Electronic Flight Cards?

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Kelly

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The way I see it (just thinking out loud) the flyer has an app that they use to fill out an e-card. They push a button, and it gets sent to the RSO and put into a queue. The RSO can pull them up in order for physical inspection (minimizing contact to the extent possible). After the RSO OK's it, he pushes a button, and it gets put into the launch queue, which (optionally) assigns a pad (sometimes flyers like to choose their own pad). The launch queue is visible to another app running on the LCO's device. Once the rocket is set up and the range closed, the LCO can go down the list to make announcements and push buttons. If you wanted to be fancy maybe you'd even tie in the launch controller to the LCO app (which would tie the rocket data the LCO is looking at to the actual pad that he is pushing the button for), but that requires hardware development.

But I still can't get past the use of all these devices on the range - I hate using my phone or any other screens on the range, because the sun is blindingly bright, and there's a fine abrasive dust permeating everything, and on some days its freezing cold... I think that is the major objection to all of this.
 

rharshberger

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Excellent ideas! This would be the most significant upgrade to range operations since...well...forever? Design and implementation would be a nice R&D project.
So what we need is a electronic range management app where person submits their flight card via mobile, is assigned a pad via mobile app for RSO/LCO, if there is a wait for an open rack that person then receives a notice that the new rack is loading via their mobile app, if they decide not to fly for whatever reason they can cancel the flight via their mobile app, and the pad will be immediately available for the next flier. On the LCO side there would need to be statistics tracking, the ability to comment on individual launch events (namely failures and failure modes). Maybe a Raspberry Pi could be modded to serve as the server for the system with some type of range extenders.....and many more features I am not even thinking of. Maybe being able to add pad information into system so pad manager knows what pads have what length rails/rods etc.

Now we need opensource programmers to do all this for Android, Apple, and Raspberry Pi, sorry I don't program.:)
 

Steve Shannon

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694831C6-1B2F-4299-959D-C9D3D635FD83.jpeg

Here’s what we use at my small launches. That’s from the last launch we had last year. For a small club that might be all you need.
 

cw's wife

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What would be your wish list of what the electronic flight card would include and/or how it would work? We are trying to brainstorm how we could implement this and make it as functional as possible but also easy to use.
 

NateB

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I like simple solutions. Multiple apps integrated into a flight controller sounds great and would certainly be cool if it worked, but what about when it doesn't work and you spend too much time chasing electronic gremlins?
 

MClark

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Using a wifi hotspot I would have concerns about range at a large launch.
BALLS we have a flight line about a half mile long and pads at 2000 feet and away cells beyond. It would be pretty much pointless if a flyer had to be a hundred feet or less to make it work.
 

Steve Shannon

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Very similar to our sign-in sheet. Imagine 300 people touching that sheet.
That’s why tomorrow I’ll fill it out. I’ll be the only person to touch it (hopefully).
But for a large busy launch it would not work.
But an app that works on the inexpensive Amazon Kindle reader with the electronic ink screen (which is more visible in strong sun) would work. They’re cheap enough that a large club could afford several. Put it in a case that could be wiped down or have people send a small file to it so it's touch less. Tie motor selection to ThrustCurve or custom.
 

dlb

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I'm going to lean toward a good luck on that endeavor.
Android and iPhone and be compatible with many levels of software. don't forget windows
Clear Google Play app.
Clear iPhone apps.

a very Steep Hill.
good luck!👌
 

FredA

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Pad's are "user's choice" for our launches so they can get the rod/rail and location of their choice...."go pick a pad and write where your choice on the flight card" is our MO.

Cell service is very spotty to non-existent for some carriers. How big of a hot spot can you make?

Several of our members are [virtual] Luddites when it comes to computers.

Pickup launches would "get complicated" and will resort to cards anyway.

I'm sure I can think of more reasons it's not really practical...at least for our club.
But hey - if it works for your club, knock yourself out.
 

caveduck

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Pre-pandemic we didn't really have to worry about this - simple paper systems worked fine almost everywhere. Now things are different.

I would say that the initial feature set should specifically be for HPR. Our club has operated a few thousand LPR flights/year without any flight cards for many years and it works fine. We are in an environment where we can't announce flights anyway as the city won't allow us to use a PA system at our site.

The system design and the UI have to both be really good or people will hate it and there won't be any adoption. (I have a long history in SW development btw). Design and implementation of the SW are *not* trivial tasks. There would have to be native clients for both Android and IOS.

There is kind of a prototype for this...the NAR has used the Contest Manager system for a number of years at NARAM, with several networked laptops. But this system only exists because of huge amounts of work by one person (Chris Kidwell). Sadly, though it is free to use, it's not open source, and is specialized to competition flight cards. The laptops all have to be under a tent because of daylight readability problems, and I don't think there are native mobile clients.

With some thought and equipment you can make a WiFi footprint a lot bigger than 100ft...just not with a plain RasPi module. BALLS is a special case in terms of sprawl, but I think the ops could be designed so you didn't have to have connectivity everywhere. With just a couple of panel antennas in one place you can put a line of coverage at least a few hundred feet in each direction down a flight line, and you can do more with repeaters.

