AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK3DXE » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:44 am

Excellent stuff Ross. I've still only had not a lot of time to play with it, but it has really produced some excellent results for me.

Running WSPR gives you a fantastic opportunity in real time to test the software and confirm that a path exists when you might previously have considered things only very marginal at best.
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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK5PJ » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:08 am

Hello,
have started playing in earnest with airscout to see what might be possible from my home station. One thing has jumped out at me as far as easy mistakes to make, 6 digit maiden head locators are not accurate enough in a lot of cases where that station is in hilly terrain.

I had selected vk2xn via his grid square details in the call3.txt file and looked at the profile, looked promising when we could find a high flyer, then I remember Wayne saying he had a lot of hills in my direction, which did not show up on the airscout terrain profile. Once I put in his accurate lat and long from his VKLOGGER profile, the terrain profile changed to show the hills he had mentioned and the airscout profile went to a seemingly impossible aircraft altitude.

It would seem the moral of the story is accuracy for position, height above ASL and tower height should not be ignored.

Do we start posting our accurate station details on the forum / update our profiles or is there a better way to do it?

Regards,
Peter, vk5pj

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK3DXE » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:12 am

VK5PJ wrote:Hello,
have started playing in earnest with airscout to see what might be possible from my home station. One thing has jumped out at me as far as easy mistakes to make, 6 digit maiden head locators are not accurate enough in a lot of cases where that station is in hilly terrain.

I had selected vk2xn via his grid square details in the call3.txt file and looked at the profile, looked promising when we could find a high flyer, then I remember Wayne saying he had a lot of hills in my direction, which did not show up on the airscout terrain profile. Once I put in his accurate lat and long from his VKLOGGER profile, the terrain profile changed to show the hills he had mentioned and the airscout profile went to a seemingly impossible aircraft altitude.

It would seem the moral of the story is accuracy for position, height above ASL and tower height should not be ignored.

Do we start posting our accurate station details on the forum / update our profiles or is there a better way to do it?

Regards,
Peter, vk5pj
Hi Pete,

I posted this: viewtopic.php?f=45&t=11541 at the same time I found AirScout. Zoom into your home QTH (or that of the other station) and it'll give you a 10-digit grid locator.
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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK5PJ » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:26 am

Hello to you all,
here is a another snippet of the AirScout story, the settings you change in the config of AirScout are stored in your local user profile and not in the registry or the local directory of the program.

To find the file that has all your selected setting in it (which is handy if you want to transfer the complete program with all your choices to another PC) look under the AppData folder in your profile.

eg. for the user vk5zlx on a windows 7 PC the directory would be:

C:\Users\vk5zlx\AppData\Local\DL2ALF\AirScout.exe_Url_c0cdpocllefn0aouu4uzbe3svn0gk05c\0.9.9.4

the file that has all the settings in it is called: user.config

This file appears to be in an XML format, which means you can edit it from NOTEPAD to fine tune any quirks.

For those who would like a canned ready to run AirScout install that has ALL the map data for Australia in it (over 3GB) I am happy to burn a DVD and send via snail mail. ( email is: vk8zlx@gmail.com ) I will include a user.config file that has the map and plane setting in it for VK station.

Regards,
Peter, vk5pj
Last edited by VK5PJ on Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:03 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK5ZD » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:33 am

VK5PJ wrote:C:\Users\vk5zlx\AppData\Local\DL2ALF\AirScout.exe_Url_c0cdpocllefn0aouu4uzbe3svn0gk05c\0.9.9.4
Or, for people still using XP (like me :oops: ):

C:\Documents and Settings\vk5zlx\Local Settings\Application Data\DL2ALF\AirScout.exe_Url_l12wba5rjv5l41poqeuojeuwygp5p0pj\0.9.9.4

Well spotted!
73
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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK4GHZ » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:48 pm

A thank you to all above, especially Alan, Arie and Peter for the info back a page on assisting the rest of us getting this running.

A picture is worth 1,000 words, and the Options > SRTM3 page will confirm what .hgt map tiles you have in the ElevationData\SRTM3 folder:

Image

The Options > Globe page will show you the boundaries you set in the NOAA Globe data download page:

Image

Once set up, and you define a "Call" sign to plot to, pressing the forward arrow, and displaying aircraft within the view port, you will see something like this:

Image

:D
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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK3AMZ » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:00 pm

Hi Adam and Co.

As we have all discovered using this program... as we refine the data from which the program calculates the common window the more impressive it becomes.

