Variometer build for gliding aircraft

If you’re flying through the air in a non-powered vehicle your rate of descent is something that you want to keep any eye one. With that in mind, [Adrian] decided to design his own Variometer (translated) what will have a place in the cockpit next to the other instrumentation. It emits a pitch whose frequency is dictated by the rate at which altitude is being lost or gained.

He went with a PIC 24FJ64 microcontroller to drive the device. It’s reading data from an MS5611 barometric pressure sensor. This measures changes in air pressure associated with a change in altitude. As a user interface he chose one of SparkFun’s Nokia 5110 LCD screen breakout boards. He also went with one of their boost converts which lets him power the device from just one battery cell. The case itself is cut from several layers of plastic using a CNC mill.

In the video after the break you can see how sensitive the device is. Moving it just a few feet up or down has an immediate effect on the sound and the displayed data.

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