February 11, 2017: To develop a variometer means a lot of work. Sometime this is real fun, for example when testing the performance of different GPS of different variometer prototypes.
Measuring the power consumption of the GPS open air in December after sunset is much less fun…
The result of all these efforts is XC Tracer II:
XC Tracer II is equipped with a high efficiency solar cell, and has, compared to XC Tracer, a more powerful and energy-saving microcontroller, a new GPS, a new IMU, and a new BLE module with significantly lower power consumption. The XC Tracer II runs at least 20h with a fully charged battery without solar radiation. It will not be necessary to recharge XC Tracer II if there is enough sunshine. The dimensions are 57.5x57.5x17.5mm, with a weight of 60g.
There is a 10% discount on all XC Tracer Varios during the Thermikmesse in Sindelfingen. The discount applies to orders on the Thermikmesse in Sindelfingen and for all online orders on February 18th and 19th. Shipping of XC Tracer II will start from mid-March. Only a few XC Tracer are on stock, and XC Tracer Mini is on stock.
January 13th 2017: You can easily connect XC Tracerto a Kobo verbinden, without the need to modifiy the Kobo. This was tested with the actual version of the XC Tracer firmware and a Kobo Mini as well as with a Kobo Glo Hd.. But it should work too with LK800 and other Kobo models.
An USB cable for the connection of XC Tracer and Kobo will be available in the webshop of XC Tracer in roughly 8 weeks. But please be aware that for this to work you need a powerbank for that you can power the USB interface of the Kobo during the flight. I made good experiences with ISY powerbanks, but any powerbank of good quality will do the job.
- Install the newest version of XC Soar.
- After booting XC Soar choose System / Enable USB-OTG
- Reboot the Kobo, and then choose ttyACM0 in XC Soar Config/ Devices. Choose LXNAV as driver
- Install the actual XC Tracer Firmware XC_Tracer_V1.0_R04.bin (104 KB)
- Set stringToSend=LXWP0 und forwardGPSSentences=yes in the XC Tracer config file
- Connect Kobo and XC Tracer using a USB Splitter Cable and a power bank
- Switch on first XC Tracer einschalten, then switch on the Kobo
- If the connection of Kobo and XC Tracer does not immediately work then choose config / devices and deactivate / activate the port that you have configured to ttyACM0 / LXNAV. Now the conneciton will be ok.
Oktober 17th 2016: A new firmware for XC Tracer is almost finished. Many lessons learned with XC Tracer Mini have been used to develop a new firmware for XC Tracer. As a new feature it will be possible to adjust a damping factor for the vario tone, just as with XC Tracer Mini. Additional to that you can now configure if you want to send data over BLE, over USB or over both interfaces. Besides that there are many small improvements, but all of them are not directly visible to the user.
September 17th 2016: XC Tracer will be present with a booth at Coupe Icare. We are looking forward to see you there! During the Coupe Icare you will get a discount of 10% on all XC Tracer varios. The discount applies to sales at the Coupe Icare as well as for all online orders from September 22nd - 25th.
XC Tracer and XC Tracer Mini are both available from stock.
August 23rd 2016: New firmware versions are available for XC Tracer and XC Tracer Mini:
XC_Tracer_V1_0_R04: Based on R03, autoSwitchOff was integrated. When switching on the devicec then it will run for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the code will check if you flying or not. If not then there is an automatic shut down to prevent the unwanted discharge of the battery. Now the data is also sent over USB. This feature was tested on a Kobo using XCSoar and LK8000. New factory settings have been created for the tone settings. These factory settings will be set when you set reset=yes in the config file. Please make sure that there are always 4 entries / values for each tone.
XC_Tracer_Mini_V1_0_R02: Based on R01. A damping factor was added to the config file. Damping can be set from 0 (no damping) to 10 (a very old vario...). New factory settings have been created for the tone settings. These factory settings will be set when you set reset=yes in the config file. Please make sure that there are always 4 entries / values for each tone.
