During the Spring and Summer of last year, I chatted with a few Flight Track users. We explored how Flight Track operates, how to set up and track flights, and we also traded stories of past flights. These conversations were a great inspiration and I received many cool suggestions. I have implemented some of these, and wanted to both thank you for the suggestions and provide a preview of what I plan for Release 1.3.
Drop me a note with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Automatic Packet Format Detection
I reviewed the APRS Protocol (version 1.0.1) and crafted a few regular expressions to recognized commonly used packet formats. I have used the automatic detection in reviewing past flights successfully. I expect to follow some flights over the next few months to validate this feature.
This should eliminate the requirement to define a packet format before tracking a flight.
Delete Wind Predictions
In practice, I capture many wind predictions ahead of a launch to get a sense for flight distance and wind changes. It helps me select a launch site and plan for recovery. During the flight, Flight Track uses wind data (usually the most recent) to provide real time prediction for flight path and landing site. In reviewing the flight, it will use the same wind data (the most recent). It makes sense to keep that wind data and to delete the others (I’ve never used them again).
Release 1.3 provides a method for deleting older wind data, and improves the method of selecting wind data for predictions.
Flight Track Hot Key
Occasionally, I adjust the map in MapPoint and switch back to Flight Track by clicking on it or using Alt-Tab.
I had a suggestion to bring back Flight Track using a hot key. MapPoint is not all that friendly when I attempt to use hot keys but in this case it worked out well. After MapPoint loads, you will be able to hold down Alt and press T (for Tools), and T (for Flight Track) – that is, Alt T T. I have been using this exclusively since I implemented it and I really like it. I have also used it to bring focus back to Flight Track from MapPoint.
Review All Packets
One user suggested a feature to review all the packets Flight Track receives. This would help verify that packets are being received, AND that their packets get processed. While this ability has been a part of Flight Track for a few releases, it was hidden (right-click the Bearing and Distance label to switch between all packets and just flight packets).
Release 1.3 features a View menu to select Flight Packets or All Packets. The same menu also provides for toggling between charts.
Indicate Altitude and Direction
Flight Track displays the position of the payload on MapPoint with its flight designation. Release 1.3 features both the altitude and direction (A for Ascending, D for Descending) in addition to the flight designation.
The Landing Zone
I am experimenting with an indication of the landing zone on the map. To create the landing zone, I run a prediction in multiple prediction mode. I collect the four extremes of the prediction and draw the landing zone (roughly a rectangle). The Landing Zone displays during tracking or review.
With Respect and Appreciation, Thank You Flight Track Users!