SEN 2862 Altimeters – Sporting code, trees, wheels, elephants and crystal balls

SEN 2862

Altimeters – Sporting code, trees, wheels, elephants and crystal balls

1. Some remarks on altimetry
2. Timing is everything , in many ways
3. Evolution of Sport and Competition
4. Altimeter Aspirations or is it Timing Aspirations
5. Altimeter Accuracy in Free Flight
6. Code to Crystal

Some remarks on altimetry

From: Allard Van Wallene


Some remarks on altimetry:

Altimetry is not only used for alternative fly offs. The sporting code also defines the use of altimeters in regular fly offs whenever the sportsman wants to contest the time keeper's time (for reasons as discussed by Michael). Currently this requires the (in)famous altimeter dance, but in the foreseeable future, since the new altimeters are personalized, the dance would no longer be required. Since each altimeter is unique in its physical and data appearance (name and FAI ID printed on the altimeter, Bluetooth device name has FAI ID it), swapping altimeters between competitors is not possible. Pre-recorded flights can not be used since the altimeter's memory is cleared before the fly off (signalled by a green led). So in case of a disputed time keeper's time, simply show your altimeter to the jury according to the current sporting code.

In the near future more and more strict 'drone' regulations will be imposed on us, notably a legal flight ceiling. We could stick our heads in the sand and pretend this doesn't apply to us. Rest assured, it will or already is, there is just too much $$ involved here (commercial air taxi's, mail delivery, emergency air transport etc.) and such rules will be imposed and enforced by authorities without blinking an eye. So better be prepared for the future now than be grounded whenever such laws are enforced. In the future I see altimeters as our only way to be able to keep outdoor competition FF alive and we should pro-actively start a discussion on this subject. For instance, if the local flight ceiling is 300 meters, the altimeter could trigger a DT at 300 meters and the competitor gets the max regardless of time flown. A fly off ranking can be determined in many different ways. Who gets to 300m first, who is highest after xx minutes etc. etc. Ignoring legal flight ceilings is not an option.




Timing is everything , in many ways

From: Ron marking

They might be a possible solution to a particular problem but have none of
you ever won a contest where part way through a flight your model has been
well below everybody else's and you think you are out of the running, when
your model finds its own thermal and out flies all the others? It may have
been good luck but that is free flight.

Ron Marking

Evolution of Sport and Competition

From: Stuart Darmon
Roger,           I have to say I agree with Pierre regarding altimeters, but I also accept that our views are doomed to extinction. Sport has always been competitive, ruthless, and at times even dishonest, but there was once at least an aspiration that it was also about character and fortitude. Learning to accept adversity and even injustice gracefully was one of its noblest ideals- the term 'sportsman' once meant specifically that. Everyone knew that umpires and referees are fallible- sometimes you lost out, occasionally you benefited (Gerry Ritz's F1A win in '59, for example);  it was part of the game. Sport was a thing human beings did together for the thrill of it, to experience the rough and tumble and highs and lows of life concentrated into an afternoon's play. Big money changed all that. With sponsorship deals and merchandising to protect, winning became a cuthroat industry. Litigous athletes and managers demanded clinical verification of every point and millions hung on the outcome. Sport is now as much about who has the best legal team and the best 'doctors' as the best athletes. Ours is not that kind of sport, we don't need to import that state of mind, but we will anyway because that's how we define 'Sportsman' now, and 'sportsman' is how we're desperate to see ourselves.

          My point is not that making mistakes is a good thing, or that there was ever a golden age when everybody was a gentleman (there never was), this is about what we feel a sport should aspire to be about at its heart.  Pierre, perhaps more than anyone else alive in the world today, personifies the ethos of free flight as it was when many of us took it up and fell in love with it. Every step such as this is a step away. As for the argument that progress is unstoppablle and it's somehow immoral not to embrace new technology, isn't that a tad perverse in a discipline that only exists at all because of a decision to ban new technology (RC)?      I realise this is a minority view and I know it won't change a single mind. I just hope that when we've finished eliminating all the irritating variables we don't end up with a sterile simulation of of a wonderful pastime.                                               Regards, Stuart.

Altimeter Aspirations or is it Timing Aspirations

From: Michael Achterberg

Hello.  Apparently did not understand its use properly. I was assuming it would be used if in fact the timer loses sight of model and certified altimeter would be used if this issue arose.. Just seems like its the perfect solution for these problems that have plagued freeflight forever. 

  Do not like dt flyoffs. Too many variables.An with GPS finding models miles away is really not much of an issue anymore. Seems to me that using a certified altimeter to get accurate time for each competitors real flight time is the best of all worlds in freeflight.  Hopefully some day in the future it will become the standard for timing or as a solid backup.. Michael
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Altimeter Accuracy in Free Flight

From: Ed Skorepa
IMHO, altimeters should not have been used to determine winner in FF competition. The issue is, they're not enough accurate. The best typical accuracy of barometric pressure based altimeter is +/- 3m of relative altitude. In worst case scenario, that is 6m difference in altitude and that is a lot.
Ed Skorepa

Editor’s Note the Sporting code requires +/ - of 2M with additional testing provision to make it more accurate

Code to Crystal

Here are some suggestions


Sporting code = check the sporting for what’s there now and the Rules. The sporting code section on EDIC is missing from the 2021 section but can be found in the sporting code Archive (in the same place as Sporting Code on the FAI Website) of the 2020 set. It describes in detail how it is done and has some guide lines for the future.

Trees = by checking the Sporting Code you make sure you are not barking up the wrong tree

Wheels = by checking the Sporting code you seewhat is done for other classes and there are some good ideas so you do not have to re-invent the wheel (or electronic device)

Elephants = Elephant in the corner i.e. what’s really the problem. In Free Flight we really don’t care about altitude (except for air space regulation and bragging in social media) what we really care about is timing our flights. Current aircraft can out fly our flying fields and time keepers eye sight. We either have to change the aircraft specs, change how the events are run, get bigger fields, time keepers who can see better or find another way of timing. Virtually all technical sports use some form out automated timing for their top level classes.

Crystal balls = Our environment is continually changing and we must adapt. In his article above Allard gives an excellent example with altitude limitation imposed by civil authorities. He suggests a simple one dimension of geo-fencing, maybe it needs to be 3D geo-fencing (LMGTFY). Drones do that :-)