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Old Jun 22, 2011, 08:37 PM
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Evan D's Avatar
Charlotte, NC
Joined Jan 2004
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Variometer or Thermal Scout?

I'd like to try a variometer but the price of the Thermal Scout looks too good to pass up. At this point all I would want in the variometer would be to get the beeping signal on a receiver to tell when I encounter lift. Would the Thermal Scout suit my needs as well as the much more expensive variometer?
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Old Jun 23, 2011, 07:12 AM
ChipG
Manassas, VA
Joined May 2008
189 Posts
Check the Thermal Scout thread

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1404609

This thread is current and has alot of good info. I have a thermal scout and am pleased with its performance.
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Old Jun 23, 2011, 08:59 AM
W0X0F
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United States, CA, Los Angeles
Joined Nov 2005
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I'll throw in my .02 worth about the Thermal Scout and other varios. First I will admit that I have never owned a Thermal Scout but I have seen others use them. But I have over the years owned every other one of them though, from the Ace to the Pic and currently own two Pics'. All of them are capable of telling you when your plane is going up and you should be able to tell it without them too. But they don't know if it is stick lift or actual rising air that is unless you have a TE probe. Only you can tell or should know the difference.

Before a vario is going to be much use to you you will need to be able to tell when your plane is in lift, know the signs of when lift may or may not be present (birds, shifting winds, areas that usually generate or kick off thermals, etc.) and have a plan prior to launching. Once you are capable of doing all of these things your ready to try a vario.

But I will tell you that a vario only excels at one thing. That is telling you when your plane is in light lift or the absence of sink. By light I mean it is impossible to read or see any signs that your plane is climbing but it is certainly not sinking. For example, I was at a contest with no local rules about using a vario. The Task was 10 min. and my flight group had been in the air about five minutes when a huge amount sink set in over the field. It was quite obvious to myself and everyone else that did not have a vario that we were in trouble. Everyone quickly scattered looking for lift. I quickly departed for an area that my timer and I thought might contain some lift. My pic was mooing like a cow in heat until I passed through an area where it went silent. No more continuous low tone no rising or high tone either. Just silence or an occasional high pitched beep. I could not tell by looking at the plane that there was lift but I was not sinking or descending either. There were zero visual cues of this small area of buoyant air. I remembered an old saw that I had heard years before that lift was the absence of sink. In other words you don't have to be going up to be in lift. Anyway if it had not been for the Pic I would have been on the ground with everyone else. Situations like this are the only times that IMHO a vario gives you any kind of advantage. As for the Pics that I own I can't remember the last time I used one of them in a contest or while fun flying for that matter. But if I'm at a contest and someone pulls out theirs I will get mine out. Just in case.

If you must have a vario by all means get one. But you will get a much better rate of return if you spend the time developing your flying and air reading skills first.
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Old Jun 23, 2011, 01:15 PM
Pompano Hill Flyers
Miami Mike's Avatar
Miami Lakes, Florida, USA
Joined Mar 2003
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Like Chip says, check out the Thermal Scout thread. There are several posts there from users like me who own them. You should find answers there to all or most of your questions.
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Old Jun 23, 2011, 02:01 PM
WINS - Winch In Nose Sailplane
jaizon's Avatar
USA, NH
Joined Mar 2008
3,109 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan D View Post
I'd like to try a variometer but the price of the Thermal Scout looks too good to pass up. At this point all I would want in the variometer would be to get the beeping signal on a receiver to tell when I encounter lift. Would the Thermal Scout suit my needs as well as the much more expensive variometer?
I have both. They really serve slightly different purposes. TS good for lower level indications of lift. At higher altitudes it is much more difficult to see that tail wag, whereas the vario will give an indication at any altitude, and depending on the unit bought, much more information. I would suggest you get the TS and see if it suits your needs. If it does great, if not then figure out your next move.
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Old Jun 23, 2011, 02:11 PM
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tkallev's Avatar
USA, IL, Wheeling
Joined Jan 2003
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I will echo what Walt says ... a vario will do more harm than good to the pilot who cannot already read his sailplane at a distance without aids.

If you need a vario to tell you when you are in lift or sink, you aren't ready for a vario

tk
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Old Jun 23, 2011, 02:29 PM
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Miami Lakes, Florida, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkallev View Post
I will echo what Walt says ... a vario will do more harm than good to the pilot who cannot already read his sailplane at a distance without aids.

If you need a vario to tell you when you are in lift or sink, you aren't ready for a vario

tk
Have you considered the possibility that your interpretation of your plane's visual clues isn't quite as accurate as you think it is? Some consider variometers to be valuable learning aids. If you watch what your plane is doing while you're listening to your variometer, you can verify that the visual clue you're interpreting as lift actually is lift. People have told me that variometers helped them learn to find and work thermals, and that they eventually reached the point where they didn't need them anymore.

I should also mention that they're especially useful when you're flying straight overhead.
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Old Jun 23, 2011, 06:39 PM
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USA, IL, Wheeling
Joined Jan 2003
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I have seen far more "newbies" with varios screw themselves into the ground in no time flat following the tones they create in the device through poor piloting than those who have actually benefitted from using one early in their careers.

They do add to the cool factor, maybe that's part of the draw.

YMMV.

tk
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Old Jun 23, 2011, 09:24 PM
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Charlotte, NC
Joined Jan 2004
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Thanks for the replies. I have been flying planes for many years, 40+, slope for easily 35, and thermal on and off for alot of that time. Most of my thermal fying has been simple two meter and I've had great "luck" at getting some great, some not so great, lift. I think I'm a fairly good judge on where to find lift and when I find it to get a good ride from it. I'd like to see if an aid would help on those days I can't seem to find anything...
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Old Jun 29, 2011, 09:15 PM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
LI, New York, USA
Joined Mar 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaizon View Post
I have both. They really serve slightly different purposes. TS good for lower level indications of lift. At higher altitudes it is much more difficult to see that tail wag, whereas the vario will give an indication at any altitude, and depending on the unit bought, much more information. I would suggest you get the TS and see if it suits your needs. If it does great, if not then figure out your next move.
I agree with jaizon's comments.

If you want a little help finding lift and you are flying not too high and not too far away, it will help you.

A full vario will help you no matter how high or how far. In addtion some varios will actually call out the altitude in addition to giving you the rising and falling tone.


The TS is the poor man's vario. It works as advertised but is no match for a full vario for flexibility.
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