Skydiving altimeters have had the same overall appearance for the past several years. AON2:Tritium shows a completely new approach to altitude awareness in a stunning new package!
- Altitude indication: 0-16,000 feet (0 to 4900 metres)
- Operating altitude: -1,600 to 29,500 feet (-500 to 9000 metres)
- Operating modes:
- Freefall mode: 2000ft - 16000ft
- Canopy mode: 0-2000ft
- USB charging
- Battery life: 10 hours continuous operation
- Weight: 90 g
- Atmel ATTiny85 MCU
- Bosch MEMS barometric pressure sensor
- Sharp HDR ambient light sensor - automatic brightness control (article)
So how does it work?
The altimeter has 16 ultra-high-brightness LEDs, each of which represents either 1000 feet (in freefall mode) or 100 feet (in canopy mode). The colours of the LEDs change with altitude and the altitude is given by the number of LEDs which have changed colour.
However, the colours themselves are important, for example in freefall mode:
- Green: OK (6000ft +)
- Amber: break off/track (4000-6000 ft)
- Red: wave off and PULL ( < 4000 ft)
This means that you don't need to read the exact number on the altimeter to determine whether you should break off or deploy, as the colours are easily visible. However you can still easily cross check the numerical value with other altimeters while on the plane on your way up.
Can you change the set altitudes of when it changes colours?
No. Unfortunately this feature would have added a lot of cost to the altimeter, which we are selling for just £110 (£99 for the early birds!). If we added these features it would double the price of the altimeter!
The 4000ft "pull" red colour is in line with the BPA regulations for minimum opening altitude, which is described in Section 8-4 of the Operations Manual (June 2013 amendment) which requires a minimum opening height of 3000ft for parachutists below 'C' license. This takes into account that most canopies take at least 500ft to open. You can choose to open whenever you like, but the altimeter will always indicate red when you cross 4000ft.
This is just like having an analog altimeter with the yellow and red sections being fixed, like they are now. However, we may look at adding adjustable altitude colours in a future version, and we have more advanced altimeters in the pipeline!
Current Status & Budget
We have spent our own money and time developing and testing the altimeter, and now most of the development work is already finished. The main reason we have come to Kickstarter is to be able to fund certification and production. To make this cost-effective, we need to make at least 600 altimeters, so please pledge your support!
We have been keeping a blog about the altimeter developments here:
Safety & Testing
Safety and accuracy are very important to us. With CI approval we have already jumped with this altimeter on numerous skydives, and even a night skydive.
We find the colours make it intuitive to know when to break off, track, and pull, and we find canopy mode especially useful as the scale is easier to read than an analog altimeter.
Parachute and container specifications in the US and Europe are referenced through Technical Standard Orders (TSO) and the performance standards for TSO-C23d are described in SAE AS 8015B.
However, in both the US and Europe (under the jurisdiction of EASA), skydiving altimeters are not required to have a TSO. However, TSOs that cover altimeters mounted in aircraft for IFR rules provide useful standards that we can test our altimeters against.
- TSO-C10b (FAA) and ETSO-C10b (EASA)
- SAE Standard AS392C - Type 1
- SAE Standard AS8009B
DISCLAIMER: We are neither affiliated nor endorsed by the British Parachute Association. However, we operate under their jurisdiction, and will be seeking their advice and consulting closely with them with regards to any safety issues.
View/Jump the prototypes!
Our regular drop zone is in Skydive UK Ltd in Dunkeswell, Devon in the UK. However, we also visit other drop zones every now and then! If you want to test jump the altimeters please email email@example.com and we can meet up at a drop zone to lend you one of the prototypes! (provided CCI approval of course)
Made in Britain
We will be manufacturing the altimeters in the UK and conforming to all rules and regulations that this entails.
Why? While overseas manufacturing (eg. China) is cheaper for high-volume manufacturing (eg. millions of units), skydiving is a small market therefore we won't need those large volumes. There is plenty of competitive manufacturing capacity in the UK, and we would like this to be a good example of the strengths of british design, engineering and manufacturing.
Manufacturing locally also gives us faster turnaround times, quick resolution of any problems and no long delays in delivery!
We also have t-shirts available in blue, black or white! They're made of 100% cotton, unisex, and available in S, M, L, XL sizes. If we reach 800 altimeter orders, we will include a t-shirt FREE with every altimeter!
Lead Engineer: Arthur Amarra
Arthur Amarra is our Lead Engineer for altimeter development. Arthur graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2008 with an MEng in Aerospace Engineering, specialising in Computational Fluid Dynamics. He has worked in the aeronautical industry for the past six years and was part of the team in Airbus which won the 2014 Bronze Medal from the Royal Aeronautical Society, before becoming the founder of AON2 in late 2014. He is responsible for both hardware and software development. As a qualified skydiver, he is also involved in testing the altimeters on test jumps.
There were plenty of people who contributed their advice, feedback and expertise and we would like to thank:
- Ross Walker
- Carla Mattison
- Jasper Smith
- and of course, all the awesome people in Dunkeswell and Redlands!
Risks and challenges
- Certification. Despite extensive research, currently there is no certification framework for skydiving altimeters either in the UK, Europe or US. We will ensure the altimeter is certified to conformité européenne standards for sale in the European Economic Area, as well as FCC Part 15 conformity in the United States. We will also do extensive bench testing of each altimeter before shipping, and use TSO-C10b as a reference standard. Each altimeter will also have a lifetime warranty against manufacturing or design defects ('non-conformity') and we will replace any faulty altimeters free of charge.
- Schedule. We have given ourselves 4 months to manufacture and ship all the rewards, however this is based on an order quantity of 600 altimeters. This schedule also allows for contingency, so we may be able to ship the altimeters earlier if no problems are encountered.
- Manufacturing. We may encounter issues with the mass production of the altimeters. To mitigate this risk the altimeter is currently being redesigned for mass production and several prototypes have been produced to identify any remaining issues.
- Quality. The production circuit will be slightly more challenging than manufacturing the current prototypes. However we will be working closely with UK-based suppliers to achieve the required quality, and working locally in the UK will cut shipping time and turnaround time so we can respond quickly to any manufacturing issues.
- Supply Chain. We have partnered with several firms in the UK to supply the different components of the altimeter. If one of them fails to supply the required components on time or quality, we have several back-up suppliers that we may use. All the components have several potential suppliers so the only issue could be the delays caused by switching to a new supplier.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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