How Useful Are Altimeters?

29 April 2004

The altimeter on my watch seems to serve as something to continually adjust while I walk to the bathroom or wait for any other moment. I'm not sure how long one really expects to go between calibrations, but I recalibrate mine every couple hours it seems. If I let it go for a couple days and the air pressure spikes high, I have to be concerned with it going negative. Then it just reads "LO", and won't let me adjust it.

I suppose it's just the nature of weather here, that the air pressure is constantly changing over me, so the watch can't tell if it's ascending, descending, or sitting still. The barometer function serves more purpose in my relatively stationary lifestyle. I'm usually at home or at work, and that's when I'm always calibrating the altimeter, since I know my altitude from maps. If I didn't think to calibrate it before leaving either of these places, I can't trust its accuracy due to this drift.

I must wonder if it's just this season, or my location, or more likely, while it reads to the nearest 10ft, I really can only trust it to the nearest 50 or so due to the turbulent atmosphere.

It seems to hold calibration most of the time for my drive home, but I completely expect I could be changing weather systems in my 45-mile trek. I'm not surprised when it doesn't hold. Maybe I'll really see it become useful when I get out biking again.

No matter which display is active, barometer or altimeter, I can always tell you when the clouds are rolling in or out!


Filed Under: Toys