Cheap Windows Tablets and Rocket Electronics - Any Experience?

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patelldp

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I just picked up a cheap-o Windows 10 tablet on Amazon yesterday. While I impatiently wait for it to come in, I'm curious how people on here have applied them to rocketry.

Here's what I bought: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MYZEPGP/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

I specifically bought an 8" tablet because my research suggested that 7" tablets come loaded with the "mobile" version of Windows 10 versus the "desktop" version on the larger tabs. This was deliberate because I want as good of a chance as possible to run rocketry software suites on the field. Specifically, I'm looking to use this thing as the home base for my AIM Xtra 2.0 GPS telemetry and data downloading from my Raven's and Easy Mini. It may also run my Shapeoko 3 CNC router once I'm in my new house at the end of August.

The biggest weakness of these cheap-o tablets appears to be the fact there's a singular micro USB that's used for device connection AND charging, mutually exclusively. What gives there?

So...thoughts? Am I going to be in driver hell trying to get the AIM Base to talk to the tablet?
 
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cerving

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Windows 10 is Windows 10... if there's a USB port you should be fine as long as the driver for your AIM supports it. I got a cheap tablet for $79 from Wal<star>Mart to play with, it worked fine with the Prolific USB-Serial driver for the Eggtimer cable once I got the right adapter cable (it's an "OTG" cable).
 

ksaves2

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There's a thread on dual boot tablets here: https://www.rocketryforum.com/showt...dows-for-tracking&highlight=Dual+boot+tablets . Ideally, one could have a dual boot tablet where they could use Android or windows whenever they wanted to. Would also be nice to make cell phone calls. In that way, one could run GPS Rocket Locator on the Android side and all the windows applications for rocketry on the window side.. But alas, no such tablet exists yet. The 2 years ago, I picked up 2 dual boot tablets from China that had on board GPS chips. And the capability to connect to cell phone service. Unfortunately, they were not set up for American cell phone network. I was interested mainly in the dual boot abilities and the onboard GPS chipset so I wasn't turned off by not being able to make calls.

Be forewarned, if one buys a cut rate Android device that does not have a GPS chip set in it, they will not be able to download any tracking software from the Android store. The online device checker will see that there is no onboard GPS chip set and won't let you download any tracking software. That said, one can technically bond an outboard bluetooth GPS device but you still will not be able to download tracking software directly. All in all a perfect tablet has not been devised yet. Ideally, one would be dual boot Android/ Windows, be able to make /place cell phone calls at least on the Android side, have an internet connection while on the cell phone backbone and have an onboard GPS chip set. 2 years ago, there were units out there that came close but missed it. (Also have a standard USB 2.0 and micro USB ports. I found one dual boot tablet with an onboard GPS chipset that had this stuff. China is the only place one can
find dual boot tablets. If one finds a "local" source, post it. I doubt there will be an onboard GPS chipset. I picked up a dual boot Android/Win 10 for $49.00
with no onboard GPS and it has issues. First of all can't root it safely.)

Oh, running tracking software under Windows can get funky if using Bluetooth devices. Windows Bluetooth protocols are pretty esoteric and a device that
only needs one port assignment ends up with two.

If one wants to run Ham APRS tracking software on a tablet, I recommend ARSISCE/32 as I have has no issues with pairing up any external Bluetooth devices
and I can also graphically track EggFinder GPS trackers with this: https://aprsisce.wikidot.com/
A photomap set is available and downloadable for portable use meaning no internet connection is required once the maptiles at the various zoom levels have been downloaded.
 
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patelldp

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First post from the new tablet. This thing rocks, set up the AIM software in no time. At $80 its essentially disposable should something happen to it, but still feels built out of high quality stuff.

Oh... and 6+ hours of battery on power saver mode. Awesome.
 

dhbarr

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The Motorola Xoom, like the iPad, was 6-800 bucks. And now we're under $100 for kit that's superior in every way. Yay progress! Yay competition!
 

DavidMcCann

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First post from the new tablet. This thing rocks, set up the AIM software in no time. At $80 its essentially disposable should something happen to it, but still feels built out of high quality stuff.
Pretty cool... didn't think anyone still used AOL Instant Messenger....