I take my hat off to DL2ALF, a most impressive piece of work to combine so much data into a product that is user friendly. Takes a bit of effort to get it going but once you work it out it's pretty straight forward (wise after the fact).

I think the program has done a fantastic job of dispelling many myths associated with the mode of AE propagation over the years. in a nut shell, you need a piece of conductive material (aluminum) at a height that is mutually visible between two radio stations for anything to happen. The piece of metal needs to line up in an optimum spatial position for any signal enhancement will occur.

I've heard that there are some that believe AE may be possible at distances of over 1000 Km or further using this mode, it's possible but (and I'm sure those that have the program running will agree) this can only happen in the most exceptional circumstances.....current aircraft just don't fly that high!

Imagine running this program as a European or USA operator.....the sky is just full of metal compared to our airspace.

No wonder the Euro operators use this program during VHF/UHF contests!

73's

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK3DXE » Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:27 pm

Another excellent feature I've found is the projected time till the aircraft enters the hotzone. You can click on (or hover your mouse over) an aircraft and the software will, along with height info etc., display an ETA for when you should start seeing enhancement. I've been using and testing this with WSPR for a while and found it particularly useful and accurate, particularly on longer paths of >500km.
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AirScout - Stops working

Post by VK5PJ » Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:40 pm

Hi,
I have today run across an error thrown up by AirScout on a test PC at work (yes I get some free time during my lunch). When starting AirScout the splash screen comes up and tells me it is writing the globe bitmap then its appears to hang (long wait), then Windows 7 reports the program has exited abnormally and suggests I report this to Microsoft ( as if I would do this :D ).

After some tinkering, I deleted the "elevation.bmp" file from AirScout/ElevationData/Globe and fired it up again, now all happy and it re-writes the elevation.bmp and off we go.

Each time I use it I seem to find some new useful feature :mrgreen:

Regards,
Peter, vk5pj

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK1JA » Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:55 pm

An impressive piece of software !

A question about the plane colours in the program.... When a plane is grey is fairly straight forward being that the plane is out of range for using it for AE, and pink looks to be when a plane is in the 'sweet spot' for AE, but what about when the planes are orange? Is it the case that when it's coloured orange that the plane is on the fringe and some AE may be possible?

Also, how far off the plot line can a plane be (when it's pink) for AE to be possible? On the Canberra-Melb path I get a lot of planes flying ~10-12km parallel to the plot line and are shaded pink - what are peoples experiences and how far away from the plot line can the plane be to be used for AE?

Jayson
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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by DL2ALF » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:13 pm

Hi all,

was just googling around and found your discussion on AirScout. After managing the registration procedure I am now able to take part here...
Nice to see that there is a huge forum on that topic also in Australia. First of all, let me thank you all for the compliments written here, special thanks to Arie, VK3AMZ...

I started my ham radio carreer in the early 80s and soon got addicted to VHF/SHF - contesting as a crew member of DL0GTH.
As I was deciding to develop AirScout I just wanted to get rid of handling maps, several overlays and air traffic web sites while trying to receive beacons via AS.
And, as you, I soon got fascinated on the correlation between path calculation, aircraft movement and resulting signal enhancement.
Actually deployed as a BETA version to some hams, the software was soon spread out all over the word, which it was not my intention at that time.
But sometimes things just happen... Now AirScout is in regular use by most of the European contest stations in each competition.

Right now, I am working hard on the version 1.0 and on the documentation. There will be some clearifications and enhancements then.
So far, I am interested in getting more experience in practical use, especially in accuracy of the path calculation.
Your feedback will be highly appreciated.

I will be QRV in the forum sporadically to answer your questions, but please respect that AirScout is almost a fun project.

73 de Frank, DL2ALF

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK3BQ » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:27 pm

No. Thank you, Frank;

For your impressive software and its ongoing development. :)
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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by DL2ALF » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:31 pm

Jayson,

a few words on the colour code of the AC:

pink: AC is near the "hot path" and on a sufficient altitude (higher than the calculated minimum at the crossing point/nearest point)
red: AC is heading towards the "hot path" and has sufficient altitude
orange: AC is near/heading towards the "hot path" but the altitude is not sufficient (lower than calculated at the crossing point/nearest point)
gray: AC is not interesting

The real interesting ACs are the pink ones, where AS likely will occur. The red ones are interesting in the next future, you can arrange a QSO while looking at the calculated distance and time for crossing.

About the maximum distance from the path: the default value is +/- 10km away from the "hot path" which is considered to be good for 23/13cm. You can change it via Options/Path. For other frequencies more investigation has to be done.

