I've found a few apps and am setting up a phone and tablet for TSD. Anyone else trying this?
My goals are to:
- find a decent GPS setup that will handle mostly unpaved roads (I already have two or three, any other input?).
- find a replacement for a rally reader board. Stevens Rallye Reader Boards are virtually impossible to find. While not too hard to make, why build something when you probably already have a device capable of doing the job? (and it's probably using a free app or apps). Here too I already have some ideas.
- find a way to easily use a split screen to handle PDF's of the routes and GPS/GPS odo/etc.
I am aiming to pretty much go electronic without having to drop a ton of money on a computer. Yeah, I already know the limitations of GPS but I have apps to use GLONASS and can pretty regularly get accuracy down to an average of 20' or so (indicated and pretty much confirmed).
Thoughts or comments?
(If this isn't the proper spot for this thread please feel free to move it)
I use Richta (actually Richta lite) for the iOS. They have an android version as well. I like it alot, however you do have to invest some time into setup and learning how to use it. Like anything, you won't get anymore out of it than what you put in. Anyway, it's designed to mimic a Curta mechanical calculator (if that means anything to you) so you tap the mileage at user adjustable increments and it calculates how far off the speed target you are based on the mileage and an adjustable clock that runs on seconds or .01 minutes as needed.
We have invested very little into our setup, so I'll have a phone running Richta, a phone running an odometer, and my route instructions are paper, I just pull out the new page. We also have an up-to-date external GPS (garmin?) so the driver can see what upcoming turn looks like. I don't even look at it. I'll typically also run a second clock on a 3rd phone for the driver, so he can see rally time, but it's not a necessity (he doesn't need to math, he just needs to turn the wheel and respond to the hitting for faster and slower, math will only confuse him)
It's not a perfect system, I'd want a more accurate odometer. With apps you can get read outs to .001, but you really need the aftermarket transponder to make it work well. Or you can just adjust periodically vs the route instructions at known mileages if you have them or off the vehicle odo if you don't. That's alot of calculations to do though. Sounds like you've got a handle on getting a more accurate odometer anyway.
I haven't seen a rally board before, but they look useful. I'm actually going to look at making one now. I've just been using a portfolio, which is great because the business card slots can hold my multi phone setup. I'd be happy with that and a light that won't distract my driver. Hypothetically you could scan the docs and just use adobe if you wanted to go totally paperless, it seems the gain wouldn't be worth the time though.
The only other rally calculator app I have tried is "RallyOdo". It was developed by our local rallye master, but that was before my first rally and it just confused me at that point. I'd probably understand it better now. He's a nice guy and passionate about rallye if that helps sway you into trying it. He is also constantly developing it and willing to add improvements. I think it is similar to Richta.
Yes, Richta does have apps for the Android. I think I can do better though. I do use the Richta Rally Checkpoint Clock and like it a lot. During a rally I notice that one device might lose or gain a hundredth. This is the fault of the device and not the app. I have another app that let's me adjust Time Of Day on the fly (and my devices are not rooted).
At this point what I'm playing around with for GPS test/check (and again this is on an Android phone) is an app called GPS Test (and I upgraded to the Plus version because I do like it that much). It lets me get info from GLONASS so my GPS claims an accuracy of as little as 10 feet. While I take that with a grain of salt it really is very accurate. Gives you lots of GPS info.
For map apps I use mostly Here and MapFactor GPS Navigation Maps (that one uses Open Source Maps). Both should let you use them without a data connection, just GPS. I've been able to find worker checkpoint on a rural dirt road by just entering a street address. Here works with the Samsung Split Screen feature. Both can be started hands-free with Samsung's S Voice.
For an odo app I use DigiHUD Pro. Used it for years and if nothing else it will:
- let you use it as an HUD (hence the name, huh?).
- show you speed, average speed, distance, compass, time or elapsed time, let you record a GPS track, etc. It has a mode for automatically dimming the display at night. Several of the features have resolution to two decimal places. Note: some of these features may only be available in the Pro version. However, for a few bucks I've got the equivalent of a rally odo (and I didn't spend hundreds).
- works with the Samsung Split Screen feature.
- can also be started hands-free with Samsung's S Voice.
