Skytraxx 3.0 Flight Instrument Insight

First impressions by Steve Uzochukwu

The Skytraxx 3.0 is an all-in-one flight computer. It offers all the bells and whistles for flying competition tasks and will record your flights and replay them to you. It can’t thermal for you, but it can show you where to go, what’s around you and where you’re going with accuracy, clarity and style.

Skytraxx 3.0 screens

Skytraxx 3.0 insights - snailtrail

The device has an ultra-bright full colour screen (better than smartphones) which is not touch sensitive. This offers excellent sunlight readability and can’t be accidentally triggered by a chest-strap or body part.

You can customise the four default screens, but they’re very well thought out, so you can just go out and fly. For all its elegance and complexity, the Skytraxx 3.0 is a “turn it on and fly” instrument.

Skytraxx 3.0 insights - thermaling

The first screen is a moving map with airspace overlaid, and key flight values in boxes to the right of the screen. To the left on the screen is a bar graph of the vario. This screen will also show you a thermal assistant when you hit lift.

Skytraxx 3.0 insights - terrain map

The second screen is a more detailed moving map with the terrain relief in colour. Both screens give you an accurate wind direction and speed after you have flown some turns.

Skytraxx 3.0 insights - airspace

The third screen has vertical and horizontal view of airspace, and the fourth is a statistics screen with task parameters and competition information on it.

Skytraxx 3.0 operation

Skytraxx 3.0 insights - statistics screen

Four easy-touch buttons control it. The extreme right hand button switches screens and the two middle ones control zoom. The left hand button takes you into the menus. It also doubles as the on/off button, with a suitable long press.

The optional Skytraxx 3.0 Remote with Receiver allows you to change between screens without having to take your hands out of the brakes. It can be set to perform other tasks like zooming in and out.

Skytraxx 3.0 vario

Skytraxx 3.0 insights - main screens

The only thing you will want to adjust is the volume of the vario audio, which needs be loud enough for you to hear. There’s huge adjustment on this, and the loudest is very loud. Using additional sensors, the pressure that drives the vario and altimeter is filtered for better accuracy. The high quality vario audio removes any need to look at the instrument in crowded or pressured situations.

Skytraxx 3.0 task setting

The Skytraxx 3.0 is designed to be fully autonomous. If you want to connect it to a PC, everything you need can be done in the mass storage mode. No additional drivers are needed. Rehearse the procedure before your first comp, but once done once, it’s straightforward.

Competition flying will require you to create a folder for your competition and upload the waypoint file to the place you are told to by the manual. Once in that folder, you can create new tasks. Fill in the relevant times and thermaling direction reminder, then you can start to add turnpoints. Finally set their type (entry, exit, end of speed section etc). Once you’re happy the task is correctly entered, scroll down to the very end, where you’ll find “Activate”.

Skytraxx 3.0 FANET+

Skytraxx 3.0 insights - Paraglider and hang-glider climbing

There are two versions of the Skytraxx 3.0. The standard version operates as above. The FANET+ version adds a radio antenna that transmits your presence and receives the position of other hang glider and paraglider pilots who are using this new ‘Flying Ad-hoc NETwork’ system (currently Skytraxx, AirWhere, PilotAware and Naviter… more coming soon).

Skytraxx 3.0 insights - cross-section

If there are other gliders on FANET round you, you’ll see them coloured in with green if they’re in lift and blue if they’re in sink, the same as your visual vario display. (Red above is from the OGN. If there is any internet access during flight (via your mobile phone hotspot) it will also display aircraft information from devices received from the Open Glider Network).

Skytraxx 3.0 insights - glider plane and paraglider

The big plus part of FANET+ is FLARM transmission, which makes you more visible to other aircraft that are suitably equipped with FLARM receivers (some sailplanes, helicopters and microlights).

Once you’ve set up your options of which glider you fly with, your name for your IGC files and what sort of broadcast presence you want, it’s time to get out and fly. No further attention required. For more on this see How Do Flight Alarms Work?

Skytraxx 3.0 Wi-Fi

Highly recommended! The Skytraxx 3.0 can be used with a tiny Wi-Fi dongle plugged into the side (only that one works!) which will enable automatic updates. Once set up, you’ll be much better placed for airspace currency, firmware and the newest physical and topographical maps.

There’s a rather fiddly built-in keyboard input method where you have to tilt the instrument around to slide the dot on to the key you want to select. Thankfully it will also accept a USB keyboard, as this saves a lot of time when it comes to putting your personal info or Wi-Fi access codes into the device.

Skytraxx 3.0 in summary

Skytraxx 3.0 insights - topographics

This is a fully featured, compact instrument. It’s been great to fly with and promises a lot.

Full review coming soon in Skywings Magazine and on flybubble.com.

Find out more about the Skytraxx 3.0 or the Skytraxx 3.0 FANET+