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APRSISCE on battery power


g4ilo
 

I took APRSIS-CE for it's first portable outing today, with my HTC Touch phone running on batteries only. I found a few issues that made this outing a bit less successful than I'd hoped for.

For some reason on my phone the "turn off backlight if device is not used" power saving option doesn't seem to work. The screen only goes blank after xx minutes when the "Turn off device if not used for xx min" option is enabled. This option appears to have the same effect as pressing the button on the top. When the device is off, it is still connected to APRS-IS and can receive APRS messages but GPS tracking is off. The only way to keep tracking while portable is to disable the "Turn off device" option altogether and not to switch it off when putting it in your pocket. However having the backlight on while the phone is in a case in my pocket is a waste of current and doesn't help the battery endurance any.

On the plus side, the battery drain was a lot less due to the fact the GPS was only activated when I took the phone out of my pocket to check it. In fact after 3 1/2 hours it was still showing 75% capacity.

But for some unknown reason I would often find that APRSISCE had disappeared the next time I turned on the phone. One time it had tried to close after a message had been received and the only trace was a window called WM_CLOSE that said "You have unacknowleged messages." The program would not restart after this and I had to poke the phone with a stylus to reboot it. Another time there was a messaage about "Odometer failure." Other times it vanished without trace. The only times the program kept running were when I pressed the button on the top to switch off the phone before slipping it into its case and putting it in my pocket. Because it was in quite a stiff case I don't think anything could be pressed to close the application while the phone was in my pocket.

Julian, G4ILO


Lynn Deffenbaugh
 

Greetings Julian,

Outside of one thing, there's an explanation for everything (I think).

g4ilo wrote:
For some reason on my phone the "turn off backlight if device is not used" power saving option doesn't seem to work. The screen only goes blank after xx minutes when the "Turn off device if not used for xx min" option is enabled. This option appears to have the same effect as pressing the button on the top. When the device is off, it is still connected to APRS-IS and can receive APRS messages but GPS tracking is off. The only way to keep tracking while portable is to disable the "Turn off device" option altogether and not to switch it off when putting it in your pocket. However having the backlight on while the phone is in a case in my pocket is a waste of current and doesn't help the battery endurance any.
The "turn off backlight" setting does just that, it turns off the backlight. However, on my AT&T Tilt, depending on my brightness settings, there's not much difference between backlight on and off. However, it really does save power and it dims down the screen, but it won't go completely blank. The best way to see this it to keep the phone laying out and set the timer short. You should see the screen dim when the timer expires. Touching the screen in any fashion or pressing any of the buttons on the phone will turn the backlight back on. Even pulling the phone out of the case is likely to turn it on.

When I go portable, I keep the "Turn the device off" settings disabled and control the GPS (and subsequently power consumption and tracking) via the on/off button. Lucky for me, the on/off button is on the top where it is nearly (but not totally) impossible to accidentally push. I usually notice that the phone is turned on in my pocket (reminders will turn it on) when I get a warm spot on my leg.

Another way to save battery power is to turn the screen brightness down to the minimum. However, this makes the screen very hard to see and therefore hard to get it cranked back up to see it.

On the plus side, the battery drain was a lot less due to the fact the GPS was only activated when I took the phone out of my pocket to check it. In fact after 3 1/2 hours it was still showing 75% capacity.
Yeah, that's the best way to save battery, keep it off most of the time! (Just kidding). Just as a reminder, you can view your battery levels as telemetry like:

http://aprs.fi/telemetry/G4ILO-12?range=day

But for some unknown reason I would often find that APRSISCE had disappeared the next time I turned on the phone. One time it had tried to close after a message had been received and the only trace was a window called WM_CLOSE that said "You have unacknowleged messages." The program would not restart after this and I had to poke the phone with a stylus to reboot it. Another time there was a messaage about "Odometer failure." Other times it vanished without trace. The only times the program kept running were when I pressed the button on the top to switch off the phone before slipping it into its case and putting it in my pocket. Because it was in quite a stiff case I don't think anything could be pressed to close the application while the phone was in my pocket.
The only two ways I've had that APRSISCE "disappears" is 1) an inadvertent click on the X (likely, especially given the unacknowledged messages" popup and 2) bringing another app up over top of APRSISCE (like the today screen). In the second case, simply re-activating APRSISCE brings it back to the foreground. You can tell the difference between a new copy and a restored copy by the absence or presence (respectively) of stations in the scrolling station list.

The current version of the program does appear to hang for up to 90 seconds at a time when you lose data coverage. Regardless of what dialog is displayed (like the Odometer failure which is caused by the loss of the APRS-IS connection), if the program is attempting to establish a new APRS-IS connection, it will "hang" for a while and be non-responsive to clisk.

