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Using Plane Plotter on Windows-7 and Vista

Page history last edited by David-Taylor 8 years, 12 months ago Saved with comment

Installing on Windows Vista and Windows-7, 8 & 10


As Plane Plotter needs write access to certain directories, and you may wish to add or edit files in the Plane Plotter directories, it may be better with Windows Vista and Windows-7, 8 & 10 to install to C:\Tools\COAA\PlanePlotter\ rather than to C:\Program Files\COAA\PlanePlotter\.  This isn't a hard and fast rule, but it simplifies some directory names later.  For some functions, Plane Plotter requires write-access to its Log Files and Chart Files directories, and functions such as Open Street Mapping (the Map button on the toolbar ) will not work without write-access.  You can use these directories for a Windows XP install as well.


I also installed my SBS-1 to C:\Tools\Kinetic\ for the same reason.  You may need to tell add-ons such as GAS SBS-1 Populate, Find Flight, or Flight Display about the changed location.  I also recommend installing those accessories to C:\Tools\.  Having a single directory for these programs also means there is just one directory to backup.


It is not necessary to disable UAC (User Account Control), and you should only do so if you full understand the consequences, and you have a very good reason for turning it off.


Suggested Install directories


  • C:\Tools\COAA\ - and hence the following sub-directories:
  • C:\Tools\COAA\PlanePlotter\
  • C:\Tools\COAA\ShipPlotter\
  • C:\Tools\Kinetic\  - for an SBS-1, and hence this sub-directory:
  • C:\Tools\Kinetic\BaseStation\
  • C:\Tools\ADSBscope\  - for a microADSB, etc.
  • C:\Tools\MultiPSK\
  • C:\Tools\PC-HFDL\
  • C:\Tools\RTL0190\  -  for the RTL USB stick receiver software
  • C:\Tools\SDR#\  - for the SDRsharp software


Don't worry that you can't find an existing C:\Tools\ directory, the install procedure will create one for you.   Simply replace the directory suggested by the setup program, i.e.

  C:\Program Files\COAA\PlanePlotter             (on 32-bit systems)

  C:\Program Files (x86)\COAA\PlanePlotter       (on 64-bit systems)



Advanced users:
I actually create a C:\Tools\ directory myself, and right-click it to set the security options to Everyone, Full control, as I frequently need to share parts of that directory to other PCs.  Most likely you will not require that.


Where to put charts


I've found it convenient in my own system to keep a directory of all the different charts I use structured around a directory I created called:  C:\Charts\.  As I have some charts for my Garmin GPS, some for Plane Plotter and some for Ship Plotter, I ended up with a directory structure like this:


  • C:\Charts\
  • C:\Charts\GPS\
  • C:\Charts\PlanePlotter\
  • C:\Charts\ShipPlotter\


Your arrangement will doubtless be different, but you must keep data out of the C:\Program Files\ directory tree!  Note that both the Plane Plotter Chart files directory, and the Plane Plotter Log Files directory should be writeable, i.e. Plane Plotter should be able to write files in those directories if it is to function correctly.


When you have placed your charts or outline files in a particular directory, use the Plane Plotter Options, Directories, PP Chart Files menu to tell the program where to look for chart files (that would be C:\Charts\PlanePlotter\ in the example above).


Other directories


Flag image files (if you use them) may be most conveniently put in a sub-directory of the main Plane Plotter directory, for example:


  • C:\Tools\COAA\PlanePlotter\Flags\


Starting with version, Plane Plotter will warn you at start-up if you have user-writeable directories pointing at locations in the C:\Program Files\ tree, even if you aren't using that directory in your own system.  To avoid getting the warning message each time you start Plane Plotter, you could create a dummy directory such as C:\Tools\COAA\MiscFiles\ and use the Options, Directories menu to point Plane Plotter at this dummy directory.  There are a number of directories which may create the warning message:


Options, Directories, PP Log files (see next paragraph)

Options, Directories, PP Chart files (see above)

Options, Directories, RadarBox log file

Options, Directories, SQB database (this is a file, not a directory, pointing to the hex to registration lookup)

Options, Directories, SBS1 log file

Options, Directories, PC-HFDL log file

Options, Directories, PP Photo files


Bev will change this behaviour in a future version so that the warning is only displayed when you try and use one of these directories.

