Density Altitude question

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Hey guys,

Just wondering if anybody is using density altitude in place of inputting baro, temp, and humidity. Looking at Kestrel purchase and would need to upgrade to the next level to get the DA. Thanks for any advice or first hand experience with this situation. Open to any and all suggestions. Thanks in advance.

Regards, Paul

 

lovdasnow

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I'm interested in this as well. I have always used absolute pressure and temp, but a lot of the guys I shoot with now just use DA. DA seems easier/faster, and so far pretty precise. I'm not going to switch what's been working for me yet, but I would like to know if absolute is more precise. I've looked online, and have read through a lot of litz's stuff, and haven't found a clear answer yet.
 

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I too have seen several people switch to DA and was wondering if anyone has conducted a side by side test?
 

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This is coming from a guy that does not shoot matches often. So take it as that. But I know some do all they can to speed up the process in timed events. DA is one input so could this support why some choose it? Also, I would Assume the differences in solutions are small errors that like all errors increase with distance. So if the distances are averaged between 400 and 800 yards or so, DA might be a good option to save time???

Jeff
 

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I use density altitude because that is what the technician at Kestral recommended. It is slightly quicker because you only have to input 2 values. I can't tell much difference in the results. Any errant shots are usually caused by unread mirage or lighting changes. Gary
 

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I use DA all the time now. Keep in mind that I'm not shooting a ton of ELR, but do shoot a lot of stuff 1200 and in. Anymore, I just rely totally on my Kestrel with AB and don't worry about having to input DA or anything else into another device.
 

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I have read Bryan Litz book and from my reading, he stated that there can be small errors when shooting at "non-standard temps." His table shows the further out you get the more the error.
 
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I have read Bryan Litz book and from my reading, he stated that there can be small errors when shooting at "non-standard temps." His table shows the further out you get the more the error.

If I may, what are the parameters of a non standard temperature. Thanks for the info. Very interesting.

Paul
 

kbaerg

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I'll try :confused: per reading "standard temp" for DA calculations is 59 degrees. In my simple terms basically when you are using DA at above or below 59 degrees, your solutions will start to stray. given a table he has provided a .308 bullet can have as much as 3" drop error at 1000 yards and up to 5-1/2" error at 1500 yards with a given amount above or below "standard temp"

I very highly recommend Litz books for reading as i have gained a lot of insight and improved a lot of my shooting by "Applying" some of his teachings. :)
 
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I'll try :confused: per reading "standard temp" for DA calculations is 59 degrees. In my simple terms basically when you are using DA at above or below 59 degrees, your solutions will start to stray. given a table he has provided a .308 bullet can have as much as 3" drop error at 1000 yards and up to 5-1/2" error at 1500 yards with a given amount above or below "standard temp"

I very highly recommend Litz books for reading as i have gained a lot of insight and improved a lot of my shooting by "Applying" some of his teachings. :)

Thanks for the info. Very interesting.

Regards, Paul
 
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To my understanding DA is calculated based off temperature, humidity, and station pressure so it accounts for temperature as one of it's inputs. I haven't read Litz's book, and certainly he knows more than I do, but the whole point of using DA is that it corrects for all environmental conditions to give you a reference altitude as "if" you were in standard conditions. Maybe I've misunderstood the reading I've done up to this point but the Kestrel Website gives the explanation I've learned about.

http://www.nkhome.com/support/kestr...anding-pressure-altitude-and-density-altitude
 

kbaerg

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Density altitude is very useful and is a shortcut to a few inputs, yes it does work but he states that there will be SMALL errors in the shooting solution. But as we know small errors grow big when going into ELR.
 
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Density altitude is very useful and is a shortcut to a few inputs, yes it does work but he states that there will be SMALL errors in the shooting solution. But as we know small errors grow big when going into ELR.

My question is, why are there errors? How is it any different than inputting the values separately? Also what SMALL errors are we talking about? Are they things that could easily be explained within the accuracy of the rifle, the accuracy of the turrets, mirage, etc.?

I genuinely am interested in the topic. I'm trying to wrap my head around why one would be better than the other. It seems to me the formulas driven to calculate the solution could be modified to fix the errors at ELR but maybe there's something more to the story than what I'm seeing.
 

