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Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?



 
 
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  #1  
Old April 4th 17, 06:51 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Sean Fidler
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Default Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?

I would like to propose that the SSA consider providing its valued members with a far more comprehensive and well-adopted tracking solution (higher performance, more reliable hardware, negotiated member discounts, etc.). Tracking should not just for the benefit of contest pilots; tracking includes benefits for club operations & instruction, recreational pilots, cross country pilots, record pilots, badge pilots & competition pilots of all types. The SSA (and the sport of soaring in North America in general) desperately needs a more reliable, more affordable, more social, and more enjoyable tracking solution. Right now, the challenge is clearly the hardware and the service plan required to drive it. The SSA can, on behalf of its 10,000 members, is in an excellent position to organize, negotiate, promote and deliver a far better solution. The potential benifits are profound. I feel improved tracking should be part of the fee's that we all pay as members of the SSA and to attend SSA sanctioned contests and events. I'm not necessarily talking about a 100% free solution, but perhaps it could be free. We certainly should be working hard to understand what is possible and improve the current status quo.

For example, the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) provides EXACTLY this benefit for their members. The GFA procured and supports 70 GFA owned "LiveTrack24 tracker devices" which go to every Australian contest in a custom Pelican case.

There is considerable upside to tracking in regards to promoting, sharing and enjoying our fantastic, visually appealing, relatively affordable, and environmentally friendly sport. Tracking is not just about contests or contests pilots (preempting the highly predictable "you rich guys" attack soon to follow this post). Tracking is about sharing the sport of soaring with those stuck on the ground and making it highly social (fun, exciting, compelling, attractive). From the 14-year-old kid sharing his training flights with his friends on Facebook to Gordon Bettenger's or Daniel Sahzen's next record flight being shared with the world live, tracking is a key element to maximizing our sports exposure and generating maximum interest.

We currently have a very good beta/framework solution with Glideport.aero, but it is simply not complete. Hardware/Service plans (reliability, price etc.) are not solved. Sadly, and predictably, our tracking interface is VERY poorly adopted. Even for contests!

Below are some potential tracking technology options (just to get the conversation started):

GLIDEPORT.AERO
GP.aero is the SSA's current tracking display solution. Thanks VERY much Pedja and Lane Bush.
Glideport.aero "COTS" mobile trackers may become available soon (2 demo units rumored, Pedja, PLEASE!!!!).
These devices will cost roughly $250 per unit and need a mobile data account.
  #2  
Old April 5th 17, 01:56 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?

Sean-
I generally agree with your analysis of tracking options. You must admit, though, that SPOT was first to offer satellite tracking coupled with SOS capability. Unfortunately, they implemented this service without altitude information, slow updates, no two-way communication and a "secondary" set of satellite receivers. That being said, they do deserve kudos for at least opening the door for enhanced technology, which is now becoming available.

I have been using SPOT for several years, and while the technology is not up to today's standards as offered by DeLorme (now Garmin), it has served its intended purpose; witness the number of rescues initiated and completed utilizing their services. Simply rating SPOT as "Crap" denigrates the valuable service they provided for several years prior to the introduction of more sophisticated devices. I doubt that the bush pilot down in B.F. Alaska was complaining about inferior technology when the rescue pilot showed up within two hours of the SOS signal.

Remember that these services are not intended primarily for real-time tracking. They are meant to be emergency locators, and like your car's spare tire, they are meant to be used in an emergency. Tracking is a secondary function, as most users (hikers, bikers, sailors, etc.) travel much slower and do not have the capability to move long distances from the last reported position, even with a 10 minute signal spacing. Sailplanes can travel a very long way in 10 minutes, and that tracking interval is not very helpful to rescue responders when it comes to our capabilities. Indeed, a pilot who went down a couple of years ago from Moriarty was not found for two days, even with SPOT. It was a medical incident and violent impact that rendered the scene barely recognizable as a crash site, but his SPOT transmissions at least gave searchers a general area to examine.

SPOT led the way, as did a variety of other Personal Locator Beacons (PLB). Now that the new generation of trackers (DeLorme InReach Explorer in particular) are available, with batch uploading of position (1 minute interval) on a 10 minute basis, with the addition of altitude information and the invaluable capability of two-way text communication through the truly global Iridium satellite constellation, it is obvious that the world has changed once again.

I have switched to InReach, even at the higher subscription price for the same reason I upgraded from a CAI302 to something more modern. Tracking is a benefit, but to tell you the truth, I grow weary of everybody knowing where I am all the time unless I want them to know where I am.

