[aprssig] Fwd: Burning Man Trackers and Display Software

Andrew P. andrewemt at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 25 07:11:54 CDT 2014

Hi, Allan.

Thanks for the extensive update. Note that I'm not upset with you for not being able to use my YAAC program; I'm glad for the feedback so I can improve it. Per the issues you mentioned below:

1. Could you send me that giant TIFF/PDF map file you were talking about? I'd like to use it to test and fix my raster map support.

2. YAAC has recently added timeslotting, so it now could be sending status and text messages back to the mobiles that have two-way without colliding with the one-way trackers.

3. YAAC only maintains the track stripe for moving stations for the data retention period you set, and you can choose to display all tracking stripes, or only for selected stations. Setting the stripe to shorter than the retention time? Would that be useful? If so, it could be added. I'll look into track highlighting.

4. YAAC can log all traffic passing through it, and can do animated log playbacks. Even possible to select on a callsign or other message feature for selective playbacks.

5. YAAC does support tactical names for stations, in a form compatible with Xastir. So you could change the name (and symbol) for a station on your screen without reprogramming the tracker, and share the name assignments (at least) with other monitoring stations.

6. One instance of YAAC can support as many TNC's as you have serial ports to connect them to the computer, so multi-frequency isn't a problem. Now, whether you want digipeating between some ports and not others is a different story; tell me how flexible you need it, and I'll see what I can do.

7. YAAC has a built-in webserver, so your LAN users could look "over the shoulder" of the primary YAAC user at what was being seen. Alternatively, if you used a I-gate type program to handle the multiple TNC's, you could connect multiple instances of any client program to your local "I-gate" (even though it didn't have a connection to the real Internet) and have all the user stations have full functionality for monitoring, messaging, and map panning and zooming independently. YAAC (like several other programs) is free, so you can have lots of copies running on different machines.

Scott, are these cool new trackers of yours transmit-only or receive-capable? if the latter, let's talk about spec'ing a tracker reprogramming message protocol (either APRS extensions, OpenTRAC extensions, or something altogether separate). I'd be happy to support a central command mode in my software to talk to the trackers for the on-the-fly remote reconfiguration. I've already got message authentication capability, so we could ensure no dingbats came in and tried to take over someone else's tracker.

