Thermal Scout - Poor Man's Vario? - RC Groups
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Mar 11, 2011, 05:15 AM
Proud member of LISF and ESL

Thermal Scout - Poor Man's Vario?

I read an ad for the Thermal Scout in Model Aviation about a year ago. It looked interesting but I never did anything further.

I would like to hear any experience reports from people who have the Thermal Scout. I found a couple of reports in the electric glider section but nothing in the thermal forum.

Thermal Scout

The concept is simple. You put this on the rudder, between the receiver and the servo. A second wire goes to another channel, a control channel, typically a switched channel like the gear channel on a DX5e radio.

You launch with it turned off. Go thermal hunting. Turn it on at any time you want help finding lift. When it detects lift it wags the rudder so you can see the plane wag or the wings rock, depending on your plane. The posts I have read then suggest you turn it off and work the lift.

It looks interesting so I ordered one.

I have flown with thermal pilots using variometers that talk to you constantly via an ear peace. Some just provide a rising or falling tone, similar to the devices used in full scale sailplanes. Some actually read off altitude. However these varios are expensive, so I never bothered and really didn't want something talking to me as I fly.

However the Thermal Scout is $49 and silent in operation. I ordered one and will try it in my Radian. I use the Radian as my trainer plane so it may be helpful in teaching new pilots to find lift.

What's your experience with the Thermal Scout?
Last edited by aeajr; Mar 14, 2011 at 11:17 AM.
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Mar 11, 2011, 09:12 AM
F3-RES is fun!
Ur Wingman's Avatar
I have several Thermal Scouts and I use them all the time. They work great. Yesterday, we flew (Tucson) around 3:30 pm, with a 5-9 mph wind. Thermals were small and moving fast with the wind. In the hour of flying we saw no boomers, but the Thermal Scout would show these small thermals. My friend was flying an AVA Pro, and really having to work to find and stay in thermals. With the Scout, in my 2.5 meter full house glider, I just watched for the wiggle and then turn and chase the thermal. Yes, I turn the Thermal Scout off/on with my gear switch.
Mar 12, 2011, 01:53 AM
Registered User
ozmo01's Avatar
Will be testing mine out for the first time tommorrow
Mar 14, 2011, 11:20 AM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
I have not gotten mine yet. Did you get a chance to try yours?
Mar 14, 2011, 05:49 PM
WINS - Winch In Nose Sailplane
jaizon's Avatar
I got one last year. Haven't used it yet. Let's hear some feedback.
Mar 14, 2011, 05:55 PM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
Wellllll what cha waiting for? Stick that thing in your plane and get it done!
Mar 14, 2011, 07:49 PM
WINS - Winch In Nose Sailplane
jaizon's Avatar
It's called S-N-O-W. Funny white stuff all over the ground.
Mar 15, 2011, 06:51 PM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
Mine arrived today.
Mar 16, 2011, 07:15 PM
Pompano Hill Flyers
Radian's Avatar

Thermal Scout

I've had one since their release.

I've also own a Picolario so I have something to compare it to...

Very small and light.
Low cost $40 compared to $350 for a Picolario!
Accurately indicates when the plane has entered lift.
Very helpful when the plane is directly overhead. It is hard to read the plane when it is straight above you. This tool makes lift obvious when your plane is flying above you.
Small enough to fit in a DLG easily.

Only indicates you are in lift. Not the quality of the lift. A picolario provides tone pitch changes to indicate the strength of the lift or sink you are in. With a picolario's tone indicator, you can sort of map out a thermal and center on the strongest part.

Wagging tail disrupts your flight. Frequently when you want this tool the most is when lift is very light and your trying to stretch your flight out. You want to fly smooth with the least control inputs.... This is not the time to have your rudder wagging!

Not as good when used with a VTail as it controls only one surface.

As the only indicator of lift is the wagging rudder, it is sometimes difficult to see quickly this indicator when the plane is low and very far away...(Ranged out hunting for lift.)

Considering these points... I highly recommend it. Just understand how best to use it. The name is very appropriate. Use it when "hunting / scouting" for lift. Once you get the rudder waggle, turn it off as quickly as possible and use your skills to work and center the lift. When you find yourself sinking again, set off on a new straight line course and turn it back on.... If you fly through lift even light lift enough to make your plane rise, it will indicate this... Again, turn it off and start flat circles to center and work the lift.

I'm hoping they soon come out with a version that works with the Aurora A9 telemetry. Even if it is just a beep instead of a rudder waggle. This way it is clear when it signals and it does not disrupt your flying when your trying to fly max L/D and smooth.

Mar 16, 2011, 07:59 PM
Panda Panda Panda Panda Panda
rdwoebke's Avatar

I'm hoping they soon come out with a version that works with the Aurora A9 telemetry. ]
Sim Salabim! Claps hands. Flash And smoke.
Mar 16, 2011, 09:54 PM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
How cool is that? Good post Ryan!
Mar 16, 2011, 11:35 PM
Pompano Hill Flyers
Radian's Avatar
Originally Posted by rdwoebke
Sim Salabim! Claps hands. Flash And smoke.
Aware of this....

It is not a vario. It is an altimeter only.

Add a vario to this (or install both in your plane) and you have all the Picolario does.

1) Vario Function
2) Altitude announce (The new HowHigh)
3) Receiver battery voltage (Aurora A9 standard telemetry)

Just no voice announcement.... But Hitec shows a voice system for their Telemetry coming soon....

Mar 16, 2011, 11:49 PM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
The Picolario is a cool device, but it goes beyone the basic variometer function into telemitry.
Mar 16, 2011, 11:57 PM
Registered User

Keep it simple. Next time you and Fritz are at the same contest, I'm sure he'd be perfectly willing to be both your timer and your vario. (I've seen, or rather heard, him do it.) However, although he has total energy compensation and pretty quick response, his whining tone gets really annoying very quickly. Also, the objective output is occasionally interrupted by humorous remarks, perhaps at your expense.
Mar 17, 2011, 01:20 AM
Registered Taranis User
Miami Mike's Avatar
I got myself a Thermal Scout after Radian told me about them, and I like mine.

One recommendation: Put it on a spring-loaded switch that you have to hold in the on position. You don't want to accidentally have it on when you're launching.
Latest blog entry: Taranis: Aileron-To-Rudder Mix.

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