Featherweight software

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Dan Griffing

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Good explanation, thanks for taking the time. I hope the solution is simple and Kevin can get it working the way you expected. Nothing but good can come from that.

And as I’ve said many times before, we are so fortunate as a hobby to have vendors like Featherweight and Multitronix (in addition to so many others) support such a relatively small potential customer base. It’s a great time to be in the hobby.


Tony
Thanks Tony.

After Kevin and I started PM-ing it looks like he can easily converge on what’s happening with what I did and observed.

Before retiring 6.5 years ago I was in the same position he is now trying to resolve a customer’s software or operational problem. So we’re on the same page and are speaking the same language.

Its not necessarily an actual software bug, but more likely the operation of the iFIP app in a way that it allowed without me knowing its negative impact on the launch detection or voice reporting.

Might also need to lock the display and prevent the iPhone from turning off during a launch.
 

Dan Griffing

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$500 gets you actually one ground station and TWO trackers from Featherweight.
Wow! This is even a better bargain than when I first bought Featherweight last year.

Since then I've crashed one tracker in a spectacular lawn dart event in April, and zapped another one in May by trying to run both a Tracker and an Eggtimer GPS in parallel from the same 2s LiPo battery. So I've gotten into the habit of ordering Featherweight trackers as an expendable item.

The Featherweight GPS tracks amazingly well.

I generally don't need more than one GPS tracker because I have it mounted in a nosecone payload package with the form factor of a short 54mm rocket motor, and I have a payload compartments in the nosecones of my rockets designed for quickly swapping the same payload package. There's also room on that same payload package for future instrumentation for collecting accelerometer, gyroscopic, magnetometer and altitude data for future canard fin control system development.
 

manixFan

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...<snipped>...
Might also need to lock the display and prevent the iPhone from turning off during a launch.
This is actually pretty important if you have long flights. While the screen going to sleep doesn't affect the tracking function, you obviously lose your voice output and it will stop any screen recording. What I do is set a reminder a couple of days before the launch to go off at the start of the launch with the text: 'set auto-lock to Never'. And I have another set one for the end of the launch to remind me to change it back to 1 minute. Works well and I now get full screen recordings of the launch. I've also found it useful to record the microphone input as well so I can make verbal notes during the flight, or just pick up the LCO's countdown and comments.


Tony
 

Dan Griffing

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This is actually pretty important if you have long flights. While the screen going to sleep doesn't affect the tracking function, you obviously lose your voice output and it will stop any screen recording. What I do is set a reminder a couple of days before the launch to go off at the start of the launch with the text: 'set auto-lock to Never'. And I have another set one for the end of the launch to remind me to change it back to 1 minute. Works well and I now get full screen recordings of the launch. I've also found it useful to record the microphone input as well so I can make verbal notes during the flight, or just pick up the LCO's countdown and comments.


Tony
A very good point. I sure wish that these tips came with the iFIP user instructions. For those who voice tracking is and important feature, this is kind of hard to learn the hard way with disappointing launches where people were standing around to wait for Featherweight iFIP to perform so they could set their sights on a great GPS with voice, so they wouldn't have to buy a Multitronix Kate.
 

tfish

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This is actually pretty important if you have long flights. While the screen going to sleep doesn't affect the tracking function, you obviously lose your voice output and it will stop any screen recording. What I do is set a reminder a couple of days before the launch to go off at the start of the launch with the text: 'set auto-lock to Never'. And I have another set one for the end of the launch to remind me to change it back to 1 minute. Works well and I now get full screen recordings of the launch. I've also found it useful to record the microphone input as well so I can make verbal notes during the flight, or just pick up the LCO's countdown and comments.
Tony
Tony, Can you walk us non apple phone user through the steps of how to do..
full screen recordings
and...'record the microphone input as well..