73 de Frank

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK3AMZ » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:17 pm

HI Frank

Like you I have been searching for some software that would tie it all together. I'm not a programmers ...butt ...you have done I think and excellent job. I take my hat off to you ...very well done.

I have found as you increase the precision of the maps the software delivers a more accurate result...this is obviously to be expected! We played with aircraft enhancement back in the early 80's and it was only by intuition and experience that we correlated the aircraft position with the corresponding enhancement.

The software makes it so much more predictable! I could imagine with all the stations out there during a field day in Europe and with all that aluminum in the sky that it would be a real driver to create such an application.

The only curious thing I have found is that as you increase the frequency of operation the common window between stations increases? It's been my experience that this is the reverse. I've been asked numerously about this irregularity and I was hoping that you may fill in the blanks.

As I understand it, the bi-static projection of the aircraft while improving the "apparent" gain as you increase frequency also reduces the effective common window due to the "narrowing" of the bi-static main lobe. And so....enhancement may increase with reducing the wavelength but the common window also decreases.

Thanks again Frank.....it works great as it is, but if you could clarify the increasing window V frequency that would be great.

73's Arie :D

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by DL2ALF » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:39 pm

Hi Arie,

the described behavoir is typical for an obstructed view and is easy to explain. The "hot path" is the result of a mutual, unobstructed view to an aircraft. Any obstruction on the way will narrow the "hot path".
The obstruction is calculated for each waypoint of the propagation path as: ground elevation + 0.5 x F1-Clearance (set to 0.6 by default) + additional ground clearance (set to 0 by default). The F1-Clearance is frequency dependent (see Wikipedia for Fresne Zones). The lower the frequency the larger the F1 - Zone will be in diameter. Therefore the obstruction seems to be higher and, as a result, the "hot path" is narrower.
You can change this easily if you set the F1-Clearance to 0 via Options/Path. The "hot path" would be equal then for all frequencies. But in reality 0.6 seems to be a good value for 23/13cm; 2m/70cm will require smaller values. In the next version a set of parameters per band is available to refine the calculation.
I know that this is only half of the truth. There is another frequency dependent fact which is not yet considered by AirScout. The resulting reflected lobe of the transmitted wavefront very depends on the ratio between reflecting area / wavelength. In case of an asymmetric reflection on higher frequencies you can easily fall out of the footprint at the receiving station even when AirScout tells you that the plane is on the "hot path". The question is: how can we calculate this?
I feel that there is a lot of investigation to do. For example, we've got best results on 23cm when the AC is crossing at 90deg angle. It seems that the signal is best reflected on the wings than on the cabin. Unfortunately the reflection is only shortlasting (abt. 1min).

I wonder what your experiences are...

73 de Frank

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by DL2ALF » Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:09 am

VK5PJ wrote:Hello,
have started playing in earnest with airscout to see what might be possible from my home station. One thing has jumped out at me as far as easy mistakes to make, 6 digit maiden head locators are not accurate enough in a lot of cases where that station is in hilly terrain.

I had selected vk2xn via his grid square details in the call3.txt file and looked at the profile, looked promising when we could find a high flyer, then I remember Wayne saying he had a lot of hills in my direction, which did not show up on the airscout terrain profile. Once I put in his accurate lat and long from his VKLOGGER profile, the terrain profile changed to show the hills he had mentioned and the airscout profile went to a seemingly impossible aircraft altitude.

It would seem the moral of the story is accuracy for position, height above ASL and tower height should not be ignored.

Do we start posting our accurate station details on the forum / update our profiles or is there a better way to do it?

Regards,
Peter, vk5pj
Peter,

the easiest way to do this is the following:

- Open your account on QRZ.COM (or create a new one)
- update your exact location on your personal page by entering lat/lon or by dragging the marker to the right position
- save settings

If done so, just everyone can use your exact location in AirScout by pressing the "QRZ.COM lookup" button on the Options/Stations tab. Be sure that you have entered the desired call sign and 6digit grid square before (as a plausibility check). If location from QRZ.COM and grid square in AirScout are matching the location is refined and stored in the local AirScout database. The lat/lon and loc text boxes will appear with green background to indicate that a precise location is available. There is no need for a registration at QRZ.COM for this query.


73 de Frank

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK3AMZ » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:18 pm

Hi again Frank....Yes now I see where you are coming from!!

The Fresnel Zone clearance (as you have pointed out) will dominate the higher frequency common window.

I'll sure change my Fresnel zone setting to give a more pragmatic response in the program. As I have indicated in the past if the program could actually take into account the Bi-static projection of the aircraft with any degree of accuracy you'd be a very rich man!! Research institutes and government organisations have been investing millions of dollars into to profiling this effect!!

