Operation

PlanePlotter mobile (PPm) comprises three main views for COAA’s PlanePlotter server information:

These are accessible through the swipe-in Menu.

Planes may be selected to access the full Info view or a Gallery of aircraft photos (where available) using the icons in the Action Bar.

Additionally, user-defined Locations may be stored and recalled, and Airports, Operators and Airframes are listed in information tables.

Menu

The swipe-in Menu may be accessed from the Map, Table and SkyAR views either by selecting the PPm icon in the top left-hand corner or by swiping in from the left hand side of the screen.

Action Bar

Contextual actions, available through Map, Table and SkyAR views, appear in the Action Bar at the top of the screen. Upon selection of a Plane in the Map or Table View, the Info, Gallery and Share icons will become available for further information.

Symbols

Nic Storey has provided the excellent PlaneSymbol v3 set, and details and PP installation files are available on his site.

See Resources for more details on user-provided BaseStation.sqb and FlightRoute.sqb files.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Map View

The primary display, the Map View offers a virtual radar display. Any region of the world may be selected through dragging and zooming gestures, and PlanePlotter mobile will display the Planes currently monitored in that region.

Aircraft information is uploaded live from a network of thousands of PlanePlotter users monitoring ADSB, ACARS and FLARM radio transmissions, to the COAA PlanePlotter server.

COAA's PlanePlotter servers are polled every 30 seconds, with Plane positions estimated based on the latest information available. The servers are re-queried upon change of Map region.

If your Android device has GPS enabled, selecting the My Location button will zoom to your current location.

Selecting a Plane or Airport marker reveals an Information Window with basic details; this window may be closed by tapping on empty map space. Where available, Plane information includes:

  • Flight Number
  • Registration Number
  • Altitude
  • Speed
  • Route
  • Aircraft Type

Alternatively, the following actions appear in the Action Bar:

The current Map View (latitude, longitude, zoom) may be added to your favourite Locations by long-pressing on the Map View. This will take you to the Locations Editor, where you will be prompted to name the new Location.

Several different map overlay options (wind, airspaces, etc.) and Plane marker settings are presented in the application's Settings.

Table View

The Table View presents all information obtained from COAA’s PlanePlotter servers about the currently selected map region.

Where available, the following information is displayed for each Plane:

  • Flight Number
  • Registration Number
  • ICAO
  • Altitude
  • Route
  • Aircraft Type
  • Country of Registration
  • Operator

Selecting a table item reveals all information about the Plane obtained from COAA’s PlanePlotter servers.

Selecting a table item’s pop-out child window takes you back to the Map View, with the selected Plane’s Information Window displayed.

Alternatively, once a Plane is selected, the following actions appear in the Action Bar:

  • Info
  • Gallery
  • Share

Selecting a table column header sorts the Planes list in ascending or descending order.

Info View

Accessed by first selecting a Plane of interest, the Info View offers COAA’s PlanePlotter server information about the Plane, augmented by local database information and photos from the internet (where available).

Where Plane Type information is available, corresponding Airframe Types are displayed in a drop-down list. Additionally, PPm attempts to determine if the aircraft are military or not.

Selecting an aircraft photo launches the Gallery.

Gallery

Accessed by first selecting a Plane of interest, the Gallery displays a grid of all photos of the Plane found through a web search.

By selecting an item in the Gallery, a swipe-through slideshow is displayed.

Share

Accessed by first selecting a Plane of interest, the Share option enables instant sharing of Planes of interest with fellow PlanePlotter mobile users.

A hyperlink with the Plane’s position and identifier information is formed which is included in the selected Share option’s message.

For users with PlanePlotter mobile installed, selection of the received Share message offers the option of opening with PlanePlotter mobile; selecting this option launches PlanePlotter mobile’s Map View and zooms to the region of interest.

SkyAR View

The SkyAR View offers an augmented reality view of local Plane information, overlaying the camera’s display with Plane position, identifier and altitude information.

Aircraft within a radius of 100 nautical miles are displayed, with a Compass readout at the top of the view giving your Android device’s compass bearing.

Pointing your Android device at an aircraft will display the Plane’s information, if available from COAA’s PlanePlotter servers.

Filters

Filters provide a way to limit the planes displayed in Map, Table and SkyAR View.

To activate, the Data Filter switch at the top of the Filter screen must be set to ON; the swipe-in menu shows an alert when the filter is active.

The following filters may be defined:

  • Altitude
  • Speed
  • Interested
  • Mlat
  • Military
  • FLARM

Altitude filtering employs 2000' increments, and Speed filtering employs 100kts increments; for a right-unbounded interval of e.g. Altitude >= 2000', set the upper limit to its maximum value.

To enable Interested, Mlat, Military or FLARM filters, the corresponding checkbox must be ticked, and the option set to Show / Hide. Setting any of these four to Show will effectively OR them together, whereas setting them to Hide will effectively AND them – i.e. Mlat = Show and Military = Show will ensure display of all Mlat aircraft and all non-Mlat military aircraft, whereas Mlat = Show and Military = Hide will display only non-military Mlat aircraft.