I checked into a hotel in Werribee, Victoria, Australia three weeks ago and Google was asking me to take some photos of the place and give a review before I got my bags into my room.
  #3  
Old April 5th 17, 02:42 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Ron Gleason
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Default Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?

On Tuesday, 4 April 2017 11:51:56 UTC-6, Sean Fidler wrote:
I would like to propose that the SSA consider providing its valued members with a far more comprehensive and well-adopted tracking solution (higher performance, more reliable hardware, negotiated member discounts, etc.). Tracking should not just for the benefit of contest pilots; tracking includes benefits for club operations & instruction, recreational pilots, cross country pilots, record pilots, badge pilots & competition pilots of all types.. The SSA (and the sport of soaring in North America in general) desperately needs a more reliable, more affordable, more social, and more enjoyable tracking solution. Right now, the challenge is clearly the hardware and the service plan required to drive it. The SSA can, on behalf of its 10,000 members, is in an excellent position to organize, negotiate, promote and deliver a far better solution. The potential benifits are profound. I feel improved tracking should be part of the fee's that we all pay as members of the SSA and to attend SSA sanctioned contests and events. I'm not necessarily talking about a 100% free solution, but perhaps it could be free. We certainly should be working hard to understand what is possible and improve the current status quo.

For example, the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) provides EXACTLY this benefit for their members. The GFA procured and supports 70 GFA owned "LiveTrack24 tracker devices" which go to every Australian contest in a custom Pelican case.

There is considerable upside to tracking in regards to promoting, sharing and enjoying our fantastic, visually appealing, relatively affordable, and environmentally friendly sport. Tracking is not just about contests or contests pilots (preempting the highly predictable "you rich guys" attack soon to follow this post). Tracking is about sharing the sport of soaring with those stuck on the ground and making it highly social (fun, exciting, compelling, attractive). From the 14-year-old kid sharing his training flights with his friends on Facebook to Gordon Bettenger's or Daniel Sahzen's next record flight being shared with the world live, tracking is a key element to maximizing our sports exposure and generating maximum interest.

We currently have a very good beta/framework solution with Glideport.aero, but it is simply not complete. Hardware/Service plans (reliability, price etc.) are not solved. Sadly, and predictably, our tracking interface is VERY poorly adopted. Even for contests!

Below are some potential tracking technology options (just to get the conversation started):

GLIDEPORT.AERO
GP.aero is the SSA's current tracking display solution. Thanks VERY much Pedja and Lane Bush.
Glideport.aero "COTS" mobile trackers may become available soon (2 demo units rumored, Pedja, PLEASE!!!!).
These devices will cost roughly $250 per unit and need a mobile data account.
Glideport.aero supports mobile device apps (IGCDroid - Android & GlideTrack - iOS), InReach (and Spot, but see my comments below).

LIVETRACK24 (http://www.livetrack24.com/services/index#services2)
Gliding Federation Australia (Australian SSA) owns 70 and provides them to all Australian contests for tracking as a perk of membership.
This solution was employed at the recent WGC. Very successful. No mobile application to deal with. A simple, 3x2x1 inch device with an ON/OFF button and light. That's it Turn it on, and it works (TOAW). TOAW is the hope/goal with Glideport.aero trackers above. Does it need to be any more complicated?

INREACH/GARMIN TRACKING
Satellite based, ultra-reliable, more expensive than spot, and up to 1-minute resolution with airspeed, heading and ground speed.

YELLOWBRICK TRACKING
Popular with yachting, etc.
Incredible interface and API.
https://www.ybtracking.com

SPOT (CRAP)
Spot devices are completely useless for enjoyable sailplane tracking. In fact, I argue that SPOT does more damage to the goal of making sailplane tracking interesting than good. Spot devices are intended for the hiker moving at 1-2 mph along the earth's surface. They have not innovated their solution in over ten years. I prefer to refer to Spot as the "anti-interesting sailplane tracking device" and feel Spot must be eradicated from this discussion ASAP and at all costs. Spot devices are "eh" for emergency purposes, but even that statement is a stretch. We need to "be better than Spot" as a sport in general. I was pleased to hear that Spot is raising their prices 50% and that robbery has irritated many of you recently. Hopefully, this will inspire some to consider switching to the newer tracking technologies. Spot is simply not worthy of being included in any further conversation regarding the goal of impressive tracking.

NETWORKED FLARM RADARS
Highly popular in Europe (and even parts of Canada)
High performance.
Requires the (up to) $2000 Flarm device :-(
http://live.glidernet.org (See European coverage)

OTHER TECHNOLOGIES
???

Flame away. Especially you anti-technology clowns. I'm ready for you ;-) ...

