8 or V80 Vario
with LX80x0 or LX90x0 Flight Computer
Price $2870 $1950 Era 57 Lite: $1325
Era 80 Lite: $1425
Era 57: $1795
Era 80: $1895
S8 Club: $920
S80 Club: $1040
S8: $1390
S80: $1530
S10: $1740
S100: $1860
$2280 to $4830
Overview
Video
 

ClearNav Vario with LCD Display - Overview
and
ClearNav Vario with LCD Display - Thermal Assistant

      LXNAV S8, S80, S10 and S100
Overivew Video
LXNAV S8, S80, S10 and S100
Overivew Video
LX9000 Overview & Training Video
Pointer Type Graphical Graphical Graphical Graphical Graphical Graphical Graphical Graphical
Display Color LCD Color LCD Color LCD Color LCD Color LCD Color LCD Color LCD Color LCD
User-Interface 2 push/turn knobs
and 2 push-buttons
5 push-buttons 2 push/turn knobs
and 2 push-buttons
2 push/turn knobs
and 2 push-buttons
2 push/turn knobs
and 3 push-buttons
2 push/turn knobs
and 3 push-buttons
2 push/turn knobs
and 3 push-buttons
3 push-buttons on vario
many settings done in flight computer
Number of Numeric Data Fields not applicable not applicable 4 large
and several small
4 large
and several small
4 large
plus small wind on left
4 large
plus small wind on left
4 large
plus small wind on left
4 large
plus small wind on left
Type Pressure transducer
& accelerometers
Pressure transducer
& accelerometers
Pressure transducer
& accelerometers
Pressure transducer
& accelerometers
Pressure transducer
& accelerometers
Pressure transducer
& accelerometers
Pressure transducer
& accelerometers
Pressure transducer
& accelerometers
Audio Audio Audio Audio Audio Audio Audio Audio Audio
Speed-to-Fly Director (push/pull indicator)
MacCready Ring Functionality not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
G-Meter
GPS Built-in
Product AIR Avionics
AIR Glide Display-S
and AIR Glide Sensor Unit
ClearNav
CNv Variometer
LX Navigation
Era 57 Lite & Era 80 Lite

LX Navigation
Era57 & Era80

LXNAV
S8 Club & S80 Club

LXNAV
S8 & S80

LXNAV
S10 & S100
LXNAV V8 or V80 Vario
with LX80x0 or LX90x0 Flight Computer
Flight Recorder
(non-IGC, when connected to GPS or FLARM)
not applicable not applicable ? not applicable not applicable not applicable
IGC Approved GPS Flight Recorder built-in
(in flight computer)
GPS/FLARM Input Port
(FLARM)

(FLARM)

(FLARM)
PDA Output Port Optional NMEA Module
AHRS (Artificial Horizon) Optional
(External)
Optional
(External)
Optional
(built-in,
software upgrade)
Optional
(built-in,
software upgrade)
Optional
(built-in,
software upgrade)
Optional
(built-in,
software upgrade)
Thermal Assistant
(when connected to GPS or FLARM)

(when connected to GPS or FLARM)

(when connected to GPS or FLARM)
Simple Navigation (fly back to takeoff point) not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
Waypoint Navigation Optional Software Upgrade
(on flight computer)
Task Navigation Optional Software Upgrade
(on flight computer)
Airspace Display Optional Software Upgrade
(on flight computer)
FLARM Traffic
(when connected to FLARM)

(when connected to FLARM)

(when connected to FLARM)

(when connected to FLARM)

(when connected to FLARM)

(when connected to FLARM)

(when connected to FLARM)
ADS-B Traffic
(when connected to PowerFLARM)

(when connected to PowerFLARM)

(when connected to PowerFLARM)

(when connected to PowerFLARM))

(when connected to PowerFLARM)

(when connected to PowerFLARM)
PCAS (Mode C and Mode S transponder) Traffic
(coming soon)

(coming soon)

(when connected to PowerFLARM)

(when connected to PowerFLARM)

(when connected to PowerFLARM)

(when connected to PowerFLARM)
Product AIR Avionics
AIR Glide Display-S
and AIR Glide Sensor Unit
ClearNav
CNv Variometer
LX Navigation
Era 57 Lite & Era 80 Lite