The other Tony
 

kjs

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Tony, Can you walk us non apple phone user through the steps of how to do..
full screen recordings
and...'record the microphone input as well..
First, I would totally appreciate Tony communicating his procedure for launch day. Second, I just got a 'burner phone' from Ebay to try to do some videos of initial setup and pairing and use. It might take a bit for the videos so again - I appreciate Tony helping out here with procedures..!
 

manixFan

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Tony, Can you walk us non apple phone user through the steps of how to do..
full screen recordings
and...'record the microphone input as well..

The other Tony
First, I would totally appreciate Tony communicating his procedure for launch day. Second, I just got a 'burner phone' from Ebay to try to do some videos of initial setup and pairing and use. It might take a bit for the videos so again - I appreciate Tony helping out here with procedures..!
Can do - happy to help out. I’ll start a new thread though so it’s easy for folks to find. I’ll do both a step by step here on the forum and a YouTube video so folks can take their pick. It might be a day or two before I get it done.


Tony
 

tfish

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Can do - happy to help out. I’ll start a new thread though so it’s easy for folks to find. I’ll do both a step by step here on the forum and a YouTube video so folks can take their pick. It might be a day or two before I get it done.
Tony
How about a quick post..

I'm flying out at Black Rock on Friday and was hoping to use the Featherweight GPS recording and on board video in a youtube vid...

if not I understand..

Tony
 

Conway Stevens

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Tim, Dan, - I just ran a SIM and the voice kept working across screen changes. What I wasn't easily able to test is if you are not on the track screen whether launch detect would happen (because the SIM start button always changes screen to the track screen). I do believe an earlier build would lose the voice if you changed screens though so I can understand this having been the case - and maybe still there are some issues.
I have the latest build and over a weekend of flights couple weeks ago had one not track with voice because not set on the track screen or toggled between screens at or just before launch. It does have to be on the track screen at time of launch and during flight or i dont get voice telemetry for the flight
 

manixFan

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I created a tutorial for screen recording iFIP on the iPhone:


It looks really long and complicated, but that's only because I assume the user is brand new to the iPhone so I try to cover all the bases. There is a shorter checklist at the end for more experienced users. I highly recommend using the simulation capability of the iFIP software to test making a screen recording. It will help new users especially get comfortable with the steps.

I also included a PDF that you can print out and take to the field.

If you find any errors or omissions, please post them in that thread rather than here, so they are easy for everyone to find.


Tony
 

Buckeye

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I have the latest build and over a weekend of flights couple weeks ago had one not track with voice because not set on the track screen or toggled between screens at or just before launch. It does have to be on the track screen at time of launch and during flight or i dont get voice telemetry for the flight
I am 99% sure I get the voice tracking when on the GPS page. I don't switch to the Track page until I am certain that the rocket has landed and I am ready to start walking.

It is good practice to not mess with your phone, switch between apps, or lock screen when ready to launch or during the flight. The Bluetooth connection is way too fragile. This also applies to the Android apps I use with other trackers. Even rotating the screen from portrait to landscape can cause the tracking to crap out!
 

manixFan

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I am 99% sure I get the voice tracking when on the GPS page. I don't switch to the Track page until I am certain that the rocket has landed and I am ready to start walking.

It is good practice to not mess with your phone, switch between apps, or lock screen when ready to launch or during the flight. The Bluetooth connection is way too fragile. This also applies to the Android apps I use with other trackers. Even rotating the screen from portrait to landscape can cause the tracking to crap out!
Can you explain your reasoning for staying on the GPS page rather than the TRACK page? It seems to me the TRACK page has the most relevant information - the heading and distance to your rocket, as well as the GPS coordinates of it, while the GPS page only has the coordinates. Also staying on the TRACK page allows me to see the vertical and horizontal velocity of the rocket during the recovery phase. I have learned a lot about my drogue setups by watching the VertV during descent. And watching the heading change along with HorzV and distance helps me see shifts in wind direction and speed at various altitudes which can be useful for the next flight. Not to mention seeing the VertV drop when the main deploys - always a good feeling.

I basically just use the GPS page to make sure I have good satellite lock on both the GS and tracker, and then switch to the TRACK page before launch and stay there. I guess don't see any reason to stay on the GPS page but would like to hear your reasoning in case I'm missing something.


