DigiAlti
Manual and Instructional Video

 WARNING 

Skydiving is an inherently risky activity that can lead to injury or death. All skydiving equipment is subject to failure. Failure to follow instructions, warnings, and operating procedures could imperil you and others. During night jumps or any low-light jumping conditions, care should be taken to make sure that the brightness level of the LightBar (10 LEDs) on the top of DigiAlti is set extremely low, as to not reduce one's own as well as other's low-light vision capabilities. Such jumps should only be attempted by highly experienced parachutists with previous experience jumping at night. Those with photo-sensitive epilepsy should not use the light functions on DigiAlti and are discouraged from skydiving in general. Certain conditions, including flashing lights, may induce previously undetected epileptic symptoms even in persons who have no history of prior seizures or epilepsy. Those with any form of color blindness should keep in mind that this could potentially compromise their ability to ascertain altitude when using the LightBar. It is important to understand that altimeters should only be used as a secondary indication of altitude—second to a visual ascertainment—as they are subject to error and malfunction. Many factors can compromise the accuracy of a barometric altimeter reading, including but not limited to: body position, position relative to other skydivers or objects, altimeter placement, and malfunction. In the end, each skydiver is and must be responsible for his or her own altitude awareness and safety. Loss of one's own altitude awareness can in certain cases lead to endangering others on the ground as well as in the sky. For convenience, this altimeter contains no security features; this also means that if Bluetooth mode is on and has not yet timed out (two minutes), anyone with the FDS Altis app within range (approximately 15 feet from the altimeter) could change the settings of your altimeter. DigiAlti will not function as an altimeter during a skydive if Bluetooth mode is on. Although it is possible to set the altimeter using Bluetooth mode on ascent in an aircraft, it is better practice to create presets beforehand and select them using the buttons on the altimeter before a jump or during ascent. Many distractions can occur on a skydive; just because you are wearing an altimeter, it does not mean that you will necessarily register the information it is intended to convey. Additionally, just because two altimeters (e.g. a wrist-mounted one and an audible in a helmet) are in sync during ascent, this does not necessarily mean that they will be in sync during freefall or under canopy as well, as barometric altimeters are more greatly affected by wakes (burbles) at high speeds than at low speeds. This altimeter contains a lithium polymer battery; do not use it if the case is damaged in any way.

LIMITS OF LIABILITY

This product was manufactured for skydiving only. By using this product, you accept full responsibility for its use and agree that Freefall Data Systems LLC will not be legally held responsible for any malfunction whatsoever that this product may have, whether good or defective.


1.1 DigiAlti Description
1.2 Basic Navigation
2.1 Installing the Altimeter in the Hand Mount
2.2 Wingsuiting Recommendations
3.1 Downloading and Connecting to the App
4.1 Main Settings
4.2 Presets: General Settings
4.3 Presets: LightBar
4.4 Selecting Presets
4.5 Default Settings
5.1 Data Syncing
6.1 Battery Life
6.2 Charging and Maintaining the Battery
6.3 Checking Battery Status
7.1 Troubleshooting
8.1 Technical Specifications

