PocketTopo experiences?

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Re: PocketTopo experiences?

Postby LWB » Feb 14, 2010 11:48 pm

Luc,

When you add sketching to Auriga - if it can handle backsights properly, and splay shoots, and do normal survey station format - I think you will have a winner. PocketTopo's lack of backsight handling is a problem. It's use of splay shots is quite nice.

It would sure be nice to have a couple of brushes instead of just colors. At least a floor drop, ceiling drop, and dashed line.

I really do like your DistoX calibration routine (except you can't view or save the data). Very slick, and much more user friendly than the PocketTopo version. And I find I like the Palms (Tungsten E2 and TX) better than the Axim or the IPAQ. Although all of them drive me slightly crazy. And the E2 gets great battery life (which is good since you can't carry a spare). My HP gets terrible battery life - even with a new battery. The Axim isn't bad.

It would be nice if you would write a Palm application to download DistoX data (after a survey trip) - even to a text file (and I'm sure you would want Auriga format as well). That would allow Disto X users who aren't using PocketTopo to use your DistoX calibration and not need a Windows PDA to download the data.

I seem to have terrible luck downloading the DistoX to a laptop. I end up having to use the Axim or the IPAQ...
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Re: PocketTopo experiences?

Postby lleblanc » Feb 15, 2010 11:15 am

Lynn,

When you add sketching to Auriga - if it can handle backsights properly, and splay shoots, and do normal survey station format - I think you will have a winner.


Isn't Auriga already handling backsights properly, offering splay shots and doing "normal station format" ?

Backsights have been an opt-in feature right from the start. Splay shots were introduced last December, and they can be acquired both while in Survey Shot or Map. As for survey stations, they can be named anything up to 12 characters, or use a 6.6-type format.

It would sure be nice to have a couple of brushes instead of just colors. At least a floor drop, ceiling drop, and dashed line.


You can't expect a freeware sketching program running on a 10 cm PDA screen to perform like Illustrator. It seems reasonable to me you may have to retrace at home some lines drawn while in cave. Sketch layers are very convenient for that.

I really do like your DistoX calibration routine (except you can't view or save the data).


What is there to view and why would you want to save this data? You own tests show the calibration should be repeated every three weeks. And calibration changes with batteries and between DistoX units.

Very slick, and much more user friendly than the PocketTopo version.


I'm glad you like it. Contrary to Pocket Topo, I preferred to make it standalone instead of embedding it into Auriga.

And I find I like the Palms (Tungsten E2 and TX) better than the Axim or the IPAQ. Although all of them drive me slightly crazy.


The E2 drives you crazy? It's my preferred Bluetooth-capable device. The TX has a better (larger) screen but some devices, not all, experience disconnect problems I'm still struggling with. I advise against buying a TX for Auriga unless you can try it before buying it.

And the E2 gets great battery life (which is good since you can't carry a spare). My HP gets terrible battery life - even with a new battery. The Axim isn't bad.


Aceeca, maker of rugged PDAs, is supposed to release two new Bluetooth-capable PalmOS devices in April: the rugged MEZ1500 ($400 + ? for Bluetooth option) and the less-rugged TX-like PDA32 (200$ + ? for Bluetooth option), both with QVGA screens and twice (2000 mAh) the usual battery capacity. The MEZ1500 battery will be field-replaceable. Per agreement with Aceeca, I should be testing these models as soon as they become available.

It would be nice if you would write a Palm application to download DistoX data (after a survey trip) - even to a text file (and I'm sure you would want Auriga format as well). That would allow Disto X users who aren't using PocketTopo to use your DistoX calibration and not need a Windows PDA to download the data. I seem to have terrible luck downloading the DistoX to a laptop. I end up having to use the Axim or the IPAQ...


Can't you run PocketTopo on a PC to do that? If not, you should ask (PocketTopo's) Beat Heeb for that, he's the one making the DistoX. As for creating an Auriga file with a DistoX dump, that would create a poor cave file: no station names, and no way to tell DistoX data between survey shots, LRUDs and splay shots. What a mess! Next thing you'll need is a tool to move the DistoX data between survey shots, LRUDs and splay shots...

If Auriga users want to use a DistoX, they can connect their PDA to it, or manually input the data. In either case, they get the benefits of seeing the cave as they survey it, detect errors, fix loops, etc. If some cavers just want to use a DistoX and paper, they can write their own transfer program, the DistoX protocol is public. I simply see no point in downloading all the data once back home.

Regards,
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Re: PocketTopo experiences?

Postby LWB » Feb 15, 2010 4:53 pm

lleblanc wrote:Isn't Auriga already handling backsights properly, offering splay shots and doing "normal station format" ?