Bridgett, here are some things that ought to go into a basic HPR range system:
  • Needs to operate without any internet connectivity - only a local WiFi network
  • receive basic flight plan data from user: flier name, rocket name, NAR/TRA num, mass, size, motors, rail size needed
    • optional: verify flier is registered, signed release, etc.
    • optional: check if motor thrust is sufficient for liftoff mass and rail length
  • designate special flight attributes
    • certification flights
    • sparky motors
    • waiver call-ins
    • complex flights (clustering, staging, air-starts)
    • other flight requiring special judging, inspection, or attention from 3rd parties
  • record safety inspection event
  • record pad assignment
    • Handle flights that need to go to specific pads, towers etc.
    • Handle de-assignment if removed from pads before flight attempt or after misfire
    • optional: compute and display required distance from motor type, sparky, complexity
    • optional: map pad assignment to pad banks based on distance
  • record launch attempts
    • Misfires that a) remain on pad for recycle or b) get brought back in (deassign pad)
    • Successful launch (deassign pad)
  • record flight outcome: nominal, crashed, out of sight/unknown, certification success
  • Close out (in bulk) all unresolved flights at end of day for range shutdown
 

rharshberger

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Pad's are "user's choice" for our launches so they can get the rod/rail and location of their choice...."go pick a pad and write where your choice on the flight card" is our MO.

Cell service is very spotty to non-existent for some carriers. How big of a hot spot can you make?

Several of our members are [virtual] Luddites when it comes to computers.

Pickup launches would "get complicated" and will resort to cards anyway.

I'm sure I can think of more reasons it's not really practical...at least for our club.
But hey - if it works for your club, knock yourself out.
Whats OROC's largest launch attendance? Pick your pad doesn't work for 300 flights per day, at least it wouldn't for us at TriCities Rocketeers.
 

jd2cylman

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Alex, I have my old wifi router still that I don't use anymore. Would that be of any use at the launch site?
 

jadebox

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I started to work on an online system for our club, but I came to the conclusion that paper cards are just simpler and are more reliable. If it ain't broke ...

I did create a tool for creating flight cards that you can fill in online and print at home:

 

GalantVR41062

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Micro Center a computer store in town here, Twin Cities MN, is using a system for getting people into the store.

I show up, stand in a line 6 feet apart, talk to a employee with a tablet, give them my cell number and then go wait in my car. I get an estimated time frame I will wait then a conformation text with what number I am in line. Then when it's my time they text come on up and show us this text to get in.

A few things, obvious people would need a cell phone or other mobile device, and service and possibly data for said device.

Then a online flight card, cert information, etc could be digitized, attached or printed from home, pad assignment and rso table time could be setup and shared via electronic device.

I do not see an issues with the written flight card system as long as cleanliness and health is enforced by all parties involved. Minimizing contact with surfaces and community choke points could be managed.

No matter what I think moving forward in life, not just HPR will be I as a person need to operate in a safe manner when in public, being mindful of face covering, social distance, hand wash/sanitizer for the foreseeable future. Otherwise launches and life in general will be stuck.

~John
 

FredA

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Whats OROC's largest launch attendance? Pick your pad doesn't work for 300 flights per day, at least it wouldn't for us
NXRS has over 200 in attendance and nearly 400 flights in the weekend - all "choose your pad."
We have trouble with PA coverage -- can't imagine WiFi coverage.....
 

rharshberger

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NXRS has over 200 in attendance and nearly 400 flights in the weekend - all "choose your pad."
We have trouble with PA coverage -- can't imagine WiFi coverage.....
PA coverage is something we suffer from as well, hopefully we can get that resolved before SodBlaster.
 

Scott Hala

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Our club is looking into it. If we develop something that works and is easy I assume we would share it.
As Zeus-Cat (and he is a cool cat) said, I have started working on such a system using my Azure account and Angular. It's an excuse to learn Angular. Once it's a little more fleshed out, I'll post more information.
 

John Kemker

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Our NAR President and my son are programmers. It would be good to come up with an organizational solution between clubs. Think of the power of being to run reports on motors used........
I wouldn't be as much concerned about standardizing the software as standardizing the data format. That way, everyone is free to write their own software, but if the data is all in the same format, it can be exchanged between programs. Ham radio does this for our logs with ADIF, Amateur Data Interchange Format. (Yes, yes, there's Cabrillo and others, but most programs have standardized on ADIF.) The format doesn't even need to include personal information. XML would be the obvious choice to start with.
 

FredA

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DO consider privacy concerns -- our club avoids keeping records of who was at the launch and what they launched. This has been the club's stance for decades. Not sure what prompted the privacy concern back then, but I don't see it changing.
 

cwbullet

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PA coverage is something we suffer from as well, hopefully we can get that resolved before SodBlaster.
Recently purchased a radio transmitter. We plug it into the PA system and now every car radio can pick up the signal. We also put a radio at the away cell.
 

cwbullet

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I wouldn't be as much concerned about standardizing the software as standardizing the data format. That way, everyone is free to write their own software, but if the data is all in the same format, it can be exchanged between programs. Ham radio does this for our logs with ADIF, Amateur Data Interchange Format. (Yes, yes, there's Cabrillo and others, but most programs have standardized on ADIF.) The format doesn't even need to include personal information. XML would be the obvious choice to start with.
Very true.

DO consider privacy concerns -- our club avoids keeping records of who was at the launch and what they launched. This has been the club's stance for decades. Not sure what prompted the privacy concern back then, but I don't see it changing.
I am not sure what all the concern is about. You are already probably on the watch lists.

There are ways to encrypt and protect privacy. We could even leave your name on your personal computer and use initials. We do not destroy flight cards. I have nearly 15-20 years worth in a box.
 

boatgeek

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This will not solve privacy concerns, but a google form would resolve about 80% of these issues for a typical launch. Enter in all of the data known a day or two before and print out a list at the RSO table. Ask people to fill out “cards” for every rocket they might fly. There might be some blanks, and those can get filled in at the RSO table. Bring two copies of the list so the LCO can use one to launch while the RSO continues to check people in.

For pad assignments, do something basic like have people stand next to a stake with the pad number while they are waiting for their rack.
This is also a good time to think about what info needs to be on the form. You might have different forms for LPR flights than for MPR/HPR flights.
 

cwbullet

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I think I might look at Google forms with a spreadsheet. I think this could be an interesting means to develop this.
 
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