1.1 DigiAlti Description

DigiAlti (US Patent No. 10,267,630 B2) is a barometric numeric altimeter that combines a high resolution Sharp Memory LCD with a 10-LED LightBar at the top, which has the same powerful visual capabilities of Freefall Data System's ColorAlti 2. The concept is, in a sense, to combine the analog-like capabilities of ColorAlti 2 (e.g. one can create a red zone, a green zone etc.) and combine them with the precision of having a classic digital altitude readout. The result is enhanced altitude awareness over the traditional design. Settings can be specified for all three phases of a skydive: ascent, freefall, and canopy. Additional information such as date/time, current preset, next jump number, climb or descent rate, and temperature can optionally be displayed below the altitude on the LCD for each of these phases. For the LightBar, there are 33 visual alerts broken into two categories, as described in greater detail below: 1) 16 different standard alerts in which each LED on the light has the same color (e.g. Scrolling, Flashing, Pulsing); 2) 17 effects in which the LEDs have different colors or are white (e.g. Rainbow Waves, Pulse White, Campfire). The altimeter stores five presets with unlimited alerts and can be set using the FDS Altis app using Android or iOS via Bluetooth® wireless technology. Bluetooth mode is initiated by holding down both buttons on the altimeter and times out automatically. Presets can be named, and can be selected on the fly on the altimeter even during climb, eliminating the need to carry a mobile device for this purpose. The app can also be used to synchronize jump data (altitude, vertical descent speed, temperature) to Freefall Data System's cloud-based FDS Logbook. Approximately 1,000 jumps can be stored in the altimeter before synchronization is required, but it is recommended to synchronize data often to avoid logging errors. DigiAlti also enables users to set a custom freefall threshold (default is 80 mph), which can be useful for wingsuiters as well as swoopers. Additionally, it allows one to disable all freefall alerts on the LightBar below a certain altitude, so that only canopy alerts are seen below that altitude. DigiAlti automatically adjusts to local elevation, allows for landing zone elevation adjustments in each preset, and is always on until the battery is discharged. No data or settings are lost when the battery has discharged. DigiAlti has a rechargeable lithium polymer battery with a life of approximately 150 jumps or 3 to 6 weeks. The battery takes approximately 5 hours to charge fully. Battery life depends on how the altimeter is used and transported. The longest battery life is obtained when storing the altimeter in one location. The more LEDs in an alert that are lit and the more alerts that are used, the more energy the altimeter uses. The altimeter also features a travel mode, which ensures no data is logged and can also be used as a battery-saving mode. DigiAlti can be used with full accuracy as high as 30,000 feet MSL.

1.2 Basic Navigation

DigiAlti is always on, but does not constantly display altitude in order to save battery. To wake the altimeter up, tap either of the white buttons. If one starts to ascend in an aircraft, the altimeter will wake up automatically. If one taps the top button again from the home altitude screen, a general info page is displayed that shows the date/time, current altitude and climb rate, the current preset, the next jump number, as well as the current temperature and battery status. If one taps the button again, one enters a simple logbook that shows some info on logged jumps. When one syncs jumps to FDS Logbook, they are deleted and disappear from the altimeter. Use the bottom button to navigate backwards back to the home altitude screen. The top and bottom buttons navigate forward and backwards between the various screens. Additional functions of the buttons on DigiAlti are described further below.

2.1 Installing the Altimeter in the Hand Mount

DigiAlti comes with a robust nylon hand mount. To install it into the mount with the standard wrist-strap, place the altimeter into the mount, making sure that the USB port is on the correct side matching the case. Then take the wrist strap, fuzzy side toward the altimeter, and situate it as high up as it goes (unless you have a very large wrist). The plastic piece on the wrist strap goes to the top and the strap should be centered. Then place the plate over the strap and start to tighten the Phillips screws down. Make sure you have the jumper oriented head down. If one leaves the screws all a bit loose, one can finish up the work of centering it and then tighten the screws alternating corners. The screws do not need to be extremely tight. If one is orienting the LCD upside down, sone can simply orient the strap in the other direction. This process is shown in the instructional video above.

2.2 Wingsuiting Recommendations

For using DigiAlti while wingsuiting we recommend the use of a wedge mount and a DigiPouch, available from ChutingStar.


3.1 Downloading and Connecting to the App

The iOS or Android app used to set DigiAlti is called FDS Altis. It can be downloaded on Google Play or Apple's App Store. First download the app onto your device from the App Store or Google Play. Open the app and first carefully read and agree to the Terms of Service. At this point you can log in if you have a Wi-Fi signal and an FDS Logbook account, or simply press "Cancel" or "Login as Guest" if you are not using the logbook or out of range of Wi-Fi. After this, press and hold down both buttons on DigiAlti until you see a flashing blue LED. After this, select DigiAlti and then "CONNECT & SYNC." Your DigiAlti should appear with its serial number (e.g. FDS DA 8VED8, where the last five digits are the serial number). Select your device and the altimeter will begin to send data to the device. A solid blue light on the altimeter indicates an active connection. It generally takes approximately five seconds to transfer the data. To set up the altimeter for its first use, click on "Settings" and you will see another menu in which you can set up to five "Presets" as well as "Main" settings at the top that apply to all presets. To download data from the altimeter or upload jumps to the cloud, click on "Data Syncing" (this will be greyed out and not available if you do not have an FDS Logbook account or a Wi-Fi signal). If you click on "Info," you can check the serial number, battery status, the number of jumps since the internal memory was last reformatted, and the current device firmware version. When finished using the app, you can either disconnect on the app and manually power off Bluetooth mode by pressing and holding either button until you see the blue LED turn off. You can also simply let Bluetooth mode automatically time out after two minutes of inactivity. The time-out prevents one from accidentally leaving Bluetooth mode on, which drains the battery more quickly and does not register altitude.