Sean


There are many folks looking to (re)solve this issue. Look at the HG and PG communities. There are a number of solutions from Europe. The common denominator is smart phone based. Low barrier to entry.

Check out https://airtribune.com/

It used by many folks and competitions. In fact the CIVL, division of FAI, has chosen them to be the tracking solution and starting in 2018 for HG/PG Cat 1 and 2 events will automatically produce the IGC used for scoring with loggers as backup if needed. BTW CIVL also hired Naviter (SeeYou) to modify SeeYou competition for their rules and will standardize on that software for scoring so they can get out of the software business.

The SSA in 2016 budgeted $25K for contest sanction fees revenue. Where does that revenue go? Is this a good use of the monies?

Sounds like a simple business case could made for what you are proposing.
  #4  
Old April 5th 17, 08:55 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Jim White[_3_]
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Default Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?

Sean, I would argue for more work on Flarm.

Flarm should be mandatory for competitions and the receivers are very cheap
- Raspberry PI plus a $10 TV receiver. Perhaps $60 in all. You need a
network of receivers in the task area but I'll bet you can recruit computer
enthusiasts all over the US to provide this.

We use it for tracking, IGC logging, in flight safety, retrieves, MIAs,
navigation, tug and glider launch logging, and even for demonstrating to
Nimbys that we adhere to airspace and noise abatement rules.

The resulting data is freely available on the net for programmers to
develop great interfaces available in browsers and smart TVs.

  #5  
Old April 5th 17, 02:43 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?

This is truly a technological breakthrough for Soaring as we know it.

The SSA needs to ask this question. "Would this feature increase excitement in our sport?" The answer is clearly YES. It is time for an investment.

The sport needs a boost, this is it.
  #6  
Old April 5th 17, 03:05 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Sean Fidler
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Posts: 938
Default Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?

Another interesting company in the sat/mobile tracking space: https://www.v2track.com
  #7  
Old April 5th 17, 03:06 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?

On Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 1:51:56 PM UTC-4, Sean Fidler wrote:
I would like to propose that the SSA snip continues doing the fine job of keeping the FAA away.

Tracking gadgetry is not the SSA's business. Those that want it need to build it or buy it themselves. Not have it funded by the 9,999 SSA members that don't care.
  #8  
Old April 5th 17, 03:18 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?

What evidence do you have that suggest there are 9,999 other members? And, this number that you've pulled out of thin air that ALL OF THEM don't want to get with the times! Laughable! You would probably reject funding for windsocks back in the early days of flying, and reject a website development for the SSA in the 1990's.


Dear Green Eggs and Ham, would you rather use the money to invest in circular runways?? Hahaha
  #9  
Old April 5th 17, 03:23 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
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Default Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?

Oh and by the way, live tracking INCREASES safety. In the same manner a spot tracker does, except its in real time with a pinpointed location.

I propose the SSA fund this tracking to increase safety. By increasing safety it will help keep the FAA happy.

I've seen too many bad land outs that are a challenge to find when in the forest or elsewhere. We saw it with Brian in Mifflin a while back.

Chris, "Green Eggs and Ham", it could be you next that is in need of a retrieve, or an emergency hanging upside down by your seatbelt straps in a trees after you've had the unthinkable happen. And you would be WISHING you hadn't been a naysayer to the funding.
  #10  
Old April 5th 17, 03:30 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Sean Fidler
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Posts: 938
Default Improved live tracking for the SSA membership?

Gregg,

I dislike the idea of allowing the SSA to continue with the same stone age thinking that has created such a "thriving sport" for us here in the USA, at all levels. We are part of stagnant organization that suffers from almost no innovation. We are boring. Should we just continue on that path? Keep doing what the SSA good old boys tell us we should and shut up? Fortunately, this is definitely not a 1:9,999 issue...

As I have previously stated, Australia's "SSA" (the GFA) has a different attitude and has proven value for its members with a tracking investment. Europe, on the other hand, (again previously stated) developed a network of Flarm radar (2k per Flarm but I believe Flarm is mandatory in Europe). Would you prefer mandatory Flarm? The FAA wanted to enforce a mandatory ADSB requirement on gliders, something I strongly supported and continue to support. That was 3-4K but far more powerful as a safety solution.

What does the SSA really provide us? If you think the SSA protects us from the "evil FAA" trying to create a modern safety environment, good luck. The SSA should be in the business of marketing the sport of Soaring (not just to 60 year olds who have been part of it for their entire lives) and in the business of innovation. Improved tracking is one obvious opportunity for for later.

But yes, I'll be shocked if anything happens and fully expect it won't.

 




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