Featherweight software

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Dan Griffing

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In a hobby that is so small good news travels fast and bad news even faster? I think you’re trying to create drama where there isn’t any. It’s two guys making a product in their spare time for a tiny hobby.
Most products for high power rocketry are NOT made by behemoth corporations like Microsoft, Apple or General Motors, but by tiny one or two person operations where the principals must hold down other full time jobs to earn a living. (I’ve tried to do this in another industry and most of the time these kinds of products are labors of love and not profitable operations.)

So even at its best, don’t expect the same kind of available resources as an iPhone.

Those engaged in the HOBBY of high power rocketry should already consider themselves fortunate with the quality of products that are now available and not think that making demands for the impossible will go anywhere. So please be patient.

Although I’ve always salivated over the Multitronix Kate system, I find it amazing that Eggtimer and Featherweight can make so much less expensive GPS trackers that actually work.

And I also find it even more amazing that Featherweight’s design “leverages-off” of the Apple iPhone’s tens of millions of dollars of development in user interface, and built-in GPS, gyroscope and magnetometer features.

Had any rocketry GPS tracker manufacturer attempted to design and vertically integrate such features into their product the way Multitronix did, it would have cost several times as much as Kate, instead of a quarter as much. The Featherweight tracker really works and shows great promise as a young product.
 

kjs

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from my latest flight, can't do this with some of the other trackers
It appears I should have some more programming time so should allow you to share KML and other data directly from your phone instead of going through the clean up and post process steps...
 

kjs

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Our current club president (David Boyd) was doing that in real time some 15+ years ago

TP
so I looked briefly into 'automating' google earth "live"... my interest is in a monitor near the LCO (tent of course) with live google earth... if you or David had clues on how to do this, I would be really interested...
 

rocket_troy

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I personally have no idea, but I'll PM you his Email. I just remember it completely blew me away when I saw it back then and I'm not easily impressed like that.

TP
 

Buckeye

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can't do this with some of the other trackers
All right, let's not get carried away. There is usually a way to capture the GPS data stream to file from every tracker. That file may be kml by default, or easily manipulated into kml format.

I port GPS feeds into ucenter or VisualGPS for some real-time data plotting, but real-time Google Earth would be really cool.
 

jbr

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even if I have to carry 2 phones, one for tracking and the other showing the map where it is, I would do it
from what has been reported elsewhere, google maps is superior to apple maps, I only bought the iphone for this app
 

Dan Griffing

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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
Thanks, Tony.

Now if only I could remember how to bookmark this so that I can go back to it when I need to use it.
 

Dan Griffing

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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
Snarky-ness aside, I think that OvertheTop’s point might be that most of us have become used to multitasking Windows computers programs and iPhone apps where you can jump between multiple programs or apps without “hanging-up” or canceling the operation of the app or program you were using.

It had been my expectation of this that resulted in me wasting three rocket launches with the Featherweight iFIP before learning that this couldn’t be done.

After all, when you get an iPhone app with virtually no documentation, you think that its because it works intuitively the same as most other apps without “gotchas” and doesn’t need any other documentation.

Especially, I had previously been using my iPhone for taking videos of my other launches and was dismayed to learn that I couldn’t do this while using Featherweight iFIP and getting voice reporting.

But after PM-ing with Kevin I realize the reason for this, as unfortunate as it turns out to be.

What might help to mitigate for this lack would be if the Featherweight iFIP could have a background feature where its voice reporting feature could send its data to a saved file that could be selected and played later. It would be nice to use other apps on the iPhone like the video camera while the Featherweight iFIP app was running and tracking the rocket with voice.
 
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Dan Griffing

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The system is impressive and I have the money. I'll buy the minute there is proper software.
This could result in a “Catch-22” situation.

Small new businesses need a growing number of customers and income stream to justify spending more on generating new, released “proper software”, while customers hold off buying a small new-comer’s product.

But you might be short-changing yourself by holding off purchasing the Featherweight tracking system. If you need a rocketry GPS tracker, compared with the alternatives, the Featherweight is already a really great value.

Right now, you can purchase TWO GPS trackers and one ground station interface for your iPhone, all for less than $500.

In addition, and quite significantly, of the “under-reported” features of the Featherweight iFIP app’s tracker page software is that it is excellent at working as an “alt-az” pointing device to point your iPhone directly at your rocket while it is actually in flight and to help you visually locate or relocate it. This is because the iFIP uses the iPhone’s builtin GPS, gyroscope and magnetometer compass to be a much more responsive pointing device than an user interface that doesn’t use the things.

Anyone who has had a rocket disappear after launching it or more 3,000 feet and is trying to locate it will understand the problem. Part of the satisfaction of launching a rocket is to see it reach apogee and see the drogue and main chutes deploy.