July 31th 2016: There was intensive programming ongoing during the past few weeks for new firmware releases for XC Tracer and XC Tracer Mini. These new version have also been tested in fligth:
A new firmware for XC Tracer Mini was written from scratch. There is a new default setting for the tones, and there is now an option where you can adjust a damping factor from 0 (actual firmware, no damping) up to 10 (maximum damping, very old vario...) If you are interested in testing this new beta version please let me know and send a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The coming new firmware for XC Tracer has an automatic power off integrated, similar to the one that is implemented in the Mini. Furthermore the data that is sent over BLE is now also sent over USB. So now you can use XCSoar or LK8000 on a Kobo without the need to solder a bluetooth module to the Kobo. If you are interested in testing please send a mail at email@example.com.
Mai 25th 2016: XC Tracer and XC Tracer Mini are both on stock and will get shipped within 1-2 business days after an order got placed. The preordered XC Tracer Mini have all been shipped to customers:
Mai 9th 2016: XC Tracer is on stock. When you order an XC Tracer you can expect that the ordered instrument will get shipped within 1-2 business days. A batch of XC Tracer Mini arrived also today, first XC Tracer Mini have already been shipped to customers today:
XC Tracer Mini has now a hole in the solar pane. There are significant advantages with this construction, namely beeper volume and energy consumption.
XC Tracer Mini / R01 got compared to XC Tracer / R03 over the week end. The results are excellent, XC Tracer Mini and XC Tracer have the same the outstanding variometer function. And both XC Tracer and XC Tracer Mini have the same possibilities to configure the acoustics to the pilots needs.
April 28th 2016: Demand for XC Tracer has exceeded all expectations. The pre-ordered variometers will be delivered according to the chronological order of their duedates.
The long wait will soon come to an end. The first samples of XC Mini Tracer enclosures just arrived. The assembly process will start early next week, and once the first varios are manufactured then the XC Tracer Minis will be sent to Switzerland for calibration of the sensors and firmware flashing.
From week after next the first XC Mini Tracer should be delivered to the customers. There will be a new update as soon as I have more news and pictures from the manufacturing process.
There is a new firmware available for XC Tracer, XC_Tracer_V1_0_R03.bin. The IGC logger stops now much later, so there is no longer the issue in rare circumstances that the logger stops when the ground speed is very low due to strong head winds. Several small bugs have been fixed, and then there is a watchdog implemented. And finally the sensor data fusion code for the variometer function has been further improved. It is strongly recommended for all customers to update to R03.
An additional app is now compatible with XC Tracer, please have a look at www.androflight.com.
March 13th 2016: We have worked intensively over the past few weeks to increase the volume of the beeping sound of XC Tracer Mini. The design of the enclosure was changed, and the solar cell got modified. Meanwhile the beeping of XC Tracer Mini is almost as loud as the one of XC Tracer. In addition to these modifications the power consumption got reduced also. Due to these modifications the shipping of XC Tracer Mini will be delayed to approximately end of March.
XC Tracer Mini is a much better product with these modifications.
Test flight on March 10th in rough (!) winter thermals over the snow-covered alps with an XC Tracer and a modified XC Tracer Mini .
There is a new firmware for XC Tracer, XC_Tracer_V1_0_R02.bin. In R02 a bug was fixed in the IGC File; GPS altitude is now correct.
February 20th 2016: XC Tracer will present a new product at the Thermikmesse in Sindelfingen February 27th, the XC Tracer Mini:
XC Tracer Mini a purely acoustical variometer. To find and core thermals with XC Tracer Mini is very easy due to the time-lag free indication of the climb/sink rate.
- real time indication of climb/sink rate
- Easiest Operation
- Firmware Update per Drag & Drop
- Free configurable tone settings, tone simulator on internet
- State of the art electroncis using a 9-DOF IMU and Mems pressure sensor
- Solar cell with efficiency of 22.5%
- Power reserve without sun shine of 8-12h with fully charged battery
- Size: 44.5 x 44.5 x 16.5 mm
- Weight 30g
For the beginning of the season there is a discount of 10% on all XC Tracer varios. The discount applies to orders on the Thermikmesse in Sindelfingen and for all online orders on February 27th and 28th. XC Tracer is on stock, shipping of XC Mini Tracer will start from mid-March.
