World Wind as an in-flight map display

Here is an interesting project started by ShockFire before his untimely death, it shows the potential of World Wind, and of course Shock’s coding skill, this information is from a newsletter created by Tim’s Father for his friends and family.

Project: In-Flight Maps

One of Tim’s recent projects was for a company . It was a small, but paid project and involved getting the World Wind software to run well on the hardware and software environment used by the company to display in-flight maps in small aircraft. There was specifically an issue with the available graphics support.

To enable this project, the company shipped one of their PC-like hardware platforms to Tim for testing the software. This black box has since been shipped back. The box contains a small PC running Windows XP Embedded from a small hard disk. The silver box in the photo is a power supply attached to the top with adhesive tape.

At my request, Nick kindly sent the following text about Tim’s project (based on the mutual E-mail exchange:

I got Tim’s contact information from another programmer in the NASA WorldWind community, Bjorn Reppen. Bjorn sent me the following email on Wed, May 14, 2008 after I asked if he was available to do a few hours of work for us:

Apologies.. I’ve got too much right now. :(

I’ve spoken to an old pal today who has also been working on World Wind for years. His name is Tim van den Haamer and he is from the Netherlands. I didn’t give him any of the specifics and no names, just asked him whether he would be interested in a small job related to improvements to World Wind and a custom plugin.

I suggest you discuss with him whether he might help you (and deliver faster): [email protected]

I [Nick] first emailed Tim on Thu, May 22, 2008.

Bjorn Reppen gave me your email address. I had worked with him last year on a programming project for NASA World Wind. I need some modifications to our software in a few weeks (not now), and I am trying to find a programmer.

I think it would be about 20 hours of paid work. Are you available for hire sometime in June? If so, please tell me about your experience with the NASA World Wind software and your hourly programming rates.

Tim wrote me back four days later on Mon, May 26, 2008.

Hi Nick,

Sorry for not getting back to you earlier, been having some computer trouble.

> I think it would be about 20 hours of paid work. Are you available for hire sometime in June?

I’ve got classes and finals throughout June and into the start of July. I don’t have a specifically busy school schedule but then again I am working on various other programming projects so I’m certainly not bored. Basically I have no problem making some time to help you out but it’ll be hard to make any specific promises related to deadlines (school does come first).

> please tell me about your experience with the NASA World Wind software

I’ve been working on WorldWind for about 7 years now, sometimes working on the code itself but mainly creating plugins. Over the years I’ve created literally hundreds of plugins; too many to name, many unreleased. I’ve mostly created code which changes behaviour or visualizes some input data so I don’t know much about the mapping side of things. Major recent plugins I created include KMLImporter (now part of WW itself), STIP (set of plugins for helping teachers use WW in a classroom environment) and DEP (will be part of WW, exports layers in various formats so that other GIS tools can use them)

> and your hourly programming rates.

I have no specific rates (after all I’m just a student, doing some work in my spare time) but it would be nice to get paid something around the Dutch minimum wage, which currently comes down to about $8.60 an hour (I assume you’re in the US). I’m fine with setting a fixed price in advance and I’m also fine with only getting paid when the project is done and you are satisfied.

If you need more info just ask, I’m always up for a talk,

Tim van den Hamer

We exchanged a few more emails to talk about details for this upcoming work. Based on my email history, it appears that the bulk of Tim’s work for us was done in late June/early July.

The purpose of our project was to attempt to customize NASA WorldWind software to be used as an in-flight entertainment device. One feature that Tim helped us with was a box of data for displaying pertinent navigation data such as Speed, Altitude, Distance, and Time to destination.

Tim was always very thorough and willing to go the extra distance with cool features. For example, he made a custom splash screen on loading for us. From an email dated Tue, Jul 1, 2008 —

As a ‘bonus’, I created a custom WW splash screen from your website, which you can see in the attached file Splash1.jpg (the red/orange stuff is my desktop wallpaper). I do this to differentiate between my dozens of WW installs but realized you might want something like it, so if you’re interested just send me an image and I’ll build it into a custom WorldWind.exe.

On July 3rd I sent Tim a link to a video that I made at our offices. He said it was “awesome” and seemed to enjoy seeing the people he was working with.

Thanks Tim… I made a fun little video for one of my international dealers recently… You can see some of the staff at our company in this video [..]

The same day (Thu, Jul 3, 2008), Tim emailed back a screenshot of what he was working on.

Flight Display Plug-In

In-Flight Display Plug-In

We were discussing payment options when Tim began having his regular doctor visits. But Tim still had his sense of humor. When I asked him for an approximate amount of time that he had spent on the project, he replied saying:

So far I’ve spent ‘approximately’ 11 hours and 2 minutes on this project.

I could not believe this answer was true! Surely Tim had to be spending much more time than 11 hours to accomplish so much work. But based on his reference from Bjorn, I am guessing that Tim was a VERY advanced programmer who was intimately familiar with the WorldWind software. So he could access the necessary libraries quickly to achieve results. It is for this reason that we are so happy to have found and worked with Tim.

Anticipating future work, we did not send payment to Tim’s PayPal account. I would be happy to send the money owed (approx US$100) – or perhaps we could donate it to WorldWind or some other charity that Tim supported in his name

Ultimately, this software was never deployed on any of our customer aircraft. We encountered some hardware difficulties, which is why it was necessary to send Tim one of our boxes to attempt to debug the issues. We believe the problem was a limiting video card (not powerful enough for the NASA 3D views we required). Now we have switched to a different software code and the project is “On Hold” for further development.

I still consider the project a success, at least the portion working with Tim. His code was very tight, his communication with our team was excellent, and it was a please to email with him.

Tell me if there is anything else I can assist with.

Sincerely,

Nick


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