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Old Feb 17, 2012, 11:14 PM
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Poll
Allowable Technology for XC racing

The subject of what technology should be permitted at XC contests often comes up in the discussions, but I have not heard enough opinions that would indicate any consensus on the subject. It has generally been left up the individual contest organizers/CD's to post the rules regarding this subject.

There is no doubt more technology will be available and at a lesser cost so we should try to establish rules on what we will allow. Therefore I am posting this poll to try to get some idea of what the XC community wants. You can vote as many of the options you like, even all of them if you believe there should be no restrictions at all. The options I came up with are:

1. Autopilot - A device that completely controls the aircraft

2. Airspeed control - A device that controls the airspeed

3. Gyro stabilizer- A gyroscopic device the helps stabilize the aircraft by controlling on or more control surfaces

4. Video telemetry

5. GPS telemetry

6. Airspeed telemetry

7. Vertical speed telemetry (Vario)

8. Altitude telemetry

9. Flight computer in chase vehicle to assist the pilot in utilizing any of the above telemetry.
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 12:10 AM
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John,

My feeling is that the sailplane should be completely in the control of the pilot and that the pilot must maintain visual contact. That would not preclude GPS data transmitted back to the pilot showing graphical info on location of the sailplane over terrain, etc. Any data such as air speed, GPS location, altitude is fine. The big problem is when tech becomes available for a reasonable price that allows us to fly a sailplane like the Autonomous team did, in other words, autopilot. That should not be allowed as it takes pilot skill out of the equation and basically a computer becomes the pilot. I still think that the 100K pin awarded to the autonomous team should have an "asterisk" assigned as it was basically a computer that flew that flight, not a human.

Steve
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 08:19 AM
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Technology is good but don't give up control

Autopilot - No.
Airspeed and Attitude stabilization - Yes.
Video telemetry - Definitely not for the 'pilot', spotter maybe, but why?
Other telemetry - Yes.
Flight computer - Audio only for pilot, visual data OK for spotter.

David
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 09:00 AM
mosquito303
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Kansas
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Easy to answer.
It all depends on what you want to measure. Pilot or electronics/software. Pick one.
In my opinion, it boils down to pilot or money.
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 09:28 AM
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Thanks John, This needs to be discussed.

1. Autopilot - A device that completely controls the aircraft.
No, this then becomes a programmer's contest.
(which could be a class unto itself if interest and participation warranted)

2. Airspeed control - A device that controls the airspeed .
No, again you have a device in the plane making decisions and actions for the pilot, thus becoming the pilot. Those participants with this device should compete in the autopilot class above.

3. Gyro stabilizer- A gyroscopic device the helps stabilize the aircraft by controlling on or more control surfaces
No, This is still a device making decisions that are controlling the glider other than the pilot. If a gyro is needed to overcome a poor glider design without enough effective dihedral, then make a new wing joiner for more dihedral, or chop off your wingtip and design in a new tip with some polyhedral to fix your roll stability. If you then need better directional stability for tracking, try extending your vertical fin taller, making a longer rudder, or adding a dorsal in front of the vertical for more area there.

4. Video telemetry
No, this can easily bypass the safety rule that the model must be visually seen from the vehicle. Situational awareness is likely to be better, a significant advantage at extreme heights. This guy could probably compete in the autopilot class too.

5. GPS telemetry
There was discussion and interest in this during a forum at Montague. Several competitors were interested in it as a means to verify that you've made the turnpoint, The pilot is however no longer using his judgement as to whether he's made the turnpoint. He's now being told that he's there. At least one voice and maybe more were concerned that added cost and complexity to stay competitive will drive people away from XC not advance or promote it. I"m on the fence on this one.

6. Airspeed telemetry
Yes if done via voice or a digital readout. This is information to the pilot, not something taking the place of the pilot.

7. Vertical speed telemetry (Vario)
Yes, but I concede the fact that TD pilots are the most likely place to draw new competitors from and some of them are likely to shy away from even trying it because of the need to purchase a vario and a specialized ship. A non-vario class has the best chance of pulling new participants. I'm going to test this theory this summer.

8. Altitude telemetry
Yes, this is information to the pilot from which he can make tactical decisions from. The pilot is still the pilot.

9. Flight computer in chase vehicle to assist the pilot in utilizing any of the above telemetry.
Yes, A flight computer in the chase vehicle can be as simple as the old fashioned slideruler styled whiz wheel, a look up table printed on paper, to a calculator or a pda, to a full blown computer. All should be fair game in the chase vehicle.

Having flight computer calculations done in the glider and sent down to the pilot as a speed+5, speed+10 voice or digital, etc is in the same category as having GPS data sent down to the pilot. It's still just information from which the pilot must decide to accept or reject then act upon, but is a calculation or judgement that the teams are currently making that will be removed from the team and given to a device. I've been working on this and it could be an equalizer for a 2 man team.

