Thursday, 19 April 2012

Storing your routes in the cloud...

Update: Version 3 of the iNavCalc mobile app now supports seamless interaction with the FlyLogical cloud storage functionality

Update: see recently-added Route Viewer which further extends the route-sharing capabilities of iNavCalc...

Here are a few tips and hints on how to use iNavCalc to store and share your flight routes in the cloud, independent of any hardware or software device. As a simple example, here's a step-by-step description of how to use iNavCalc to store and recall your  routes generated using the popular third-party SkyDemon app. I will assume you are using an iPad since, in my opinion, that is the most convenient platform for using such apps since you can take it into the cockpit and use it as a moving-map for real-time navigation as well as for pre-flight planning purposes.

The same general approach works for any iPad app that can handle emailed route files in the industry-standard GPX format (though originally there was a minor bit of work required to convert SkyDemon's legacy .flightplan format into GPX, the team at SkyDemon have now provided a direct GPX export for portability in their most recent upgrade on the iPad). With iNavCalc, you can therefore easily store & maintain your routes centrally (in the open-standard GPX format), and share them with specified individuals (or the whole world), and access them across your various favoured apps. So far I have successfully tested the GPX route import/export with the latest versions of SkyDemon (as described here), Air Navigation Pro, Memory-Map, and last but not least, iNavCalc.

The various apps all have their pros and cons, and you will probably find, like me, that you appreciate specific functionality from each of them. As such, your routes are yours, and you shouldn't be constrained by the confines of one tool or the other in doing what you want to do in the management, planning and navigation of your routes. That's my second motivation for providing this FREE web-based cloud resource. My first is that I wanted this functionality for my own convenience and interest!

Here goes. Hope you find it useful. Let me know @Flylogical on Twitter...

A) Saving a SkyDemon route from the iPad to the FlyLogical cloud

  • First make sure you have registered online with FlyLogical. This is FREE, but you need to provide an email address for communicating with iNavCalc (make sure that your spam filter allows incoming email from no_reply@flylogical.com, and make sure that you follow the simple registration process to completion, including responding to the account activation email which you will receive during registration). You only need to do this once.
  • Create a route in SkyDemon on your iPad
  • Select Route --> Send by Email  within SkyDemon
  • Address the email to: plogs@flylogical.com
  • Specify the subject-line exactly as follows (the save=true tells iNavCalc to save the route in the database under the specified name, can be whatever you like): save=true; name=My route
  • Make sure the From address is the same email address as you used to register with iNavCalc
  • Hit the Send button (make sure you have a connection to the internet)
  • A few seconds later you will receive two emails. The first will contain a suite of attachments pertaining to the flight briefing for the route (the usual iNavCalc generated response to any emailed plog request). The second will contain a link to the saved route in the iNavCalc database at flylogical.com. You can navigate via this link to the iNavCalc web app and view/manipulate the route in GoogleMaps. Notes: (i) if you have not yet registered with iNavCalc, or if you sent the request from an unregistered email account, you will only receive one response email (containing the flight planning docs); (ii) iNavCalc automatically converts the native SkyDemon .flightplan format into the industry-standard GPX format. Only the waypoint names and locations are converted. All other information is discarded.

B) Loading a route from the FlyLogical cloud into SkyDemon on the iPad via email

  • If you have just carried out Step A), as a test you can re-import the previously-saved route by email, as follows:
  • Send a blank email with no attachments to: plogs@flylogical.com  
  • A few seconds alter you will receive an email containing a suite of attachments pertaining to the flight briefing for the route (the usual iNavCalc generated response to any emailed plog request). iNavCalc will have remembered your last action and will conveniently recall your last saved route (since you submitted a blank request).
  • Scroll down the email and click on the first attachment which will be named ROUTE_******.gpx and activate the iPad "Open In" function (top-right screen icon), and select Open In "SkyDemon". Your route will be opened in SkyDemon.

C) Loading a route from the FlyLogical cloud into SkyDemon on the iPad via the web browser

  • Alternatively, navigate via your iPad browser to flylogical.com. Login using your registered credentials. You will be able to create/manage/edit/share all your routes from the iNavCalc web app.
  • Go to the iNavCalc map page
  • Create or load a route (using the iNavCalc on-screen widgets and functions)
  • When ready to send the route to the iPad, click the Get detailed PLOG button (located about two thirds of the way down the route control panel to left of map).
  • Click the "Get PLOG by email" button
  • A few seconds alter you will receive an email containing a suite of attachments pertaining to the flight briefing for the route (the usual iNavCalc generated response to any emailed plog request).
  • Scroll down the email and click on the first attachment which will be named ROUTE_******.gpx and activate the iPad "Open In" function (top-right screen icon), and select Open In "SkyDemon". Your route will be opened in SkyDemon.