Locations

User-defined Locations may be stored, edited and recalled, defining the region of interest for the Map View.

New locations may be added by setting the desired location and zoom level in Map View, followed either by long-pressing the Map View or by selecting Locations from the Menu, then Add from the Action Bar.

The Location Editor presents the latitude, longitude, zoom level, and attempts to find the country in which the position resides. You will be prompted to name the Location; this name will be used to identify the Location in the list of Locations.

Selecting a Location in the list will define the current Map View.

Locations are automatically sorted alphabetically.

Airports

Selecting Airports from the Menu displays a sizable list of worldwide airports.

Selecting any of the Airports defines the current Map View, and the Airport’s Information Window is displayed.

Operators

Selecting Operators from the Menu displays a list of worldwide airline operators and their flags, where available – see Resources for details of how to add third-party graphics.

Airframes

Selecting Airframes from the Menu displays a list of airframes and their silhouettes, where available – see Resources for details of how to add third-party graphics.

Settings

PlanePlotter mobile's Settings, accessible from the Menu, are divided into the following sections:

Account

Account information may be reviewed and reset.

General

Update notifications may be enabled or disabled. It is recommended that you keep them enabled, as new features and bug fixes will enhance your experience of PPm.

PPm can be configured to keep the screen on by toggling the Screen Lock.

Source

Data may be sourced from either the PlanePlotter server or a user-defined Radarcape server. To source from a Radarcape server, select Source from Radarcape and enter the Radarcape server address. A demo Radarcape server address is provided, covering southeastern Germany.

Resources

The Resources setting displays the root, operators, silhouettes and databases directories; clicking an item opens a dialog to browse the files.

Databases

PPm 1.1.0+ makes use of user-provided BaseStation.sqb and FlightRoute.sqb files, placed in the appropriate directory, to supplement PP server data.

The following BaseStation.sqb columns are used from the table [Aircraft]:

  • ModeS
  • ModeSCountry
  • Registration
  • ICAOTypeCode
  • Interested
  • UserTag
  • OperatorFlagCode

Aircraft marked as "Interested" in your BaseStation.sqb database may be highlighted in a custom colour by going to Settings→Planes and selecting Colour Interested.

The performance effect of BaseStation.sqb can be minimised by removing redundant database columns and tables for PPm – the difference can be significant! However, the columns used are subject to change in future updates, so please carefully read each PPm release announcement.

Any changes to the database should be made after completely closing PPm – i.e. pressing the Back button and confirming that you want to exit PPm. Failure to do so may result in the app crashing, or old BaseStation.sqb / FlightRoute.sqb data being displayed.

Graphics

Third-party airline operator flags and airplane silhouettes may be placed into the folders specified, and will be displayed in the Map, Table and Info Views.

As this involves the downloading and unzipping of archives involving potentially thousands of graphics, it is recommended that the files are unzipped on PC / Mac and then transferred to your Android device over USB.

Android devices often ship without a file manager. If such an application is required, the excellent and free ES File Explorer is recommended.

Suggested operator and silhouette resources may be found by clicking the first two items on the Links page's Resources section. A more thorough tutorial may be found on Nic Storey's excellent website.

Planes

All settings related to the visual presentation of Plane data:

  • Plane persistence
  • Position prediction
  • Prediction altitude
  • Marker size
  • Colour by altitude
  • Base colour
  • Colour Mlat switch
  • Mlat colour
  • Colour Interested switch
  • Interested colour
  • Text colour
  • Background colour
  • Marker shadow
  • Vertical speed indicator
  • Reset colours
  • Marker text field options (Flight, ICAO, Registration, etc.)

For performance-limited Android devices, adjusting these display properties will have significant effect on user experience – see Performance.

Airports

Airport marker colour may be defined and reset.

Locations

The user-defined Locations list may be reset.

Map

Settings related to the Map View’s display, e.g. Layers and Location:

  • Map type
  • Wind overlay
  • Pressure overlay
  • Airspace overlay
  • Airport overlay
  • Airport markers
  • Range rings enabled
  • Maximum range
  • Range ring line width

For performance-limited Android devices, adjusting these display properties will have significant effect on user experience – see Performance.

Table

Positionless aircraft may be enabled for display in the Table View. These aircraft markers will be displayed with a dark background.

Performance

There are several settings which may be adjusted for performance-limited Android devices, all of which may be found by selecting Settings from the Menu.

Planes

Property Value
Marker size minimum acceptable
Colour by altitude off
Marker shadow off
Vspeed indicator off
Marker text fewest acceptable

Map

Property Value
Overlays off
Airport markers off
Rings enabled off

User-supplied BaseStation.sqb and FlightRoute.sqb databases require extra processing power, and performance may be improved by removing these files. Alternatively, reducing BaseStation.sqb to the essential tables and columns may provide significant performance gains – this requires familiarity with SQL database operations.


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