However, even in that case, you should NOT need to reboot your phone. Simply go to Start / Settings / System / Memory / Running Programs. Click on your callsign (or APRSISCE or whatever looks like the client in that list) and click Stop. There will be a delay and then Windows Mobile will tell you the program isn't responding at which point you can kill it. After doing so, I use Internet Explorer to verify a good data connection and then restart APRSISCE.

The next version (as soon as I get it finished up) will not exhibit this hang during connect but will remain responsive enough to at least communicated that it has lost the APRS-IS connection. Reconnection will continue to be automatic, it just won't hang the user interface while doing so.

Lynn (D) - KJ4ERJ - APRSISCE as -12, APRSIS32 as -15, -AP and currently IGating as -1


g4ilo
 

Hi Lynn.

Thanks for the info. I will have a closer look at the screen backlight. I definitely couldn't see it getting dimmer. There is also an "auto adjust backlight" setting but I don't know what that does.

The idea of saving power by turning it on and off with the top button is a good one, especially if/while there is no power saving mode in the software itself. What would be handy in that case would be an audible sound when a position report is sent, so you can tell without seeing the screen when it's OK to turn it off again.

When I said the app had closed it really had closed - I used the task switcher to try to activate it and it had just vanished. I don't know if anything might have pressed the X button. The slip-in cases are a pretty tight fit.

By the way Lynn why is it that I don't see the battery status indicator on the APRSISCE title bar (which incidentally says APRSIS for Win32 for some strange reason)? I have to switch to the Home screen for a quick check on the battery status.

Julian, G4ILO


David Shrum
 

Julian,
The "auto adjust backlight" does just that, if you are in a brightly lighted
room it turns the brightness up, so the other side of that, if you're in a
darker area it turns down the screens brightness.

Dave N8PU

-----Original Message-----
From: aprsisce@yahoogroups.com [mailto:aprsisce@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
Of g4ilo
Sent: Monday, January 18, 2010 5:06 AM
To: aprsisce@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [aprsisce] Re: APRSISCE on battery power

Hi Lynn.

Thanks for the info. I will have a closer look at the screen backlight. I
definitely couldn't see it getting dimmer. There is also an "auto adjust
backlight" setting but I don't know what that does.

The idea of saving power by turning it on and off with the top button is a
good one, especially if/while there is no power saving mode in the software
itself. What would be handy in that case would be an audible sound when a
position report is sent, so you can tell without seeing the screen when it's
OK to turn it off again.

When I said the app had closed it really had closed - I used the task
switcher to try to activate it and it had just vanished. I don't know if
anything might have pressed the X button. The slip-in cases are a pretty
tight fit.

By the way Lynn why is it that I don't see the battery status indicator on
the APRSISCE title bar (which incidentally says APRSIS for Win32 for some
strange reason)? I have to switch to the Home screen for a quick check on
the battery status.

Julian, G4ILO

No virus found in this outgoing message.
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14:35:00


g4ilo
 

--- In aprsisce@yahoogroups.com, "Lynn W. Deffenbaugh" <kj4erj@...> wrote:

However, even in that case, you should NOT need to reboot your phone.
Simply go to Start / Settings / System / Memory / Running Programs.
Click on your callsign (or APRSISCE or whatever looks like the client in
that list) and click Stop. There will be a delay and then Windows
Mobile will tell you the program isn't responding at which point you can
kill it. After doing so, I use Internet Explorer to verify a good data
connection and then restart APRSISCE.
It doesn't seem to happen like that for me. What happens is that the main window has gone. In the task list there is a window named WM_CLOSE. When I click on it I get a message box that says "There are unacknowledged messages. Really close?" I click No, to see what the messages are. But nothing appears. The message box is gone, the main window is still gone, there is nothing in the Running Programs list although the free memory shows something is still running. And even after waiting more than 90 seconds APRSISCE still won't start unless I reboot.

Julian, G4ILO


Lynn Deffenbaugh
 

I was going through my buffered e-mail building up my ToDo list (it is HUGE) and saw this old gem. Don't know if I answered it before, but here goes (again).

g4ilo wrote:
By the way Lynn why is it that I don't see the battery status indicator on the APRSISCE title bar (which incidentally says APRSIS for Win32 for some strange reason)? I have to switch to the Home screen for a quick check on the battery status.
The vertical bar on the extreme right edge of the screen is the current battery state. If you double-click it, you can get additional information.

I have no idea why the battery status wouldn't be at the top of your screen. I certainly don't do anything to put it there or to hide it.

Lynn (D) - KJ4ERJ - Author of APRSISCE for Windows Mobile and Win32

PS. Win32 doesn't graph the battery state, but the double-click for current power status works! Hmmm, I think I do telemetry off of Win32 with battery, why am I not graphing it? ANOTHER thing for the ToDo list!