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Your favorite altimeters, and 'why' you like them!

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TMJ

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I'm searching for information on altimeters. Being new to the hobby I currently know of only a few altimeters from a very few sources. I'd like to know what altimeters you folks use, who to purchase them from, and why you like them!
Thanks...
 

rharshberger

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1) MissleWorks RRC3 either Extreme or Sport versions, reasons are reliability, and versatility, expandability (interface with Rtx gps unit). 3 channels (2 pyro, 1 configurable for airstarts, beepers, telemetry). I use mine on most every rocket I own as the primary deployment altimeter. They work reliably on 9v batteries, and with the LCD and USB connection options data is available in the field and via computers. Stores something like 30 flights. Jim Amos has awesome customer service and is more that willing to discuss his products features, tips and tricks with his customers.

2) Eggtimer Quark- simple, small, easy to use with only 4 jumpers for programming, and it beeps out max altitude. The Quark rides shotgun on nearly all my large rocket projects, and has reliably done its job every time. Its also the least expensive deployment altimeter I know of, but it is a kit so either solder it yourself or have someone like Connor do it for you (Conner aka "Conman", charges a small service fee to assemble and test Eggtimer products)

3)Eggtimer TRS- logging, dual deployment, and gps locating, larger than RRC3 and Quark, but its a great product. Also a kit.
 

FredA

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MARSA54

Why: Easy to program (with the included LCD) so no computer needed.
FOUR channels so you can do main and backup's all with one flight computer.
Did I say FOUR CHANNELS so you don't need two altimeters.
Plus expansion and ultimate flexibility using the MARSA-NET....awesome for staging and air-starts.
 

DavidMcCann

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sl98

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There is a sticky in Rocketry Electronics and Software that will take you to a spreadsheet that lists just about every altimeter, a summary of features and links. Once you get feedback here you can find the spreadsheet here:

http://rocketsetc.com/altimeter-comparison
 

jnelson

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I like my RRC2+. It requires no computer to program it (just four switches on the unit itself), is very easy to use, and is cheap. It has 2 outputs (drogue and main), and only reports altitude. It works great as a main altimeter for a lot of my 'low key' flights, and as a redundant system for when I want to do complex/high alt flights. I think it's a good 'starter' altimeter.

I also have a Raven 3, it has four outputs and does require a computer to program, but is still fairly simple to do. It records a lot of data that can be reviewed later. There's a lot of other altimeters in its class, I don't know how they compare to it.

I don't have an RRC3, but I've heard good things, so I'll probably pick one of them up next.
 

Worsaer

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The Number 2 reason to select a specific altimeter: Functionality that meets your needs.

Examples:

Featherweight Raven
Very small size, four programmable event channels, reliable.

Marsa Systems, Marsa54L
Four programmable channels, PLUS Marsa Gadgets that provide additional wireless event channels. Reliable, and very cool if you have a use for the added bells and whistles.

Missileworks RRC3
Excellent reliable plug-and go altimeter. Two channels, progammable if you need it; if not, just turn it on and fly.


The Number 1 reason?

Reliable, timely support. All three of these have always promptly answered my questions, assisted with troubleshooting, and consistently stood behind their product. Thank you John, Jim, and Adrian for standing behind your products.

PS - I only don't mention Cris and Eggtimer products because I have yet had the chance to build and fly them. Cris is already on my list of people that provide timely, consistent support. It's my fault that I have not yet used his altimeters, not his.
 

stealth6

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I've flown a decent range of them, but two definitely rise to the top as my "favorites":

* Featherweight Raven.......ultra capable of just about anything I could ever want in an altimeter, unbelievably tiny (especially considering all the features this thing has), couples with FW AV bays and Perches (with integrated switch) which are awesome in their own respect, super high quality. Due to it's combination of features and form function, it simply does things no other option can do.
Downsides?.....it's pricey, and unfortunately since Adrian got so busy with other things in life, his support, while good, isn't as "completely awesome" as it used to be.
All things considered, if I had to choose "just one", it would be a Raven.

