Electronic Flight Cards?

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cwbullet

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Paper flight card sitting on the RSO table in the sun will suffice. Thank you very much.
I think you are missing the point. Paper on the table is a thing of the past. I am trying to find a way to allow folks to register before they get to the field. Thios way they can avoid lines, filling out cards at the LCO/RSO table.
 

prfesser

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I am not taking either side on this issue, all I want to know is: do/would the launch organizers find this an improvement, something that would reduce their time and effort during a launch? The absolute last thing anyone wants to do is to add to the organizers' and volunteers' collective burden. And for opinions on that, I'd like to hear from the launch organizers.
 

Fattbank64

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I am not taking either side on this issue, all I want to know is: do/would the launch organizers find this an improvement, something that would reduce their time and effort during a launch? The absolute last thing anyone wants to do is to add to the organizers' and volunteers' collective burden. And for opinions on that, I'd like to hear from the launch organizers.
+1
 

rharshberger

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Whatever is done has to be effort neutral, many of our launches are run by 4-5 main individuals along with whatever volunteers we can pick up along the way. Paper cards are easy, they are filled out by the flier (usually at their work space), brought to the RSO/Preflight Safety Table if MPR or HPR (MPR just to verify no igniter in motor for certain sizes) for inspection and signoff, usually pad is assigned then, card goes back to flier and they deliver to LCO prior to heading to pads once range is open, post launch all cards from that rack are filed for daily stats and as a record. Simple and easy is what gets done, so another +1 to prfesser.
 

cwbullet

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I think we are gonna design it for our club and see how it goes. I could really care less about what other clubs do. I was hoping to collaborate on the innovation.

I am looking at developing a better system for our club. The system I am designing will allow the club leadership to adapt the card on the fly. It will determine who has paid dues and automatically calculate flight fees. The flight card will just be one piece of the puzzle.
 
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cerving

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Very similar to our sign-in sheet. Imagine 300 people touching that sheet.
Or the flyer fills out a flight card, gets it approved by the RSO (how about using a stamp?), puts it on the table where it's transcribed to the flight log by the LCO, and the flyer tosses his card in a closed trash bin next to the LCO. No touch... and very low tech.
 

DAllen

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I think in order to make e-flight cards practical three things will need to be in place to start:

1. Good cell and data coverage at the launch
2. Everyone who attends has a smartphone/computer/tablet with data and is proficient with said device and are willing to use it in this manner.
3. Club members with the time, motivation and resources to set it up.

You lack any one of these items and this is giant exercise in futility. Might as well be pushing rope uphill.

IMHO this is a solution in search of a problem.
 

cwbullet

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Flight Fees? Like you charge per flight? Really?
If you are going to charge a per-flight fee, make it $'s/minute spent AT the pad.
No, we charge a flight fee per day. We have a lot of fliers who inadvertently or purposely do not pay.
 

curtisheisey

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I've also been thinking about this, and I think the concept is a great idea. Obviously, it will not work for all launches or all clubs, but is worth evolving toward in steps. I don't think this is being advocated as a required launch solution. Does one size ever fit all in rocketry? No. Use it where it makes sense.

Just some random thoughts.

Being good engineers, the problem we are trying to solve (from reading the thread):
- reduce contact between people by eliminating paper
-stream line flight operations

I like the idea of having a standardized data format. Then there could be different app/front end, or different use cases.

I also like the idea of bootstrapping this with google survey/google spreadsheet.

And yes, we will need good cell phone/wi fi coverate at launches. And high useage of smart phones. But given current trends, I think that will/can happen.

As far as privacy, there are ways to mitigate that -- only list an id in the file for each person. Have a separate encrypted file that maps names to id keys. Delete this file after every launch. And let's face it. At some level this is public information. There is nothing to stop me from sitting down with a clipboard beside the LCO and writing every flight/flier down as flights are announced.

Other ideas. You could build in basic safety screening - weight thrust/ratio, etc. Flag flights that need extra screening. Flag/clusters, sparkies, staged flights, cert attempts, etc.

I like the idea of getting a text when I need to finalie prep for an away cell. I was at a large launch and the first day was rained out. At 10AM on the second day, there must have been a dozen flights prepped and wanting the away cell (only two pads). There was a lot of waiting. It would have been nice to get a text when my slot was 15 minutes out.

I think this would have to be phased in over time, and clubs may certainly adapt/opt out as their circumstances dictate. Food for thought. Look at the lesson from air traffic control. (somewhat simplified) In the 50's this was done by pushing little markers "shrimp boats" around on a map. This yielded to paper strips to manage flights. Then paper strips became electronic. And even today, a controller can print out a strip for a flight, if needed. But procedures evolved to accommodate radar and increased volume of flights, and more automation. The point for rocketry being that procedures can evolve with changing requirements or changing technology.