LX Navigation
Era57 & Era80

LXNAV
S8 Club & S80 Club

LXNAV
S8 & S80

LXNAV
S10 & S100
LXNAV V8 or V80 Vario
with LX80x0 or LX90x0 Flight Computer
Digital Inputs for Landing Gear, Airbrakes, etc. Optional Software Upgrade
Back-Up Battery
BlueTooth Optional Optional
WiFi Optional
2-Seat Repeater Option
Speaker External External External External External External External External
Temp. Probe
Capacity Flask Required
Pneumatic Sensors Pitot, Static, & Total Energy Pitot, Static, & Total Energy Pitot, Static, & Total Energy Pitot, Static, & Total Energy Pitot, Static, & Total Energy Pitot, Static, & Total Energy Pitot, Static, & Total Energy Pitot, Static, & Total Energy
Instrument Hole Size 57 mm (plus extra room above and below on the pilot side of panel) 57 mm (plus a little extra room all-around on the pilot side of panel) Era 57 Lite: 57 mm
Era 80 Lite: 80 mm
Era 57: 57 mm
Era 80: 80 mm
S8 Club: 57 mm
S80 Club: 80 mm
S8: 57 mm
S80: 80 mm
S10: 57 mm
S100: 80 mm
V8: 57 mm
V80: 80 mm
Dimensions

AIR Glide Display S:
Front of Display: 63.4 x 73 mm
Behind Panel: 57 x 57 x 95.6 mm

AIR Glide Sensor Unit:
47 x 26.1 x 101 mm

LCD Display:
2.7 x 2.7 x 0.625"
(68 x 68 x 16 mm)

ADC Sensor Unit:
4.29 x 2.48 x 0.83 inches)
(109 x 63 x 21 mm)

Era 57 Lite: 62 x 62 x 61 mm
(2.44 x 2.44 x 2.40 inches)

Era 80 Lite: 80 x 80 x 45 mm
(3.15 x 3.15 x 1.77 inches)

Era 57: 62 x 62 x 61 mm
(2.44 x 2.44 x 2.40 inches)

Era 80: 80 x 80 x 45 mm
(3.15 x 3.15 x 1.77 inches)

S8 Club: 61 x 61 x 95mm

S80 Club Display Dimensions: 81 x 81 x 45mm
S80 Club Sensor Box: 65 x 45 x 85 mm

S8: 61 x 61 x 95 mm

S80 Display Dimensions: 81 x 81 x 45 mm
S80 Sensor Box: 65 x 45 x 85 mm

S10: 61 x 61 x 70 mm

S100: 81 x 81 x 64 mm

V8: 61 x 61 x 95 mm

V80 Display Dimensions: 81 x 81 x 45 mm
V80 Sensor Box: 65 x 45 x 85 mm

Input Voltage Range 9 to 31 VDC Min: 8 VDC Min: 7 VDC Min: 7 VDC Min: 6 VDC Min: 6 VDC Min: 6 VDC Min: 6 VDC
Power
(mA)
Air Glide Display-S: 200 mA
Sensor Unit: 85 mA
170 to 200 mA 180 mA to 300 mA @ 12 VDC
(zero to full volume)
180 mA to 300 mA @ 12 VDC
(zero to full volume)
160 mA @ 12 VDC
160 mA @ 12 VDC
320 mA @ 12 VDC
160 mA @ 12 VDC
Firmware Updates USB Port on back of Display S USB Port on ADC Sensor Unit microSD card
in front face of vario
microSD card
in front face of vario
microSD card
in front face of vario
microSD card
in front face of vario
microSD card
in front face of vario
microSD card
in front face of vario,
or through flight computer
Product AIR Avionics
AIR Glide Display-S
and AIR Glide Sensor Unit
ClearNav
CNv Variometer
LX Navigation
Era 57 Lite & Era 80 Lite