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If I understand this correctly, I think the errors are due to DA being a Predicted or Corrected, altitude. It is not actual station pressure it is an estimation if you will.

Jeff
 

kbaerg

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Jeff, I believe you may be correct. Since DA is defined as "The altitude in the standard atmosphere model that corresponds to the current density at location" which to me is adjusted. If my rifle wasn't needing a barrel at the moment I would have taken a half day off and gone out to shoot as we have a nice low wind day, so instead I headed out after work and used my AB solver and ran some solutions using DA and what I will call standard. I used my phone and my wife's phone for this to try and get the data inputs as close as possible. First I ran them together using the same inputs (DA) to make sure they both gave the same outputs and set the solution solver to 2000 yards. Then I set mine to use the standard (altitude, pressure, temp, humidity,) and the other using DA (temp, DA,) I left the wind alone with a 10 mph at 90 degrees. After I got the solutions I sent them to myself via email to see what there is. I should backup and say I was using my 300 win mag data with a velocity of 2775 fps for this test. What I found according to what AB produced for a solution was that at 300 yards I was already seeing difference of 0.01 inch drop, 7.2 inches at 1000 yards and 100 inches at 2000 yards. While I myself do not know which one is more accurate it is interesting to see that as the yardage increased the solutions became more different. I did PM DOC to ask if either he or Bryan could shed some light on this as I was rather caught by surprise on this as well and am not sure where the science secret lies. I have been using DA myself out to 1200 yards and have made first round hits on rocks so I'm a bit curious as well. sorry for the long ramble but hopefully one of these guys will set me straight.
 
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If I understand this correctly, I think the errors are due to DA being a Predicted or Corrected, altitude. It is not actual station pressure it is an estimation if you will.

Jeff

Thats what confuses me is supposedly DA uses station pressure as one of its inputs. I don't use DA but I figured I would if I ever got a Kestrel. This thread has me questioning that decision. Good discussion so far.
 
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Broz

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I get cold bore hits at a mile plus. I think I will stick with the "old way" that I have dialed in. If I have to hurry a mile shot I will walk first. I say just pic one and use it. Record data and impact errors. The run the same shot scenarios through using the other way. If one shooting solution shows a pattern of being closer than the other, that's what I would use.

Jeff
 
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I used station pressure and temperature to get perfect elevation on my first shot at 1100 yards today. At 1 mile my drops were wrong but at that distance my Creedmoor is out of gas and running into the subsonic range so I didn't expect it to be perfect. I'll stick with pressure and temperature as well but I want to study DA further to help my understanding.
 
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I was asked if I would help out a little bit here. DA is actually not a good way to calculate firing solutions. DA is a shortcut for rapid firing solutions but has its short comings. The biggest issue with DA is that the firing solutions are calculated based on Mach. The speed of sound is dependent on mainly temperature. Remember we commonly use the terms transonic and subsonic. Which are values of Mach. Also keep in mind that we calculate drag based on Mach values, and while we may report back the velocity at a specific range, the more important value used through the trajectory is Mach. This is why you do not see inputs on our Analytics Software, or our Tactical/Professional apps for DA. You will find it on the Mobile Apps for general use, but if you notice you will also find a slot for temperature. That is because we are still using Mach values for the calculations. DA is ok for quick reference tables, and cards, but not for precision firing solutions. Take a look at our online calculator, Analytics, Tactical, and even the Environment Screen on the Ballistics side of the K5700 and K4500 systems. You won't see DA used in any of these precision systems.

As far as errors go. DA has a unique characteristic that an error in DA matches an error in BC. So if my DA is off by 3% then it will act the same as my BC being off by 3%. Here is how that error plays out. 15 degrees F is 3%. 0.87 inHg is 3%. 682 feet of altitude error is 3%. 15 FPS in MV is also a 3% error. These are compounding errors. This is also why Barometric Pressure is a bad idea in the shooting world. If you pull weather from a weather station, and have a 340 foot difference between you and the station, that's 1.5% error. Then lets say your mv is off by 10 fps, that's another 2% error. Temp is off by 5 degrees, that's 1% error... You can see how this adds up quickly. It is much more accurate to use Station Pressure, Temp, and Humidity, which is why our systems do things in this manner. It is also because you use Mach values to calculate firing solutions, something DA can't do for you.
 

