Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What makes ColorAlti different from or better than an audible altitude indicator?
A: ColorAlti has the ability to provide a constant method of altitude awareness, whereas an audible altimeter generally only sounds during specific portions (the low end) of a skydive. Visual altitude indicators are also better for any type of jump where the freefall speed is higher, as higher volumes are required of audible altimeters at higher freefall speeds. ColorAlti can also be used much like an audible might be used and the freefall alerts can be set to go off around break-off altitude, for example. ColorAlti also allows the user to make the lowest freefall and canopy alerts flash if they desire; this has an additional attention-getting effect and makes the lowest alerts stand out. ColorAlti is extremely flexible in how it can be programmed and there are a truly enormous number of possible combinations of settings. See the ColorAlti instructional video for more info.
Q: What makes ColorAlti different from other LED indicator altimeters?
A: ColorAlti is a totally new concept in altitude awareness. Hypoxic's LED indicator for L&B's Optima II™ is simply a light that flashes in sync with the audible altimeter. Elemental Technology's Chroma contained a red and green LED and could not be set. Freefall Data Systems took the idea of peripheral vision altitude awareness and started from scratch, developing an extremely flexible, user-friendly altimeter that enables you to gauge your altitude based on the color of a light in your peripheral vision.
Q: How long does the battery last?
A: This will depend on how often the altimeter is used as well as where it is stored. If the altimeter is often in a moving car in hilly territory, the battery will drain a bit more quickly. Generally speaking, the user should be able to get approximately 200 jumps on the unit before it needs to be recharged. When stored charged, the battery can last as long as three months. The units should be able to get approximately 300-400 charge cycles.
Q: Can I set the altimeter on the way to altitude?
A: No you cannot. The altimeter must be in Bluetooth mode to be programmed and it does not register altitude in that mode. If you want, you could bring your mobile device with you and program it in the plane on the ground, just before take-off.
Q: What helmets does it fit?
A: ColorAlti fits almost any skydiving helmet that has an audible port. The control unit is actually thinner than most audibles.
Q: Does my mobile device need to be connected to the altimeter for it to work?
A: No, in fact, Bluetooth needs to be switched off for the altimeter to work.
Q: Do I need Wi-Fi (or an Internet connection) to connect to the altimeter?
A: No, but Bluetooth needs to be switched on, both on the altimeter as well as on your mobile device.
Q: Why do my freefall speed graphs look so spiky?
A: ColorAlti (and all barometric altimeters) read altitude based on air pressure. This means that if you change body positions, or are flying in someone's burble, there will be some inconsistencies in altitude readings. These inconsistencies cause the spikiness in the vertical speed graphs. Even the most advanced barometric altimeter in the world would be susceptible to this issue.
Q: Why am I seeing a light before exit?
A: You are likely seeing a canopy alert as the plane is slowly descending. You should see a freefall alert as soon as you reach freefall speeds (80 mph in normal mode, 40 mph in wingsuit mode, and 100 mph in swoop mode).
Q: Why did I see a flash shortly after exit?
A: If you were performing a freefly jump, for example, with a transition from head-down to sit-fly, it can happen that you burble yourself (your helmet) momentarily during the transition shortly after exit. This will not affect the performance of the altimeter during the remaining portion of the skydive.
Q: Does it have a speaker as well?
A: No, ColorAlti only uses light and color to indicate altitude or speed.
Q: Why does speed tracker change colors so quickly?
A: This feature works better on some types of jumps than others, as the altimeter contains a barometric pressure sensor that is subject to burbles. So if you are a tandem instructor surfing some 7-foot guy, you might get some pretty erratic readings from the altimeter when it comes to vertical descent speed.
Q: Why does it take several seconds after I exit the aircraft to see the light?
A: ColorAlti will only give freefall alerts when you are above freefall speeds, which is 80 mph in standard mode. Switching wingsuit mode on lowers the threshold to 40 mph and swoop mode increases it to 100 mph. If you want to see a light at lower speeds after exit, you could turn on a canopy alert for those altitudes and you would see that upon exiting the plane until you reach freefall speeds.
Q: Is ColorAlti water resistent?
A: No it is not. If the altimeter is submerged in water it will sustain damage.
Q: Is there a differentiation between canopy and freefall alerts?
A: Yes. ColorAlti differentiates between the four types of alerts in the following order of precedence: freefall, canopy, speed tracker, ascent.
Q: Does ColorAlti blink or stay lit in discrete mode?
A: Alerts stay lit in discrete mode just as they do in continuous mode; only the lowest alert can be made to flash if one desires.
Q: Is it possible phase ColorAlti out while using it?
A: Definitely, and this can occur with audible altimeters as well. Skydiving is an extremely exciting and—at times—distracting activity. It is nonetheless possible to set the altimeter in ways such that it will more easily grab your attention. Experimenting with colors and the flash at the freefall or canopy hard deck can help get one's attention during a skydive.
Q: I notice some deviation between my wrist-mounted altimeter and my ColorAlti. Is this normal? Which is correct?
A: Yes. Because barometric altimeters are subject to wakes and burbles, their placement can affect their readings. Which is closer in accuracy will depend on the type of jump you are doing and how you have the altimeters mounted. In most cases, the deviation is not larger than a couple hundred feet at the very most. If the deviation is more, see whether the altimeters are at least synchronized during ascent in the plane and go from there. If they are synchronized in the plane or under canopy but not in freefall, then the placement of the altimeters is certainly affecting their synchronization in freefall. Altimeters placed in a wake will read higher than those in clean air. So if you are, for example, sit-flying or doing a tandem, it isn't an unlikely possibility that your altimeter is being subjected to a significant burble.
Q: Does Freefall Data Systems LLC collect data from its customers?
A: Nothing other than the information required to ship and provide a warranty to our customers. We respect our customer's privacy: Freefall Data Systems LLC's philosophy is that if a customer bought our product, then the data gathered with it should belong to them.