Tips for Organizers using GPS based Task Verification

If you plan to organize a SAHPA comp, apply to SAHPA 6 months ahead to get the message out.
If you want to make it CAT II , make it even earlier to get it into XC MAG and the CIVL calendar.
You get a bid form from SAHPA, fill it out and send it back to SAHPA for committee approval.
Prepare a website that gives some extra, like accomodation, what else to do, entry fee, bank details, booking info, ...
Maybe host an entry from website or have a paper based   Entry Form  .
Prepare some disclaimer, indemnity form that all pilots have to sign. You can also download the registered pilots as a csv file and then use an MS Access sample database from the author to make a prepared entry form on paper, with the indemnity and all the pilot details printed. The pilot then just has to sign this form when he rocks up at the comp.

Make sure you do not overlap with some attractive overseas event if you want top pilots to attend.

Organizers have to state in the Competition Announcement which make and models of GPS are supported.

 Specifications on what TP can do, can be found in the  specifications.html  file in the user documentation.

Start collecting turnpoints with a GPS. Make sure you use a common grid system, like WGS84 in South Africa. Or UTM in Zimbabwe.
To collect the coordinates for a turnpoint, you have to go to the point, leave the GPS there until the AVERAGE function shows an an error of around 3 to 4 meters.
If you also want altitude info , use an eMap,eTrex or GPS12 Map, or similar GPS, which also stores altitude info in a waypoint. When you Mark, Enter a waypoint, keep a notepad and write down the waypoint ID used by the GPS to the name of the place. Later on the PC put edit the reference. do not waste time fiddling with the GPS to modify the comment section.

Name the turnpoints like this:
 - L01xxx for launch sites
 - G01xxx for Goals
 - Nyyxxx, Syyxxx, Eyyxxx, Wyyxxx if the turnpoint is North, South, East or West located from your meetcenter.
 - yy = 01,02,03,...
 - xxx = the altitude of the waypoint / 10,  eg if the waypoint is 1234 meters above sea level, make it it 123

Do NOT write down coordinates by hand. It becomes a pain to type them and get them into any scorinmg code. MARK,ENTER any turnpoints an a GPS and download them later into a file on a PC.
Do NOT read any coordinates from a map and type the coordinates by hand. The value will be not accurate enough.
Unless you are happy to give out a turnpoint with no landmark attached to it.

Use software like Gartrip (, gardown, waypoint+, Fugawi, ... or TP to download the waypoints.
Announce which grid system is used. Like WGS84.
Then post them on a website for other pilots to upload before the competition.
Make sure the GPS Turnpoint upload is done with the same Grid settings.

If you do not have some software to download the waypoints, then use a spreadsheet, csv file format, to
save the coordinates. TP uses a csv file format to read the turnpoints. Se TP for details on the correct format to use.

Check that your maps  use the same  coordinate grid system.
And then decide what coordinate system the GPS should be set to in the competition.
In case there is an accident and one has to reference it on a map one needs to use the same coordinate system.

Handout a map that got coordinates on the side. Makes it easier to locate your own or another pilots position.  Black and white copy will do for a comp. With the turnpoints marked on it.

No need to print a copy of the rules for each pilot. Stick up the rules in the meet center. Along with the option to print for those pilots who want their own copy.

Decide if you want a complete track as proof of flight.
Or if pilots are allowed to switch their GPS off and on during flight.
Older GPS models, like GARMIN 38 or 40, tend to loose the satellites in flight and create interrupted track logs.
eMap and eTrex have a high sample rate and require to be switched off between turnpoints.
Otherwise the memory fills up too fast.

The GPS track download is time consuming. It takes around 1-3 minutes to read the trackdata of a pilot.
Using the newer GPS with bigger memory make even bigger tracks.
If eMap and eTrex owners do not clean their old tracks then they create a delay during scoring.
By not clearing old tracks one downloads old , previous days tracks and the new track.
And then the program has to make sense out of this mess.