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Much clearer picture, thanks for the information, Doc
 

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Wow! Thanks Doc! This should be a sticky.
 

bigngreen

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Your presence is appreciated Doc :)
 

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I have also done some reading and it pretty much is saying what it has been said here with a few exceptions. This is what gets me thinking: Using my desktop application Coldbore 1.0, I compared the two methods using calculated values for both. Please take a look at this table going from 0 yards to 4000 yards. Results look pretty impressive to me even to where if you're shooting 1760 yards you'd have a hard time telling which is which. For one method I input 3 values and for the DA method I input "one" value. So... what is it that I'm not seeing?

30wxjwz.jpg
 
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bigngreen

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How do you calculate your DA, the way I saw it being used years ago its a simple elevation and temp chart to give you DA. Now I get DA by elevation, baro, temp and humidity which is the same thing as just entering all that into the program except it's expressed in DA so that would yeild a very good solution but is it really using DA?
You can also just stumble into an exact solution using DA, if your condition are close to standard it really should be close on prediction.
 
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Eaglet

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My cheap kestrel 4000 gives DA readings just like temp readings. I'll revisit this post when i get to my PC.
 

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How do you calculate your DA,"I use ColdBore" the way I saw it being used years ago its a simple elevation and temp chart to give you DA. "Yes, using the chart has been popular" Now I get DA by elevation, baro, temp and humidity "To my understanding, if you have quality data you need Station Pressure, Temperature, and Humidity to obtain a very accurate DA value that using ColdBore will basically give you the same values to a very long distance being the small differences caused by rounding error. Though changes in temperature and pressure have the greatest effect on DA, to obtain absolute precision in calculating DA the inclusion of humidity is vital." which is the same thing as just entering all that into the program except it's expressed in DA "My kestrel 4000 will display on one screen Station Pressure, Temperature and Humidity; on the following screen it displays DA which I believe is internally calculated based on former data. That is the reason ColdBore, which you know well, does not require temperature but only DA since the temperature has been included in the calculation of DA" so that would yeild a very good solution but is it really using DA? "It should render exact solution, based on what I understand and reason to my questioning why some believe DA to be less accurate. -- Yes it really is using DA"
You can also just stumble into an exact solution using DA, if your condition are close to standard it really should be close on prediction.

What we exercise in getting quality data when using a Kestrel... If the kestrel spits wrong data of course the DA will be wrong. Garbage in, garbage out.

Remember I'm getting old, but there really are many ways to skin a cat! :)

Thanks for posting, bigngreen.
 

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Eaglet, you are using Barometric Pressure yes? Barometric pressure is calibrated for a specific altitude, a shift of 682 feet will equal a 3% error in BC.

Doc, I agree. So let's not use Barometric Pressure and Altitude. Let's use Station Pressure. A well calibrated Kestrel would give a pretty accurate value. If the Kestrel is calculating DA from Station Pressure, Temperature and Humidity then the DA given would be pretty accurate. After all, projectiles only really care about air density which, as you know, is played by Pressure, Temperature and Humidity.
 

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When I pull up my Applied Ballistics tool box to calculate DA I can use station, temp and humidity which should give me the same results as inputting the same number direct into AB or a program that will take both DA or direct inputs, right?
 

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When I pull up my Applied Ballistics tool box to calculate DA I can use station, temp and humidity which should give me the same results as inputting the same number direct into AB or a program that will take both DA or direct inputs, right?

I am not familiar with the Applied Ballistics tool box but what you're saying sounds right to me.
 
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Doc, I agree. So let's not use Barometric Pressure and Altitude. Let's use Station Pressure. A well calibrated Kestrel would give a pretty accurate value. If the Kestrel is calculating DA from Station Pressure, Temperature and Humidity then the DA given would be pretty accurate. After all, projectiles only really care about air density which, as you know, is played by Pressure, Temperature and Humidity.