Curtis
 

John Kemker

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I think we are gonna design it for our club and see how it goes. I could really care less about what other clubs do. I was hoping to collaborate on the innovation.

I am looking at developing a better system for our club. The system I am designing will allow the club leadership to adapt the card on the fly. It will determine who has paid dues and automatically calculate flight fees. The flight card will just be one piece of the puzzle.
Chuck, if you would, I'd appreciate a list of the fields you're going to include on your Electronic Flight Cards. I'd like to start putting together some ideas for the exchange format. You can PM me with that info.
 

gldknght

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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.

I agree. Most of the time, I don't bring my cell phone to launches for this reason. Also, I have an old, cheap tracfone with very limited capabilities. I mostly just carry it for emergencies. My phone probably is not going to do what's required for this electronic flight card idea. You going to tell me I can't fly with you and chase me and people like me out of the hobby?
 

jderimig

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I am geeky as the next guy, but I think a simple paper form is faster and more reliable than any electronic system that is available at the current time. What problem does an electronic flight card solve? Is this a solution (a neat one) looking for a problem?
 

Buckeye

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Geez, it is merely an electronic flight card and a mobile app, just like the rest of life in 2020. A lot of the old grumps on this forum lament that the younger generation is not taking up the hobby. Well, how about appealing to the younger hobbyists with new technology that they enjoy and study? Coding, data analytics, AI, etc, are all relevant aspects of this rocketry project.
 

boatgeek

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I am geeky as the next guy, but I think a simple paper form is faster and more reliable than any electronic system that is available at the current time. What problem does an electronic flight card solve? Is this a solution (a neat one) looking for a problem?
Four months ago, I would totally have agreed with you. In the present, I can see value in reducing passed items between flier, RSO, and LCO. In two years when this is (hopefully!) all behind us, it might be pointless again. Or it might streamline 40%-90% of flights and be worth keeping.
 

Handeman

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An app or e-card sounds like a good idea, but it's been my experience that the issue isn't the app so much as it is the people.

We don't have anyone that comes to our launches that doesn't know how to use a pen or pencil.

The more technical the solution, the more people you will have that don't know or won't learn how to use it.

We send a "pad manager" with first time users of our HPR pads to show them how the pads and continuity test on the remote launch boxes work. You would think that would be very simple and self evident, but it isn't to everyone.

Once you change the way you do things by going from paper to a paperless system, it will take some time before your staff and regular fliers figure it out and stop having problems using it. That transition time can be painful for everyone. It's the infrequent and first time visitors that are always going to take up your time and effort to get them using the system.

The ones that show up and want to fly and don't have the required equipment for your paperless system are also going to be an issue once in a while and you'll need a process in place to deal with that. We have one or two fliers that show up and don't have or bring a cell phone or their cell is a simple flip phone. We can always loan out a pen, but smart phones would be more problematic.

Whoever develops the paperless system will have to be there for all the launches for a while because they will have to fix the system as people figure out how to break it, and they will figure out ways to break it. That's why you beta test with real users, because no matter how smart and competent your developer is, the users will always figure out ways to break the program that the developers never imagined.
 

DAllen

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If you're going to insist on implementing a system like this then be prepared to have a volunteer with a tablet or something similar who is going to enter flight cards for those who do not have the right device to access the system. Just because smart phones and the like are so readily available does not mean everyone on planet earth chooses to have one so don't be so quick to judge them for not getting with the times. There's nothing wrong with making that choice.
 

jderimig

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Four months ago, I would totally have agreed with you. In the present, I can see value in reducing passed items between flier, RSO, and LCO. In two years when this is (hopefully!) all behind us, it might be pointless again. Or it might streamline 40%-90% of flights and be worth keeping.
I am fine with the concept but do an FMEA on both systems and then compare value (to be fair). Also I am open minded, someone point out a sunlight viewable table or smartphone for me, mine certainly do not fit the bill. I can't wait to see the first implementation.
 
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gldknght

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Why not just have a simple bottle of hand sanitizer at the LCO table, if you are worried about spreading germs? Sanitize your hands every time time you approach the table. Take a few PAPER flight cards to fill out at your own work area, so as to not hold up the launch queue.

I agree this seems to be a solution looking for a problem...
 

Steve Shannon

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I am fine with the concept but do an FMEA on both systems and then compare value (to be fair). Also I am open minded, someone point out a sunlight viewable table or smartphone for me, mine certainly do not fit the bill. I can't wait to see the first implementation.
Kindle Paperwhite is a daylight very visible device (like paper) with a touch screen at a very low price. It might be easiest to use the browser rather than writing software, but there is a developers’ kit.
 