(I just ordered one)
 

jdbwizzard

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I had a dell tablet with windows 8.1 and with it I bought a special cable that allowed the device to charge and use external usb devices at the same time. You should look into this. My tablet had the same issue only one charge/accessory usb port.
 

ksaves2

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If wanting to run rocketry software on tablets, there are some good cheap choices out there. The deal is making sure you can get the proper USB/serial conversion
cables to connect peripherals, ie. deployment devices or trackers. Of note, one might experience USB/serial connection problems with Prolific cables as there are
a pile of counterfeit cables out there. Rolling back the drivers usually remedies the situation or use an FTDI based USB/serial cable.
This is a Ham Radio site that discusses the serial driver issue and it is applicable to Windows 10/8.1 based devices if one has serial connection troubles:
https://www.miklor.com/COM/UV_Drivers.php
One might want to flag this for future referral if they run into USB/serial communication troubles.

Other things to consider for field use:
Get an external battery source and/or a 12V conversion supply one can plug into their vehicle. I use both as I run tracking software and the load on a tablet with
the screen turned up to full brightness is high and will drain the onboard battery quickly.

Can run sim software out in the field. Great for delay fine-tuning. Especially if going for a cert with an apogee only motor deploy rocket. Bring out a cheap digital
scale, run the sim a few times to find a reasonable delay and drill the delay if necessary. Avoids the cert killing zipper.

If using the tablet to track, get a matte screen protector. Sometimes hard to see in the field. Also get a cardboard box so one can put their tablet in and paint the inside of the box with flat black paint to provide some shade so the screen can be seen in the sunlight. I leave a flap on the box to act as a sun visor too. One can cut finger holes for one handed use.
If you don't believe me, take your tablet out in the sun and see if you can see anything. You won't, believe me unless it's a very pricey device.

If you'll just be using it inside of your vehicle, trailer, RV etc., you won't have to go through that trouble. Kurt
 

cwbullet

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I ordered one from Bangood online for about $170. It works fantastic.
 

jeff2space

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First post from the new tablet. This thing rocks, set up the AIM software in no time. At $80 its essentially disposable should something happen to it, but still feels built out of high quality stuff.

Oh... and 6+ hours of battery on power saver mode. Awesome.
Have you tried Openrocket on it?
 

EXPjawa

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I used an Irulu Walkin Book (10-in Windows tablet) for a while. I ran Rocksim on it, as well as GPS mapping software, office, etc. It was nice that, for $200, it came with a detachable keyboard. It was like a 7/8 scale Surface 3 for a lot less. It ran Rocksim just fine, and was handy to bring out to launches and such. I eventually replaced it with a Surface Pro 4 primarily because it had other limitations, and since it was the only computer I had, those limitations got old quick. The big thing was heat management. If I used it hooked up to the GPS antenne for mapping, it would get so warm that the touchscreen couldn't distinguish being touched. It also wasn't quite able to keep up with streaming videos for any period of time. But for the rocketry stuff, it worked fine...
 

ksaves2

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I ordered one from Bangood online for about $170. It works fantastic.
Is it Windows only or dual boot Chuck? Some of the tablets like the out of production Winbook has a standard USB2.0 port along with a micro USB port.
If stuck with a micro USB port must have an appropriate cable

Another thing to keep in mind if plugging a peripheral in, some of them will be sucking power from the tablet's battery and that's going to ding the time run.

Open Rocket on a tablet should work as long as Java is installed. Kurt
 

ksaves2

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I used an Irulu Walkin Book (10-in Windows tablet) for a while. I ran Rocksim on it, as well as GPS mapping software, office, etc. It was nice that, for $200, it came with a detachable keyboard. It was like a 7/8 scale Surface 3 for a lot less. It ran Rocksim just fine, and was handy to bring out to launches and such. I eventually replaced it with a Surface Pro 4 primarily because it had other limitations, and since it was the only computer I had, those limitations got old quick. The big thing was heat management. If I used it hooked up to the GPS antenna for mapping, it would get so warm that the touchscreen couldn't distinguish being touched. It also wasn't quite able to keep up with streaming videos for any period of time. But for the rocketry stuff, it worked fine...
There are some cheap B/T GPS sources available out there some second hand. That eliminates sucking on the tablet's battery. (I got a couple for $15.00 off ebay. They're fine for local position.) AKS
 

EXPjawa

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There are some cheap B/T GPS sources available out there some second hand. That eliminates sucking on the tablet's battery. (I got a couple for $15.00 off ebay. They're fine for local position.) AKS
Well, maybe. I'm not a real knowledgeable computer guy (barely enough to be dangerous). This was a GPS antenna that came with Delorme mapping software that I've been using for years. I'm not sure that it would be compatible with a different antenna, but who knows? What I do know is that it would drain the tablet/laptop battery quickly regardless of what I was running it on, and that required keeping the computer plugged in. So the simultaneous charge/discharging always generated a bit of heat. It was just never a problem previously, because my older laptops always had a cooling fan. Most tablets don't, of course, but that's what led me to the Surface Pro. FWIW, that machine runs Rocksim and Open Rocket well, at the same time even...
 

