Frequently Asked Questions

Which Version of SoarPilot Is Loaded?

Here’s how to find out.

Why does Soarpilot crash after I upgrade to a new version and Hotsync my old databases?

When you install a new version you cannot just hotsync the old databases to soarpilot. Sometimes the format of the database is changed to accommodate new features.

You must load you data using the Settings / transfer screen. This will load your data into the new format databases.

Details of which databases are reset is in the readme file. When you start the new version of Soarpilot for the first time, you will also receive a warning that a database has been reset.

Can SPTerm be used with a USB Connection to the PDA?

Unfortunatly, no. SPTerm is made for a serial connection only. It would be easy to do a USB connection on the Palm with PalmOS. However, doing so with Microsoft Windows is MUCH more difficult. It would involve writting an SPTerm-specific USB driver that would plug into Windows. This is something that I do not wish to do right now. If you wish to use SPTerm, you will need to get a serial cable for your PDA to connect to your computer. If you want to do a USB transfer, you will need to use PalmDOC-formatted files or a Memory Card (if your PDA is capable). This process and naming convention is described in the Readme.pdf file under version 1.8.5 and in this FAQ. You can also read the PDF online by clicking here.

Why do I get no information for all of the altitude values on the Final Glide Screen when I run the program?

If the altitude fields are empty, you either haven’t selected an internal waypoint (if configured for internal use), manually entered a distance values (using the Pageup and Pagedown buttons) or, if you have a GPS properly attached and configured to NOT use internal waypoints, have not selected a target (GOTO) waypoint in the GPS.

Why do I get "XX" for all of the altitude values when I run the program?

“XX” means No Value, or an invalid value. It normally means that you have not entered any polar information or the information you have entered isn’t valid. See the next item on getting polar information for further details.

Where do I get these three points for the polar information for my glider and what are the proper values to use?

It has been recommended that the three points should be the Best L/D, Vne & a point approximately halfway between the first two. Using this recommendation, you would then pull the speed and sink values for each of these points off of your glider polar. V1/S1 should be the Best L/D, V3/S3 should be Vne & V2/S2 should be the point in between.
There are a couple of useful repositories of glider “3-point” polar information:

How do I connect my GPS to my PalmPilot?

Is the GPS Altitude Accurate?

Now that SA (Selective Availability) has been turned off, the general answer to this is Yes. GPS altitude is at least as accurate as the reading from a barometric altimeter. However, to determine altitude a GPS MUST be receiving information from at least three satellites and the more it is tracking, the better. If you want more information on this subject, there have been NUMEROUS postings on the rec.aviation.soaring and sci.geo.satellite-nav newsgroups. I encourage you to check them out. In addition, the newest generation of handheld GPS’ can now make use of the FAA’s Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) in the United States. Using WAAS, accuracies of less than 3 meters.

Why does the altitude differ between my sailplanes altimeter and what Soaring Pilot shows and which one is correct?

Basically, the barometric pressure in the atmosphere does not decrease evently as you climb. In addition, barometric pressure is not constant for given altitude eveywhere. Given this, it is not uncommon for an altimeter to read around 200 feet lower than GPS altitude when flying at around 3000-4000 feet AGL. So, that means that technically GPS altitude is more accurate. However, as with the accuracy question above, there have been numerous discussions on this subject on the rec.aviation.soaring and sci.geo.satellite-nav newsgroups. In addition, GPS altitude is an MSL calculation. It has been said that the Height Above the Ellipsoid (HAE) will provide a value closer to pressure altitude. MSL is the default altitude reference but can be changed to HAE on the Final Glide settings page.

Can I use a clip-on or springboard GPS for my PalmPilot or Visor?

With version 1.7, use of the internal Soaring Pilot waypoints for all final glide/speed to fly calculations makes using these add-on GPS units possible. See Clip-on Connection page and the user review page for possible solutions.

How can I compile the SoaringPilot myself?