4.1 Main Settings

Under "Main" settings, found in the menu above the five presets, one can set the names of the five presets; these names can have a maximum of 8 characters, so abbreviations may be necessary. Below this, one can choose whether or not the altimeter logs jumps; this could be useful when loaning the altimeter to another jumper. Next, one can activate or deactivate metric mode, which makes it so that the altitude readout on the altimeter and the FDS Altis app displays in kilometers per hour and meters. DigiAlti also features a travel mode in which it is ensured that the altimeter is not activated in any way; this is also useful as a general battery saving mode. The altimeter does not function on a skydive when in travel mode. Invert display turns the display upside down (note this does not invert the function of the buttons). Finally, one can set the next jump number; this is useful when one first sets up the altimeter, or in case one did not use the altimeter on a jump and needs to manually adjust the next jump number.

4.2 Presets: General Settings

When one clicks on a preset, a menu with two options is shown, the top of which is "General" settings. At the top, one can set a landing zone offset for that particular preset; enter a positive number if your landing zone is higher than your take-off altitude, a negative number of it is lower. A custom freefall threshold can be entered below this, which can be useful for wingsuiters and swoopers (e.g. wingsuiters might use something like 30 mph and swoopers 100 mph). Below this, one can disable all freefall alerts and alarms below a certain altitude; this is also useful for wingsuiters and swoopers who want to be absolutely sure to see their canopy alerts on the LightBar below a certain altitude. Below this, one can adjust the LED brightness of the LightBar. Then there are 15 toggle buttons that allow one to choose what additional information (if any) to display besides altitude at the bottom of the LCD during the three phases of a skydive. One can have it display the date and time, current ascent or descent rate, the next jump number, preset name, and/or temperature. Leaving all of these off for a particular phase will bring the altitude to the center of the screen during that particular phase of a skydive.

4.3 Presets: LightBar

Under "LightBar," one can set "Alerts" and "Effects" to show on DigiAlti's 10-LED LightBar during the three phases of a skydive: ascent, freefall, and canopy. Alerts are visual indications in which all of the LEDs are always the same color (e.g. "Stay Lit", "Flash Quickly", "Pulse"); Effects are all others which do not belong to the standard Alerts category (e.g. "America", "Rainbow Sparkles", "Valentine's Day"). Alerts and effects can be combined as one wishes. A list of all alerts and effects can be found here. Ascent alerts and effects are entered as a single altitude, and all alerts and effects on ascent will show for four seconds. Enter a number and press "Insert" with the alert you wish to insert selected. You can preview the alerts and effects by selecting them and manipulating the sliders. To delete an alert or effect, hold down on it (Android) or swipe left (iOS). Depending on the speed of your aircraft, the lowest alert or effect that should be used is approximately 1,000 ft although altitudes in the hundreds will work for slower aircraft. Freefall and canopy alerts are set to show in altitude ranges as opposed to at a particular altitude. A minumum range of 50 feet for canopy and 500 feet for non-wingsuit freefall is recommended for alerts and effects in order that they not appear too fleeting. The number of alerts and effects that can be set for ascent, freefall, and canopy is unlimited.

4.4 Selecting Presets

Once the altimeter is set up with the app, one can select presets on the device itself. As mentioned above in 1.2, one can navigate to a general info page using the top button to check the current preset. To select the next preset, hold the top button of your altimeter down until you see the next preset displayed. To go back, hold down the bottom button.

