First up, who is Volirium? You may not yet recognise the name, but you are probably familiar with the name Flytec. Volirium was born out of the sale of the Flytec brand to Naviter, (who took over the brand name and production of most of the Flytec devices), while Joerg Ewald took over the development and production of Flytec’s new product, the Connect 1.
This device received further development and subsequently became… the Volirum P1. History lesson over, at the Coupe Icare last year Joerg Ewald talked us through the new company and the new P1 Smart Vario.
The ‘Smart Vario’ moniker relates to the flight computer and in-depth navigation functions, which offers a moving map presentation and route planning in Race and XC modes. Its ability to handle numerous Waypoint formats is nice, including: CompeGPS (*.wpt), GPS dump WGS84 (*.wpt), GPS dump UTM (*.wpt), GPX (*.gpx), Ozi Explorer (*.ozi), SeeYou (*.cup).
The Volirium P1 has updated and improved hardware, specifically:
- New GPS chip for much improved reception
- More robust screen
- Wi-fi connection for automatic updates
- Earphone jack for the vario, and increased volume range
The software updates (which can also be applied to existing Flytec Connect 1 instruments) bring:
- Live calculation and display of the XC distance as per XC League rules
- Amended menu with easier navigation options
- Flight logging for the lifetime of the instrument
- Flight logs saved in IGC and Google Earth formats.
The P1’s positioning system uses data from both GPS and GLONASS, giving a very quick first fix as well as a very high accuracy.
Perhaps of more importance than any of those features, is the quality of the Vario. Joerg was very clear in his opinion that the P1 has ‘the most sensitive pressure sensors in the market’, giving a clear advantage in thermalling. I can’t corroborate the claim, but it is an interesting one that could be a significant selling point.
The transflective LCD screen presents 6 pre-set screen configurations:
- Thermal XL
- Wind XL
Volirium say: ‘Pilots should enjoy their flights and not have to worry about technology.’ The approach of having preset screen layouts, is in contrast to the approach of many manufacturers who offer their instruments with unlimited configuration options, and gives a clear indication who the instrument is aimed at.
Autonomy is enough for a ‘good weekend in Fiesch’, or 20 hours to you and me, while the screen is a ‘transflective’ LCD, which becomes easier to read the greater the ambient light.
In terms of future upcoming functionality, features in the pipeline include:
- Airspace display to give a tap to query function
- Horizontal / Sideways views
- Partnering with a new Airspace database, which with an automated update via wi-fi link, should ensure an always up to date airspace map, thus saving the effort of keeping abreast of changes and/or having to upload new files on a periodic basis
- Thermal data
- A passive FLARM beacon for visibility on the FLARM network
Good news for Hangies: Volirium are also working on a new pitot tube to give a new option to those using the good ol’ Flytec 6030 – still the favourite of hang glider pilots the world over because of that essential functionality.
Bluetooth LE Connection is another feature in the works, which will allow the P1 to operate as a sensbox, so opening up a dozen or so free flight phone apps which have until now been severely handicapped by the restrictions of their phone hardware.
Given the ‘ease of use’ brief they have used in developing the P1, we expect it will help pilots focus on their environment, rather than the electronics. After all, this is what Volirium means: ‘The state of mind achieved when fully immersed in the act of flying’.