A phone app that I really want

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neil_w

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If there's something out there that will do this for me, please let me know.

Basically, I want a straightforward database app for tracking flights of my rockets. For each rocket I want to be able to add a flight, selecting motor (from a pull-down of frequently used motors, or enter a new one), entering altitude (if known), and any notes. Date and place to be added automatically. I should be able to view all flights on a particular day, or all flights for a particular rocket, or whatever. You know, usual database app stuff. If it could be linked to altimeter data, great.

This would be incredibly convenient on launch days. I bring a notebook with me, but I invariably don't keep up. And then when I get home I need to transcribe the data to... something or other. An app that just made the whole process quick and easy would be very very nice.

That's it. Simple but useful. I'm sure there's other functionality that would make sense to go in there as well, but that's the basics that I would want.
 

neil_w

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It occurs to me that Rocketreviews.com is tantalizingly close to having this. But the part of the site that handles flight logs is not responsive, and therefore not practical to use on a phone. It doesn't do *everything* I want, but if it were usable on a phone I'd be using it quite a bit more than I do now (right now I have to remember to log my flights there after I get home, which is hit or miss at best, so I have only a portion of my flights recorded).

Also the site has a *lot* of different areas of functionality, and so there's a bit more UI to wade through than I would like if I were using it at the launch site. All fixable.

Hey @jadebox do you have plans to update that part of the site to be responsive, and optimized a bit for use at the launch site?
 

mbeels

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Well, for Android there is "Memento Database", it is very general purpose and customizable. I haven't used it myself, so I can't directly recommend it, but I assume it lets you create your own fields and queries.
 

shawn_rocket

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I've been mulling doing an app for myself for a while for exactly this! i may write up a concept in the next month or so and bounce it off TRF.
 

BEC

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I would love an iOS app like this. I use a 4x6 notebook for this now (after having filled seven 3x5 notebooks over the past 10 years). That said it is much faster for me to use pencil and paper than “typing” on my phone. So maybe better an iPad app as I have a keyboard for my 1st-gen Pro.
 

neil_w

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I would hope for it to require as little typing as possible... pull-downs to select rockets, pull-downs to select motors. For altitude a numeric keypad which is easy. For flight notes... well, no getting around that, but I would use dictation to enter it in (and clean it the errors later).

An iOS app should definitely work on the iPad and support the keyboard, though.
 

neil_w

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More details on what the app should do. Everyone throw in their thoughts

In use:
  • Beforehand
    • Enter your various rockets
    • Create a launch
      • Enter rockets to be brought to launch
    • Create favorite motors?
  • At the launch
    • Go to launch
    • Create flight
      • Select rocket
      • Select motor
      • Attach pictures or video from phone
      • Enter altitude and/or comments
  • After
    • Browse data
    • Edit entries
    • Etc.
Crude description of database schema:
  1. Club
    1. -> Launches
    2. Location (optionally auto populate from GPS)
  2. Launch
    1. Location (optionally auto populate from GPS)
    2. Weather (auto-populate from weather provider?)
    3. -> Club
    4. -> Dates (for multi-day launches, not exactly sure how this should work)
    5. -> Flights
    6. -> Rockets
  3. Rocket
    1. Description
    2. Picture(s)
    3. -> Flights
  4. Flight
    1. -> Launch
    2. -> Rocket
    3. Motor
    4. Altitude
    5. Picture(s)
    6. Comments
  5. Motor
    1. Name
    2. Link to Thrustcurve.org
    3. -> Flights
And that's it. As I mentioned, Rocket Reviews is partway there; it's just not optimized for easy use at a launch, and it only supports the Rocket and Flight objects. I think being able to define a "Launch" and within it multiple "days" would make it super easy to enter the data at the launch.
 

jadebox

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Hey @jadebox do you have plans to update that part of the site to be responsive, and optimized a bit for use at the launch site?
I have been working on updating the Flight Log to be responsive for some time. It is actually working okay, but the issue is that most all of it has to be working before I can make it public.
 

wonderboy

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I'd also like an easy to input method of commenting on the ejection event to help zero in on proper delay choice when using motor eject. Maybe a pulldown selection with: early, late, correct.

