RaceTac
For Racers By Racers
The Tactical Data You Need For Racing!

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RaceTac Help


App Rev: 1.66 Released: July 6, 2017

Click HERE to see the End User License Agreement (EULA)

Device Compatibility: Your device MUST have a physical compass built in for several functions to work properly. The 'Virtual Marks' mode will not function without one, and bearings will be off if the device is not moving (becalmed) and GPS cannot determine a heading. So please verify your device capabilities in that regard. But all other functions will work fine without a compass as long as the boat is moving above about half a knot.

Organization

RaceTac has various activity screens appropriate for the main stages of racing. It also has a 'menu bar' across the top for quick navigation to relevant activities when not on the main 'Home' screen. There is also a menu available for less frequently used functions such as setting preferences.

In this overview, we will lay out the concepts, various screens, and menu bar functions.

General Concepts

Data:

RaceTac stores your 'Marks' and 'Course' under a 'Venue'. Thus, you can add any number of racing Venues (accessible through the menu) and name them and give them a description. Such as one for your Yacht Club, and another perhaps for a Racing Association, or even one for a particular regatta. When you switch Venues, the Marks and Course last set are restored as the current set. Note on Start Line, Gates, etc.: A 'Mark' can either be a specific location, or a 'Gate' such as the start and finish lines, which are made up of two 'Marks'. The 'Start Line' is typically a 'Gate' with the Committee boat at one end, and a regular Mark at the other end. We recommend creating a 'Mark' named 'CB' for the boat, as it usually moves from race to race, and you will want to sail off its stern, on the line, and mark it, in each race. See 'Mark and Gate Management' for more detail.

Dialogs:

Most dialogs for Mark or Course management allow you to long-press a Mark button, wherever it may be shown, to set its location to your current location. Useful for movable or off-station Marks.

Sensors:

The app uses many of your device's sensors. Primarily your GPS, Magnetic (Compass), and Orientation (tilt and rotation) sensors. It must have access to these.
IMPORTANT: CALIBRATE YOUR COMPASS BEFORE EACH RACE!
See your device manual for instructions. Some ask you to move your phone through a large figure '8' while holding it flat. We have seen newer devices recommend tilting or rotating the device through each axis: pitch, roll, and yaw (forward end over end, then rolling sideways, then spinning it while flat in your hand). The Compass is used for headings if the GPS cannot determine it (like if you are moving very slowly, anchored, on shore, becalmed, etc..) If the 'Status' info in the lower part of a screen shows 'Compass Brg', then make sure your phone is aligned to point forward on your boat. If it says 'GPS Brg', then alignment is not important. 'GPS' will usually be the case when moving more than a knot or so.

Camera:

The 'Virtual Marks' function requires access to your device's rear facing camera, but does not record any images or video.

Display Modes:

Virtually all modes respond to 'Night Mode' and will shift colors for better visibility at night. There is also an option to display the current and next Marks with a color corresponding to the side you should leave them on when rounding. Distance values shift from the 'Major Unit' to the 'Minor Unit' when you go under one 'Major Unit' in distance. See the 'Preferences' Section for setting units.

Start/Race Timer:

This is your usual racing timer. In rev 1.50 and above, it starts timing your race after the start countdown completes. It can be set to any start sequence using the menu for preferences. See the 'Preferences' Section for detail.
  • The Icon: Which appears in the 'Start Timer' area at the top of some screens, will start the timer. Once running, during the start countdown it will 'sync' the timer to the nearest minute. So if you missed the usual '5 minute warning' by a few seconds, you can sync up on the '4 minute warning' etc… When the start countdown goes to zero, the app automatically switches to 'Race Mode'. When it is counting up to time the race, this icon does nothing.
  • The Icon: Also in the timer area, will stop the countdown timer and reset it to your initial time if starting. After the start, while timing the race, it will stop the race timer and log a completed race for the 'Race Report'. Hitting it again will then reset for a new start.
  • 'AutoFinish' preference (1.50 and above): The race timer can be stopped automatically when you cross the finish line. AUTO-ROUND must also be enabled for this to work. NOTE: Due to GPS accuracy, and the fact that a GPS 'Fix' is usally acquired about once a second on most devices, this finish time can be off from what your race committee records. Since they have line-of-sight on the line, they are apt to be more accurate.