Mike
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 09:36 AM
yyz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrekBiker View Post
John,

My feeling is that the sailplane should be completely in the control of the pilot and that the pilot must maintain visual contact. That would not preclude GPS data transmitted back to the pilot showing graphical info on location of the sailplane over terrain, etc. Any data such as air speed, GPS location, altitude is fine. The big problem is when tech becomes available for a reasonable price that allows us to fly a sailplane like the Autonomous team did, in other words, autopilot. That should not be allowed as it takes pilot skill out of the equation and basically a computer becomes the pilot. I still think that the 100K pin awarded to the autonomous team should have an "asterisk" assigned as it was basically a computer that flew that flight, not a human.

Steve
Well said. This would be my vote as well. This is clear, concise and would be a good start for writing the rules for both XC and GPS Triangle racing.

Having echoed Steve:

1. Autopilot - A device that completely controls the aircraft
No

2. Airspeed control - A device that controls the airspeed
No

3. Gyro stabilizer- A gyroscopic device the helps stabilize the aircraft by controlling on or more control surfaces
No

4. Video telemetry
No

5. GPS telemetry
Yes

6. Airspeed telemetry
Yes

7. Vertical speed telemetry (Vario)
Yes

8. Altitude telemetry
Yes

9. Flight computer in chase vehicle to assist the pilot in utilizing any of the above telemetry.
Yes

Mike
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 09:38 AM
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a lurker inputs two cents worth....

Watching this forum daily because I want to do r/c xc because full size soaring xc is such a challange, I thought I would throw in my two cents worth. I'll use the suggested options in order.

1 - autopilot: not only no but HELL no! I agree with previous comments, the pilot must fly the plane.

2 - Airspeed control: no. See above.

3 - Gyros: no. Personally: 1) I do not see a need and 2) I think gyros are a grey area because you are not in complete control, an electronic device is doing some of the thinking and controlling for you. Don't get me wrong. Gyros are great in helicopters, but then by nature, helicopters are twichy little bastards bent on self destruction and annihilation! Sailplane are more stable.

4 - video telemetry: Why? Don't see a need. A desire, yes. Personally worried about the whole UAV argument and flying out of visual line of sight. Might be usefull as a safety device. I would love to hear the arguments pro and con.

5 thru 8 - definately yes! If you have the bucks and want all of the bells and whistles, go for it! Definately audio because do you really want to take your eyes off that speck you are trying to fly to check data? Visual displays would be great for the spotter and he could be the audio for the pilot.

9 - somekind of flight computer/electronic devise (laptop, smart phopne, iPad, etc) for efficent (and safe) utilization of #5 thru 8 (and #4 if allowed) should be allowed.

Thanks for this thread!

Scott
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 09:59 AM
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Great thread John,

With my vario I get a report on altitude, rate of climb, and battery voltage. This has been common in our sport for years.

We all have wished for airspeed readout. The pilot should make the decision on changing airspeed not a device. Several radio manufactures have telementry that downlink airspeed. Must be GPS speed. How accurate I don't know.

A gyro or stabilazation device as the Eagle Tree "Guardian" really catches my eye to help with those long runs or when you loose sight of your glider. Sounds good but I would rather it not be a part of what we do. Part of the fun is working on your skills to fly straight and keep the glider under control.

Glider location determined by GPS can be done now. Maybe helpful for turnpoints.


Regards Dean
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 04:46 PM
Skye Malcolm
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Upper Arlington, OH
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Anyone here know about or contribute to the 2012 NATS XC event? Just curious if this is to generate comments for potential rules there.

I certainly wouldn't consider myself much of an XC pilot or spotter having only done LSF III and IV 1km and 2km goal and return flights. But I agree with the earlier comment that fewer aids in a contest are probably more encouraging for the TD pilot trying XC for the first time. Then again, no varios allowed is very strict and honestly not necessarily "better" or "safer" from my admittedly limited experience flying from the back of truck without a vario. So I could see it both ways.

As a matter of practicality, don't you (as CD) hate to have to tell someone their plane is not allowed in the pilots meeting? It might even mean the guy has to rip something out of his plane or even worst case go home because he can't disable a feature.
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Old Feb 19, 2012, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DEAN GRADWELL View Post
Great thread John,

With my vario I get a report on altitude, rate of climb, and battery voltage. This has been common in our sport for years.

We all have wished for airspeed readout. The pilot should make the decision on changing airspeed not a device. Several radio manufactures have telementry that downlink airspeed. Must be GPS speed. How accurate I don't know.

A gyro or stabilazation device as the Eagle Tree "Guardian" really catches my eye to help with those long runs or when you loose sight of your glider. Sounds good but I would rather it not be a part of what we do. Part of the fun is working on your skills to fly straight and keep the glider under control.

Glider location determined by GPS can be done now. Maybe helpful for turnpoints.


Regards Dean
I used to argue for allowing gyro stabilization for straight line flight to help with high altitude tracking and for negotiating tree tunnels, legal cuts on corners, etc. But now I've changed my mind. I agree that part of the XC experience is the skill it takes to set up the glider properly and fly it properly to meet these challenges.

I really would like audio airspeed info though. and some sort of GPS telemetry on a PDA for the spotter would be nice and could help making turnpoints and in locating when losing sight or after a crash.