The source code for the most current version of Soaring Pilot is not available for download. However, a previous version is available. To compile the previous version of SoaringPilot yourself you need the pilrc (v2.0a or higher) resource compiler. A GCC cross-compiler for the PalmPilot and the PalmOS include files. I also used the POSE, a freely available PalmPilot simulator for Linux, Windows and other operating systems available from in the developers area. The entire development environment is also freely available for Linux and Windows from as well. Currently the program has been sucessfully compiled on both Linux and Windows. The following links might help finding the necessary software:

Update: Since version 4.6.0 the source code has been made available for the SoarPilot community. Read more about it on this page SVN Repository.

Why does the SoaringPilot not support foo?

Since the SoaringPilot is entirely developed by volunteers in their spare time features will be added as time allows. If you send the changes to they might be included in the next release.

Where do I get the terrain elevation .DEM files from for use with SPTerm?

SoaringPilot uses 30 arc second .DEM formatted data to produce the sub-sampled terrain data.

Click here to view the map of available files and how to install them into SoarPilot.

What are the internal SP Datafile names? (Used for both DOC and CARD transfers)

SP uses some predefined DOC file names for import/export of certain data. The next table describes these names:

Data Type Default Filename Receive Transmit Format Extension
Configuration config.scg X X SoarPilot .scg
Waypoints waypoints.dat X X Cambridge .dat
waypoints.cup X X SeeYou .cup
waypoints.wpl X X $GPWPL NMEA Sentence .wpl
Polars polars.spl X X SoarPilot .spl
Tasks tasks.spt X X SoarPilot .spt
Flight IGC Name X IGC Format .igc
SUA suadata.sua X Tim Newton-Pierce .sua
X OpenAir format .air

Receive means from DOC into SP, Transmit means out of SP into a DOC file. Its recommended to install the Filez utility on your Palm. With this tool you can f.i. keep several waypoints DOC files in memory and rename the one you need to waypoints.dat. Also a DOC reader can come in handy, several free DOC readers exist for the Palm platform.

From version 3.3.0 onwards you can choose the filenames for your data (but the extensions for each type remain the same). See Loading and Saving Data for details.

Is Soaring Pilot an IGC approved flight logger?

No. The list of approved flight recorders (FR) can be found here on the site of the FAI. According to the technical specifications for an approved FR:

2.7.2 Security of Data between GNSS Receiver and the FR Memory. The user, and particularly the flight crew,
must be denied access to the line carrying the inbound signal containing the data to be used in the flight
verification process (eg the NMEA protocol inbound signal), to the FR memory (the ingoing data line).
See 2.7.3 for the principles to be adopted. 
The GNSS receiver and the flight data memory module of the Flight Recorder must either be in a sealable
enclosure with the connections between them entirely within the enclosure, or the GNSS receiver and flight 
data memory modules must be in separate sealable enclosures with positive security protection being 
included for data being transferred between them. Type of seal. The enclosure must have a tamper-proof physical seal across a joint or screw, 
so that the seal will be broken if the case is opened. For the internal security mechanism, see para 2.8.4. (AL5)

So its not very likely that any PDA based logger solution will ever achieve approved FR status. However, since the start of the 2006 OLC season, SoarPilot is on the "Approved Software" list for submission to the OLC.

Does the Moving Map display support terrain details?

No, the Moving Map display of SoarPilot displays waypoints, SUA and course/task information. Because many SoarPilot users run SoarPilot on B/W low-res displays the screen would become too cluttered when roads, rivers, etc. would also be plotted, not to mention the additional CPU power required to do so. There may be plans to add this feature for high end Hi-Res colour Palms.

Where can I get a serial cable for the LifeDrive, Tungsten E2, Tungsten T5 and Tungsten T|X

These newer Palm devices do not present a true RS232 serial port through their connectors. The signals that are outputted need to be adjusted slightly to make them into correct RS232 voltages. The only place that I’ve found so far that has a good cable for these devices for connecting to a GPS or other serial device is PN Technologies.

Why cannot I not power down my PDA when SP is running?

You’ll notice that you cannot switch off your PDA when SP is running. This is done on purpose so you do not switch off your PDA by mistake and loose your flight log. The power button can only be used to toggle the backlight of your PDA by pressing it twice in a short interval. To power off, you’ll need to exit SoarPilot first.

soarpilot/faq.txt · Last modified: 2012/04/27 13:09 by amegens
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