Sounds:

In Rev 1.20 and above, you can choose between tones, and voice, for sounds, selectable in the Preferences. For Tones, the Start Timer will sound a long beep at each minute, then a double beep at each 10 seconds within the last minute, then each second in the last 10 seconds, then a long beep at the start. For Voice, it will announce the same sequence, and adds one at 15 seconds. The volume can be set with your device's volume controls while the app is running. Note that the 'media player' is the volume used, so make sure it is turned up if you want to hear these. Also, the sounds will play through a Bluetooth connected speaker.

Note on Voice: The voice used is the 'Text to Speech' voice provided with your device by the vendor. Various devices have options in the device settings to control this voice. See your device settings under 'Langauge and Input'.

Venue Management

This dialog (accessible from the menu) allows you to setup, delete, or edit a Venue. It is only available from the menu.

Marks and the Course are stored under a Venue.

The dialog shows a venue list, with the 'Current Venue' at the top, followed by any others.

By taping a venue, you bring up a sub-dialog which allows you to:

  • Set as Current: Switch the venue to be the Current one. All Marks and the Course will be swapped in as the live set. Remember to do this when sailing in a new area of Marks!
  • Edit: Change any info about the Venue.
  • Delete: Remove a Venue.
  • Cancel: Do nothing.

Mark and Gate Management

The 'Manage Marks' dialog is available from either the main screen, or from the menu.
You can enter new Marks, or Edit or Delete existing Marks.

Note: Marks can be either specific locations, or 'Gates' which are lines between two regular 'Marks'. Typically this might be your starting line, finish line, or a racing gate. The distance to a 'Gate' is the closer of either end Mark if you are outside the end Marks, or your perpendicular distance to the line if in between the Marks. The bearing will also be to the closest Mark if outside the line, or the perpendicular angle toward the line if inside the Marks.

Dialog: In the dialog that appears (with a scrollable list of any Marks), either choose 'New' or 'Done', or long-press a mark to simply set its location to the current location, or tap the Mark you want to change, and a sub-dialog appears which lets you do several things:

  • Set Location: Sets the Mark's location to the current GPS location. Useful if a Mark has moved. For example, use this before each race to set the location of the committee boat. You can also simply long-press the Mark entry in the previous dialog.
  • Edit: Edit any field for the Mark.
  • Delete: Delete the Mark.
  • Cancel: Don't change anything.

Name: Give a Mark/Gate a short name. Try to use one to 4 characters, as these are what is shown in other dialogs and modes, and you do not want to take up a lot of space with long names. Use uppercase for visibility. For example, use 'STRT' for the starting line, or 'CB' for the Committee Boat.

Description: You can enter a more detailed description here. For example, the Mark name might be 'J' from your club mark list, but the description can be 'Can 11a off Oldfield Point'.

Mark Type: Choose either a regular Mark, or a 'Gate'. See 'Gates' note below.

Location: There are two location fields, for either latitude and longitude, or when entering a 'Gate', for two mark names. If you leave them blank, the Mark will be set to your current location. You can enter coordinates using several formats:

  • [+,-,N,S,E,W]DDD.DDDDD[N,S,E,W] : Decimal Degrees. Positive for North or East, Negative for South or West. The displayed format is just the signed value in the format you chose in the preferences.
  • [+,-,N,S,E,W]DDD MM.MMMMM[N,S,E,W] : Degrees and Decimal Minutes. Positive for North or East, Negative for South or West.
  • [+,-,N,S,E,W]DDD MM SS.SSSS[N,S,E,W] : Degrees, Minutes, and Decimal Seconds. Positive for North or East, Negative for South or West.
In the above, you can use a space, comma, semicolon, colon, or hyphen between fields (degrees, minutes, seconds). You can also use a hemisphere indicator of N, S, E, or W (upper or lower case) either at the start or at the end. Or use the + or - sign. If you don't use any, it assumes positive coordinates, N or E. You can also have a space between the hemisphere and the values, or not.

Gates: For a Gate, instead of entering coordinates, enter two other Mark Names. For example, I keep a Mark named 'CB' for the Committee Boat, and 'SF' for 'Start/Finish'. Our 'SF' is a buoy that never (we hope) moves. And I set the 'CB' location before each race by sailing by its stern and setting the location when I am right on the line, since the committee sets the line based on wind conditions. So Gate 'STRT' has CB for one end and SF for the other.