Log & Photo files


I find it convenient to treat log files from the various programs as temporary files, but again I prefer to have the location of those files under my control rather than let Windows decide for me!  I have sometimes used this structure:


  • C:\Tools\PlanePlotterLogFiles\
  • C:\Tools\ShipPlotterLogFiles\
  • C:\Tools\SBS-logs\


You could equally put all the different logs or photos together in a single directory, which I now prefer:


  • C:\Tools\LogFiles\
  • C:\Tools\PhotoFiles\


The SBS-logs directory is where I keep the logs I e-mail daily to the various groups who have requested them.  Use the Options, Directories menu in Plane Plotter to point the program at the locations you wish it to use.


Managing Log Files


You may want to have an automated way of removing older log files on a regular basis, to prevent your hard disk from filling up.  I wrote a program called TrimTree which you can schedule to run at log-in or overnight (if you run 24 hours a day) to delete files older than a certain date.  TrimTree is free, and you can download it here.  There are notes and examples on that Web page about using TrimTree with Plane Plotter and the SBS BaseStation software.


Solid-state disks - SSDs


Recently, SSDs have become available at affordable prices for PCs.  For light use, SSDs can provide a significant speed gain, as no moving parts are involved in accessing the data.  If you have only the SSD, that's where you install Plane Plotter in the C:\Tools\ tree as described above.  However, the read life of SSDs is much greater than the write life, so if your PC has both an SSD system drive (C:) and a data HDD (D:) you may want to consider the best way to install Plane Plotter.  The principle I would apply is to place any files with a high write rate on the HDD, and those with a high read rate on the SSD.  Of course, your particular usage pattern will be unique, so any advice I give may need to be tailored for your own system.  In my case, I installed the basic Plane Plotter into C:\Tools\, but as the log files comprise the bulk of the writing, I have placed those in D:\Tools\LogFiles\.  Considering D: as a writeable disk, I have also placed the aircraft and flight-route databases there, to provide one writeable directory.

What I don't know is which files Plane Plotter reads frequently.  Perhaps it is those two databases - but given a some free memory, Windows itself will cache that data (as it's not changing) so having on on an HDD isn't a performance issue.  With Windows 7, you can use the Task Manager, Performance Tab, Resource Monitor to measure what disk I/O is happening. 


  • In Resource Monitor, select the Disk tab, and expand the Processes with Disk Activity panel.  Click on the column header Write (B/sec), and you will then see the processes with the maximum write I/O at the top.  On my PC it's "System", and then Plane Plotter with about 10 KB/s.  I don't feel that's a high rate, and would be happy to have it on the SSD, but note that I don't have a lot of the logging enabled.  Some people are reporting GB files - mine are about 100 KB/day.  If you have large log files, they would be candidates for the HDD rather than the SSD.
  • Next in Resource monitor, expand the Disk Activity panel.  Again, click on the column header Write (B/sec).  This time you can see the files which are "hot" - i.e. they have a lot of activity.  If you see files with a lot of activity which are being written to the SSD (C:), you may want to consider whether you want to move those files to the HDD.

I hope you find this useful, and I would welcome your comments as well to add here, so that others can benefit from our joint experience.


Downloads don't work


On recent versions of Windows, data which is downloaded from the Internet using Firefox or MS Internet Explorer will be marked as "blocked" for security reasons.  Before using a "blocked" file - for example to install a program or to use a new data file - it may be necessary to "unblock" it.  You do this by right-clicking the file in Windows Explorer, selecting the Properties option, and clicking the Unblock button if it is showing.  Obviously, only unblock a file if you know that it is safe to run!


You will also find that when you use Zip files (Windows "compressed folders"), the "blocked" attribute of the Zip file propagates to the file contained within the Zip file, so that they will also be "blocked" unless the containing Zip file is itself unblocked.


I can't find my files


Windows-7 etc. can use directory virtualisation as a way of allowing software to write into the C:\Program Files\ directory (which Windows-7 forbids).  If your data isn't where you expected it to be, see whether this has happened to you.  For example, you might check:


  C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\COAA\PlanePlotter\


where you put your user name instead of <username>.  There is more information here.


If you have 3rd-party software which requires fixed file locations, you may need to point Plane plotter to a path such as:


  C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\Kinetic\Base Station\BaseStation.sqb

for the hex to registration lookup, and similarly for any other files.  This is not required by either the Kinetic Base Station software, Plane Plotter, GAS SBS-1 Populate, or Flight Display.


[Notes from David Taylor]

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