I have noted that on 70cm aircraft flying orthogonal to the great circle path do indeed produce dramatic but very short lived aircraft enhancement. This was in fact confirmed as a result of your program with a station some 600KM away (VK2EMA) . My "experiments" in this area continue but so far I can say this effect is very real.

Thanks Frank for dropping by and elaborating on the question I posed.......

73's Arie

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by G0ISW » Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:50 am

I too have been having great fun with AirScout here in the UK. Thank you Frank. :D

I have been using 50 MHz and JT6M software with AirScout and in the range 250-350 km early tests have been very encouraging indeed.

Living between Glasgow (N), Belfast (W), Newcastle (E) and Manchester (S) airports and being under the main transatlantic flight path between UK and USA means that I have
an abundance of aircraft here in Penrith IO84OQ.

I really look forward to hearing about and using AirScout a lot more, there is the most mention of it here on the VKlogger, little mention i can find yet in Europe.

73 de Philip G0ISW

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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by VK4CZ » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:29 am

Frank,

A fantastic piece of software that has made AE operation far more predictable, and also given great insight into paths where the "hot spot" was thought to exist but I can now clearly see that it doesn't (due to the effects of terrain, etc) without planes being present at >16,000m.

The significant difference that I've previously observed between stations in the south-east of BNE and myself here in the north-west on the path to SYD, is now simply explained using AirScout... although we are just ~40km apart, it is very apparent through AirScout that we have very different "hot spot" sizes and that I just don't get the same number of planes entering the "hot spot" as they do!

AirScout has been used to observe planes approaching and entering the "hot spot" on the path between Grant VK2MAX and I. On 432MHz this has produced a 100% success rate, and we're now embarking on trials at 23cm.

On the weekend I assisted KJ VK4UH in setting up AirScout on his shack laptop. That night we were comparing what we were seeing and it became quite obvious to us both that the planes being represented on the screen at any time differed slightly. Quick investigation revealed that my shack PC was running version 9.9.4, whilst the version installed on KJ's was 9.9.5.

I've since installed 9.9.5 on a laptop here, and have been running the two concurrently. The same difference was replicated. Checking the options and I noticed that a couple of the settings were not the same, and then with all settings in the options set to mirror each other I am still able to see subtle differences in the way the versions represent planes. This is seen in the following images taken at the same time on the path between myself and Steve VK2ZT.

Version 9.9.4
AirScout 994 130821.jpg
Version 9.9.5
AirScout 995 13081.jpg
Differences:
1. a plane entering from the north, east of Warwick in orange in 9.9.4, and grey in 9.9.5.
2. in 9.9.5 two planes are represented in the Pathinfo graphic as two grey dots, but not in 9.9.4.

Whilst not significant, I'm wondering if you have any suggestions as to why?
Last edited by VK4CZ on Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: AirScout - Airplane scatter prediction software

Post by DL2ALF » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:12 am

VK4CZ wrote:Fred,

Version 9.9.4
AirScout 994 130821.jpg
Version 9.9.5
AirScout 995 13081.jpg
Differences:
1. a plane entering from the north, east of Warwick in orange in 9.9.4, and grey in 9.9.5.
2. in 9.9.5 two planes are represented in the Pathinfo graphic as two grey dots, but not in 9.9.4.

Whilst not significant, I'm wondering if you have any suggestions as to why?
Don't worry, Scott.

There were some major changes in behavoir between 0.9.9.4 and 0.9.9.5 hard to explain with some words. I'll try it anyway:

In older versions the AS potential of the aircraft (e.g its color) is derived from the aircraft's current course and the predicted altitude at crossing point in relation to the path's minimum altitude required for mutual view. This is OK (and will remain so in 0.9.9.5) if the aircraft is well away from the path and heading towards it.
It does not really work if the aircraft is very near and moving along the path. If it is moving really parallel, the predicted crossing point is infinite and you won't get a suitable potential (e.g. color).
Therefore in 0.9.9.5 the crossing point for all aircrafts that are very near the path is calculated from the shortest way to it (this is not necassarily the current course). This will give more realistic results. The switchover between both calculation methods happens at >see"/Options/Path/Maximum Distance"<.

This is excactly the difference you've seen in your comparing.

Furthermore, the display of magenta and grey dots in the path profile window did not work in 0.9.9.4. This is fixed in the current version. You will see now all aircrafts along the path which are near the path >see same parameter"/Options/Path/Maximum Distance"<.

73 de Frank, DL2ALF

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