Course Management

This screen allows you to quickly enter or change the Marks comprising the course.

It also displays the 'Start Timer' at the top, so you can work on entering the course while monitoring the starting clock, or even start/sync the clock while in this mode.

Sections: There is a column to the left which is a list of the Marks in the course from start (top) to finish (bottom). The background color corresponds to the side the Mark should be left on. Light Red for Port, light Green for Starboard, and light Blue for Optional. Gates are always Optional by default. The area to the right is a simple list of all Marks/Gates in the current Venue.
The screen is scrollable. Long-pressing any Mark anywhere in the dialog will set its location to your current location. At the bottom, you will see the current length of the course (only if the coordinates of all Marks is known). This length uses the mid-point of any 'Gates' for its calculation. Below that are three buttons:

  • 'Clear' button to reset to an empty course.
  • 'Save As' button to Save the current course under a name.
  • 'Load' button to Load a previously saved course as the current course..
Notes on Named Courses: The 'Load' button brings up a list of saved courses. Just tap the course you want to load. Editing the current course does not change any saved or loaded course. You must re-save it again to update a saved course. To Delete a saved course, just save an empty course under it's name.

Operation: Tap a Mark name to add it to the course. It will be added to the end of the course. Tap any entry in the 'Course' column to show a dialog with the following options:

  • Set Location: Set the location to the current GPS location.
  • Remove: Remove the Mark from the course.
  • Move Up: Move the Mark up one position in the course.
  • Move Down: Move the Mark up one position in the course.
  • Set Rounding: Change the side the Mark should be left on when rounding. Only effects the Mark in the course. You can enable or disable the display of this (shows color for the current and next Marks text in the screens), and can set the default, in the Preferences.
  • Edit: Allows you to edit the Mark directly. Same function as editing from the 'Manage Marks' dialog.
  • Cancel: Do nothing.

Start Mode

This screen shows you just information relevant to your pre-start sequence. You can get to it from the main screen or the menu bar.

It shows you the 'Start Timer' clock with the stop/reset and start/sync icons, as well as critical heads up data. It also shows a status line with the status of the navigation sensors, such as which sensor is being used for the boat heading (Compass or GPS), the current GPS accuracy, and the current/total satellites being used for the location. In version 1.11 and above, it also has a 'First Mark' area similar to Race mode, which shows you bearing and distance from your boat to the first mark. In version 1.42 the label text is changed from 'Next Mark' to 'First Mark' to be clearer.

Start Sequence: See the Preferences section for details on setting the type of start sequence.

VMG vs SOG: 'Velocity Made Good' is generally more important than 'Speed Over Ground' when racing. For the start, assuming the starting Mark is really a 'Gate', the VMG, distance and time are calculated using 'Cross Track Distance', which is your distance from the line on a perpendicular to the Gate line, or if you are beyond the end of the starting gate marks, it uses the closest gate mark.

Note: When the start timer reaches zero, this screen will automatically jump to the 'Race Mode' screen.

Race Mode

In Rev 1.40 and above, there are two layouts for the Race Mode Screen: A text version, and a Graphical Version. A new Preference 'Race Mode Display' let's you choose the default, but you can TOGGLE between them at any time by taping the current Mark name in the top bar, or anywhere in the compass display when in the Graphical mode.

This screen shows you information relevant after you have started and are racing towards some current Mark. You can get to it from the main screen or the menu bar, and it will appear automatically when the start timer reaches zero.

Sections:

