November 26, 2018
For several weeks there has been a significantly revised firmware for the Solar GPS Vario leGPSBip. Does the new software really make the Vario leap in performance? A new firmware helps the leGPSBip to more performance. The successor leGPSBip + adds hardware improvements. // Source: Stodeus LeGPSBip is a small solar GPS Vario with one noteworthy feature: The Vario of the French manufacturer Stodeus offers an audio output in which a voice tells the pilot how high and how fast he flies and how good he is increases. This feature makes the small device just for Hike-and-Fly interesting, because despite minimum weight (about 35 grams) and without display still receives important information for the assessment of their own attitude. That's why I tested the LeGPSBip in May 2017 extensively. As a result, the device was able to convince me of the basic concept, but in practice it fell short of my expectations in some respects. The Vario reacted a bit erratic; The GPS fix sometimes took an awfully long time and required a lot of energy; the power supply from the solar cell and LiPo battery proved to be insufficient to survive at full volume, many voice prompts and a 1-second tracking interval also many hours of cross-country flights. In addition, the position sensors (gyroscope and accelerometer) already integrated in the Vario were not activated, contrary to the original manufacturer's instructions, in order to improve the sensitivity of the Varios. In September 2018 Stodeus introduced a revised version of the Varios: the leGPSBip +. The main changes are a 20% increase in battery capacity, an 8 GB double internal memory for flight data, a more sensitive GPS and a super-bright LED to show rising and sinking even in full sunlight to save only "visually". In addition, there was a new firmware (currently: 3.1). However, this can also perform its services in the original leGPSBip. Among other things, it actually includes the position sensors in the evaluation. Since Stodeus also promises a faster GPS fix with the new software, I decided to do a night test: Can the software update eliminate some of the above weaknesses? I was able to complete the installation of the new firmware and associated language packages as well as the required calibration of the position sensors in about 30 minutes according to the manufacturer's instructions. (The new leGPSBip + comes standard with already calibrated sensors). New firmware improves performance In my subsequent test flights, the leGPSBip actually performed better than the first test. The Vario speaks - similar to an XC Tracer - now almost delay-free (the sensitivity is adjustable). Above all, it no longer provides these strange, hectic tone jumps, which still occurred due to the low attenuation with the old software. The most noticeable improvement was finding the GPS position (GPS fix). While with the old software the device still did not know its position even 15 minutes after switching on, the new firmware yielded halfway acceptable fix times of under five minutes on all test flights. (According to the manufacturer, the leGPSBip + has a more sensitive GPS antenna installed, which should enable a much faster GPS fix). There was also progress in energy management. However, the new firmware can do no miracles when operating the leGPSBip in a power-intensive mode (highest volume, many voice prompts, GPS in high-performance mode and with 1-second track interval etc.). In the test, the device was then limp after just over three hours. If you also plan longer flights with the device, you should pay attention to much more power-saving settings. (LeGPSBip +'s 20% more battery capacity is expected to further ease the situation, but it's unlikely that you'll be able to choose a less power-hungry setting for longer flights). I particularly liked a new feature: In leGPSBip can now also output altitude warnings. For example, if you are traveling in a flight region that is under an airspace cover, you can be warned automatically if you exceed a certain altitude threshold. So you can cranks with a minimal Vario carefree, without having to rely on a device with altitude display. Conclusion: The new firmware actually improves the performance of the leGPSBip in some crucial ways. I would definitely recommend the update to anyone who owns such a device! Buyers of the leGPSBip + also benefit from further hardware improvements. However, even if they have a solar cell, these Varios are still not all-round carefree equipment in terms of energy supply. If you want to use it intensively and for longer flights, you should be happy with the idea of fully charging the built-in rechargeable battery before a flight day for safety's sake via USB cable. Since you have read this far ... ... 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This article has been translated for your convenience and was originally written in German.
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