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Nick Scholtes

Help a new TMG owner with varios

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Nick Scholtes

Hello TMG Forums!

I have some questions about varios.

I recently purchased a Grob 109A.  I have not flown it yet, as it is somewhat of a project.  I'm hoping to have it airworthy by the end of Sept. 2018. 

To understand my question, let me give you some background about me.  I am a powered aircraft pilot.  Lots of experience there. But only 25 hours in gliders, most in a Katana Extreme (in which I got my Private Glider and Self-Launch endorsement).  However, I have NEVER (yet) soared a glider!  Hence, I know nothing about varios.  Now, on with the questions.

On the panel of my Grob G109 are three varios.  See attached pictures.  The questions:

-- Why 3?

-- What do each of them do? 

-- Is it possible to get an English manual for the more complicated vario? I've found a German manual.  Worst case I can Google Translate it I suppose.

-- The one vario in the picture that shows "Winter" in the middle of the vario shows about 80 "down" (I assume that's 80 fpm?).  That picture was taken a month ago.  Today the vario dial is almost 200 "down".  Why is that?  How can that be adjusted?  Is there a manual available for this vario?

Thank you for any and all help on this topic!

Best Regards,






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Eric Greenwell

Hi Nick, here's a start on your situation:

- Three varios is overkill; many get by with just one, as I do. Some like to have a backup mechanical vario (the Winter unit - no power required to run it), in case the power to the electric vario fails; the 3rd vario (on the right side) may be there for the pilot in the right seat to see easily.

- They all do the same basic thing: show the vertical speed (one or more might have "total energy compensation" - more about that later on, or you can google it). The electric varios can also produce an audio tone so the pilot knows the approximate up or down motion (aka "lift/sink") of the glider.

- You might be able to find an English manual for the VW 811Lerche. Until then the orange knob sets the McCready speed (see a gliding reference, or maybe google), red knob adjusts the audio tone volume, the toggle switch between the knobs sets the vario scale to 5 meter/sec or 10 meters/sec (about 10 knots and 20 knots). I don't know what the V/S or H/N toggle switches control.

Let us know if you find the manual!


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You've probably found this already but Winter is the mfr.  Cumulus soaring have some of their inst and maint manuals https://cumulus-soaring.com/winter.htm#Variometers

Westerboer is the mfr of the VW811.  There is a doc there in English that gives a brief overview of the VW700/800 series but not really a manual.  Go to this page https://www.westerboer.de/Seiten/download.html and look for VW700, VW800 Info (English).  I'd try contacting them and ask for a manual.

Until you can calibrate them, just determine which is the most accurate  (try timing an altitude loss on a reasonably still air day) and put some tape over the others so you'll ignore it.  If you don't, human psychology (aka wishful thinking) will make you look at the one that shows the best reading.  You'll convince yourself you're thermalling when you're in sink!

An electric vario is nice in that you can keep your head out of the cockpit and just concentrate of flying the thermal - listening to the vario.

Good luck and have fun.


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You probably already found this, but the English manual is here: https://www.westerboer.de/PDF/VW_older/VW800en.pdf

I fly with a Winter mechanical and and older electric vario similar to this. Many of these varios can be set up to provide total energy data. That, plus the Winter will give you an idea of the true lift available in the thermal (or wave, etc.). Not sure about that right side vario, if you need some panel space you might consider pulling it and saving as a backup.




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