AirCraft Spotter's Little Assistant

The Aircraft Spotter's Little Assistant

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Welcome to The Aircraft Spotter's Little Assistant (ALSA).

This software requires Microsoft Windows 7 or later, with the .Net Framework. It also requires a basestation.sqb database (BS) designed by Kinetic Aviation Products Ltd and, for full functionality, Planeplotter (PP) from COAA. Planeplotter must be linked to the same database as PP Analyser for all of the functions to perform in a reasonable way!

ASLA has been designed (and tested) for use on a 10" Tablet PC.

ASLA is 2017 Copyright Gerald Wilson. It is free of charge but with no warranty or guarantee.

Connecting to BaseStation.sqb

When you first run PP Analyser you will need to connect it to the database. Use the file open dialog to navigate to the file's location. Select the file basestation.sqb (or any file that starts with "basestation" and ends ".sqb" then click OK. You will only need to do this the first time you run the program. If, for any reason, you need to connect to a different basestation.sqb you should use the “Find Database” Action.

Start State

The first time that you start, after you have connected to a database, ASLA it will open the Planeplotter Logging form. After closing ASLA, the next start will be with the Logging Action that was previously selected when you closed.

Show Int/Show Not Int

During PP Logging and Hand Logging, two check boxes are available: if "Show Int" is checked aircraft marked as interested will be shown: if "Show Not Int" is checked aircraft not marked as interested will be show. If neither is checked, no aircraft will be shown.

Actions

One of 6 actions can be selected:

PP Logging

PP Logging Screen

When ASLA loads the Planeplotter Logging Form, it gets the current aircraft from PlanePlotter. If Planeplotter is not running, you will get an error message. If it has not been started (green button), there will be no aircraft shown. The list of aircraft in ASLA is updated automatically from the aircraft detected by PP every 40 seconds. Use the “Stop” button to suspend Automatic refresh when you want to make changes. Restart automatic refreshing by using the "Auto" button (it is the same button but with different text!)

All of the information that is displayed is that produced by PP. The "P" column indicates whether PP has determined the position of the aircraft, ie it will be displayed on the PP screen. Obviously "Y" is it has a position and "N" is it has no position (i.e. a Lat/Long of 0,0)

Hand Logging

Hand Logging Search

Hand Logging does not use information from PP, but access the database directly.

When selecting hand logging a box is shown for you to enter a search.

The box contains a hint about wild card searches. If you enter a _ (underscore) character, the search will look for any character in that position, e.g. G-__BC will look for any registration where the abbreviated radio call sign is Golf-Bravo-Charlie. If you enter a % (percent) character, the search will look for any sequence of characters in that position, e.g. g% will list all registrations starting with g. Searches are not case sensitive so g and G are the same. Wild card should be used with caution as they can result in a large number of aircraft being listed. Searches that return a large number of aircraft can be stopped at any time using the (different) "Stop" button.

When first started the default search is on "Registration". If you want to search on a different column, simply click on the column header. You cannot search on the Interested column.

Hand Logging Results

To perform a search, type into the box then click find or press the enter key. If the search does not return a result, the search text will be entered in to selected column and the User Notes column will contain "Not in DB". If you want to record any other information you should amend the User Notes before logging. The only other column that you can change is the Interested column.  If no result is found, Interested will be marked "X" (Interested), otherwise it will contain the value in the database.

After a search the "Report" button will appear. If you click on it you will be shown a File Save As dialog. Enter a file name (without .rpt at the end) e.g. AllBoeing, then click "Save". A file e.g. AllBoeing.rpt will be produced, in the ASLAReports folder) that contains all of the aircraft contained in the Hand Logging list.

A report contains the following information for each aircraft (some information will be blank if it not contained in your database):

ASLA Report in Wordpad

If you are about to load a new BS file it is recommended that you produce 2 reports for later use:

Report 1 Interested

Report 2 User Notes

After you have loaded the new database you can then use the Update Database action once with each report to restore your settings

Log Button

Select an aircraft to update by clicking on it's entry in the list. The convention use by ASLA is that the Interested flag set shows as (X) and not set as (-). To set or clear the Interested flag, you click on the cell (you might need to click twice if the entry has not been selected. When the logging button is used, an entry is made into a log file in the ASLALogs directory. The File is named "Log {today's date}.log", e.g. Log 16-Jun-2017.log. Each entry has a tab between each field to make it easy to import into a spreadsheet. Each entry looks like either:

(PP Logging)

X 040132    ET-AUA    ETH710      A359     7000    270    15:33:50    MyLocation    19-06-2017 16:34:09

(Hand Logging)

X  400683    G-VIIK    British Airways    B772                   Not very exciting    Near By    27-06-2017 17:15:09

Log File

The fields are:

  1. + for Logged - for Un-Logged
  2. ModeS code
  3. Registration
  4. Call sign/Operator
  5. ICAO type code
  6. Reported Altitude/blank
  7. Reported Heading/blank
  8. Report time (UTC)/Blank
  9. blank/Notes
  10. The location as entered in the Set Location Action
  11. Computer Date and Time
The file is TAB delimited so tht it can be imported into a spreadsheet.

Log in Excel

If the aircraft is found in the database its entry will be changed to show the Interested flag setting, and the Notes will be entered into the User Notes.

Depending on the version of PP that you are using you might get a message asking you to switch to the PP window and Enter CTRL-Q. It is recommended that you do this to ensure that PP reflects any changes to the database, and hence, the PP Logging form. This should not happen if you are using PP version 6.4.5.6 or later

Sorting Columns

Clicking on a column heading selects that column as the sorted column. Click on the same column reverses the sort order.

The sort selection is remembered between sessions.

Keyboard

You can also use keyboard buttons to select and log aircraft:

Set Location

The Set Location option shows a box where you should enter a place name to be used in logging and then hit the Enter key. Clicking on the arrow at the right of the box will give a list of previous location that you have entered. Just select the location. To remove an entry from the list: Select the item (ALSA will then return to the last Logging screen); select Set Location again and delete the text; then hit Enter. You should then either enter a new location or select a previous one. The most recent 10 locations are remembered between sessions.

Find Database

The Find Database option lets you search for a different BS file.

Update Database

The Update Database action changes the database to reflect the information in a previous generated report. These report can be found in the folder ASLAReports in your start folder (see above). Be sure to use a .rpt file not a .log file!!!

The report to use is selected through an Open File Dialog e.g. AllInterested.rpt.

The only changes that are made are to Interested and User Notes: Interested is set or un-set depending on + or - in the report: User Notes are replaced with the user notes in the report. If you would like other field included then let me know, and I will consider it.

Changes are not made to the database if:

A file is produced that contains a list of Mode S codes that could not be changed e.g. AllInterested.rpt.err