* Missileworks RRC2+.....far and away the best value in altimeters today. Great price, super user friendly and easy to use, it's nice and compact, great quality, just enough features and functions to meet my demands but not lots of extras/bells & whistles/etc. that might get in the way. If you want a simple altimeter to just do the main job of most "regular" flights, but you want high quality, this can't be beat. And Jim's support IS "completely awesome".
Downsides?.....really the only thing would be more advanced features, but if you want that it's an easy step up to an RRC3 (which is not all that much more expensive).
If I'm on a budget, but don't want to sacrifice quality, or I'm looking for a great "bread and butter" altimeter, this is the one to choose.

The other altimeters I've flown and really liked (honourable mentions), and can wholeheartedly recommend are:
* Missileworks RRC3 (mentioned earlier)
* AltusMetrum Telemini (another like the Raven that is minscule, and does things nothing else on the market can do)
* Perfectflight Stratologger
* Adept22...no longer made (I believe) and filled that niche that the RRC2+ does now (and does even better).

s6
 

KenRico

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Stratologger CF is a good choice for a dual deploy altimeter.

You can use it or the Quark as a backup altimeter if you move on to something fancier.

Both the CF and Quark are easy to mount and wire also ..

Kenny
 

CzTeacherMan

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I fly all Missileworks for now. My standard sled is an RRC3 as main and RRC2 as backup. The USB dongle along with the free software makes the RRC3 a snap to program and download data. Ready to use, super flexible, amazing customer service, and expansion options... definitely worth the investment.
Also have an Adept22... great product, but I rarely use it because the MW products are so simple I just rarely get around to using the Adept.
 

thomas

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Altusmetrum Telemega 6 Pyro Events, 4 Servo Events 10 DOF accelerometer, gyro magnetometer, barometer, GPS, Data downlink with status and position on 433Mhz to Android App with google maps. Can prevent airstarts based on angle from vertical.
Can testfire igniters over radio link.
 

patelldp

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AIM Xtra 2.0

Fully integrated tracking and deployment/event altimeter. Live data, four channels. I've had an outstanding experience with this unit where other similar units have caused me a lot of grief.

The main negative is that the unit doesn't beep any meaningful information on start up aside from "I'm on." In order to get the status you need to check your computer. Rumor has it a 3.0 version will fix that.
 

NateLowrie

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MARSA54

Why: Easy to program (with the included LCD) so no computer needed.
FOUR channels so you can do main and backup's all with one flight computer.
Did I say FOUR CHANNELS so you don't need two altimeters.
Plus expansion and ultimate flexibility using the MARSA-NET....awesome for staging and air-starts.
You have backup charges and ematches, but the single MARSA54 is still a single point of failure. Granted, this configuration is much better than just a single altimeter with a main charge, but I would prefer to have 2 completely separate avionics stacks instead.

Regarding the OP's question:

I prefer the Eggtimer TRS and the Quantum.
  1. The TRS is a fully featured altimeter and GPS unit combined. The quantum is just the flight computer
  2. Price is right. The quantum is on $40 which is incredible. The TRS is $90 ($140 if you want the LCD downlink receiver). They are simply the lowest price altimeters on the market.
  3. The quantum has a BUILT IN wifi arming switch. The TRS has an Add On wifi switch. Instead of drilling more holes in your av bay and fiddling with screw, rotary, or magnetic switches you can connect to the altimeters through wifi with you phone and arm them. The wifi connection can even fire the charges which is super useful for ground testing.

Downsides to the above mentioned:
  1. Each unit requires soldering. If you can solder surface mount, it's a piece of cake. Otherwise, there is a company out there that will assemble it for you (See http://mctronics.webs.com/apps/webstore/products/show/5540697)
  2. Range is 30,000 feet.
  3. Only 2 channels per altimeter so if you are doing airstarts or staging you would need an additional quantum just for that.
 

djs

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I like the RRC2, because it's easy to set up- almost impossible to mess up. I also use the RRC3 to get the data. Also, Eggtimer quarks, because they're cheap, so if you blow up a rocket, it's not a huge loss. I use the quark in my Wildman Interceptor 54 to do apogee chute deploy for my research motors. A relatively cheap HPR rocket and 20$ altimeter is an easier loss to bear if a motor catos.
 