Yes - I was contrasting it to what PocketTopo doesn't do. Now that you have expanded the station format (so the FSB prefix can be used) I need to try to export some data to Auriga again. I had hopes for using it for "situational awareness" and not carry so many sheets of paper in the cave. The problem is that I have to use Compass as the go-between for Walls and Auriga and Compass was not doing such a good job at this. I think Chris was working on the Walls conversion - I hope.

lleblanc wrote:You can't expect a freeware sketching program running on a 10 cm PDA screen to perform like Illustrator. It seems reasonable to me you may have to retrace at home some lines drawn while in cave. Sketch layers are very convenient for that.


Obviously it will not perform like Illustrator. I suspect it will only be useful for little stuff (because of the small screen), but that is mainly what I end up surveying anyway. Two brushes for ceiling and floor drops would make it much more user friendly and faster in the cave - and it doesn't have to be perfect - obviously we will be redrawing in Illustrator.

lleblanc wrote:What is there to view and why would you want to save this data? You own tests show the calibration should be repeated every three weeks. And calibration changes with batteries and between DistoX units.


It is very useful for debugging. Twice I have needed it. The recent time was I was showing someone how to calibrate their DistoX - and I used your Palm app since it is so user friendly. The results of the calibration (i= and d= ) were nonsense. I had to get out the Axim and run PocketTopo. That showed that the z-magnetic sensor column was all zeros. Back on the surface we disassembled the DistoX to find that the Z magnetic sensor had somehow been broken off the board in shipping. Beat shipped a new sensor and it was soldered in place to get things working. So yes, I would like to see the sensor readings for debugging purposes.

lleblanc wrote:The E2 drives you crazy? It's my preferred Bluetooth-capable device.


It is not the E2 - it is the Palm OS. The E2 is a nice unit. And Windows Mobile OS is not particularly better - just different in odd ways. I hoped it would be more like Windows, but it is weird. Both file handling and exiting programs (or not exiting them) drives me crazy. I'm sure some of it is user error - but I'm sure many people like me are not PDA users apart from cave related stuff.

lleblanc wrote:I simply see no point in downloading all the data once back home.


If you are only using the DistoX for FS and BS it has proven useful several times to download the data - especially when something looks fishy. It was pretty easy to tell what was what.

I also ran a test survey loop with the Disto X shooting FS/BS and 6 to 10 radials per shot. I was able to sort that out after the fact by being careful to maintain a precise order. Much harder in the cave. It would be nice if the DistoX displayed a shot count (leg #) like the Pony.

If it wasn't for PocketTopo's screwy station labels and lack of backsight handling I think I would try to make it work. The simple spreadsheet format is more user friendly than the fancy Auriga interface that I have never tried hard enough to learn (and I think some of the issue is the Palm OS not behaving how I think it should).

PocketTopo will run on my laptop, however only about 1 in 10 times can I make the bluetooth link work to the DistoX, so I end up having to use the Axim or the IPAQ to download the data. It can be saved as a text file, put into Excel, and will a bit of editing it can be pasted into Walls. Several times I have opened a New Cave file in PocketTopo and tried to download the DistoX data. The DistoX says it is connected, but nothing is showing up. Then I find an old Pocket Topo file that I thought was closed is actually getting all the new data added to it. Argh! I have to sort it out in Excel.

At the moment I'm suffering with learning Illustrator. I was a Corel Draw user (I loved Corel Draw - at least versions 3-9 - I hate 12) so I thought I understood vector graphics programs and what they can do. Well, Illustrator is anything but intuitive! Thank goodness for decent tutorials (Brian's) and many experts (thanks Jeff, Ed, Aaron, Bob, Pat, & Scott) out there. :-)
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Re: PocketTopo experiences?

Postby lleblanc » Feb 15, 2010 5:50 pm

lleblanc wrote:The E2 drives you crazy? It's my preferred Bluetooth-capable device.

It is not the E2 - it is the Palm OS. The E2 is a nice unit. And Windows Mobile OS is not particularly better - just different in odd ways. I hoped it would be more like Windows, but it is weird. Both file handling and exiting programs (or not exiting them) drives me crazy. I'm sure some of it is user error - but I'm sure many people like me are not PDA users apart from cave related stuff.


PalmOS handles files stored in the device memory as "Palm Databases" (hence their PDB name) but it's nothing you should have to worry about. When you export an Auriga cave file (i.e. an Auriga cave PDB) to your PC through the conduit, you also get a regular Compass, VisualTopo and soon Walls Windows file on your PC. And if you store something on the SD card, like your DXF exports for instance, they'll be plain files readable under Windows without having to go through the conduit. No problem then.

As for exiting the application, Auriga behaves according to PalmOS UI design rules: apps don't have a Quit or Exit button or menu, you simply move to another app or the Desktop.

Don't let these minor details drive you crazy :)

Regards,
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Re: PocketTopo experiences?

Postby Martin Sluka » Mar 3, 2010 4:31 am

More detailed description of PocketTopo stations numbering (thanks to Bruce Mutton):

http://therion.speleo.sk/wiki/doku.php?id=paperless
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