The Featherweight is a most excellent and reliable GPS tracker for finding your rocket after it lands. But the iPhone and Featherweight iFIP app will help you track and even relocate your rocket while it is flying.

Don’t let your holding off for perfection in a rocketry GPS system deny you the satisfaction of having a really, really good and affordable GPS tracker right now.
 

kjs

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I think that OvertheTop’s point might be that most of us have become used to multitasking Windows computers programs and iPhone apps where you can jump between multiple programs or apps without “hanging-up” or canceling the operation of the app or program you were using.
In fact, most phone development environments try to limit multitasking (background processing) because of the background power usage. For instance I had to find compiler/application settings to allow a firmware update to even continue over blue tooth if you switched the app to the background. So, yes the phones allow background processing, but it isn't the default in many cases. I think I just need to find the other settings. Obviously Pandora plays in the background so I should be able to figure out how to get the Featherweight app to as well.

Thanks again for the support and inputs!
 

OverTheTop

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Snarky-ness aside, I think that OvertheTop’s point might be that most of us have become used to multitasking Windows computers programs and iPhone apps where you can jump between multiple programs or apps without “hanging-up” or canceling the operation of the app or program you were using.
No snarkyness intended from my comment, and I think I posted that in a following comment also. Just stating fact. Don't read into statements emotions that are not there. Thanks for validating my thoughts.
 

manixFan

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I wish I had not purchased the product, regardless of how well it might work. There are other products that work equally as well.


You should not have to update a product software every three months to keep it working. I plan ahead and update as necessary but there are too many variable out of my control and in the hands of others (Apple, Featherweight) that concern me.
No snarkyness intended from my comment, and I think I posted that in a following comment also. Just stating fact. Don't read into statements emotions that are not there. Thanks for validating my thoughts.
You provided the emotion for all of us to read when you posted that you wished you hadn't purchased the product. I literally read the emotion you posted. Maybe you don't see it that way since you've made up your mind you regret buying the product. But if I can see that in your posts, it's likely others do as well.


Tony

(bold emphasis added by me for clarity)
 

Dan Griffing

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No snarkyness intended from my comment, and I think I posted that in a following comment also. Just stating fact. Don't read into statements emotions that are not there. Thanks for validating my thoughts.
I didn't personally regard your posting #104 on this thread as either overly snarky or otherwise out of order. Sometimes the point you are making is totally ignored unless you emphasize it with what others might consider snark. And then when they get it they take offense and focus only on the "snark". In fact, I was mostly responding to manixFan's characterization in #105 of it being snarky, and was saying to put it aside and look at the underlying issue. I agree with you about "treat[ing] running programs on PCs back in the '90s". Back then multitasking was always a utopian dream but the computational power of the processors wasn't up to the task. Now it is. And I can also sympathize with your frustration at having your problems with iFIP being scoffed at and not taken seriously. I've been on both sides of that issue with both as a developer and as a customer who wasn't able to have the application I had work to my satisfaction.

I'm confident that Kevin Small is also aware of our concerns and is "old school" enough to remember the earlier days. But both Kevin and Adrian have limited resources, so I'm not sure if there is an immediate solution for this.

There might also be other inherent technical problems with getting a fully functional iPhone app solution for this. For example, what other apps can you multi-task on the iPhone while you are using the Featherweight iFIP? Can you use the iPhone Camera to shoot a video of the launch, or use its WIFI interface to arm an Eggtimer Quark or Proton flight computer? Or can you use the Featherweight's ground station Bluetooth interface to its ground station while using Bluetooth to communicate with other devices. The problem is more subtle than just not having the iFIP voice mode "hang-up" and stop working when you go to another page than the tracker page. Since there is a work-around, I'll be patient while waiting for these software issues to work out.
 

OverTheTop

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You provided the emotion for all of us to read when you posted that you wished you hadn't purchased the product. I literally read the emotion you posted. Maybe you don't see it that way since you've made up your mind you regret buying the product. But if I can see that in your posts, it's likely others do as well.
Tony
(bold emphasis added by me for clarity)
Thanks [sarcasm] for quoting a different quote to what we are discussing, regarding window switching. Please try to keep up with the discussion and don't quote statements out of context.

The uncertainty of having to update the firmware every three months is another kettle of kipper. I like to control all my updates so I don't get surprises coming up to launches. I have had Windows do something nasty to me in the past and with big flights you don't want forced firmware updates surprising you after you have had previously successful flight. Updates need to be properly managed by the flyer or they can bite on launch day. There many complex interactions and if they can be eliminated it makes for more predictable behaviour, hence my wishing I had one less thing to be concerned about. We are not talking simple LPR/MPR flights so I like to get things right.

Maybe you should avoid commenting on my posts if you can't get your mindset around what I am saying. You are making mountains out of molehills.
 
