Flight Track On Line – First Payload Tracking Experience Report

It all came together Saturday morning! Just as balloon teams around the continent were preparing for their flights, I was deploying code, updating code, and making final adjustments to track a flight with Flight Track On Line.

I followed a total of three call signs evaluating all components of Flight Track On Line – three on the same map!  This is something I always wanted for the Flight Track add-in but I found the MapPoint API made it challenging to support.  I started with VE5AA-11 from SABRE-22.  After monitoring it a few minutes, I added VE5AA-12 from the same flight (possibly the same payload).

The screen shot below shows both paths.  It also shows that I have to investigate why the path color is black instead of my design choice of green.  I was fortunate to follow the flight long enough that a third launched in Illinois (KD9AUK-11).  I had to zoom in and out to review the presentation of both flights but was happy to follow three call signs.

FTOL-SABRE-22Behind the Scenes
The testing came to an end when the parse of packet data failed.  I prefer to find errors like this when testing.  It uncovered a deeper issue with some of the information transfer between the program capturing the APRS-IS feed and the web service.

Other interesting errors included primary key duplication, a need to centralize my database management code, and some unneeded parsing.

Next Steps
I started correcting these errors and improving the code.  You might notice the lack of any flight information in the screen shot.  I miss it also – I want to display packet data and rates just as the Flight Track Add-in does.  But I want to be sure the core functionality is solid first.

I’ll be doing more testing on my local machine (a .NET web site interacting with a Java web service processing data to MySQL driven by a flight simulator all on one machine – I love this project) over the next week.

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