Designing a Pylon Course Layout
Laying out a pylon course with correct dimensions and maintaining safety distances can be a challenging task. This tool allows you to enter GPS coordinates for your field, runway corners, other references and obstacles, and then generate a course from a pylon point and a compass bearing - then easily able to adjust the course to find the best fit.
Course layouts for 422, 424/426, EF1, and F3D are all calculated based on the starting points given.
To start the process, Select 'Resources' from the main menu. Then select 'View the layout tool, generated courses and data here'
Some general information is displayed including the rulebook course layouts. Below is a list of any publicly available layouts, any layouts you created, and an option to 'Insert New Layout'. We'll select that one for this demo. Please note the disclaimer... (The 'Edit Layout' option only appears if you are the owner of the layout. 'Model Layout' allows you to start with a copy of the existing layout.)
Walking through the input form, start with layout name and revision. The combination of these two fields must be unique for YOUR layouts.. If you 'Model' an existing layout, the default name will be 'Copy of...' - change as desired. 'Active' defaults to 'Yes', and 'Public' defaults to 'No'.
Next are the base coordinates the course/map is based on. 'Map Base' is the latitude (lat) and longitude (long) that the Google Map will be centered on. This can be any point on your field. 'Pylon Number' indicates whether you are providing the coordinates for Pylon 2 or 3. 'Pylon Base' is the lat/long for that Pylon, and 'Compass Bearing' is the heading to reach the opposite Pylon. In our case we selected Pylon 3, provided the coordinates, and gave the bearing to Pylon 2 of '337'
Entering the four corners of your runway will display it with dotted blue line connecting the points. It is a good reference as to where things actually are - compared to the Google Maps satellite view which is NOT guaranteed accurate by Google. The orientation of your runway isn't important - just the four corner points we can connect.
You can now enter any additional 'reference points' you want to appear on the map. The descriptions provided appear when hovering over the point on map. We selected our shelter/pavilion, and the line starting a rise to perimeter road. These are reflected on the map as blue dots. The attributes allow you to select 'Line to Next Point' (obvious I hope) or 'Verify Safe Distance'. In our case, the NW corner of the pavilion is closest to course - so I chose a line from NE to NW point, and verifying distance of NW point. We'll see how that is used later...
Obstacles are handled the same as reference points - they show as red caution triangles on map. We used them for the landfill's 'vent pipes' so we know which ones we need to address... I've also used these for marking tree lines (join points with line), or no fly areas.
Click on 'Enter Information' at the bottom to continue...
The 'heavy lifting' is quickly done, and the results displayed... The criteria used is at the top, then the detailed coordinates class by class for the pylons, start/finish, turn judges, and lap counters. You can 'Edit Layout' (top and bottom of details), 'View Course' or 'Validate Course' for a particular class.
'View Course' brings up a scrollable/zoomable Google Map view. The detail outside of the course here of course depends on what detail Google Maps has for your field... Ours shows the perimeter road. Pylons are the blue flags, start finish is black/white stars. Yellow/red flags are course workers. Red circles/lines define the 300' safety zone around the course.
Clicking 'Satellite' on top left switches to satellite view.. In our case a much older pic of field with shorter runway and temporary shelter... lol.. but still a nice reference. I had my cursor over the pylon 2 judge position showing the description.
Returning from map view (use browsers 'Back' button), and selecting 'Validate Course' checks all the course and safety distances. Any reference points/obstacles you requested 'Verify Safe Distance' have their distance to closest point of course calculated and displayed. An example of a 'failing' verification is shown.
Don't like what you see, edit the layout and change the base pylon, bearing, any other info you want - and try again! If only changing items in the top section - a separate update button: 'Update Above Information Only' is available to minimize scrolling and database updates. If changing other details, use the 'Update Information' button at bottom of page.
Have something you like - print it up! There is a 'Print View' button at the bottom of each report that will open a printable version without banners/menu - then send to your favorite printer or PDF generator. That's all there is to it... We've used this for two proposed sites to place and validate the course - and allowed us to easily answer the 'Can the course fit this way?' and 'What if we turned it x degrees?'. Comments and suggestions welcome if you try it out!