Field Firing Solutions and Terrapin X

CoryT

Gunny Sergeant
Belligerents
Mar 5, 2004
1,216
82
154
62
Paulden, AZ
www.gunsite.com
I'm currently working on an adapter that would allow connecting the Terrapin X, Bushnell ConX and other BT LE rangefinders to the Trimble Nomad using the serial boot. Cost comes to < $150. My question is, how many here would really be interested getting one of these? Is anyone holding off getting FFS on a Nomad (or similar WM6 system with a serial port) because it won't connect to these LRF's?

Right now, FFS uses the serial port to connect to the Vector/PLRF units from Vectronix, but they are pretty high dollar and some people can't/won't pay that much, the Terrapin is way more reasonable and still quite capable. I get a lot of mileage from the combo of the Vector/GPS/FFS system, the Terrapin provides the same data so you can get an instant solution with range, azimuth and inclination, plus the GPS location of a target.

So, interest level?
 

CoryT

Gunny Sergeant
Belligerents
Mar 5, 2004
1,216
82
154
62
Paulden, AZ
www.gunsite.com
Good to know, I've got several students interested as well. I reached out to SIG to see if I can get a data spec, Safran and Bushnell have yet to provide any response to inquires. I've got a ConX, and Randy from Mile High is sending me a Terrapin. I can decode the data string, but it would be nice if the provided a document for all the possible outputs. I don't have a SIG, but I can likely get a loner at some point if they won't send me a datasheet.

Anyone with any connections at those vendors, if you could see about getting me a spec sheet on any of these it would be helpful. Am I missing anyone? All I can think of is Vectronix, Bushnell and SIG. I just now noticed the Leica 2800 COM, so I'll try them as well. Others worth the effort? I was not really looking at ATN or Newcon, given the usual quality issues.
 

TacticalDillhole

Shiner of shoes
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Jun 26, 2012
4,740
4,331
219
N. Carolina
Good to know, I've got several students interested as well. I reached out to SIG to see if I can get a data spec, Safran and Bushnell have yet to provide any response to inquires. I've got a ConX, and Randy from Mile High is sending me a Terrapin. I can decode the data string, but it would be nice if the provided a document for all the possible outputs. I don't have a SIG, but I can likely get a loner at some point if they won't send me a datasheet.

Anyone with any connections at those vendors, if you could see about getting me a spec sheet on any of these it would be helpful. Am I missing anyone? All I can think of is Vectronix, Bushnell and SIG. I just now noticed the Leica 2800 COM, so I'll try them as well. Others worth the effort? I was not really looking at ATN or Newcon, given the usual quality issues.
I think the new newcon are actually better. I remember frank saying he thought so as well.

Maybe some of the new LRF binos from vortex, luepold, streiner as well

I know an instructor at SIG. What exactly do you need
 

TheGerman

Oberleutnant
Belligerents
Jan 25, 2010
6,274
9,724
219
Out West
I have the cable Cory made for mine that works with the PLRF15c with the trigger on it.

I dont have a need for the other range finders but would love something that could connect to the Wilcox RAPTAR.
 

CoryT

Gunny Sergeant
Belligerents
Mar 5, 2004
1,216
82
154
62
Paulden, AZ
www.gunsite.com
What I'm looking for from the mfg's is the communications protocol used by the BT connection. For example, this is the Vector data interface.

31 character ASCII string, 11 for distance and 10 each for azimuth and inclination. first character in each string is the type, v is distance, a is azimuth and e is inclination, C for compass error R for distance error. 6 digits of data, range in centimeters to .5 CM, azimuth in MRads (6283.2 to a circle) to .2 resolution. There's also a checksum and even a diagram of how the measurements map on the transfer format page of the manual.

If I do enough test measurements I can figure out the interface, but as you can see, it could be time consuming. Do they just output yards, or meters? does it change when the selected display format changes? do they use degrees for azimuth and angle? what error codes might be sent?