Steve
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Old Feb 19, 2012, 08:31 PM
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My opinion is, in general telemetry should be allowed but with a few exceptions. Those exceptions being any telemetry whose primary function would be to allow control of the glider without the pilot in visual contact with the glider. So this would rule out video, turn and slip indicator, artificial horizon, etc. Anything that moves a control surface without pilot input should not be allowed. Based on those rules I would vote for the following:


1. Autopilot - NO

2. Airspeed control - NO

3. Gyro stabilizer or any other stabilizing device that moves a control surface without direct pilot input- NO

4. Video telemetry- NO

5. GPS telemetry - YES

6. Airspeed telemetry - YES

7. Vertical speed telemetry (Vario) - YES

8. Altitude telemetry - YES

9. Flight computer in chase vehicle to assist the pilot in utilizing any of the above telemetry. YES
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Old Feb 19, 2012, 09:33 PM
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It appears that GPS data to be used to determine if you've made it to the turnpoint is favored by most.
Keep in mind though that if I use GPS data to make my turnpoint, I then make my turn, establish a new heading, take a GPS reading, then 20 seconds later take another GPS reading, I now have my exact ground track given to me or I can be told how far I need to adjust to be on track to the next turnpoint. I don't need to estimate drift from winds aloft or coordinate with my team as to where I want to be next. My GPS info has done that for me. (assuming that I can hold a heading)

Is having course and ground track information going to be an acceptable byproduct of being able to be told that you've made it to the turnpoint ?

Mike
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Old Feb 19, 2012, 09:43 PM
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Though I'm new to this style of flying I'm still an old school glider guider and am really glad to see this thread get started. Though I'm just getting ready to start into XC I have to agree that having anything in a plane that will control the plane like the first four items on the list shouldn't be allowed unless in it's own class of competition. To me, a big part of the draw of this type of flying is the need for pilot skill to accomplish the tasks. Having something that will control the plane not only takes away from the needed skill set, but as stated before, it makes for the RC equivalent of an arms race. He with the most bucks wins. Allow anything that will only give the pilot information to work with but nothing that will fly the plane for him. Now if they come up with some way of tracking your plane at altitude for hours at a time without killing your neck I'd be all for!

Jeff
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Old Feb 20, 2012, 01:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scaflock View Post
...

Now if they come up with some way of tracking your plane at altitude for hours at a time without killing your neck I'd be all for!

Jeff
solution to sore neck, beanbag chairs in the back of a pick-up truck!




Jeff,

Good comments! The primary reason why I am opposed to the various implementations of instrumentation improvements is to prevent the "arms race" issue. An easy way to kill a competitive event is to make the "buy in" cost for equipment too high, or alternately, not easily available to all competitors. In the early days of my competitive XC flying, I found that it was essential to use a TE probe so as to remove the primary effects of elevator control. I also shared this information with other competitors and wrote about it so that other pilots could understand the benefits, and how to modify their equipment so that it wasn't a barrier to new competitor entry.

I worry a bit about the usage of a computer in the chase vehicle to digest the data from the aircraft, especially with the inevitable result of the computer deriving the optimum performance potential with the pilot reduced to obeying commands from the computer so as to best achieve the optimal performance. The phrase "meat servo" comes to mind at this point. Whether it is an electronic actuation or a manual (pilot induced) actuation just is a matter of phase lag from a controls perspective.

As an aside, the "big bucks" argument is why I continued to campaign an outdated XC design for many years.
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Old Feb 20, 2012, 07:58 AM
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Gents,

I'm from the other side of the pond so voting cannot be a goal for me because I (probably) never will be a competitor.

But contribute in the discussion is possible because I am an intrument engineer and was glider pilot too so I can give you information about existing principles and what is possible, now and in the future.

Because I did start the thread to have an inventarization of used systems, people might think I will make the situation more complicated but, don't worry, not possible, there only is a different way of thinking!

-I only can show principles based on physic laws that are important for gliding for me.

-You all are talking about technical possibilities generated by manufacturers, software and electronic engineers, and they want to sell to you!

WHY

Only goal for me is to show you basic principles of gliding and the instrument options needed for that. It is no coincidence these tools already were developed in the early period of gliding and not the period of computers, gyros, gps telemetry video etc. And..... the air is still nearly(?) the same!!!

Because I still fly "Old School" I can do the job with minimum of tools and nothing special.

After my post, you all may count which of the elements I did use related to post 1. and start a discussion what all you want to add!!


HOW TO DO!

To show I will use one of my existing gliders so after all I also can show some photographs if you want.
I do not hesitate because, when I ever cross the pond, who knows, I want to know if my plane is accepted by the CD!!

I think the result can be surprizing for you all and if you understand my explanation it probably will be much more easy to continue your proces of formulating the rules for what is needed and accepted.

So, what is your opninion, do I show my post?

If you agree I have to make (a) drawing(s) so I like to know if it is worth the effort.
If the trick fails dont't worry? Nothing is lost and we continue modeling !



Cees
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