Lets have 100 entries ( or more if it is a mixed HG and PG comp / we get those in sunny SA ) .
Using one PC , you end up with +5 hours to read all Pilots GPS'es.
Thumb suck rule, for each 30 entrants have one PC.

Setup the scoring room with the PC monitors facing the pilots who come to score.
This creates an open atmosphere.
Otherwise the pilot does not see what you are doing and wonders what goes on.
Enabling the pilots to see the track and score makes the process transparent and avoids hostility towards the poor bugger who has to operate the PC.
By showing the pilot the track one also ensures that he can confirm that this is his flight. Sometimes GPS get mixed up at scoring. And ensures the pilot confirms that this is his track.
Or in case a pilot had to switch on after he landed, he can point it out. Most pilots are honest and will tell you up to where they flew.
By showing them the track they can immediately fix the score. Instead of having to fix it afterwards via protests.
Also other pilots can see his score while waiting in the queue and check the claimed track.

Make sure the PC's and cabling  are out of the way and do not get kicked. another reason why the monitor should be facing towards the pilots.

Keep the PC's apart from each other to avoid cable confusion. PCs stacked on top of each other is bad news when you try to figure which GPS cable and which monitor and which keyboard operate together.
TP can handle multiple comport downloads. I do not recommend it. It gets too confusing for the operator when he tries to handle multiple tracks.
Rather have one GPS on one PC handled by one operator.
Longterm one can also use the self service approach. TP can be setup in a way that a pilot picks a free PC, plugs in and initiates the download and accepts the score.

Depending on the size of the comp and skill of the operator , decide if you take the approach to handle any problems right there on the spot.
Looking at a track/pilot problem right here and now  will delay the processing of the rest of the pilots waiting in the queue..
Better download the data now, and if there is a problem, write it down.
Have a pen and paper at hand for each operator for this.
Also one might prepare a form where a pilot signs that his track got downloaded.
To avoid confusion later when one tries to establish if one has processed everyone or if pilots are still missing.
If the score is clear, write down pilot number, kms, and have him sign that he is happy with it.
If there is problems, skip the pilot, and look at the problem once everyone got downloaded.
Then look at the data again while the queue is gone.

The top pilots tend to be prepared and make sure their GPS are set correct and cleared properly each day before the task.
They tend to be in early and get  done quickly.
The beginner and casual pilots costs a lot of time. The folks who borrowed a GPS from a buddy and just switch it on.
And never read the manual. Or are not compatible to the recommended settings.
They will use up a lot of time while one tries to find a usable track in the garbage that got downloaded.

Offer to run a GPS workshop on the first day of the comp for novice pilots how to use their GPS.

Also some  GPS tend to have back level code, causing havoc.
Go to the GARMIN website and download the latest GPS software levels to get these GPS upgraded while at the comp.
But some upgrades can develop hiccups. Be in contact with the local GARMIN outlet to establish a plan B if a GPS does not wake up anymore after an upgrade.
Aaaah, make sure any valuable track and waypoint info is downloaded before any upgrade. an upgrade can wipe them out.

To run a smooth comp from a GPS side, as organizers one has to specify what cables are available and
which GPS are supported ( GPS12 range is ok, GPS38 and 40 can give trouble  they loose reception,
eTrex and eMap create massive track files with incomplete tracks, Magellan are supported via 3rd party software using gardown format  ....)
One can use  GARTRIP  for Garmin to fix some of the problems if the TP GPS code does not cope.
Make a plan for Log_It, MLR, TopNavigator, Compeo cables. Announce beforehand if you got the cables or if the pilots have to provide them.

Sample rate is still a problem. With 15 seconds some pilots managed to miss the turnpoint.
The TP code adds  a speed vector at a created half way point between existing track points to improve track interpolation.

As organizer, specify what format the GPS has to be used.
It depends on the maps that you might have given to Paramedics and recovery crews.

Options are for example 30 deg, 27.456 minutes or 30deg 27 minutes 45 seconds or one gets 30.45678. Or UTM.
The coord format is important when you have a pilot down and every one uses the same coords to communicate the location. Or if you have to add a new turnpoint a briefing on the hill by hand.
Recommended format is 30 Deg 27.456 minutes.