EeebeeE

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Surprised no one mentioned the Adept22 yet. Extremely reliable. One of the least expensive on the market. Fundamentally simple. The only drawback is that it doesn't report flight data, but for sport flying that's no big concern.
 

RocketFeller

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I'm far from an authority on altimeters, but I'll chime in.

We recently bought two RRC3 units for our project. First off, service from Jim was excellent. When there was a question about the order he gave me a call at 6:00 PM to iron things out. The altimeters worked well and were easy to use - one we used in the out-of-the-box configuration and the backup we switched to apogee+1 second. The beep tone is a little bit odd, but supposedly easier for us old folks to hear.

The only other altimeter I've owned is a G-Wiz MC. This has been a reliable altimeter but at fifteen years old is a bit of an antique. It has an accelerometer and can graph flight profiles, which is cool.

Our group's goal for next year is to build a 98mm MD carbon fiber rocket and use it to fly Kate. If we manage to raise the funds we will be buying a system, otherwise we will be borrowing Kate for NXRS 2017. If you have never heard of Kate, she is super cool. The altimeter communicates with a receiver which can then broadcast a synthesized voice that gives all details of the flight. She also serves as a locater.
 

ksaves2

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Surprised no one mentioned the Adept22 yet. Extremely reliable. One of the least expensive on the market. Fundamentally simple. The only drawback is that it doesn't report flight data, but for sport flying that's no big concern.
Make sure if you fly the Adept 22 with Rf tracking devices you thoroughly test compatibility before flight. I've seen a project with two Adept 22's fail because the altimeters reset/shutdown while in flight resulting in a ballistic trajectory and shovel recovery. I fly one in projects that don't require trackers and they work fine. Kurt
 

cerving

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You have backup charges and ematches, but the single MARSA54 is still a single point of failure. Granted, this configuration is much better than just a single altimeter with a main charge, but I would prefer to have 2 completely separate avionics stacks instead.

Regarding the OP's question:

I prefer the Eggtimer TRS and the Quantum.
  1. The TRS is a fully featured altimeter and GPS unit combined. The quantum is just the flight computer
  2. Price is right. The quantum is on $40 which is incredible. The TRS is $90 ($140 if you want the LCD downlink receiver). They are simply the lowest price altimeters on the market.
  3. The quantum has a BUILT IN wifi arming switch. The TRS has an Add On wifi switch. Instead of drilling more holes in your av bay and fiddling with screw, rotary, or magnetic switches you can connect to the altimeters through wifi with you phone and arm them. The wifi connection can even fire the charges which is super useful for ground testing.

Downsides to the above mentioned:
  1. Each unit requires soldering. If you can solder surface mount, it's a piece of cake. Otherwise, there is a company out there that will assemble it for you (See http://mctronics.webs.com/apps/webstore/products/show/5540697)
  2. Range is 30,000 feet.
  3. Only 2 channels per altimeter so if you are doing airstarts or staging you would need an additional quantum just for that.
The Quantum is rated to 60,000'. Chances are good that the next release of the TRS software will extend its reach to 60,000' as well... it's not a hardware limitation.
 

Titan II

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Just a correction/clarification regarding a couple comments above regarding the RRC3. It has three, not two, programmable channels. There are eleven settings for the frequency of the tone. It is a great altimeter for the money.
 

Bat-mite

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I didn't see any LOGIC in any of this. You guys don't know Beans.
OP didn't specify functionality. Everyone assumes DD, timing, staging, logging, etc. Crap, if you just want to know how high it went, PerfectFlight Firefly is only $25.
 