I like this idea though. I also have just been writing my logs by hand and inevitably I forget to do it until I get home. The phone app won't make me remember, but it will definitely be quicker and easier to enter the info perhaps even on the walk to recover the rocket after launch.
 

neil_w

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I'd also like an easy to input method of commenting on the ejection event to help zero in on proper delay choice when using motor eject. Maybe a pulldown selection with: early, late, correct.
Excellent idea.
 

neil_w

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I know no one is building this app but I'm gonna keep dumping my ideas here anyway, just in case. I would absolutely pay money for this app.
  1. For each rocket I should be able to define a set of recommended motors, which I may have gotten either from the manufacturer or my sims. I should be able to add a flight with a different motor not from that list, but the set of recommended motors should be available for quick selection.
  2. For flights, in addition to having a notes field and a way to attach pictures and video, there should be a way to add voice notes. That's probably what I'd do at the launch: add a voice note quickly and then go and turn it into data when I get home.
  3. As a follow-on to #2, I should be able to label flights as "finished", or something like that, to indicate that I've entered all the information I need to. That way, I can do a quick search of all *unfinished* flights, which are the ones that still require me to go back and clean up the data. Otherwise I'll lose track of which ones still need to be worked on.
Crazy wish-list items:
  1. Maintain a centralized database of manufacturer kit images and motor recommendations, so when I add a "Cherokee D", it pre-populates a picture and all the recommended motors.
  2. Provide a pick-list of motors fetched from Thrustcurve.org, based on motor mount size. I'm not sure how to handle clusters here.
 

GrouchoDuke

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You could make your own Google Docs Form to do this.
 

neil_w

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You could make your own Google Docs Form to do this.
Maybe for some basic data entry, but not for all the DB functionality I would want (I don't think).

I've found some DB apps on the App Store that might be able to do it, but I don't feel like putting the work to learn them just to find out that they don't really quite do what I'm asking for. Big laziness factor at work here.
 

JohnCoker

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There are some interesting cross-platform app builders that are low-code/no-code you might try, such as BuildFire. I haven't tried any of these, but they look pretty powerful. The programmer-oriented ones (Cordova, Flutter) are going to be a stretch unless you're already comfortable with software development.

When I get around to rebuilding ThrustCurve To Go, I'll probably try one of the no-code ones just to see how capable it is, but most likely will end up building it in Flutter. Dart looks more reasonable to me than Swift plus it sounds like running Swift apps on Android is for masochists.
 

neil_w

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BuildFire looks interesting, maybe I'll noodle around with it.

If I were going to actually try to build this, for my own edification I'd most like to learn Swift. But if I wanted to get something done in anything resembling a reasonable time, I'd probably go for one of the Javascript-based app development platforms (which bring with them easy Android support). I just don't think I have enough time to devote to it to do it justice.
 

JohnCoker

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But if I wanted to get something done in anything resembling a reasonable time, I'd probably go for one of the Javascript-based app development platforms (which bring with them easy Android support).
The original ThrustCurve app was written with Cordova (JavaScript based). It's still a lot of work and a lot of programming. Not sure how far you can get with the no-code builders, but it's worth a try.

Here's the ThrustCurve Cordova app:
 

neil_w

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I just saw that BuildFire's *cheapest* plan is $159/month. So... no, I will not be trying it. :)
 

JohnCoker

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I just saw that BuildFire's *cheapest* plan is $159/month. So... no, I will not be trying it. :)
Building and maintaining an app is not cheap nor a small amount of work. For example, you have to pay $100/year just to list it in the Apple store. I'm sure you can find something less expensive, but this is a significant effort and that cost will probably be the least of it (certainly compared to your time).