Test Flight in Adelboten February 18th, testing new features of XC Tracer and XC Tracer Mini.
The new firmware for XC Tracer is almost finished and will be released in the next days. The features of the firmware are as desribed furhter below.
January 9th 2016: A new firmware is in beta testing now. With this new firmware it will be possible to set an option for that the vario beeps only when you are flying. This option can be deactivated in the field in just pressing the red button and choosing the volume that you want. Another feature is that you can set a default volume. If you set the default volume to 0 then XC Tracer will only beep when you switch the device on and off, but it will not beep in flight. If you set the default volume to 1 to 3 then XC Tracer will beep with this chosen volume.
XC Tracer vario tone and bluefly vario tone have been removed, only the custom vario tone as the standard tone will remain. This custom tone has default tone settings. This will make it easier, it will always beep if you don't mess it up with the tones. And if this happens then you can just delete the tone settings and set reset=yes, then the tone settings will be reset to the default values.
This new firmware version is now in beta test. Release will be in roughly 2-3 weeks. Stay tuned for more interesting news.
October 12th 2015: The code for the USB_MSD mode is finally available. Just as a general rule when using XC Tracer with the new firmware with USB_MSD Support:
- If the USB cable is connected when you switch on XC Tracer then XC Tracer runs in USB_MSD mode. Then you need to press the red button for roughly 1 second to switch on or to switch off. In this mode you can copy file to XC Tracer, download logs or update the firmware with a simple drag & drop of the new firmware (*.bin file) to the SD card of XC Tracer. When you switch off XC Tracer the new firmware will then get installed.
- If the USB cable is not connecte when you witch on XC Tracer then XC Tracer runs in flight mode. Then you need to press the red button for roughly 3 seconds to switch on or to switch off.
If you have not yet installed the USB_MSB firmware then please send me a mail, I will send you the code and the instructions.
September 5th 2015: In the past week new functions have been integrated into XC Tracer. During long test flights in the Swiss Alps I tested these new features myself. Always two XC Tracers with different software versions have been used during these flights. Here is a log file of one of those flights as a KML file.
Soon there will be a major firmware release with the following new features:
- USB_MSD is now supported; the log file and the config files can be read and written over USB. And firmware updates can be done in the future with a simple drag & drop of the new firmware to the SD card. USB_MSD is based on the uTasker Serial Loader.
- Battery status is now indicated with beeping tones when switching on the device, 1x beep = 15% or more charged, 2 X beep = 35% or more charged, up to 5x beep = 95% or more charged.
- XC Tracer can now be switched on in flight, if the pilot has forgotten to switch on the variometer before take off. However, it is still best if the calibration of the gyros is performed before the start.
- The configuration of the vario tones is enhanced, allowing the user to fine tune the sound settings much better to his needs.
As soon as the new firmware is available all XC Tracer customers will receive a corresponing e-mail.
July 31th 2015: The Indiegogo campaign came to an end, all over Indiegogo ordered XC Tracers have been shipped. XC Tracer is now in stock, and when you order an XC Tracer you can expect shipping within 1-2 business days.
There is also a new firmware available, the version is XCTracer-20150726.hex. You can download this new firmware from the download section of the homepage. The bugfixes are:
- Using MultiGeometry in KML Files as a workaround for a bug in Google Earth
- "No SD card" alarm tone when powering up XC Tracer without an inserted SD card.
- Kalman Filter "warm up" Sound Off time is reduced from 10s down to 5s
- Firmware version and serial number are now stored in the config file
- adding "reset=yes" to the config file resets the config file to factory settings
- A special IGC File Validatior Software has been written for "non-standards-compliant server (CIVL)"
The IGC files logged by XC Tracer are now accepted at www.xcontest.org. You can use your XC Tracer to log an IGC file, and then you can upload the IGC file to XContest.
June 24th 2015: XC Tracer is leightweight, logs IGC files and is an almost perfect variometer. Good reasons for Chrigel Maurer who planned to use XC Tracer for X-Alps 2015 .
But it didn't go as planned. The competition rules of X-Alps imposed to the competitors to use a device from a sponsor as an IGC logger...