Buckeye

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...but the single MARSA54 is still a single point of failure....
The altimeter itself is rarely the source of failure. User error, ematches, and batteries are 99.9% of the problems. All of which get multiplied when dual altimeter systems are used.
 

ksaves2

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OP didn't specify functionality. Everyone assumes DD, timing, staging, logging, etc. Crap, if you just want to know how high it went, PerfectFlight Firefly is only $25.
Doesn't matter "how high it flew" if one can't find the derned thing!:surprised: Kurt
 

NateLowrie

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The Quantum is rated to 60,000'. Chances are good that the next release of the TRS software will extend its reach to 60,000' as well... it's not a hardware limitation.
That's Awesome! When do you think it will happen? Also, any chance the TRS is getting built in WIFI switch support anytime soon?
 

NateLowrie

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The altimeter itself is rarely the source of failure. User error, ematches, and batteries are 99.9% of the problems. All of which get multiplied when dual altimeter systems are used.
I'll agree with all but the last sentence of that statement. I agree the Marsa54 running main and backup charges is still better than a single altimeter with single charges. I stand by my statement that dual altimeters are necessary. A programming error on the single Marsa54 or having the battery wire come loose will doom that flight.

While we're on the subject of user error, no matter the altimeter selected, user error can always be reduced with a checklist. Make sure you have them. They have saved me thousands of dollars in airframes over the years. It doesn't cost a lot to do dual altimeters and well defined procedures and checklists can mitigate the risks of added complexity.
 

ksaves2

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That's Awesome! When do you think it will happen? Also, any chance the TRS is getting built in WIFI switch support anytime soon?
If you fly to 60,000' Nate, I'm impressed. The TRS doesn't need a WiFi switch as it can be controlled through the B/T link for local commands. Perhaps WiFi could be used to arm the pyro battery but to add WiFi for one option might not
be worth the effort. Remote switch activation is not something one can do with careless abandon. The switching circuits suck juice from the battery even if the electronics aren't activated. With a conventional switched rocket one can
prepare it days in advance and not worry about premature draining of the battery. WiFi/remote altimeters are great when the size of the rocket precludes a mechanical switch and one can do a ground deployment test conveniently in
a 38mm MD, DD rocket. Kurt
 

FredA

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The altimeter itself is rarely the source of failure. User error, ematches, and batteries are 99.9% of the problems. All of which get multiplied when dual altimeter systems are used.


Totally Agree!
Don't mistreat your electronics and it will be reliable.

Sure, a wire might come loose - it's happened - but odds are it's a PYRO wire just because there are more of them than other wires.
I actually prefer to solder in my altimeters - removing the terminal blocks and soldering right to the pads.
Then the only real electrical failure point is the battery connector....which gets taped into place.

But I've harped on this enough in plenty of other treads - nuff said here.....
 

EeebeeE

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Make sure if you fly the Adept 22 with Rf tracking devices you thoroughly test compatibility before flight. I've seen a project with two Adept 22's fail because the altimeters reset/shutdown while in flight resulting in a ballistic trajectory and shovel recovery. I fly one in projects that don't require trackers and they work fine. Kurt
I used and Adept22 and its companion DDC22 for my L3 cert flight. Had a Beeline tracker (70cm) in the electronics bay. No problem. Both primary and backup charges fired.
 

EeebeeE

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As you consider altimeters you should also ask yourself it you are going to break Mach 1 or not. If your flights are more likely to be low and slow, barometric altimeters are fine, and generally much less expensive. These include the Eggtimer Quark, Adept22, Perfect Flite Stratologger, etc. Most of these are well under $100 and if you have good eyes and steady hands, you can buy the Eggtimer Quark for around $25 but you have to solder it together.

However if you are going to fly high and fast, you will need accelerometer-based altimeters (many of which also have barometric built in) for more accurate speed readings and more sensitive apogee detection electronics where the air is so thin the barometer can sometimes have difficulty determining whether it is still going up or not. These include the Raven 3, PICO, and MARSA altimeters, plus some others.

When you get into extreme flying you will want to look at flight computers that sense a lot more than altitude and can be programmed for different contingencies. the MARSA altimeter is great for this, which is why you see it used often for flights past Mach 3 or over 50,000'. Cool thing about MARSA as well is that John continuously updates firmware to keep them in peak performance.
 
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