I have an app that allows my to take pictures of the tulip route pages and save the .jpg's as a .pdf file. It is capable of scanning several images of the same pagfe in just a few seconds which guarantees image quality and alignment of the page borders (it looks crisp and neat). That in turn lets me use a .pdf reader to display the routes on a device (in landscape mode if I want). I can scroll though the routes, highlight info, etc. I have the ability to send and share the .pdf file(s) with other devices without WiFi or a data connection.
I use an app called Twilight that tints the screen red. It's adjustable and really helps with night vision.
Because I use Samsung devices I can use an app of theirs that allows me to display an image or file on one or more Samsung devices. I can also control one or more linked devices. We often work or run with three people in the car so this literally lets us all be on the same page at once.
I've therefore been able to replace the Terratrip I had years ago that displayed distance and time (time of day plus trip odometer for segments, legs, or individual instructions if I choose). I've replaced a Stevens Rallye Reader Board so everyone can see the same info and it keeps our night vision in good shape.
All of this cost way under $30 (less the cost of the devices which we already own) and it can run independent of WiFi or a data connection so that saves me money too.
At this point I can run most of the info on two or three devices at once. With a little work I can use split screens and run the routes and time & odo data on the same device but that does take a little playing around with the devices. Hey, I'm just getting started with this setup.
If anyone has any better suggestions or ideas, comments, or questions just let me know.
If you are using devices that allow for screen mirroring and have them connected you might be able to see what's controlled by one device on others. Need a driver's display? Have more than two people in the car or working a checkpoint? You might literally keep them all on the same page.
Sharing data and files via beaming or the like really does require the devices to be fairly close together so allow extra time for this when you're getting ready for the rally. It will take about five minutes or so on average (and possibly more) to get all the devices set up. Practice before a rally.
Want to use the route book as a .pdf? Scanning apps allow you to take a picture of the pages and convert those into a .pdf. The better apps will take more than one shot per page to assure clarity and accuracy, will align the page margins and better yet, if needed will allow you to realign the page margins. Be sure you have a .pdf reader that will let you edit, underline, and highlight. Those features come in handy.
The things to be aware of are:
- to as always be sure your routes have all the pages and the pages are in order.
- to be sure that you're photographing the pages in order.
- to be careful not to save each page but rather save the page shots in order and as one .pdf
- to allow time for the scanning (about five to ten seconds per page), loading and converting (should be about one minute or so), and transmitting the info to whatever other devices (as much as five minutes).
Using a .pdf of the routes means never having to resort the pages if you drop them, that you can magnify the pages for easier reading, and that you can give other people that info and your editing in a flash. It works really well. Using your device in landscape mode is really cool.
Using GPS? Be sure you're data is up to date. Construction since your last update will make you unhappy. Finding a map error that someone else found before but you didn't have the updated map will give you a bad time. As I've said before I use OSM (Open Source Maps) because they're not only free, they rely on user feedback to correct errors.
Are your GPS settings appropriate for running or getting to your worker location? If you don't have your GPS set to avoid things like seasonal use roads and you get to one that's got three feet of snow, fallen limbs, etc. on it then you're gonna have a bad time.
Don't count on the estimated time of arrival from the GPS. Always give yourself extra time. Time means the ability to control your points. Time means less stress. Time means you can fix problems. Time is good.
Understand your GPS and what GPS is. If you are not using the same coordinate system that the rally master is using, you're gonna have a bad time.
Using a Samsung Tab with an app where the setting button just doesn't show up on the screen? This might work: press the "recent apps" button (the left button at the bottom of the from of the tablet - it's next to the home key) and hold it down for two or three seconds. That might pop up the settings screen for the app. It's not well documented by Samsung but it often works (Thanks to Rich Bireta for pointing that out).
Email, cell service, data, and WiFi only work if you have them. Setup's that don't depend on those alone work a whole lot better when you're running around in the boonies.
Yes, your phone or tablet probably gets a time signal from the service provider or even GPS. So what? Check it against official time so you're sure you're matching official time. It will save you points if you're running and arguments if you are working. The time on your watch or device may differ and that's why they call it official time. Official time overrules your time. And check your time as the day goes on since your device may gain or lose time over the duration of the rally. The time signal might be right but the internal clock in your device might drift.