Density Altitude does not tell one important factor. Temperature, which tells you Mach Value. So the firing solution is still skewed slightly. You can get close, but not precise. This is why we prefer to just input the factors. The firing solution is created based on Mach vs Drag. That is why even on our mobile app, if you input DA you still input Temp.
 

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Doc, On Shooter when Density Altitude is used, temperature must also be inputted. When this is the case, are the solutions accurate? Gary
 

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quote_icon.png
Originally Posted by Eaglet

Doc, I agree. So let's not use Barometric Pressure and Altitude. Let's use Station Pressure. A well calibrated Kestrel would give a pretty accurate value. If the Kestrel is calculating DA from Station Pressure, Temperature and Humidity then the DA given would be pretty accurate. After all, projectiles only really care about air density which, as you know, is played by Pressure, Temperature and Humidity.
Density Altitude does not tell one important factor. Temperature, which tells you Mach Value. So the firing solution is still skewed slightly. You can get close, but not precise. This is why we prefer to just input the factors. The firing solution is created based on Mach vs Drag. That is why even on our mobile app, if you input DA you still input Temp.

Doc, you almost had me going for a loop, you are right, Density Altitude does not tell "Shooter" and "Applied Ballistics" the Temperature. As mentioned before, a well calibrated Kestrel will give you a DA value that's very accurate and Kestrel needs the Temperature on site to be able to calculate the DA. So once DA is calculated why would you need temperature again? I'm going to respectfully dare to say this, because "Shooter" and "Applied Ballistics" use Point Mass to calculate trajectory, in order for these two applications to adjust the curve when using DA, they need the Mach numeric value, hence the reason both applications need the user to input the Temperature. ColdBore is a complete different beast. It only requires from the user the DA. That's it. It has an internal method that determines the temperature in function of the DA and does so with great accuracy (According to the answer of my question I got from Patagonia Ballistics). As the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding.

So, when a shooter gets from his Kestrel or whatever device he's using a DA value, Station Pressure, Temperature and Humidity has already been included in the cooking.


2nguefs.jpg
 
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Eaglet

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In any event it has been a good discussion and I'll just leave it at that.

Thank you all for posting and reading.

Eaglet
 

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Great discussion for sure, thanks!! Have been using DA & temperature with great success. Must mention while using 6.5x284 (140gr Amax tips) up to to 1300m (target shooting and hunting), beyond that is part of a 300 project.

Peet

Shooter's user manual:

Density Altitude - If you have enabled Density Altitude in Preferences, then pressure input type, altitude, humidity and pressure inputs will be gone and you will see Density Altitude and Temperature instead. If you've enabled Density Altitude then I assume you know what it is and how to use it. If you don't know, then just don't use it and skip this. The reason you must enter Temperature as well (even though the Density Altitude value incorporates temperature already) is because the actual Temperature must be known for Shooter to calculate the speed of sound which is important for calculating an accurate trajectory.

Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk
 

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A gunsmith friend back East swears by DA, he only uses the kestrel 5000. He also puts on a shooting school. I think his the range at his school only goes out to 1000 yards. He also use to shoot comp years ago.
I don't have a kestrel, but have been looking at the 5700 elite. I use a sig kilo 2400 ABS. So I'm kinda lost as to what I should buy.
I don't really understand DA, have read a little bit on it...but not enough to make sense..
 

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A gunsmith friend back East swears by DA, he only uses the kestrel 5000. He also puts on a shooting school. I think his the range at his school only goes out to 1000 yards. He also use to shoot comp years ago.
I don't have a kestrel, but have been looking at the 5700 elite. I use a sig kilo 2400 ABS. So I'm kinda lost as to what I should buy.
I don't really understand DA, have read a little bit on it...but not enough to make sense..

If you're already using the Kilo 2400ABS, you don't need to buy anything, just learn to read the wind.
 

Broz

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A gunsmith friend back East swears by DA, he only uses the kestrel 5000. He also puts on a shooting school. I think his the range at his school only goes out to 1000 yards. He also use to shoot comp years ago.
I don't have a kestrel, but have been looking at the 5700 elite. I use a sig kilo 2400 ABS. So I'm kinda lost as to what I should buy.
I don't really understand DA, have read a little bit on it...but not enough to make sense..