With documentation the interface would be more robust, if I have to decode it by reading datastreams I could easily miss something.
 

TacticalDillhole

Shiner of shoes
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Jun 26, 2012
4,740
4,331
219
N. Carolina
What I'm looking for from the mfg's is the communications protocol used by the BT connection. For example, this is the Vector data interface.

31 character ASCII string, 11 for distance and 10 each for azimuth and inclination. first character in each string is the type, v is distance, a is azimuth and e is inclination, C for compass error R for distance error. 6 digits of data, range in centimeters to .5 CM, azimuth in MRads (6283.2 to a circle) to .2 resolution. There's also a checksum and even a diagram of how the measurements map on the transfer format page of the manual.

If I do enough test measurements I can figure out the interface, but as you can see, it could be time consuming. Do they just output yards, or meters? does it change when the selected display format changes? do they use degrees for azimuth and angle? what error codes might be sent?

With documentation the interface would be more robust, if I have to decode it by reading datastreams I could easily miss something.
I'll see if he can help. It's a long shot though.
 

Dthomas3523

Well Calloused Knees
Hessian
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Jan 31, 2018
5,776
6,281
119
South Texas
What I'm looking for from the mfg's is the communications protocol used by the BT connection. For example, this is the Vector data interface.

31 character ASCII string, 11 for distance and 10 each for azimuth and inclination. first character in each string is the type, v is distance, a is azimuth and e is inclination, C for compass error R for distance error. 6 digits of data, range in centimeters to .5 CM, azimuth in MRads (6283.2 to a circle) to .2 resolution. There's also a checksum and even a diagram of how the measurements map on the transfer format page of the manual.

If I do enough test measurements I can figure out the interface, but as you can see, it could be time consuming. Do they just output yards, or meters? does it change when the selected display format changes? do they use degrees for azimuth and angle? what error codes might be sent?

With documentation the interface would be more robust, if I have to decode it by reading datastreams I could easily miss something.
1581732112815.gif
 

LawnMM

Harbinger of Sarcasm
Belligerents
Jul 5, 2009
3,055
2,358
219
Colorado
I'm in. Shouldn't be too hard to have a device read BT data, then convert it and pump it into FFS via the serial or USB boot. It's essentially a USB BT adapter that converts the data from two sources so they can communicate.
 

CoryT

Gunny Sergeant
Belligerents
Mar 5, 2004
1,216
82
154
62
Paulden, AZ
www.gunsite.com
I'm in. Shouldn't be too hard to have a device read BT data, then convert it and pump it into FFS via the serial or USB boot. It's essentially a USB BT adapter that converts the data from two sources so they can communicate.
Well, you'd think so. First, getting an adapter that can pair with anything else via commands through the serial port is an issue, I've only just found one that allows for it. That being done though, the hard part is as stated, now that I have the data stream, how do we make sense of it? If I get Q097341 sent to me, what exactly does that mean? Is that bearing 097 and 341 yards? 97 yards and 341 degrees? Is that the bearing in Mils? Is that a 6400 mil circle or a 6283 mil circle? Point and shoot enough ranges and angles and compare the readout to the data and it can be deduced, but it's written down somewhere, just email a copy and I can have code written that day.

I dont have a need for the other range finders but would love something that could connect to the Wilcox RAPTAR
So far as I'm aware, the RAPTAR does not have an external interface, not even a serial port.
 

LawnMM

Harbinger of Sarcasm
Belligerents
Jul 5, 2009
3,055
2,358
219
Colorado
Will FFS only communicate via serial port? I know it can pull weather data via BT.

It might be easier to do it within the same 'system' rather than speaking two different languages and playing interpreter.

In other words, I know the sweet setup in the day was a Vectronix PLF10/15 sending ranges and such through the serial port.

If FFS can communicate via BT, albeit oldass wm6 Bluetooth, maybe translating the two among different protocols of the same ecosystem would be easier.

