The Ultimate Tiny Altimeter

altimeter

While traditionally a project geared more toward the model rocket crowd, a lot of people are flying quadcopters these days, and knowing the altitude your RC aircraft reached is a nice thing to know. [Will] came up with a very nice, very small, and very lightweight altimeter that’s perfect for strapping to microquads, their bigger brothers, and of course model rockets. As a nice bonus, it also looks really cool with an exceedingly retro HP bubble display.

The components used in this tiny altimeter include a MEMS altitude and pressure sensor, HP bubble display featuring four seven-segment LEDs, an Arduino Pro Mini, and a tiny 40 mAh LiPo capable of powering the whole contraption for hours.

In the video below, [Will] shows off the functions of his altimeter, sending it aloft on a quadcopter to about 100 ft. There are settings for displaying the minimum, maximum, and delta altitudes, all accessed with a single button.

While it’s not the most feature packed altimeter out there, it’s still much better than commercial offerings available for the model rocket crowd.

Comments

  1. Kemp says:

    I may have missed something here (possibly as I haven’t done anything with RC planes myself). This is an altimeter designed to be mounted on an RC plane and fly around… where you can’t see the display. I get why logging the highest altitude would be useful for a model (or non-model) rocket, but I’m not seeing the use case for planes.

    Other than my lack of understanding, it’s a really nice piece of kit :)

  2. w says:

    It’s basically a simple flight data recorder of sorts. Stores high and low altitude stats during a flight so you can go read them when you collect the aircraft again. Probably could expand this with a few I2C devices like a large EEPROM and a bunch of other MEMs sensors for measuring other flight metrics.

    Hmm, I didn’t see any voltage regulation in there (unless I missed a bit). Do these kinds of sensors perform well over variations in supply voltage?

  3. macona says:

    “While it’s not the most feature packed altimeter out there, it’s still much better than commercial offerings available for the model rocket crowd.”

    Bull Crap. There are lots of very nice altimeters for model rockets including ones that will set of charges for parachutes.

  4. John Taggart says:

    There is a subgroup of RC glider pilots that fly hand launched gliders. Altitude information is important to these pilots to know how high they are launching. I like the red display on this project, really easy to read. If you want a logging altimeter, check out http://openaltimeter.org/

  5. James Lent says:

    “it’s still much better than commercial offerings available for the model rocket crowd.”
    I’d have to strongly disagree. The Raven altimeter is a highly sophisticated altimeter using both accelerometer and barometer readings to determine altitude, as well as being able to control multiple events at specific times and altitudes.

    http://www.featherweightaltimeters.com/The_Raven.php

    That being said, it is a very impressive project for a more DIY approach.

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