Since I work under a limited soaring budget, I am always on the lookout for cheap and/or free ways to enhance my soaring experience. Not wanting to spend nearly as much for an instrument as I paid for my glider, I came across SoaringPilot software for Palm OS handheld computers which was FREE. SoaringPilot is not yet the mature competition class program that some other commercial programs are, but it has the right price. It is aimed at the sport pilot, giving final glide information, moving situation map, wind calculations, and a nice data logger for GPS positions. The data from the GPS is stored inside the Palm device and then downloaded after the flight. While not a secure recorder for badges, it is suitable for competitions and general flight analysis. My Palm III, with 2 Mb of memory, can store around 10-12 hours of flight at a 4 second interval. Not bad for free software and a used $70 handheld computer.
The data from the Palm can be downloaded to a PC with the serial cable using a terminal program. One is provided on the SoaringPilot web site, SPterm, but Hyper Terminal (free with Windows) works quite well also. One little problem with downloading the file as an IGC (International Gliding Commission) file is that there is no proper file name suggestion. I looked up what the IGC specifications was and determined that it was too complex to try and remember the exact convention while downloading my flights. I decided to build a computer program to generate IGC file name suggestions.
IGCName takes all of the data that is asked for in a proper file name and makes a suggested file name. The IGC file name can be copied to the clipboard, then pasted into your file naming at the time of the download or later from the Windows desktop. There are defaults in the drop down windows (Manufacturer, 3 Char ID, and Flight #) which are easily changed. The file name is suggested after clicking on the desired date of the calendar. If there are any changes to the pull down data windows, the IGC file name disappears until the date is clicked again.
The three character ID is supposed to be the serial number of the flight recorder. For my purposes I use my contest ID in this field. Use what you wish for your application.
The screen shot below shows the defaults with the date not yet picked.
The next screen shot shows the date October 1, 2001 picked (today's date is October 2) and the appropriate file name suggestion for the information given in the drop down boxes.
The breakdown for this File Name Suggestion is:
1 = 2001 (year)
A = October (month)
1 = 1st (day)
4 = Garmin (data recorder code)
0I6 = India 6 (unique code - my glider ID)
1 = 1st flight of day (number of flight in day)
.IGC = file extension to let the computer world know it is a flight data file
The technical specs for the IGC files can be found at www.fai.org for your reading enjoyment.
IGCname can be downloaded from my web site by clicking the highlighted word.
This is a Visual Basic 6.0 program that runs under Windows 95 on up. Most computers will have the auxiliary files to run this program. If there is a need for other files by users (xxx.dll) let me know and I will upload them to the web where they can be downloaded or I can email them to you .
You can email me at ke7hr at cox.net
Replace the 'at' with the @. It is my attempt to spoil the email spam robots.
Last update: 18 November 2011