I'm picturing a device like a little mobile hotspot, that could be plugged into battery packs and solar panels to extend battery, which can use low energy BT to say pair and communicate not just with an LRF via BT but even a Kestrel at the same time, so it gets all that data, translates it, and pipes it via an older BT protocol directly to the Nomad and FFS via BT it can talk to.

Would make it all wireless rather than relying on the serial port. It'd be a question for Blain I'm sure as to how the program is set up to receive external data.

IMO he has incentive to help and maybe even tweak FFS a touch to assist the idea since it alleviates some of the pressure to redo the whole software package in a modern language that uses all these devices.

Just spitballing. Either way being able to pump ranges in via anything, especially BT on these new devices, would be awesome.
 

dbransco

Sergeant
Belligerents
Apr 27, 2010
852
113
49
SW Missouri
Would this adapter be limited to the serial on the Nomad or could it also be adapted to the Juno? I’d be in if works on the Juno.
Thanks!
 

TacticalDillhole

Shiner of shoes
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Jun 26, 2012
4,740
4,331
219
N. Carolina
Will FFS only communicate via serial port? I know it can pull weather data via BT.

It might be easier to do it within the same 'system' rather than speaking two different languages and playing interpreter.

In other words, I know the sweet setup in the day was a Vectronix PLF10/15 sending ranges and such through the serial port.

If FFS can communicate via BT, albeit oldass wm6 Bluetooth, maybe translating the two among different protocols of the same ecosystem would be easier.

I'm picturing a device like a little mobile hotspot, that could be plugged into battery packs and solar panels to extend battery, which can use low energy BT to say pair and communicate not just with an LRF via BT but even a Kestrel at the same time, so it gets all that data, translates it, and pipes it via an older BT protocol directly to the Nomad and FFS via BT it can talk to.

Would make it all wireless rather than relying on the serial port. It'd be a question for Blain I'm sure as to how the program is set up to receive external data.

IMO he has incentive to help and maybe even tweak FFS a touch to assist the idea since it alleviates some of the pressure to redo the whole software package in a modern language that uses all these devices.

Just spitballing. Either way being able to pump ranges in via anything, especially BT on these new devices, would be awesome.
Well the issue is all the new LRF’s use the new BT LTE PROTOCOL. the nomads use the old protocol, that's why using a serial adapter is the way to go.
 

CoryT

Gunny Sergeant
Belligerents
Mar 5, 2004
1,216
82
154
62
Paulden, AZ
www.gunsite.com
The Juno has a serial port available, so that should work, as should any other PDA with a serial port option, like the Nautiz, Pharos or various HP iPaq's.

The real problem with other devices is a source of power. The dongle is powered via a USB port, the Nomad has a USB mini port on the serial adapter boot, the others I don't honestly know. The Juno does not appear to have a USB port. A USB battery pack would work, but that's starting to get klutzy, though a small one could be taped / velcroed to the PDA. It can be quite small, 2 x 3.3 x .35 inches gets you a 3000 mAh unit and the dongle itself draws almost nothing for power.

It's not a perfect solution for sure, but the LRF mfg's all seem to using the BT LE spec, and the USB 2.0 in the WM PDA's will not connect. The dongle is pretty small, just 1.5" long. You could use an extension cable if preferred. When I get back to AZ and set it up on the Nomad I'll post some pics.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dbransco

rtB

Sergeant of the Hide
Belligerents
Minuteman
Apr 29, 2019
195
383
69
Payson, AZ
My understanding is all the newer LRF send encrypted data via Bluetooth. Probably Kestrel format. The old PLRF/Vector format was straightforward, now they're proprietary.
 

CoryT

Gunny Sergeant
Belligerents
Mar 5, 2004
1,216
82
154
62
Paulden, AZ
www.gunsite.com
Well, I know there is an iLink format, that's for a link to a Kestrel. There's also an APP type of connection where they send to an iPhone or Android app. I can't see any reason to encrypt the data, it's just a string of numbers as it is. I need the APP format info.