blackwing94

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I'm a MAC guy. I needed Windows to talk to a beeline tracker. I got Oracle VMbox... it's free. I bought Windows 10 Home (student version... I'm retired but take classes at our community college so... I'm a student). Had it all up and running in 20 minutes.
Just another option......
 

ksaves2

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I'm a MAC guy. I needed Windows to talk to a beeline tracker. I got Oracle VMbox... it's free. I bought Windows 10 Home (student version... I'm retired but take classes at our community college so... I'm a student). Had it all up and running in 20 minutes.
Just another option......
Yup, And I downloaded Vbox and stuck XP on a Linux laptop and run all my rocketry apps that are 'doze only. Actually XP runs a bit faster in Vbox than it did in a the same machine on a native drive. Kurt
 

patelldp

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Open Rocket runs fine. A cheap windows tablet is now on my list of must haves for rocketeers behind sunscreen and lathes.
 

cwbullet

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Is it Windows only or dual boot Chuck? Some of the tablets like the out of production Winbook has a standard USB2.0 port along with a micro USB port.
If stuck with a micro USB port must have an appropriate cable

Another thing to keep in mind if plugging a peripheral in, some of them will be sucking power from the tablet's battery and that's going to ding the time run.

Open Rocket on a tablet should work as long as Java is installed. Kurt
I have two, one android only with wifi but not celular and one dual boot with wifi.
 

cwbullet

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Thei si the one I bought. I thought I paid 170, but I actually paid 162. I have no complaints. I also bought the keyboard for it.
 

DavidMcCann

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Got mine in today... Pretty incredible how small it is, and that it works fairly well. On the field, it's going to be perfect. Toss it in a cargo pocket and go.

I do wish I could figure out how to get the overhead map to load from Google Earth. There has to be some trick I'm missing.



Tomorrow's goals- MARSA 54L and Missleworks software.
 

ksaves2

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If you have an Android device, try GPS Rocket Locator with the Missileworks. The Google Maps link no longer works but OSM does. I don't know about the AIM base and live map tracking.
If the Missileworks can port the NMEA strings out, you should be able to get GPS Rocket Locator to work. You can record a flight by using a screen recorder like
AZ screen recorder.
For Windows there is an Arcgisonline map server that has a relatively recent photomap set that can be cached with the appropriate software.
APRSISCE/32 can take the NMEA feed from one's receiver and plot it on a photomap. The trick is getting your local location plotted at the same time.

Running two instances of the program can achieve that but I've found that it seems like not all the Rocket NMEA positions get plotted. I think there is some latency
with running two instances of the program at the same time and I had an idea pop into my head when someone was discussing tracking issues.

I've decided the next chance I get to fly, I'll just track the NMEA tracked rocket (EggFinder in my case though I believe a Missileworks tracker will work too)
I'll use one instance of APRSISCE/32 to track and wait until the rocket is down and the last known position is displayed. Will then fire up my second instance
of APRSISCE/32 for my local position and as soon as that gets my local position, it will plot it on the first instance that has the rocket track on it. Since the
rocket is down, there is no risk of positions colliding. That might have been the reason that I couldn't recover as many rocket positions in my prior plots.

Anyone who has "live" Google earth mapping strategy for onsite tracking post it. I generally download the maptiles to cache as the storage overhead is rather high. I have an Android tablet now so for APRS tracking, I have some apps I can download the maptiles in advance but if I miss a few, I would have the capability to download them in the field if I need a certain zoom level. That is of course that there is service at a launch site. Kurt
 

ksaves2

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For Android only side Nexus 7 2013's and 2012's are coming out used pretty cheaply. An N7 2013 LTE is pretty decent as one can get a 2Gb a month Data SIM for $30.00 still make occasional VOIP/SIP phone calls on it
and have access to maptiles if they missed a zoomlevel or two when the bulk downloaded over Wifi. I picked up an N7 2012 32Gb 3G for $49.00 that is pristine. I don't have a 3G plan but it has that potential. I'm impressed
as it runs the latest Nougat kernel pretty well. Only problem is I can't do OTG and power off a y cable like I can with an N7 2013 LTE. The 2013 was $175.00 when they were $475.00 when they came out.