GlueckAuf

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The biggest detractor to flying time I see at the club launches I help support is the lengthy and always short-handed set-up and tear-down time. An electronic flight card system would constitute, in my opinion, just one more complicated layer of sensitive equipment to pull-out, set up, test, troubleshoot, operate, disassemble, and carefully repack and store with every launch. Nein, danke. Multiple pads of paper flight cards and an adequate supply of pencils check that box quite simply and adequately already.
Good skies,
GlueckAuf
 

gldknght

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Kindle Paperwhite is a daylight very visible device (like paper) with a touch screen at a very low price. It might be easiest to use the browser rather than writing software, but there is a developers’ kit.

It might seem like a low cost, but hobby funding for me and probably most people these days is very limited. I would have to choose between buying motors and buying a new tablet or phone. If I buy the device, I won't have motors, so there would be no need for the new device, so what's the point of the new device? I would not use it for anything else but rocketry, or I would already have one.


To me, this is a 'non-starter.' The paper card system isn't broken, doesn't need to be fixed.

P.S. I just checked Amazon, and at $89 - $249 each, Kindle Paperwhite devices are definitely not low cost! That would be most, if not all, of my motor budget for a whole year!
 

Steve Shannon

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I wouldn’t be surprised to see an ele
It might seem like a low cost, but hobby funding for me and probably most people these days is very limited. I would have to choose between buying motors and buying a new tablet or phone. If I buy the device, I won't have motors, so there would be no need for the new device, so what's the point of the new device? I would not use it for anything else but rocketry, or I would already have one.


To me, this is a 'non-starter.' The paper card system isn't broken, doesn't need to be fixed.

P.S. I just checked Amazon, and at $89 - $249 each, Kindle Paperwhite devices are definitely not low cost! That would be most, if not all, of my motor budget for a whole year!
I understand. i was thinking that the launch organizers could have a few of these for people to use. One of the Kindles is even waterproof so it could easily be disinfected between uses.

Regardless, I don’t think that every place will switch to electronic flight cards anytime soon. We do have to adapt to the potential problem of transferring viruses through the use of paper flight cards. How do we avoid that?

@cwbullet ,
I thought I read that in direct sunlight the Coronavirus virus lives for a very short time. What about a quicker solution that involves placing the paper flight cards onto a conveyor that passes them through UV-c and possibly a disinfectant mist or ozone before dumping them at the LCO desk?
 

gldknght

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Regardless, I don’t think that every place will switch to electronic flight cards anytime soon. We do have to adapt to the potential problem of transferring viruses through the use of paper flight cards. How do we avoid that?
Hand sanitizer before and after touching. It works. Every time. "You want a fight card? 'squirt' Here you go..."

I've been carrying hand sanitizer in my car for years, just saying...

P.S. Sanitizer and gloves would be almost 100% protection and way easier/cheaper to implement than any form of electronic flight card.
 

jderimig

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Regardless, I don’t think that every place will switch to electronic flight cards anytime soon. We do have to adapt to the potential problem of transferring viruses through the use of paper flight cards. How do we avoid that?

@cwbullet ,
I thought I read that in direct sunlight the Coronavirus virus lives for a very short time. What about a quicker solution that involves placing the paper flight cards onto a conveyor that passes them through UV-c and possibly a disinfectant mist or ozone before dumping them at the LCO desk?
What about the igniter leads at the pads? Or the rails?
Simplest solution, hand sanitizer before touching you face.
 
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BDB

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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.
i completely agree. A customizable program that would create the queue and assign pads would be real help in launch management.
 

Steve Shannon

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What about the igniter leads at the pads? Or the rails?
Simplest solution, hand sanitizer before touching you face.
That’s true, and I did yesterday, but the leads, possibly a continuity button at the pad, and the rails are exposed to sunlight for many minutes between when one person touches them to when the next does and people make mistakes, get forgetful or complacent. There are still some people who believe that Coronavirus is fiction. So, having an extra layer of defense wouldn’t hurt my feelings.
 

tomsteve

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there are people that dont have cell phones and others that dont have them glued to themselves.
it would be wise to provide for them.
 

rharshberger

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That’s true, and I did yesterday, but the leads, possibly a continuity button at the pad, and the rails are exposed to sunlight for many minutes between when one person touches them to when the next does and people make mistakes, get forgetful or complacent. There are still some people who believe that Coronavirus is fiction. So, having an extra layer of defense wouldn’t hurt my feelings.
Not only the sun but the leads get blasted by high temp exhaust products even though momentary, and the stuff/residue on the clip and leads probably isn't to conducive to viral product survival.
 
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