Name: Chad Ring
Brief Summary of the Proposed Change: Remove the requirement that performance records must use only recording altimeters. All approved altimeters would now be able to set national records.
State the Logic of the Change: If an altimeter is approved for use in all competition, and is acceptable for use in all events, including NARAM, why is it not good enough for setting national records? Accuracy of even the most basic altimeters has come a long way since this rule was written.
Effect if any on Current Competition and NAR Records: None. If this RCP passes, more altimeter flights would be eligible for records.
Exact Wording for the Rule Revision as it should appear: Section # 14.5: Delete the line “Altimeter data file”. Section # 20.2.5: Delete entire section.
Section # 20.2.4: Add as final paragraph “If the altimeter data is, in the opinion of a contest official, significantly inconsistent with the observed flight, the altimeter data may be disallowed. In such cases, that flight can be considered “No Data” per Rule 20.3.3 – Untracked Flights.
11 Comments on RCP# 2019-03
I think this proposal is going in the wrong direction.
I understand Chad's frustration with "if its good enough for a competition...."
If anything I would be for using data storage altimeters only for competition and records, but understand the reasons for allowing the non-recording altimeters for competition so as to not tick off the people who have currently invested in non-recording altimeters that are currently allowed for contest use.
It is one thing to have a place/medal in an individual competition to be questionable, but a record is not a one day thing. Setting a record should have a higher threshold for validation than a one time competition. The competition is for a day, or a year, the record is "forever." There can be only one record holder. There will always be many (name your contest here) champions.
The NAR is supposed to be about "the advancement of technology in the hobby of spacemodeling (sport rocketry) in the United States." Spending a career at the cutting edge of technology, I have never found less data to be beneficial to the advancement of technology.
I like what Dan was proposing to possibly phase-in the inclusion of recording altimeters for competition over a time period.
In addition to what Tim said about proving an error in a record, a recording altimeter is the only way you can really prove that a record was set in the first place. If the range officer questions a flight you made with a peak only altimeter, you have no means of recourse. If you used a data storage altimeter, all you have to do to prove the flight is show the data. Its really easy to fake an altitude that would exceed a current record on an altitude only altimeter, but REALLY hard to fake a realistic flight profile in a data storage altimeter.
I will vote against this proposal.Â
I am not in favor of this RCP. The reason is that "mistakes happen," and only by seeing the trace can you actually see the mistakes and make corrective actions.Â
At the 2016 WSMC in Ukraine, one of the other countries "accidentally" put an oversize motor in the rocket. That model obviously went a lot higher than it should have in the contest. Even though the motor was impounded prior to the flight, it still made its way into the rocket.Â
By looking at the trace after the flight, I noticed that the burn time was too long for that particular motor. I told our team manager, and he filed a protest and the flight was DQ'ed. That is how we found the mistake. If we hadn't seen the trace, our team member would have moved from silver to bronze in that event.Â
Prices of altimeters and capability will improve in the future. Having to scrap this rule now, just because people want a cheap flight is not the right thing to do.
I disagree with this proposal. I have seen several instances where an altimeter reports "very high but potentially plausible" results. Upon reviewing the downloaded altitude vs time data, it was obvious that the reading was in error (usually, false triggering during model/altimeter prepping).
NAR contests currently use the altimeter's reported maximum altitude. This might occasionally result in a medal being incorrectly awarded. However, records will likely stand a long time, especially a record set by an invalid "very high but potentially plausible" result. For setting records, I think a higher level of data checking using a recording altimeter is reasonable and appropriate.
P.S. I would be in favor of NAR contests using downloaded data from recording altimeters, when the technology (hardware & software) matures where this is feasible within the time, budget, and manpower levels of NAR contests and contestants.
I am not in favor of this RCP.Â I agree that it doesn't make sense to have a different standard for contests versus records. But the right answer is to require all altimeters to be recording altimeters.Â
Altimeters have worked well in NAR Competition and there seems to be fewer "not possible" altitudes reported than when optical tracking was used. With optical tracking there was no recourse but to accept the results. The way the current rules read, there is no recourse for altimeters that indicate an "impossible" altitude.Â However, the current rules do allow a mechanism where such flights cannot become records by reviewing the flight profile.
From a quality of data and correctness viewpoint, ONLY recording altimeters should be approved for NAR competition and the rules should make it clear that questionable results can be rejected if the recorded flight profile is not good. I know this is subjective, but having someone file a 1000 meter altitude in B Payload because that is what the altimeter beeped out is not acceptable.
