GBA Variometer


Variometers are used by para/hang gliders to measure their vertical climb/sink rate. This data helps pilots find and catch thermals. The software runs on a flash ROM cartridge and captures flight data. The data from up to 50 stored flights can be recalled later. The altimeter is a simple pressure transducer that plugs into the link port on the Gameboy Advance.

[thanks Sean2e]


  1. strider_mt2k says:

    Nice application!

    I only tied some string to mine. :-(It was labeled a stupid micro trick after all.)

    Say, using a Micro for this app might compactify it a bit, eh? Reading souldn’t be that bad.

    The back of the micro would take a nice piece of Velcro too.

  2. weirdguy0101 says:

    I’d like to see this adapted for a DS where the top is GPS and bottom is alitermeter

  3. Mark says:


  4. furtim says:

    Sexy! It reminds me a bit of those B-movies (and Ghost Busters 2) where UberHighTechInterface for UberHighTechWeapon/Tool/StatueofLiberty turns out to be a repainted (or not!) game controller.

  5. Adam says:

    Wow. As a paraglider I can say that’s pretty cool.

    The best part would be you could play games at launch while you’re “para-waiting” (which can the bulk of your time in this sport).

  6. Russell Cole says:

    I had no idea that people still had gameboys. I personally could never stand video games so I should not even be posting, but I just have one comment to make: This is the most commercial site I have ever seen. I do not know whether to salute you or to denounce you. Maybe you should add some social commentary to your site or something to benefit the human condition rather than simply trying to exploit it.

    Russell Cole

  7. Z says:

    Nice, how much would the parts in that dongle cust? Sounds like a fun toy if it can be built for under, say, $15.

  8. sean2e says:

    I am seriosly going to build this if I can source the parts. As a new paraglider, I am not yet ready to shell out $500+ for a vario, but I have a gameboy ;). My guess is the preasure sensor is most likekly a $10 item, anyone know a good place online to find these parts:

    – Intersema MS5534B pressure sensor
    – Dallas DS1338C-3.3V Real-Time Clock with integrated 32768Hz crystal
    – 47uF 10V tantalum cap

  9. dax says:


    This is truly a great hack. This site rocks, keep ‘em coming boys.

    #7 Digi-key probably has all the parts.

  10. hari says:

    DS1338 free sample can be requested from Maxim, MS5534 pressure sensor can be purchased from

  11. Tigermoth says:

    Wow this looks awesome. Will it work on the plane or would the pressurized cabin interfere with the data as I have a 13 hour plane ride next year.

  12. ThunderBird says:

    Tiger: hang it outside the fuselage, otherwise it will show some skewed readings. The cabin is pressurized, but not to sea level or the takeoff altitude. Also, the slipstream may effect the reading, AFAIK external pressure sensors are in some sort of cavity to avoid hydrodynamic effects, no?

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