I'd strive for 32Gb models as N7's don't have memory microSD ports. They can be "rooted" very easily and store a lot of maps. Kurt
 

patelldp

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As a follow up...this tablet worked PERFECTLY for me on my flight this weekend. Plenty of battery.

I'm impressed!
 

DavidMcCann

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I tried trotting off and finding my rocket by sight. Once I calmed my rookie butt down, walked back to my truck, started over, and got some help via text from Dan (thanks!), everything went smooth and within 5 minutes I was standing over my rocket in a nice open onion field.

This tablet setup is amazing compared to a laptop, downloads data easily, and will play video right out of a möbius. Couldn't be happier
 

ksaves2

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I tried trotting off and finding my rocket by sight. Once I calmed my rookie butt down, walked back to my truck, started over, and got some help via text from Dan (thanks!), everything went smooth and within 5 minutes I was standing over my rocket in a nice open onion field.

This tablet setup is amazing compared to a laptop, downloads data easily, and will play video right out of a möbius. Couldn't be happier
If you can pipe the incoming positions from the AIM base you'll be able to see on the map directly where that last position was sent from. One of the keys is having a portable receiving station one can take out for the recovery. Doesn't matter what
system one is using, Android or Windows. If you can carry it out there with you, you will find your rocket period. Practice with whatever software/modality you'll be using before you do a flight. Also it's prudent to get practice with rockets you select the
motor so you know it will remain within visual range so you get a feel for how your hardware works out. Once you're comfortable, let 'em rip!

The only scenario I can foresee where a GPS rocket is lost is if one uses too low a powered system to where it drifts too far away and the rocket stays out of sight. You run the risk of not getting within the ground footprint of the tracker for a new fix. This scenario would be an issue for someone who puts the last known position into a mapping GPS for a very long duration flight say a main at apogee. For most sport flights this is fine and would work 95% of the time. You track on a live map and
if the rocket gets out of range, once you get to the last known position, you proceed in the direction the drift trend shows you and it increases the chance you'll either receive a new position or find it visually.

Even a dreaded totally ballistic, sight unseen flight, one "stands a chance" of at least finding the hole. That is highly unlikely with an RDF tracker but with a GPS tracker, since the rocket is headed straight down, all's one needs is one or two positions and you'll
find the hole if you get under that last position. Not much drift there. Kurt
 

patelldp

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The issue at our field is cell reception. I use the AIM Xtra with AIM Base hooked up to the NuVision tablet to receive packets. I then transfer the coordinates to my Garmin ETrex handheld once the rocket is down or I've stopped receiving packets. Drive/walk toward the rocket and use my RDF receiver to corroborate the location the GPS is reporting. Once all of the devices are telling me the same thing I'll see if I have cell service to put the GPS coordinates on a map so I can at least picture where the rocket is, but I am not relying on the cell phone to tell me where the rocket is.

Here's a quick image with actual locations of my last launch that show my progression.



 
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ksaves2

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Stick a micro SD card in for extra storage if you want to save the onboard 32Gb. It's nice to strive for single app tracking. RDF backup is great if you have the room.

I'm keeping my eyes open for a Windoze mapping app that can easily be used for NMEA tracking. One stop tracking I'd like to see that anyone can use.
APRSISCE/32 can do it but is a pain to setup.

Besides that, Open Rocket, Rocksim, Burnsim a myriad of altimeter and tracker programs can be loaded on a tablet with the appropriate USB/serial cables and
one has a totally field/road trip portable computing/simulating/tracking device.

I remember taking a Toshiba Pentium 150Mhz laptop that weighed a ton out to the field to do "one last" Rocksim simulation of the all up weight so I could
drill the delay with whatever motor I used. I burned my first H and had a zipper that was a little too long. I showed up not knowing the H motor I'd be able to
buy from the prefect so got the motor an H238. Weighed the rocket and the "motor mak'ins", fired up the Toshiba and waited forever for each sim run and
settled on the drill depth and drilled the delay right there. Put a couple of degrees downwind tilt to account for weather cocking effects and got a perfect
L1 cert flight. No zipper that time!! Kurt
 
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captbk

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I just got one of these tablets and I have been trying to install GPS Rocket Locator but it failed to download. This is an Android app so is that why it wont work? Is there a rocket locating app that I can use on this tablet? If not can someone recommend a good GPS app?
 
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