Tony
 

Buckeye

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Can you explain your reasoning for staying on the GPS page rather than the TRACK page? It seems to me the TRACK page has the most relevant information - the heading and distance to your rocket, as well as the GPS coordinates of it, while the GPS page only has the coordinates. Also staying on the TRACK page allows me to see the vertical and horizontal velocity of the rocket during the recovery phase. I have learned a lot about my drogue setups by watching the VertV during descent. And watching the heading change along with HorzV and distance helps me see shifts in wind direction and speed at various altitudes which can be useful for the next flight. Not to mention seeing the VertV drop when the main deploys - always a good feeling.

I basically just use the GPS page to make sure I have good satellite lock on both the GS and tracker, and then switch to the TRACK page before launch and stay there. I guess don't see any reason to stay on the GPS page but would like to hear your reasoning in case I'm missing something.


Tony
No reason, other than habit. I am usually fixated on the coordinates and paranoid that they are continually updating and not losing lock. One time my rocket was waiting on the rail and the tracker kept losing and then re-acquiring GPS lock every 10 seconds or so (I assume that is what the pink flashing display is telling me.) I think the GPS patch antenna was directly facing the rail and getting dorked. Once it left the rail, it locked on for good, but it was a very nerve wracking wait in the launch queue.

Your use of the Track page makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the tips. I will try that next time.
 
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OverTheTop

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It is good practice to not mess with your phone, switch between apps, or lock screen when ready to launch or during the flight. The Bluetooth connection is way too fragile. This also applies to the Android apps I use with other trackers. Even rotating the screen from portrait to landscape can cause the tracking to crap out!
Sounds like how I would treat running programs on PCs back in the '90s.
 

manixFan

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Sounds like how I would treat running programs on PCs back in the '90s.
You do a good job of using snarky comments to make your feelings clear. However, I'm not sure what you are trying to achieve by doing so.


Tony
 

OverTheTop

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You do a good job of using snarky comments to make your feelings clear. However, I'm not sure what you are trying to achieve by doing so.
Tony
Not meant to be snarky, just a statement of fact. I guess I have been around windows and multitasking environments long enough to remember what they were like in the early days (Unix). Great idea but they were not as robust as they should have been. The behaviour was tolerated and the vision of how it would be better in the future was there. There are lots of examples of systems that do handle task-switching and all that sort of thing robustly. To see that requirement coming back in applications is a retrograde step. Software testing is difficult (I have been a software engineer) and takes effort. If it is not considered fully you get software with bad manners. Still statements of facts BTW.

[edit] FWIW I don't think I can even think of another application where switching windows causes problems. That goes for my PCs or phones.
 

manixFan

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Not meant to be snarky, just a statement of fact. I guess I have been around windows and multitasking environments long enough to remember what they were like in the early days (Unix). Great idea but they were not as robust as they should have been. The behaviour was tolerated and the vision of how it would be better in the future was there. There are lots of examples of systems that do handle task-switching and all that sort of thing robustly. To see that requirement coming back in applications is a retrograde step. Software testing is difficult (I have been a software engineer) and takes effort. If it is not considered fully you get software with bad manners. Still statements of facts BTW.

[edit] FWIW I don't think I can even think of another application where switching windows causes problems. That goes for my PCs or phones.
I guess it just seems like common sense to not interfere with a program that is doing real-time communication and tracking of something that you really want to get back. If you have other things to do on your phone while your tracking your rocket, then maybe a bluetooth connected real-time tracker isn't a good solution for you.

And I still don't understand the reason of your posts, other than to try and denigrate either the product or developers. You've made your feelings well known - I guess I just don't see your point in continually driving it home while you add nothing else to the thread.