Non recording altimeters were allowed from the very beginning of contest altimeter use and now there is a large "installed base" of Firefly altimeters. To require recording altimeters at this point would upset a large portion of a small competition community. Something we do not want. Perhaps a proposal for a grace period (3 years) when non recording altimeters can be used. Then require recording altimeters only with additional wording on allowing altitude data to be rejected when the altitude and flight profile are "not good".
Good points Dan. However, my RCP WILL now allow for BOTH flight results AND record flights with 'anomalous readings' to be disallowed. My RCP does this by adding the paragraph to the end of Section 20.2.4 (see above). This paragraph allows any 'wacked reported altitude' to be disallowed a record; essentially the same as before with recording altimeters. IN ADDITION, this paragraph ALSO will add the provision to make a flight unofficial for the contest results if a 'wacked altitude' is reported. In such a case, it would allow for a reflight. I agree it is not perfect, but I do think it fixes several issues, including addressing 'wacked flight readings' without opening any worm cans. :)
I concur with this proposal in that if non recording altimeters are allowed for contests then these same altimeters should also be allowed for records. Â That there can be inaccuracies in non recording altimeters would be a great reason to not allow them for contest use but since they are allowed for contest use they should also be allowed for records.
I strongly disagree with this rule change. The logic is flawed.
Altimeters can still be fooled, even ones with the best software. If you can't see the plot, you do not know if the altitude readout Â was an artifact of the software being fooled or a really good flight. A plot puts the altitude in proper perspective. I have seen altimeter readings that gave peak altitudes for strong thermals, reading from impact, and readings from the ejection charge influencing the readout. Without a plot, you wouldn't know.
If we should go any direction, we should require recording altimeters for all events, period. The ones without readout capabilities are nice toys, but not good enough for competition.
This rule change should be rejected.
Altimeters, both recording and non-recording give spurious results all the time. Â In international competition ONLY recording altimeters are allowed, for good reason. Â A number of times flight tracings have been used to clarify the reality of the altitude number provided and in a number cases to actually disqualify flights. Â Those of us who frequently fly events where only recording altimeters are used have seen this over and over. Â If you don't have the tracing, you don't really know what happened. Â You get a number, but no proof. Â With the tracing, you have proof. Â It's a simple, easily available, method to verify results.
Currently, all of the altimeter altitude results on the Records list have the flight tracings to prove what they did. If you want to claim your flight was the highest of all time in a particular category you should have to be able to prove it. Â
Steve, you are quoting one specific altimeter having issues, which it also had in NAR comp (software!). If we can't trust non recording, why are they even allowed in NARcomp to begin with? Either one or the other, IMO.
Chad, I have flown all of the currently available recording altimeters. Adrel, Micropeak, Alt-15K, PNut, Flight Sketch Mini, and Jolly Logic and they all occasionally experience the same problem. When you've looked at hundreds of flight recordings you know absolutely that these altimeters frequently record garbage data, yet they always produce an altitude number. If all you ever look at is an altitude number, you have no way of knowing how realistic those numbers are. Ask any of us who routinely fly lots and lots of flights with recording altimeters and we will all tell you the same thing. If you don't have the recording, you have absolutely no idea whether the data was realistic or not. That's why international contests, including the FAI contests we fly here in the U.S., fly nothing but flight-graph-recording altimeters. Another issue, specifically applicable to records, is that with non-recording altimeters you have no idea what motor was flown for the number generated. You have no idea if the number being presented was from a properly zeroed altimeter flying the motor claimed, or was from an earlier flight with a different motor, which wasn't properly zeroed. With a recording altimeter you can tell exactly whether the tracing represents a particular impulse and delay. In international competition, where only recording altimeters are used, we have seen flights disqualified because the flight tracing clearly showed an incorrect motor was used (hmm, wonder how that happened?). I have no problem with non-recording altimeters being used for general contests. They are cheaper and much less cumbersome to use than recording altimeters. They are a good compromise for cost and ease of use. But I absolutely don't believe they should be used at national contests like NARAM. And there is no way you should be allowed to claim a national record without being able to produce a flight tracing to prove what you are claiming.
I have flown lots of multiple-altimeter flights over the past few years, including all the devices on the current Appendix E list except the Perfectflite Stratologger. I have seen good agreement across the devices, both within the same manufacturer's products and between them, in the vast majority of cases.
The Perfectflite Firefly, which amongst the four devices on the Appendix E list not currently approved for records that would most likely to be used for records if this RCP is approved, has proven itself (to me, at least) to be robust, reliable, and consistent with its cousin the Pnut. The other three, due to their size and weight, are not likely to find themselves into record-setting models, but all of them are as trustworthy as their recording brandmates as well.Â
Consequently, I favor this proposal.