Functionality upgraded again
The remote keypad, at right beside the essential cup holder, is also adjacent to the collective for ready access in flight.
The New Zealand-developed aircraft and vehicle tracking system Spidertracks has been through a number of permutations in the few years since it was invented.
Spider 1, says spidertracks CEO Dave Blackwell, was a “version of a garage product” encased in an aluminium block. S2 was the first production version, in a plastic case and using the Iridium 9601 modem for communications. S3 upgraded to 9602 and SBD (short burst data), while S4 replaced S2, gaining more functionality with Bluetooth and a remote keypad in addition to the familiar glare shield-mounted main unit.
S5 replaced S3, again with Bluetooth, but S6 introduced a fundamental shift with new electronics and the ability to detect abnormal events such as rapid altitude change. That is still in production, but S7 is built on top of the new electronic hardware while retaining the S4’s remote keypad.
“This is a natural evolution for Spidertracks and something that has been driven by the market for some time now,” says Dave.
“Not only do our customers want to know where their assets are, but more and more they are wanting to know how they are being flown.”
The altitude events of both S6 and S7 are user configurable, but he says, “This is just the beginning of a whole feature set around airframe exceedance and flight characteristic reporting, and such features will be available with a simple firmware upgrade.”
One example is event occurrence or secondary reporting parameters (usually time or distance travelled) such as a change in heading as might be used for proof of coverage in pipeline inspection.
An external GPS-Iridium antenna is part of the system, able to be located in a favourable spot on the airframe, not necessarily on the glare shield where reception can be affected, particularly in aircraft with windscreen deicing.
Still considered a minor modification with its low weight, the system can be installed by a qualified technician with a simple logbook entry.
- Report and photographs by John King.
» Summer success at the Walsh
» The luxury of living in the Ivory Tower
» Comper moves swiftly
» UAV usefulness increasing
» Woodville’s even dozen
» 60th birthday party for ZK-BNL
» New airline MRO facility
» Hands across the Southern Alps
» Praise earned in tough place