And decide if pilots have to mark/enter their landing coords.
Nowadays no one bothers about a marked landing point, unless there is a dispute.

Ensure at registration that all pilots get the turnpoint coordinates uploaded into their GPS.
And add their pilot number into the GPS.
Without one gets delays  and confusion at scoring later.

RACE related
SAHPA Paragliding comps use the SAHPA Formula for RACE. While HG comps in SA use the GAP Formula.

For PG comps get the latest SAHPA Formula code and fight the registry for a while until RACE works ok with the new  SAHPA Formula code. Next one has to define Category and Classes and teams correct. Each pilot MUST have a Category and Class assigned. Otherwise no score for everybody in a PG comp.

Get the latest RACE SAHPA Formula located on the website.

Or check with the usual scoring team how and where to get a RACE version that works best with the SAHPA formula. Make sure to decide on a minimum distance for a pilot who took off.  And how many pilots have to fly what distance to make it a valid task.

The TP code requires a link to RACE to allocate the correct pilot ids.
Then it creates a bulk xml score file which can be used by RACE.

There is another piece of code available that loads the pilot data from the SAHPA membership database into RACE.
No need to type in any SA pilot data into RACE.

And one can load waypoints from TP to RACE turnpoints and vice versa.
Good idea to make a printout from RACE and see if these coordinates really match.
And have a printout on take off for those late comers who missed the upload and now have to punch them in by hand. This is a special RACE Report called Turnpoint2 that one has to add to the standard RACE to have the GPS coords in a dd mm.mmm fromat printed out;.


   A days scoring process

 Define the task in RACE and establish the task id that RACE uses

  Define the task in TP and use the RACE Task ID for the bulk file.

  Save, exit TP, restart, check if all the values are correct
  Verify the task looks ok.

  Take a GPS from a pilot where you know what to expect to see as a track, and test the download and score.
  If it works out ok, ask for a GPS from one of the days winners. See if this score makes sense.
 Once the results look ok, then open the gates and let the masses descend on you.

Using 2 people at each PC for the scoring process  works the best

- Pilot to fill in his paper form  with pilot number
- Helper plugs in GPS
- Scorer starts the download
- confirm from GPS that Pilot number matches
- Track then shows green to confirm the claim of the pilot on his form , if you use one
- Scorer gives Helper kms from next turnpoint and total kms and helper writes it on the form
- If there is a problem write it down on the form, like track incomplete, missing,
corrupted, not cleared, ....
 - Helper gets pilot to sign form , if you use one

 ... and next pilot


Or you can run it simpler, have the pilots plugin the cable and score themselves with TP in auto mode.

 Or one can run a comp without the paper slips. But then you run a risk of a pilot not having his score.
And claiming you lost his track. Or in case you loose the system and all the tracks, one still got the paper to recover from.
( Worst case, computer gets stolen or the computer dot drowned in too much beer  by one of those bottles that tend to accumulate next to the scoring computers and now has a permanent hang over )

Afterwards , once scoring is over , check if all pilots have handed in their score.
That's where you need those paper slips. And in case someone protests afterwards a score.
If a pilot cheated and signed a far too good score.

Once you reckon everyone has scored , check if anyone missing? Over to the meet director to make some calls.
TP provides a counter that shows how many pilots have been scored. An indication if you got everyone.

Then look at the problems.

In the meanwhile  start feeding the bulk xml files into RACE.

 Give the results to the meet director to verify.

  Hardware and software requirements

PC specs. - 486 - WIN95 or higher.
Processor speed does not matter. The bottleneck is the 9600 baud rate used by the GARMIN GPS range.
Network , if possible. Otherwise lots of good stiffies and working stiffy drives.

In a combined HG and PG comp I recommend that RACE has to be on one PC for PG and one PC for HG. Keep the 2 competitions separate.

RACE is based on MS OFFICE 2000 MS ACCESS. It can run without MS ACCESS but it is better to have it installed to climb direct into the database if necessary. Like fixing the minimum distance from 3 to 1km.