 

neil_w

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Building and maintaining an app is not cheap nor a small amount of work. For example, you have to pay $100/year just to list it in the Apple store. I'm sure you can find something less expensive, but this is a significant effort and that cost will probably be the least of it (certainly compared to your time).
Agreed, but starting off with almost $2K/year commitment doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense for an app which would probably not generate that much revenue even if I actually went through with the process of creating it. That service seems to be targeted towards enterprise customers.

But I am unlikely to create this app. I might noodle around, but probably no more than that. Back to discussing the app features.
 

shawn_rocket

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Agreed, but starting off with almost $2K/year commitment doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense for an app which would probably not generate that much revenue even if I actually went through with the process of creating it. That service seems to be targeted towards enterprise customers.

But I am unlikely to create this app. I might noodle around, but probably no more than that. Back to discussing the app features.
I agree, it's not cheap. I will likely play around with this as well using Kotlin or golang, but may look at other apps like Evernote (I've used for years) and create templates for quick and easy data entry while launching rockets. Would not be anything like a dedicated app, but may be a good to get data quickly entered and stored for later use. Adding pictures and OCR'd flight cards/other data is pretty easy to do in Evernote. It is even pretty decent with handwritten OCR as well.
 

neil_w

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I used Evernote for years and then dropped it when the built-in Notes app got pretty good. If you come up with something interesting, please post some pics.

There are a number of generic database apps available for the iPhone, most of which require a subscription of some sort, so I've been reluctant to dive in. Unclear to me how close I could come to my objective with one of them.
 

Charles_McG

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Thought: build the database you want as multiple tables in Excel. Use 'Power Apps' to turn it into a mobile-accessible form. Might be easy enough to self-develop. One challenge is that it doesn't look like personal Office 365 include Power Apps (or Sharepoint) - but maybe the Community Plan is an option?
 

BDB

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I remember someone here mentioning that Airtable was a good option for keeping track of flight data. I downloaded the app, but never tried to implement it. It looks like a slick cloud-based database.
 

neil_w

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Airtable was one of the apps I looked at. I just downloaded it and took a quick look at it, seems nice. I'm gonna play with it, looks like fun.
 

Scrapmaster87

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I just use google sheets to log my flights in the field. Being cloud based I can do some heavier manipulation on my PC when I get home.
Screenshot_20210311-151657.pngScreenshot_20210311-151647.png
 

rocketace

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I use Excel. When you need to find something I just use the sort / filter options. Usually used when trying to find the best delay time or motor combination. My excel has 5 tabs. Its a complex spreadsheet with lots of formulas but I like it.

Tab 1) Flight log: Date, Rocket, Motor, newtons, Electronics, Location, Experiment (for anything new on this flight), Pre-launch conditions, Flight, Recovery, Altitude, Speed, Gs ,Notes,
Tab 2) Fleet: Name, Flight count, Length, MMT, CP, Weight, Parachutes, BP Charge, Mfg, Status (Active, MIA, Retired, Constructing), Notes,
Tab 3) Stats: Pulls the info from the first two tabs to total up lots of stuff like motor count, Ns count, alt count for rocket, year, location. Even how many flight each electronic has.
Tab 4) Stuff: A list of all my equipment for Motor casings/hardware / Parachutes / Electronics / Recovery harness
Tab 5) Next Launch: Where I plan what to launch next
 

JohnCoker

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The only real benefit of an app over something web-based is that it works if you're out of cell service. Other than that, using something cloud-based probably is the easiest way.
 

neil_w

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I've been playing around with Airtable, and it's not bad. Allows for local editing on the phone, synched with the cloud. Have created my tables (mostly) and entered a starter set of data pretty easily. Now I need to see how their Views work, where things can get useful.

530AF408-42C5-4902-8AEE-614E18A15DB5.png
 

rharshberger

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Why not use the motors UPC for entry, unless the phones camera wont read barcodes.
 
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