  • Top: Course Marks - The center is the name of the Mark you are currently sailing towards (or want to be). The left and right are buttons named for the previous or next Mark. You can tap them to manually advance or go back. In 'Auto-Round' mode (See Preferences) this will advance to the next Mark automatically as you round a Mark.
  • Race Data: Shows info to the Mark, with 'Relative' bearing showing degrees to Port or Starboard, colored for each (Red/Green), your current boat heading, Speed-Over-Ground (SOG), Velocity-Made-Good (VMG), and Distance to the Mark. In Graphical Mode, the Heading and Bearing are shown as a compass rose that rotates for heading, and has a colored arc inside it showing the relative bearing to the mark, colored red or green, with an indicator that has the degrees. See the 'Start Mode' section for more info on these.
  • First/Next Mark: When Starting, this is the 'First Mark' and is bearing and distance to the first Mark from your boat. When Racing, after the Start, it is a heads up of the bearing and distance from the current Mark you are sailing to, to the 'Next Mark' after that, so you can plan your rounding.
  • Status: This is the same sensor status as in the 'Start Mode' display.
  • Bearing Mode Button: Controls how the RELATIVE bearing (Rel Brg:) to the Mark is calculated. Why? Because your boat's heading might not be where you are pointing, due to leeway and/or current. Thus the relative bearing if using a GPS heading might not be relative to your bow. Touching the button toggles between 2 possible modes:
    • Auto: Bases the calculation off whichever heading the program is using, GPS or Compass, as displayed in the status line. The program prefers GPS if available.
    • Compass: Uses the Compass in your device. NOTE: This is relative to your device's orientation, not your boat's !
  • AutoFinish: When enabled (on by default), the race timer (on the main screen and start screens only) will stop when you cross the finish line, and an entry is made in the race log. See the 'Race Report'. NOTE: If the 'Finish' is a single Mark (not a Gate), then the finish line is assumed to be a line through the final Mark, and perpendicular to the line from the previous mark to the final mark.

Virtual Marks Mode

This screen uses the rear facing (main) camera of your device to show whatever it is pointing at, and overlays the live image with indicators of where Marks are supposed to be. Each Mark is represented by a circle, with a vertical line coming out of it which is proportional to your distance to the Mark. The longer the line, the closer you are. The name of the Mark is in the center of the circle. There is also a thin vertical line across the whole display, which is the center line where the device is pointing.

Bottom Bar: At the bottom center is the current bearing the device is pointing in. On either side are buttons which select which set of Marks to display.

This is very useful at night or in poor visibility conditions, or simply as a bearing compass.

Experimental Charts

The use of charts requires that you agree to the terms and conditions of use shown in a pop-up when you first use the feature.

Only U.S. NOAA ENC charts are supported at this time.

Click HERE for complete documentation on the Chart features.

Preferences

These are available from the menu. In 1.21 and later, they have been put in groups to minimize the need to drag.

Keep Screen On: If 'ON' then your device screen will not turn off while the app is showing.

Show Magnetic: If 'ON' then all headings and compass readings will be magnetic, and will account for your local magnetic declination (aka Variation). Else readings are 'True'

Race Mode Display: Select either the Text, or Graphical display, as the default display for the Race Mode. You can still toggle between them at any time.

Mark Rounding Options:

AutoRound: If 'ON' then Race Mode will automatically advance to the next Mark after you leave the current Mark behind you more than 110 degrees port or starboard and you are between 1 times the GPS accuracy and 50 meters from it. This prevents AutoRounding if you needed to do a 360 or other maneuver in the middle of the course. You MUST be in Race Mode and your screen active for AutoRound to function.

Display Mark Rounding Side: If 'ON' then RaceTac will display the name of the current and next Marks in a color corresponding to the side you should leave Marks on when rounding. Red for Port, Green for Starboard, Blue for Optional.

Default Rounding Side: Select the default side when adding a Mark to the course. Can be changed for each Mark in Course Management.

Units of Measure:

Major Distance Unit: Lets you choose Nautical Miles, Statute Miles, or Kilometers.

Minor Distance Unit: Lets you choose the unit to display if you are within one major unit of the Mark. Can be Yards, Feet, or Meters.

Major to Minor Distance Switch Point: Choose when, as a fraction of a major unit, RaceTac switches from major units to minor units in displays. Previously (and default) it was one major unit. You could now set it at, say, 0.25 for a quarter of a major unit.

Speed Unit: Can be Knots, MPH, KPH, or Meters/Second.

Depth Unit: Used in Charts. Can be Feet, Meters, or Fathoms.

Start/Finish Settings:

Starting Sequence: Sets the Start Timer initial minutes. Can be 'ISAF', 'ISAF+1' (6 minutes), 'Match' (10 Minutes), or any number of minutes as an integer.

Start Timer: Tones or Voice : Select either tones or voice sounds during the start timer countdown.

AutoFinish:See 'Race Mode' for detail on it's operation.


Chart Settings: Various options for the Charts feature. Click HERE for more details.

Coordinate Display Format: Choose the display format for latitudes and longitudes. See the Location entry discussion for the formats.