Andrew Pavlin, KA2DDO

> From: polymath99 at gmail.com
> Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2014 14:09:43 -0400
> To: aprssig at tapr.org
> Subject: [aprssig] Fwd: Burning Man Trackers and Display Software
> OK... I'm finally digging out from the nearly 3000 mile drive to come back from the Burning Man Event.... catching up on email....
> > I can respond to some of the outstanding work that Scott Miller did for my Burning Man "Practical" Art Project..... if somebody wants to see pictures of equipment or the display... or installation... I guess we can figure out how / where to place the pictures for general viewing....
> > 
> > First... OUTSTANDING gear Scott.... I bought 10 trackers from Scott to trial ambulance tracking for this event....
> >        low power... SUPURB power management
> >        9600 bps... time slotting...
> >        robust... works in HEAT... works in DUST... works in vibration environment... just plain WORKS...
> > 
> > I'm thinking a few more - (improved from lessons learned) trackers for the future if Scott can put up with me for another round....
> > 
> > As Scott related... we tracked almost 20 vehicles .... and they were running around the clock.... UHF.... I figure less than half a watt at the antenna... and yet we had great tracks to 10 miles as the crow flies (town of Empire).... from a 24 ft magnesium mast .... with a Hustler G6-440 antenna.  30 ft of VERY LOW LOSS Wilson LMR 400 coax from antenna to lightning arrestor.... arrestor bolted to copper ground rod... and then another 30 Ft of LMR 400 to my old Kenwood D700 receiver.  That in turn (via serial to USB converter) to a refurb Dell laptop... running the Depiction software.  Oh by the way... lightning hit within a few hundred yards during the event... when power was restored it continued to operate for 7 more days till we demob'd.  Oh... winds were near Hurricane strength a couple of times.... did I mention the salty talcum powder like dust :)
> > 
> > Why Depiction....
> > 
> > I asked a few authors about how to take a pdf file of the city map... (10k by 10k when converted to TIFF format and the map pdf not available till a few weeks before event)... oh by the way, that pdf was NOT north up... and make a decent quality map for display  (zoom) - usable WITHOUT the internet.... and it appeared that there wasn't an easy way for this dummy (me) to get a decent map georegistered and working with most software out there...
> > 
> > I'm sure some folks here on the SIG could have done it with some other software.... just I'm not that capable/good with most APRS software...  I did it my way.... and I'd love to learn a better way - especially if it is anywhere near as easy as it ended up being with Depiction.
> > 
> > FYI.... the event map changes every year, the location shifts a little bit every year... the city is about five square miles and probably over 60 miles of streets....  coordinates and pdf map come out less than 10 weeks prior to event.  I am not a GIS specialist... but with the 30 day trial Depiction allows... and the videos Depiction has on line... and Depiction has a module upgrade that does live APRS data - I could do what I need to get a georegistered map at the last minute (without internet)...
> > 
> > Depiction worked... and if we can find a way to post some images... you can see just how well the tracks followed the city streets.... outstanding results from Depiction and I can say enough good about Scott (Argent Data)....
> > 
> > Andrew... I was the one who approached you... and in NO WAY do I want any poor reflection to be upon you... it was the last minute when I reached out to you... and I dearly wished I could have used your software.... and some of the other authors software too... and I'd love to compare and see what we can do in the future - lets work together and shame on me for not working with you sooner.  Depictions ability to rotate, translate, and scale an image file derived from a converted pdf... to georegister it with a few surveyed coordinates (only available at the last minute)... made Depiction a pivotal part of the success of tracking medical vehicles.
> > 
> > This is not a benign environment....  but the system worked for DAYS....with updates at 6 second temporal resolution... WITHOUT being tied to vehicle power.... all in a size smaller than a paperback book.... mag mount to vehicle roofs where we had to place a metal plate....  I cannot say enough.... simply outstanding results from Scott and the Depiction product.
> > 
> > Problems I'd like to address for future use - and I hope Scott will decide not to ignore me in the future for all my failings......
> > 
> > 1.  I don't need to display a breadcrumb trail that lasts forever.... it'd be better to have three choices...
> >        forever... like now
> >        never (just current positions)...
> >        user selected time (5, 20, 60 minutes)
> > 2.  Ability to select (and display) just one selected vehicle and its track
> >        Similarly to highlight one track so it is different from all the other tracks
> > 3.  Log of all vehicle tracks and playback of the same - post event.  - even better to pick the time range and vehicle out from the logs....
> > 4. Ability to change unit ID on screen.  When a vehicle role changes during the event I'd like to be able to change it there... not have to go reprogram it in the tracker
> >        Example - the Airway team moves from Ambulance 5 to Ambulance 7..... I'd like to hook the new unit and modify its attributes immediately...
> >        without changing callsign or having to reprogram tracker.
> > 5.  Want to be able to dynamically change beacon rate.... universally (all devices at a minimum)
> >        Individually even better... from the base station....  even if I can only do so when the vehicles are within 100 ft of the base station
> > 6.  Need the tracker to adjust it's position rate due to power available... as well as report it's current power status.
> > 7.  Though Scotts devices exceeded my design specs...I learned (my fault) we need trackers that work 3x as long a period (two weeks at the incredible rate of 20 of 24 hours a day and NOT tied to vehicle power) ....  OK Scott... I know the device will be twice the size...  I'm ok with that....
> > 8.  Need to be able to take tracker  feeds coming in on multiple frequencies simultaneously.... Ambulances on one freq, logistics vehicles on another freq, fire on another freq, security vehicles on yet a fourth freq.  At four vehicles reporting every second (TDMA) and six second update interval.... that's 24 vehicles per freq.... no digipeater involved.  To get all the other vehicles displayed.... need to accept that multiple freqs are in use.  Using multiple freqs is  NOT AN ISSUE IN REMOTE AREAS FOLKS.... plenty of freqs... I have no desire to feed this to the internet... it's not for internet consumption.... in any case, this is LOW POWER....  If you have different needs... then do it the way you want to in your sandbox.... this event has 70,000 people in 5 square miles.... no town within 12 miles and the next town is about 15 miles... their combined population is 750 people... and no city within 100+ miles....