DA is a corrected figure derived from a few environmental conditions down to one number. It is said to be quicker for competitions but is in no way more accurate. If you are taking the time to be as accurate as possible, keep your ammo and weather meter out of direct sun and use actual station pressure and temperature, if you are in a hurry and are under a clock, you may want to consider DA. That said I use actual station pressure, actual temperature and humidity for all my solutions hunting and comps.

With the kilo 2400 it is good to know direct sun will heat up the housing and the thermometer is inside. If you get it hot in direct sun, it takes quite a while to adapt, just like getting out of a truck in cold weather, the kilo needs time to acclimate.

Jeff
 

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DA is a corrected figure derived from a few environmental conditions down to one number. It is said to be quicker for competitions but is in no way more accurate. If you are taking the time to be as accurate as possible, keep your ammo and weather meter out of direct sun and use actual station pressure and temperature, if you are in a hurry and are under a clock, you may want to consider DA. That said I use actual station pressure, actual temperature and humidity for all my solutions hunting and comps.

With the kilo 2400 it is good to know direct sun will heat up the housing and the thermometer is inside. If you get it hot in direct sun, it takes quite a while to adapt, just like getting out of a truck in cold weather, the kilo needs time to acclimate.

Jeff
Broz this is an old post but how do you set up your 5700 elite to use SP, temp and Humidity instead of DA. I can’t imagine you are manually doing this?
 

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Hi Broz,

I am good. I was going the long way around to be polite,...

I was going to explain all someone has to do to get around DA is set their ref altitude to zero -0- in the kestrel and it will measure your Station Pressure right where you are in “real time” for your firing solution.

I did not catch where anyone in the thread really said that. This simple explanation could help someone who might read the thread and find it useful in setting up their kestrel or other app.

Btw what tools are you using to get your firing solution these days if you aren’t running a 5700 Elite?

Thanks Moe

for anyone that is struggling with station pressure Baro or density altitude Read this...

Typically for shooting, you will want your station pressure, not the barometric pressure. Station pressure is the pressure felt at that spot, without being adjusted for altitude. This is the same pressure being felt by the bullet when traveling in the air. When you adjust station pressure for your altitude, this is now Barometric pressure and typically only used to track weather patterns. In order to get the Kestrel to read station pressure, you should set your reference altitude to ZERO. This will then show you station pressure, every time, and there would be no need to adjust it if you move locations.

Unfortunately station pressure is not readily available if you do not have a Kestrel. Therefore many ballistics programs have the user enter their barometric pressure AND altitude. The ballistics calculator then calculates station pressure from this for the ballistics solution. This is because barometric pressure is widely produced by the local weather stations and easily obtainable. If your ballistics programs requires you to enter the barometric pressure and altitude, then you will need to adjust your reference altitude each time you change locations. You will also need to keep updating your reference barometric pressure on the altitude screen to ensure your altitude is correct.

If there is an option in the ballistics calculator that you are using to enter the station pressure vice barometric pressure, then please select this option and set your reference altitude to ZERO. If not, then you will need to enter your reference altitude each time you move locations to get the barometric pressure. Use this barometric pressure as your reference barometric pressure for the altitude and use those numbers for your ballistics solution.


Setting Station Pressure on your Kestrel


1) Go to the Baro screen and set your actual reference altitude. ( http://www.whatismyelevation.com/ )

2) Note the barometric pressure shown on that screen.

3) Go to the altitude screen and set the reference barometric pressure to that shown on your baro screen.

4) Now go back to the Baro screen and set your reference altitude to zero.
 
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Very interesting. I use BallisticsARC and and a WeatherFlow meter. The WF meter is compatible with other apps as well. BallisticsARC is also compatible with Kestrel devices. I bring this up because I rely on (successfully I might add) these devices. Station pressure, temp, altitude, etc are used to calculate DA. It seems to me that if all the same information is used to calculate the weight of air, or the atmosphere as you may prefer, the outcome should be nearly identical if not actually identical. Regardless it has worked well for me. I must add that I am not shooting a mile so I may yet run into problems.
 

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Sorry I am late. If you have station pressure on your device I see absolutely no reason to not use it. In my opinion using the raw data is the best. DA just adds more math.

 

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