Importing and Exporting Marks - BETA

You can import or export marks from/to three data formats and one 3rd Party App: CSV (Comma Separated Values), GPX (GPS Exchange), or KML (Google Earth) formats, and Plan2Nav Navigation App.

IMPORTANT: Before importing, set your current Venue to the one you want to import into. See Venue Management.

Importing:

There are three ways to import Marks:

  1. You simply get the file to your device using any method you want. You can simply mail it to yourself as an attachment if you want. The filename MUST end in '.marks'. Then simply click the file, as an email attachment, or using your choice of file explorers. Some email clients allow you to just click the attachments. In some you may need to download it, and then use a file explorer to look in your downloads folder and click it there. For example, you could have a file called 'myclub.marks' in either CSV, GPX, or KML format. The program automatically detects the type of contents and loads it appropriately.
  2. Use the 'Import Marks' Menu option, and choose the file you want to import from. Get the file to your device using any method you want.
    NOTE: In rev 1.42 and above, you will have the option of simply updating the Marks which also adds any new ones, or replacing all the marks with a new set.
    Also, on Nougat (Android 7.0) or above, the file dialog is different. Nougat has much tighter security, so the app can only show the 'shared' file areas like 'Download' and 'Documents'.
  3. Plan2Nav: Use the 'Import Marks' Menu option, navigate to the folder where Plan2Nav keeps it's databases (varies from device to device), and select 'favorites.db'.

Exporting:

Use the 'Export Marks' Menu option. You will get a file dialog. Select the folder you want the export file placed. You will see files as well, but they are just for reference. Then tap 'Export'. You will get a dialog to let you choose the export format. NOTE: Filenames will be 'RaceTac_#.marks' where the # will be the next highest found in the folder, to prevent overwriting an existing file.

GPX Files:
A standard used by a number of navigation type programs. It is fairly complex, so you would probably exchange marks with some other navigation software.
KML Files:
A standard used by a number of mapping type programs, most notably Google Earth. You can put your marks in a 'folder' or the root folder of 'My Places' and then export the folder from Google Earth. Use a 'KML' NOT a 'KMZ'
CSV Files:
A simpler format, and could be edited by hand. See HERE for more detail on the CSV format.
Plan2Nav: Navigate to the folder where Plan2Nav keeps it's databases (varies from device to device), and tap 'Export'. It will add new waypoints, or update existing ones of the same name. In rev 1.42 and above, you will also have the option to replace all the Waypoints in P2N.

CSV Format Details

For a sample file, click HERE

File Format:

  • Any line starting with an exclamation point or a hash (#) sign is treated as a comment.
  • Empty lines are ignored.
  • Non-required fields can be left empty. I.E. two commas in a row.
  • Fields needing a comma, like the description, can be surrounded with double quotes.

Data lines have the following fields:
Mode,Name,Type,Description,Lat/Mark1,Lon/Mark2

Where:
  • Mode (required, not case sensitive):
    • 'A' - Add record. If the Mark name already exists, then if there are any empty fields for it on your device, they will be updated from this record (if specified).
    • 'U' - Update record. Will update all fields of the mark on your device from this record, if specified. If the mark does not exist on your device, it will be added.
    • 'L' - Log current data for the mark as it exists on your device. A good way to just list your marks.
  • Name (required): A short name. See the help for Mark Management for guidelines.
  • Type (required, not case sensitive): 'M' for a regular mark, or 'G' for a gate.
  • Description (optional): Some text describing the mark.
  • Lat/Mark1 (optional):
    • For type 'M' (Marks), the latitude, specified in a format as found under Mark Management.
    • For type 'G' (Gates), must be the name of an existing Mark for one end of the gate. You MUST have defined this either in your device already, or on a previous row.
  • Lon/Mark2 (optional):
    • For type 'M' (Marks), the longitude, specified in a format found under Mark Management
    • For type 'G' (Gates), must be the name of an existing Mark for the other end of the gate. You MUST have defined this either in your device already, or on a previous row.

Race Report

When the Race Timer is stopped, either manually using the stop button, or automatically using 'Auto-Finish', a log entry is kept of the race start time and elapsed time. You can view a report of up to the last 30 races from the 'Race Report' selection in the application menu. See the Timer section for more detail.