> > 9.  Need to have trackers shut themselves off when they go outside geofence.... (patients being transported 120 miles away to regular hospital)
> > 10.  Need to have the map display at 10 to 20 others locations all on a LAN... but do not need ten to twenty base stations (antennas, receivers, power supplies, etc).... screen capture at six second rate and display at multiple displays elsewhere (I'm thinking screen captures and dumps to web server application every six seconds... then use Raspberry Pi at the other 10 locations ... using Pi browser.... gotta check license issue).... yeah... other 10 locations do not get to manipulate screen or data like at the master station.... but most of them don't need to.... but it's clear that everybody needs to see this location info... and make decisions with common picture of locations.  A picture is worth 10,000 words.... an advanced life support supervisor turned to me during one point in the event and said - why is that vehicle over there... that Nurse didn't realize how that one comment was priceless to me.... I had no clue why... .but that individual was making decisions about patient care with the additional info we were providing... that was priceless and made my anxiety/funding/contribution worth it to me... exactly why I took on the project... and to be fair... Scott had more skin in this game than me.... THANK YOU SCOTT.....
> > 11... quick attach and detach to UTV's... where no metal to mag mount on roof....
> > 12.  I have been requested for man portable device... .needs to be real small.... also a distance and direction like Yaesu does....  events in cities where walking (running) responders can get to the scene where huge crowds are at and no addresses are known
> > 13... OK Scott... 10 second updates would probably have worked :)
> > 
> > I gave Scott lots of freedom (not that I had a choice:) for this "Practical" Art Project.... I did not worry about backwards compatibility.... I had a set of Specs and gave the Engineer (Scott) his reigns to make a go of it.... I did not nag him (well... no more than once every three weeks)... nor have scope creep.  I trusted him and did not question his pricing ... yeah... I was getting anxious at some project schedule issues.... but I tried to stay low key...   blew some operational test, integration, and training schedule dates... but Man oh man... did Scott come through with outstanding results.
> > 
> > Folks, 9600 is here today at a reasonable price point with the UHF device Scott did for me... .and we received the data on my D700 in 9600 mode.... and if I could do OpenTrac instead of APRS as the protocol I would have... just on principal....
> > 
> > We did NOT need all the backwards compatibility baggage of APRS... BTW 18 plus years of baggage.... we didn't need to be everything to everybody.  Oh.... there were APRS packets on at least three freqs at event......  we were only one on UHF that I found... .
> > 
> > As to other issues.... yeah.... digipeating is needed in the future to accommodate terrain masking... but as far as my needs go... .it too can be to a separate freq... just set up yet another receiver at the command node... .
> > 
> > I guess I could work with display folks to take multiple concurrent feeds on separate serial ports... but it seems it'd be more flexible to have a SoC or SBC that merges multiple serial feeds onto one feed... .I'd love to take ACARS and AIS and have the option of converting to same format.. .interleave them into the serial stream and have that too.... we had one of the busiest airports in Nevada for a week.... some other place might be a lake or harbor so tracking those with existing aviation and vessel tracking would be useful.
> > 
> > Some additional (thinking as I type thoughts).... I worked on an system 18 years ago that had two speed (1200 and 9600) digis to accommodate trackers and digi relay on one freq... when you go back, I believe this was the first time - time slot APRS happened... using PACCOMM TNCs... those of you who've been around for 18 plus years on APRS (like me) possibly recall the effort I'm talking about...you can have the pain of two speeds on same freq.... same system tried to do ROSE network to control movement of data back to command center... no way I'll go that route any time soon.... the world has changed in 18 years. But we continue to saddle APRS with backwards compatibility... I don't need the baggage.... messaging... don't need it.... auto QSY... don't need it... bulletins... don't need.... this is about TRACKERS.... for tracking acute care patient transport and maybe other critical asset tracking... where no cellular exists.... or where crowd density precludes cellular being reliable.  Ambulance drivers don't need to message some of the odd vanity ego stuff that I see with some APRS users....  I did AVL that  predates APRS - APRS wasn't the first GPS tracking approach over RF by a long shot....but I give Bob credit...his baby has moved some of the common use forward at a low cost....  I just don't need everything and the kitchen sink.....
> > 
> > Oh... it's my hope the other 50 weeks a year... some of that time it'll be used to track racing dinghy's at local regattas :)
> > 
> > Armor on ... shields up.... back into the hole....  and obviously --- you do what you want to do for your event....
> > 
> > I'll tell you something.... ... anything Scott or Bill V. and a couple of others that contribute here say to me... I'll take that to the bank by golly....
> > 
> > Parting thoughts.... Thinking about having some weather instruments out there.... like what the wind speed and direction are at the primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency LZ's....   Hey... a vehicle counter would be REAL useful.... counting vehicles at ingress and egress points....   oh.... some emergency call boxes - strategically placed.... could be very useful.... ever tried to call for help when no cell service is available?  Hmmm... seems like this might be just another other kind of telemetry....
> > 
> > Aloha
> > AH6LS
> > 
> > ---------------------------------
> > 
> > From: Scott
> > I didn't do the map setup, so I can't speak to that.  Station display was pretty good, better than what I remember on ArcGIS anyway.  Couldn't seem to limit trail length, and that was the biggest limitation.  It was easy to bring in other data sources, though most of those required network access.  Which we *had* most of the time, but we can't count on it out there.
> > 
> > Scott
> > N1VG
> > 
> > 
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