Tony
 
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kjs

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One time my rocket was waiting on the rail and the tracker kept losing and then re-acquiring GPS lock every 10 seconds or so (I assume that is what the pink flashing display is telling me.)
Yes the track screen should show you gray background text and red title bar if you aren't getting lock/track. The other reason to be on that screen is the arrow and 'bubble' points your phone right to the rocket - even when it is in the sky and you can't see it. Instead of looking all over the horizon saying "does anyone see the main", at least you are looking directly at the point in the sky where you should see the main.
 

Conway Stevens

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I am 99% sure I get the voice tracking when on the GPS page. I don't switch to the Track page until I am certain that the rocket has landed and I am ready to start walking.

It is good practice to not mess with your phone, switch between apps, or lock screen when ready to launch or during the flight. The Bluetooth connection is way too fragile. This also applies to the Android apps I use with other trackers. Even rotating the screen from portrait to landscape can cause the tracking to crap out!
Normally i never switch screens. I usually check all my stuff when i first turn it on for signal. Then go to the voice screen check volume and directly to the track screen. I dont switch apps, or anything . Unfortunately handed it to a friend really quick while i was arming electronics... he was checking it out and switched screens i didnt catch it til after launch.
 

Conway Stevens

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Can you explain your reasoning for staying on the GPS page rather than the TRACK page? It seems to me the TRACK page has the most relevant information - the heading and distance to your rocket, as well as the GPS coordinates of it, while the GPS page only has the coordinates. Also staying on the TRACK page allows me to see the vertical and horizontal velocity of the rocket during the recovery phase. I have learned a lot about my drogue setups by watching the VertV during descent. And watching the heading change along with HorzV and distance helps me see shifts in wind direction and speed at various altitudes which can be useful for the next flight. Not to mention seeing the VertV drop when the main deploys - always a good feeling.

I basically just use the GPS page to make sure I have good satellite lock on both the GS and tracker, and then switch to the TRACK page before launch and stay there. I guess don't see any reason to stay on the GPS page but would like to hear your reasoning in case I'm missing something.


Tony
Totally agree with your use Tony
 

Buckeye

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Yes the track screen should show you gray background text and red title bar if you aren't getting lock/track. The other reason to be on that screen is the arrow and 'bubble' points your phone right to the rocket - even when it is in the sky and you can't see it. Instead of looking all over the horizon saying "does anyone see the main", at least you are looking directly at the point in the sky where you should see the main.
This is good info. Thanks. Alas, I could have been enjoying my tracker even more if I knew these features/applications. None of this is documented, as far as I have seen - the flashing pink text, the bouncing circles, the pointer arrow that changes from red to green (Based on azimuth angle, I am sure, but what is the threshold for color change?) Maybe they are mentioned here in TRF somewhere, but that's a lot of posts to search through.
 

kjs

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None of this is documented, as far as I have seen - the flashing pink text, the bouncing circles, the pointer arrow that changes from red to green (Based on azimuth angle, I am sure, but what is the threshold for color change?) Maybe they are mentioned here in TRF somewhere, but that's a lot of posts to search through.
I think the pink / gray background happens if no contact in 5 seconds and the pointer arrow / elevation bubble is green if within 5 degrees. I can verify if you want. sorry if this wasn't clear or obvious. it appears I may have a little more programming time soon so will engage here more on tech issues as well as future features. I'm also working on getting set up to do some simple videos on usage so maybe this will be more clear - more on that to come.

Thanks for being a Featherweight Customer!
 

manixFan

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I think the pink / gray background happens if no contact in 5 seconds and the pointer arrow / elevation bubble is green if within 5 degrees. I can verify if you want. sorry if this wasn't clear or obvious. it appears I may have a little more programming time soon so will engage here more on tech issues as well as future features. I'm also working on getting set up to do some simple videos on usage so maybe this will be more clear - more on that to come.

Thanks for being a Featherweight Customer!
A button to Copy the tracker GPS coordinates to the clipboard! Easy and very useful!!