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Dan Griffing

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The uncertainty of having to update the firmware every three months is another kettle of kipper.
I totally agree. This makes the continued use of the product you paid for dependent of the continued existence of your product vendor, otherwise your tracker system becomes a brick.

While I'm not blaming you, the continued back and forth between you and manixFan about who said what emotional thing gets in the way of discussing real issues related to the Featherweight iFIP software.
 

ChristineZ

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This thread actually encourages me further to try the featherweight GPS tracker. The developer is responsive to the issues mentioned in this thread. Even though I currently use another system of tracker/base station, that works really well too, having non homogenous systems is helpful.
Most of us are tinkers ourselves, we know the dedication of time and sweat equity that goes on in this hobby. To see the advancements in technology that have happened over the last decades is amazing. Some of us were mixing our own fuel and scratch building everything in secrecy because parents wouldn't approve of rockets when we were little. Many of us dreamed of the Astrocam, and today we are sending/receiving real-time telemetry from home built fibreglass/carbon fibre and or more exotic kit rockets that are moving at mach + speeds, several miles down range...

...off to research...
Christine
 

Banzai88

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This thread actually encourages me further to try the featherweight GPS tracker. The developer is responsive to the issues mentioned in this thread.
This statement baffles me. It's akin to knowing that a particular car has problems keeping the lug nuts on, and that ONLY frequent stops at the dealership will keep them from flying off, knowing that a different product demonstrably does not have the same issues (but has fewer cup holders in the back seat), and buying the car anyway because you MIGHT, one day, sit in the back seat to use those cup holders and BECAUSE one guy at the dealership will keep putting the lug nuts on for you for free if you're not too busy (or already crashed) to keep stopping by.

The best product is the one that serves your needs at the lowest cost and has the fewest issues that would impact said use.
The best customer service/warranty is the one that you NEVER need to test.

It's left up to the consumer to decide if the current product being discussed is described by either of those two statements.
 
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Steve Shannon

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ChristineZ, I agree; it’s always very nice to see the software developer involved in a conversation with people who buy and use a product. It’s especially telling that he has remained involved in the midst of juvenile tit-for-tat squabbling and outright rudeness . That would be very discouraging to many. Why would anyone develop something for a very small market that reacts so negatively.
The people who build and program Rocketry electronics have to develop some pretty thick skin. I’ve met most of them. They are all rocketeers, most with full time day jobs, spouses, and sometime kids. Yet every one I have met is willing to engage in conversations similar to this, some here, some on Facebook, some in private email.

So, to the Kevins and Adrians, the Keiths and B’dales, the Jims, the Johns, and the Crises, thank you for putting up with us. Please don’t quit because of the childishness and pettiness that comes out sometimes. People are tense right now for more reasons than just rocket electronics and that tension finds ways to emerge.
 

Dan Griffing

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I agree; it’s always very nice to see the software developer involved in a conversation with people who buy and use a product. It’s especially telling that he has remained involved in the midst of juvenile tit-for-tat squabbling and outright rudeness . That would be very discouraging to many.
I totally agree.

With the stresses of the pandemic and the years of political strife that have hit us all, maybe its time to step back and take a deep breath.

High power rocketry has helped us through these most trying years, thanks in no small part to the innovators who bring us these new evolving products. They can benefit from our constructive feedback if we remain civil and don’t make their life more difficult than it already is.
 

kjs

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Please don’t quit because of the childishness and pettiness that comes out sometimes.
I have no intentions of quitting anytime soon. And I'm now following ChristineZ after she PWNED Bansai with only one line...!

And for others that might actually get this far in the thread, the current Featherweight update process is more akin to just watching your gas gauge and not running out of gas. Except with iFIP, you get a notification of the update every 60-90 days, and you just tap on it for the free update (as opposed to going to the gas station for a fill up)... Unless you find yourself by the side of the road with an empty tank of gas a lot, the update shouldn't be a problem...

Having said that - yes, I will work on getting it into the app store 'official'...
 

jbr

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I have supported several kickstarter trackers and so far they don't stand up to what was promised
I also own walston, eggfinder, missileworks trackers and so far find featherweight to be superior IMHO
I should sell some of my other equipment
 

TonyL

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While I may complain about the things I still want to see, I do understand the monumental amount of work that goes into developing even a mediocre product, much less a very effective one.

Adrian and Kevin have done a tremendous job producing an effective product. Anyone who does not like using a phone for tracking might look at the other interface options and see if they are any better. I find that the ones in the same price category are not.

Anyone who wants something 'more developed' might try actually doing something like that and see how it goes for them. In some cases "the consumer is not always right", sometimes they are just lucky that some bright and inquisitive folks have invested their time to produce something that works.

I own a bunch of these and I am very happy to have them as my general purpose go-to tracker.

br/

Tony
 
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