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Flight Log How-To

In 1998 I got my hand held GPS and started logging my flights.

It took a little time to get comfortable with the GPS and a demonstration by a crew member to show what we could do. There are many combinations of hardware and software that will work, but I use the Garmin GPS III+ (from Garmin) to create track logs, G7ToWin (Ver A.00.184 from to download track logs, Street Atlas (Ver 8 from DeLorme) to generate maps displaying the track logs, Microsoft Paint to convert the maps to BMP files, and ACDSee (Ver 3.1 from ACD Systems) to convert the BMP files to GIF files.

Previously I used Waypoint+ (Ver 1.8 from TAPR) to download track logs, but it isn't being enhanced now. I have also tried the newer Street Atlas 2003 but found the "features" to be more difficult, the final results less satisfactory, and it considers my existing Street Atlas 8 files to be a foreign format!

There are several small GPS units available, but I currently fly with the Garmin GPS III+. The features I like about this model are:

After one or more flights, I use the optional (i.e. additional cost!) serial data cable and G7ToWin to download the track(s) from the GPS to my PC or Laptop. Once the entire track log is downloaded and saved, it is possible to reload the entire track log into G7ToWin from the PC, delete pieces you don't want, and save individual flight tracks as separate files.

Using G7ToWin, an individual track can then be exported in SA (DeLorme Street Atlas) format. If Street Atlas is running, G7ToWin can export the file directly into Street Atlas. Otherwise you can start Street Atlas later and manually open the exported file.

By resizing the Steet Atlas window and adjusting the map zoom, you can get a map that is no bigger than about 800x600 pixels for Web page display, and contains the entire track in the window. Under the Street Atlas Edit menu you can "Copy Map to Clipboard".

I then start Microsoft Paint and Paste the clipboard (Ctrl-V). If there is any additional cropping of the map to be done, I do it with Paint. The map can then be saved to a BMP file. If Paint is used to save directly to GIF format, it reduces the number of colors to 256 which messes up the map colors.

I use ACDSee to open the BMP file and convert to GIF in 24 bit color format.

The GIF file can then be incorporated into web pages for presentation, or inserted into a Power Point slide to create a souvenir of the flight for the passengers.

29May07 - I recently added a new step to export the track from G7ToWin in .gpx format, open the gpx file with Google Earth, and save the result as a Google Earth KMZ file. This version of the track is saved with the other files on the Web server and offered as a link after the SA8 map is displayed. On a computer with Google Earth installed, this link will start Google Earth and display the track. The track can then be explored and zoomed into the point were you can identify streets and houses where the balloon flew.

I use PHP scripts to help automate the process of building the Web pages, but that's another story.....

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This page modified: May 31 2007 18:14:50.