Tony
 

OverTheTop

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A button to Copy the tracker GPS coordinates to the clipboard! Easy and very useful!!
I suggest writing them on paper as well. I have seen a flight where on the way to the rocket the phone went flat. It was an L3 attempt that was successful. The landing was visible from the flight line luckily.
 

kjs

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A button to Copy the tracker GPS coordinates to the clipboard! Easy and very useful!!
Tony - I've already been thinking of you! Do you paste it into GAIA or something else?
 

manixFan

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Tony - I've already been thinking of you! Do you paste it into GAIA or something else?
Either GAIA or MotionX. (MotionX is an older app that I think predates GAIA but is no longer available to purchase new, but existing users can continue to download it and use it.) But even being able to paste into Google or Apple Maps or anything similar would be useful to get a satellite view.

Of course a preference setting to choose the type of units to paste would be great - might as well ask while I'm here!


Tony
 

TonyL

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Hi Kevin,
Currently I work between the GPS page, devices page and the comm page because keeping the link is not a given, and we have had issues with getting a link to behave properly.
If the host device's compass was better, I would use the track page more, but typically it won't be something I can see in the sky, so the coordinates are what I tend to focus on.

Another system reports altitude, drift velocity and bearing [from gs to tracker] over voice that is useful while driving, so having voice regardless of page would be desirable [and a button to turn it on/off on the track page - hey maybe that is already there?]. Having a voice report of whether the GS-Tracker link is working or really just an unambiguos indicator [not some subtle color change or counter increment] would be helpful for making launch go/no go decisions, not to mention where to point the antenna.

A copy button would certainly be nice, but if I could get only one thing it would be an unambiguous indicator of link status that made some effort to provide 'what's wrong' if the link isn't working like if RSSI is marginal, never synch'd, stuff that one might use to address the problem.

BTW I am losing hope of ever seeing persistent labels on the comm page...

br/

the original other Tony
 

kjs

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But even being able to paste into Google or Apple Maps or anything similar would be useful to get a satellite view.
Makes sense; I have computers / monitors and cellular / wifi set up when I'm at a launch and a couple times we have gone into the camper and put the coordinates into google earth or google maps to figure out what the recovery would be like...
 

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Makes sense; I have computers / monitors and cellular / wifi set up when I'm at a launch and a couple times we have gone into the camper and put the coordinates into google earth or google maps to figure out what the recovery would be like...
Even at local launches a satellite view on a phone can be super helpful. At a recent launch I had a rocket land (unknown to me) on the far side of a small but impassable stream, in an area thick with brush and small trees. I tried to do a 'crows flight' recovery, and when I got to the stream, realized I had to go back to the road and take a much longer (but easier) path to get to the other side. I would have realized that If I had quickly checked a satellite view before starting. Of course this would have happened with any tracker that only provides GPS coordinates and a directional arrow or heading.

And, since I'm asking, if you can add 'Airdrop' to the Share action of flight recordings, that would also be a big convenience. Airdrop is perfect for the flying field since it allows for direct device to device communication without needing a Wifi network or any other infrastructure. (Wifi and bluetooth on both devices needs to be on, but that's it.) Since I have Excel on both my iPhone and iPad, I can immediately examine the data without needing a laptop.

Thanks for asking,


Tony

Here's the recovery I mentioned - the red line is the first path I took just using the directional indicator provided by iFIP. Once I got to the stream and realized I could not get across, I had to take the green path to get to my rocket. If I had checked the satellite view first, I could have saved some grief - the area in the trees was very tough going. This is a screenshot from Google Maps on my phone (with annotations added by me), it converted the coordinates from decimal to Minutes Degrees Seconds automatically:
creek.jpg
 

Dan Griffing

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The attached video clip is from yesterday's successful Big Sky Rocketry Association launch of my Mad Cow SDX3 to 3,338 feet on a Loki J535LW motor.

Most fortunately, the voice reporting mode of the Featherweight worked successfully! Hopefully this discussion can move on to making the iFIP app more reliable and on what other aspects of the transmitted GPS data to infer results from and to translate into audio.

I have my own list but I'm post my results of this successful voice reporting now. Those watching this launch with me yesterday were impressed by the performance of the Featherweight GPS.
 
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