4.5 Default Settings

Freefall Data Systems recommends users come up with their own presets. By default, DigiAlti displays all five options on ascent and under canopy (date/time, current ascent or descent rate, jump number, preset name, and temperature). In freefall, the default is to show altitude and descent speed. For convenience, DigiAlti comes with a single LightBar preset stored in Preset 1. The settings are as follows: two ascent alerts at 1,500 and 12,000 feet (Campfire); three freefall alerts/effects from 13,000-6,000 (Stay Lit, blending from blue to red), 6,000-3,000 (America), and 3,000-2,500 feet (Flash, red); three canopy alerts at 1,000-600 (Stay Lit, blue), 600-300 (Stay Lit, green), and 300-50 feet (Stay Lit, red).

5.1 Data Syncing

Although DigiAlti can log hundreds of jumps before the memory is full—at which point logging is automatically disabled—Freefall Data Systems recommends syncing data often in order to reduce the occurence of logging errors. In order to use "Data Syncing", you must have a Wi-Fi connection, and a set-up subscription to FDS Logbook. Once you have set up your logbook, in "Logbook Settings" you will see dropzones, aircraft, and equipment located on the first tab: these are the "Current Settings" in your logbook, which can be changed in FDS Logbook as well. When syncing jumps in the Data Syncing tab, the jumps will be uploaded according to the current settings in the logbook. The number of data files on the altimeter is shown at the top. Press "Go" next to "Download Files from Altimeter" to begin downloading data. The files will download one after another, and will only be erased from your altimeter when they are successfully downloaded to your mobile device. You can cancel the downloading at any time in order to stop transferring data. Below this, you can see the number of files on your mobile device waiting for upload to the cloud. You can "Upload All Files" by pressing "Go" or upload them individually in the list below; this can be useful if you know that certain jumps were made at different locations. Then one can change the Logbook (aka "Current") Settings. To delete a file from the mobile device (if one wishes to discard data), press and hold on that file (Android) or swipe left (iOS). Deleting a jump file from a mobile device is permanent and cannot be undone.

6.1 Battery Life

DigiAlti's battery typically lasts approximately 150 jumps or three to six weeks, but it's battery life depends greatly on what types of—and how often—alerts and effects are used. The more LEDs that are used the shorter the battery life will be. Digital altimeters that are subject to long car rides through hilly or mountainous terrain will naturally discharge the battery faster. The longest battery life is obtained by leaving the altimeter in one location. Simply driving with the altimeter to work in normal circumstances, however, will not significantly reduce the battery life of DigiAlti.

6.2 Charging and Maintaining the Battery

DigiAlti has a lithium polymer battery that is rechargeable with the included USB cord. It takes approximately five hours to fully charge the battery when it is completely empty. A red LED indicates that the battery is charging, and this LED will go off to indicate the altimeter is done charging. It should only be necessary to recharge the altimeter periodically, as it was designed to have a long battery life. During long periods of storage (e.g. winter months), the altimeter should be charged once every two months in order to preserve battery life. It is best to store the altimeter in a cool, dry place.

6.3 Checking Battery Status

In addition to being able to check DigiAlti's battery status on the app under "Info," one can also check the battery status by navigating to the general info page using the top button as described above in 1.2.

7.1 Troubleshooting

If the altimeter fails to function on a skydive, first make sure the altimeter is charged. Next, if the altimeter is charged, see if you wake the altimeter up on the ground to see if it is responding as expected (press either button). If the altimeter does not respond to any type of button presses, take a small paper clip and insert it into the small hole between the white buttons and depress the manual reset button (you should feel the button slightly give way). This will reset the unit, which takes several seconds. This technique can also be used to reset the LED LightBar if it seems to have stopped functioning while the rest of the altimeter is working. If necessary, pressing the reset button will also reformat the flash memory in the altimeter in the case that it has been corrupted. This unfortunately means that you have lost your data and settings. Now try to connect your altimeter via the app. Certain Android devices may be required to bind the device via Bluetooth settings before the altimeter is visible. It also may be necessary to restart certain Android devices before being able to connect. If this fails to solve your problem, visit the FDS Forum or contact Freefall Data Systems LLC for assistance.

8.1 Technical Specifications