LX Navigation
Era57 & Era80

LXNAV
S8 Club & S80 Club

LXNAV
S8 & S80

LXNAV
S10 & S100
LXNAV V8 or V80 Vario
with LX80x0 or LX90x0 Flight Computer
Unique Features The AIR Glide Vario has aa reputation for being extremely good at displaying real-time, quickly updated wind information. It has a powerful set of sensors, accurate and fast wind calculation while cruising, artificial horizon, simple navigation, simple final glide, IGC approved flight recorder, built-in GPS, and can display FLARM traffic when connected to a FLARM. It can't display ADS-B or PCAS transponder traffic. The ClearNav CNv variometer has received excellent reviews as an easy-to-use and powerful variometer. The Thermal Assistant is intuitive and useful. The LCD display is extremely sharp and is easy to read in bright sunlight. It can sent airspeed data to a ClearNav color flight computer or to any PDA using the Cambridge 302 serial data protocol. It has task and waypoint navigation, final glide calculations, and a built-in IGC approved GPS flight recorder. The "Lite" versions of the Era 57 and Era 80 offer good value by removing some hardware features. Unlike the full version, the Lite versions do not have hardware for GPS, IGC logger, WiFi, and BlueTooth. The Era has a lovely color LCD display that is laid-out in a way that is very pleasing to the eye. It looks lovely! It is a full-featured vario with task and waypoint navigation, final glide calculations, and Thermal Assistant - when connected to a GPS or FLARM. The user-interface is intuitive and it can display all types of traffic when connected to a PowerFLARM. The g-meter screen is a nice added feature. The current version shows airspace and airports on the moving map screens, but currently doesn't display airport names. The development team says they are workig on the ability to display airport names on the map. AHRS functionality is available as an external hardware option. A back-up battery that offers 3 hours of operation is also built-in. The Era has a lovely color LCD display that is laid-out in a way that is very pleasing to the eye. It looks lovely! It is a full-featured vario with task and waypoint navigation, final glide calculations, and a built-in IGC approved GPS flight recorder. The user-interface is intuitive and it can display all types of traffic when connected to a PowerFLARM. The Thermal Assistant bright and clear and the g-meter screen is a nice added feature. The current version shows airspace and airports on the moving map screens, but currently doesn't display airport names. The development team says they are workig on the ability to display airport names on the map. AHRS functionality is available as an external hardware option. A back-up battery that offers 3 hours of operation is also built-in. The S8 Club and S80 Club are popular and impressive speed-to-fly variometers - at incredibly low price points. The club versions have the same hardware as the full versions, but have some software features disabled. In basic configuration they can't display airspace, and offer waypoint navigation, but not task navigation. They also have the 4 assignable digital inputs (airbrakes, landing gear, etc.) disables and have Profiles disabled. But all those features can be fully enabled (individually) through the purchase of upgrade license keys. AHRS fucntionality is also availalbe as an optional software upgrade. The standard features include waypoint navigation, final glide calculations, a Thermal Assistant, and even a non-IGC flight recorder - when connected to an external GPS or FLARM. When connected to a PowerFLARM, the varios can display FLARM, ADS-B and PCAS transponder traffic. The color LCD display is bright and beautiful - even in bright sunlight. A g-meter is included as standard in all versions. The varios also work great with a PDA, PNA, or Naviter Oudie. They can forward FLARM and other traffic data along with vario and airspeed data to the connected display device, along with 5V power. The S8 and S80 are popular and impressive speed-to-fly variometers. The standard features include waypoint navigation, task navigation, airspace display, final glide calculations, a Thermal Assistant, and even a non-IGC flight recorder - when connected to an external GPS or FLARM. When connected to a PowerFLARM, the varios can display FLARM, ADS-B and PCAS transponder traffic. The color LCD display is bright and beautiful - even in bright sunlight. AHRS fucntionality is availalbe as an optional software upgrade. A g-meter is included as standard in all versions. The varios also work great with a PDA, PNA, or Naviter Oudie. They can forward FLARM and other traffic data along with vario and airspeed data to the connected display device, along with 5V power. The S10 and S100 include all the great features of the S8 and S80 (see note at left) and add a built-in GPS and IGC approved fight recorder, built-in BlueTooth, and a back-up battery that offers 3 hours of operation.

The V8 and V80 have the same vario engine and bright color LCD displays as the S8 and S80, but go without the 2 control knobs - because most vario settings are accessible using the LX80x0 or LX90x0 flight computer user-interface. Three push-buttons remain on the face of the vario to allow easy selection of the desired flight screen. A microSD memory card slot is also included for easy firmware and FlarmNet file updates.

The LX8000, LX8080, LX9000, LX9050, and LX9070 are state of the art soaring flight computer systems with bright color displays and a great many innovative software features.

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 SeeYou Mobile can take advantage of the data.   For example, SeeYou Mobile offers a Thermal Assistant 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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