MapPoint Internal Method

MapPoint has several different map formats available. Some of these are shown below in the screen shots. One format may offer better visibility of your data than another. Experiment. You can change map types at any time.

Warning -  There is a bug in MapPoint that might cause problems. See the notes at the bottom of the page for details.

MapPoint Prediction Display


The ascent phase of the flight is painted with a green line, if the balloon floats, that phase of the prediction is painted in white and the descent phase is in red. The pushpins along the track line denote the takeoff, burst and landing points in the prediction.

Clicking on the Toolbar Menu (or right clicking on any toolbar) will enable you to add toolbars to or remove toolbars from the display. If you make your selections from the Toolbar Menu (top of screen) then your preferences will be saved automatically and each time you re-enter this map display the same set of tool bars will be displayed.

This is a fully interactive map. you can zoom and pan around the map and draw on it (add notes). For instance, below is a zoom in on the launch site with a hand drawn highlight around the site and a Text Box added, all from the controls on the screen.



Most of MapPoints features are available. Suppose you want to plan a driving route that generally follows the path of the balloon. Zoom in on the launch site as above and right click and select Route/Add as Start. Zoom in on the Touchdown spot and select Route/Add as End. From the Standard Toolbar select the route planner icon, and you're off to the races.



The solid WIDE green line is the planned route.

You'll probably have to select the shortest route from the "more options" button available on the route planner display.

All that without leaving Balloon Track. Pretty neat and possibly even useful.

MapPoint Tracking Display

This map is started from the Flight Analysis screen.



This screen is pretty much just like the screens above, but here the map is a real time tracking display of a balloon flight (actually, it's a simulation in the above screenshot).

When the form is first opened it is blank with no map displayed. When the first position report arrives from your balloon it is plotted. You can start the display prior to launch (if you have run a prediction) by clicking on predicted track and turning it on. The map will then open centered on the predicted path.

The green line represents the course the balloon has traveled over and the pushpin at the upper right of the track is the current location of the balloon. The data displayed next to the current position of the balloon is coincidentally called "Balloon Text". The default balloon text will just display the callsign, in the above screen shot it would read W5VSI-11. However, you  could double click (or right click and select Show Information) and the balloon expands showing current data for the balloon. From the menu, you can select what you want to display each time a new position report comes in. The alternatives are nothing, just the callsign or the full text information display.

The predicted track is also displayed (you can add or remove it from the Predicted Track Menu above). The color coding on the prediction equates to purple for ascent, white for float and red for descent. The pushpins along the predicted track indicate the launch, cut down (or burst) and landing prediction points. You can double click on these pushpins too and get Latitude, Longitude, Bearing and Range (from the launch site).

The blue circle is the radio range footprint from the balloon to the horizon (LOS). In the example above, the balloon is 9,982 feet above sea level. But, the landing site is at an elevation of approximately 4000 feet so, the footprint is being calculated for height above the surface. You can turn this feature on and off too. If you turn it on you might not see it. When this screen first opens it zooms in fairly close to the launch point so the first drawn footprint circle may actually be off screen. Zoom out to see it. Regardless of zoom factor, if you have the Footprint on, it will be available. Just zoom out to see it. I imagine it will only be of occasional interest. I'm usually more interested in the track of the balloon and am zoomed in on that.

The default behavior of this screen is to show only the Live balloon track with the location of the balloon indicated by the pushpin and the balloon's callsign.



That is the logical drive where your Windows System is installed. Usually the system creates the "Program Files" folder on this drive. 90% of the time it's the C: drive.

I've got a multi-partition drive with WinME, Win2K and Linux. On that system the home drive for WinME is C:, for Win2K it's F:, and in this case, Linux doesn't count.

If I'm running Balloon Track in ME on that machine then Microsoft MapPoint has to be installed on drive C: in the folder "\Program Files\Microsoft MapPoint\".

If I'm on the Win2K system, it would have to be on the F: drive, same folder.

Usually folks opt to let the install procedures work to place programs in these folders. However, if you have indicated a special folder for the installation of MapPoint then Balloon Track won't find it and the Map Point buttons will NOT appear. I'm working on a better way to detect MapPoint (registry) but haven't cracked that yet. Perhaps in a future version.

MapPoint Bug

There is a bug in MapPoint itself that sometimes causes problems. I searched the internet and did find someone who had discovered the bug and a work around. But it is sometimes hard to catch this behavior.

The problem usually revolves around trying to open a common dialog box (that's the box that lets you pick files to load or save). If you are attempting to load or save a file and the program seems to freeze, try hitting escape. Probably, the open/close file dialog box has opened but it is invisible. Hitting escape will close it and return control of the program to you. To get around this, close the map, then load or save the file, then reload the map. AND ... tell me what you did. I can probably fix it. I've addressed all the obvious instances of this problem and been playing with the code for several days now. But I may have missed something, so help out and tell me about it.

If all else fails, you'll have to force quit the program. In Win95 through WinMe, ctrl-alt-delete and end both MapPoint and Balloon Track. In Win2K or WinXP, ctrl-alt-delete, switch to the process view and end the MapPoint process. Then return to Balloon Track, click on the form where you clicked and the program froze, the program should crash. If it doesn't, it's still corrupt so end and restart Balloon Track.

Technically, this problem is related to the Zorder (stacking one form on top of another in layers) of the forms. For some reason, MapPoint insists it always be on top of all other forms. It also scrambles the Zorder of other open forms. Sometimes this causes newly opened forms to hide beneath previously displayed forms. In the case of the Common Dialog form this can be especially vexing. The Common Dialog form is modal, that is, it takes the full focus of the program and won't allow any other action to be performed until some type of action happens on the Common Dialog form itself. If it opens beneath another form, there is no way to talk to anything but the Common Dialog box. So it isn't possible to minimize a form that may be floating on top of it. You can't even end the program as all visible forms are inactive until you complete the action on the Common Dialog box. Even though you can NOT see the Common Dialog form, it is active and hitting escape will close it. Once it is closed, the program regains control and behaves normally.

The fix involves "speaking" to the Map form and telling it to behave properly. But, you must "speak" to the form after Each and Every access of that form. Any time focus switches to the MapPoint form it assumes this "on top" behavior and has to be re-educated to behave properly.

I've found the obvious instances of the form gaining focus and built in auto-correcting routines to make it behave properly, but it might be possible that I didn't hit all the bases. So, if the program seems to freeze, try the above "solutions" then let me know what you did so I can cover that additional contingency.