AirScout - Frequently Asked Questions

Is AirScout a free software?

Yes. AirScout is free for personal ham radio related use.
I do not have any financial interests concerning the development and the use of this software.
My aim is to help all interested ham radio operators of the world populating our ham radio bands.

Is the source code of AirScout free for everyone?

Yes. It is released under the GNU GPL V3 licence. The source code is available on request. Please send me an email.

Most software comes with an installation procedure. Why AirScout does not have an installer?

The software is developed under Microsoft's .NET 4.0 platform with Visual C# 2010 Express and does not need an installation procedure.
Furthermore, the Express versions of Microsoft Visual Studio do not support installer projects.
An external solution is possible but not considered so far.

Can I reuse my software settings from older versions of AirScout?

Sometimes yes. It depends on the major version. Each time you are upgrading the software, a new set of parameters is generated automatically.
Sometimes new parameters or data formats are not compatible with older versions.
Therefore an automatic conversion can not always provide good results.
Nevertheless, the reuse of big data, like SRTM data files, is possible. They should be copied over to a "neutral" directory and selected by pointing on this inthe Options tab.

I don't want to publish my location information via Internet. Can I use AirScout anyway?

No, you can't. Starting with AirScout V1.2 the sending of location information is mandatory.
Other hams are relaint to this information for an accurate path calculation.
You can help the community this way, but it's up to you to choose whether to use AirScout or not.

I am living outside Europe. Can I use this software the same way like European users do?

Yes. But you have to take some precautions. The default software distribution package contains settings and elevation data for Central European users.
If you are living outside this area you must change settings suitable for your area (see documentation for details).
Once changed the software should run the same way in all locations of the world.

I do'nt speak English very well. Is it possible to include other language packs?

Not yet, sorry. This is a fun project and I have only limited resources for program development and documentation.
Designing a multilanguage software package needs a lot of effords. Nevertheless the Microsoft .NET platform allows to include language packs for globalization but the realisation is not scheduled yet.
If time permits I will translate the documentation into German language first. Maybe some others can translate it into different languages in the future.

After starting AirScout for the first time I miss planes and elevation data. What happened?

Nothing special. Starting with V1.2 AirScout is using a SQLite database to keep all information. The database is set up on first run and is updated later in the background. You can see the database status on the lower right corner of program's main window. If you miss some informatoin simply wait for status "Database is up to date." and the green sign.

 What is the frequency range Aircraft Scatter does occur?

As I have got information from all over the world, Aircraft Scatter is confirmed from 50MHz up to 10GHz.
The lower limit is more or less influenced by the ratio between wavelength and reflecting area.
The higher limit is more or less influenced by atmospheric attenuation and small beamwidths.
You are encouraged to extend the limit by your own experiments!

Can I run AirScout without an Internet connection?

Yes. But you will never see any aircraft on the screen because there is no other way to get plane positions so far.
Furthermore, the map server cannot be contacted and you will not see the map background.

Nevertheless it might be useful to calculate a path to your QSO partner or to see your own radio horizon offline.

I am running AirScout in an outside location with a GPRS/UMTS - connection. How much bandwith and data volume will this consume?

This is very much depending on the air traffic and focus. AirScout is fetching global plane positions once per minute by default.
This will cause a traffic of 1-2MByte for each download. You can reduce traffic by selecting another regional data file.
AirScout is not providing other file names than default. Try to browse the Internet for suitable *.json file names.

I am afraid of legal issues. Can I run AirScout without getting plane positions from Internet?

Yes. Simply uncheck the "Use plane feeds from internet" ath the "Options/Planes" tab. But you will lose most of the functionality depending on the online plane positions.
AirScout is getting plane positions via deep link from a website. The use of this feed is not intended by the website owners.
Allthough this is legal in Germany, it may cause legal issues in other contries. You were asked once to accept that you are doing that on your own risk.
At the moment there no other sources available to get information from. I will include other public resources or community projects as soon as they become available.

I am running my own ADS-B receiver. Can I use the position information in AirScout?

Not yet. I am thinking about including position information from other sources like SBS-1 receiver or DVB-T stick solutions.
But think about the reception radius of an ADS-B receiver. For a 600km Aircraft Scatter QSO you must cover an area of >300km around your location.
This will exceed the capabilities of  a typical ADS-B receiver by many times. The better solution is to feed your data to an Internet service and to share it with others.
CAUTION: Running an ADS-B receiver and/or sharing the information with others may violate legal provisions in your country!

Why should I use the SRTM3 elevation model?

AirScout is using the GLOBE (1km x 1km) elevation model by default. This model is rather smooth but has significant elevation erros due to strong averaging. 
The use of SRTM3 data has much less elevation errors and will produce more accurate results in path calculation.

I got rid of downloading tons of SRTM3 data. Can I reuse the data files from anywhere else?

Yes. If you are working with Radio Mobile or other Geo software you can reuse the SRTM3 data files from that sources as well.
Simply copy the *.hgt files over to the according directory (see documentation for details).

Why should I use exact locations rather than a 6digit Maidenhead Locator?

AirScout is using the midpoint of a given 6digit Maidenhead Locator by default. This is OK as long as your are using the GLOBE elevation model.
If you are using a more detailed elevation model with higher dynamics the midpoint cannot reflect your personal situation in a hilly environment properly.
This will result in completely wrong path calculations. Especially when you are using SRTM3 elevation data you should use an exact location whenever possible.

To reduce such effects tick option "Use best case elevation when no exact location is available". You will get the best possible path calculaltion inside the grid square then.

Where can I maintain my exact location so that others can use it for their path calculation?

The best way is to maintain your location at QRZ.COM. Simply open your/create a new account and update your location by entering numeric lat/long information or by dragging the needle on the map.
To get the exact location in AirScout open the "Stations" tab and press the "QRZ.COM lookup" button. If successful the according Locator box is filled with green background.
After pressing "OK" the new location is stored in the local AirScout database.

The elevation (above sea level) of My Station / DX Station is grayed out. Where can I set it to correct values?

It is not allowed in AirScout to maintain elavation above sea level manually and it would be useless if allowed. You cannot change the elevation of a particular location without changing the surrounding landscape by the same amount. With other words: if you "correct" your elevation by, lets say, 200m manually, you will raise your antenna 200m above the ground around your QTH. The resulting path calcluation will give you complete false results. Exactly the same will happen if you try to increase the antenna height value to "correct". If you feel the elevation is not correct (this usually happens when you are using the GLOBE DEM only), do not try to change it manually. Go and download SRTM3 data instead. This will give much more accurate elevation values. It the new elevation value with SRTM3 is still not correct: live with it!.

I'd like to observe the propagation path to multiple QSO partners at one time. Why is this not possible in AirScout?

Calculating a propagation path and showing plane movements is consuming a lot of CPU performance. Furthermore it is not useful to schedule more than one contact at one time.
Nevertheless AirScout has a rudimentary server functionality which allows other programs to fetch Aircraft Scatter probabilities to multiple QSO partners via network connection (see documentation for details). I personally use this text based information in my own ON4KST chat client (wtKST) to show the probability to each single user who is currently online.

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