1. Crib Notes on Using RAP

This memo provides a brief overview on using the Radar Analysis Program (RAP). RAP assists controllers in the control and scoring of ANG aircraft range missions in the Volk area and maintaining a comprehensive airpicture integraing military and civilian air activities. Aircraft worldwide are equipped with electronic equipment (transponders) transmitting specific data – identification and status - related to itself. Specific equipment at radar facilities “reads” and/or decodes the data transmitted by the aircraft. If the aircraft has no transponders (or off), the radars receive only a “raw” radar return from the aircraft with no amplifying data other than performance data (speed, heading and altitude) that the radar calculates. RAP uses the raw radar picture of search and beacon reports to generate and maintain consistent airtracks. Each radar controller/operator manipulate the resultant RAP air picture presented on a particular radar screen (scope) to provide maximum support to their surveillance and aircraft control missions. This manipulation includes the use of data filters, regional overlays, and display control tools.

Starting RAP

There are two modes of running RAP. First, RAP can be run in a stand-alone mode. Second, RAP can be run as an adjunct of the JFORCES simulation. This quick overview will focus only on standalone use of RAP. For information on running RAP as an adjunct of JFORCES please refer to the JFORCES runtime controls documentation.

But before proceeding to the details of how to run RAP, the user needs to know how to start RAP. The user will need to log into the computer as a RAP user. Ask the system administrator (or whoever else set up RAP on the machine) for the username and password for this user. If RAP has not been installed on your machine email us to request a copy of the RAP installation CD. Please specify your government sponsor or other US-government related reason to be granted access to RAP and any information on your machine. Reccommended configurations to run RAP under Linux (the most cost-effective solution) are identical to the recommended configurations for JFORCES, and can be found elsewhere on this site.

Assuming RAP is installed, after logging in the user will be presented with a default screen appropriate to his system. Click here to see a default screen for a RedHat Linux installation. The user might have to open a terminal window. To do this on a RedHat machine click on the "New Window" icon. Click here to view a screen capture with this icon highlighted. This will cause a terminal window to be created (click here for a sample). Note that the user can modify this window for his preferences by right clicking in the body of the window and selecting "Preferences" from the list presented. The system will save the modified preferences as new window defaults. Terminal widows have a number of options that can be set (or reset) using any of the three mouse buttons. Please see the terminal documentation on http://www.redhat.com for a complete description.

Now that user has a terminal window he can start the standard RAP interface by typing "start_RAP <carriage return>". Click here for a picture of the initial RAP interface. There are three distinct primary methods of running RAP. These are:

  1. Running as a display of live radar data (this is the default)

  2. Running an archived set of radar feeds

  3. Running a tracker. This mode does not have an organic display, but can be run in conjunction with a display of live data.

To understand these options it is important to remember that a site should generally run only one tracker, but can run many operaror displays from this tracker with each operator having his own view of the airpicture but able to share track data through the common tracker. For this reason the default is set to create a display application but not start the tracker (or associated raw radar data server). But if you're running solo then the tracker should be started at the same time.

Your decision on what to do should be based on whether you have a live data feed at your site and, if so, whether a common tracker is already running at the site. If you don't have a live radar feed your only valid option (other than exiting) is to click 'Replay Archived Data'. The interface will change so that you can select an archived dataset from the $DTA_DIR/rap/archives drectory. After selecting the file you should click on 'Start Replay' and the initial interface will disappear and the standard RAP runtime interface will appear.

If you have a live radar feed then you have several options based on your interests and what other users are doing. You have the option of replaying archived data as described above. You also have the option of running solo (running your own display and tracker on your machine), connecting to a common tracker but using your own display, or just starting a tracker for others to use. Any of these options can be invoked through the initial screen. There are three buttons on this initial RAP interface. The first says 'Start RAP GUI'. If you have a live data feed and the tracker is running on the machine defined as RAP_TRACKER in your /etc/hosts file this is probably your best option. Click it and the runtime RAP interface will start up (click here for an example). The 'Exit' option is self-expanatory. The 'Use NonStandard Data Servers' option is not a common use and outside the scope of this overview. To start a tracker process click on the 'Run Live Feed Servers' option. By default the 'Run RAP GUI' option will remain on. You can leave it GUI on or turn it off as you prefer. The text in the 'Start' button will change according to your choice. Pick your option and select the 'Start ...' button. If you didn't specify a GUI no further interaction is required and nothing will be displayed. Otherwise the standard RAP runtime interface will appear. Pay special attention to the menu 'Message Area' (shown in light blue in the example). This area indicates the connection status of the GUI. It is red until a connection has been made to the tracker, then yellow until a connection is made to the raw radar server, and finally turns light blue. If it does not turn light blue after a minute you'll need to find out why communications are not working. Click here for more information.