Thursday, September 15, 2016

Kitlog Pro File conversion

Back when I purchased the project I was given the printed manual with annotated work log notes on the pages along with a backup of the Kitlog Pro project. While I myself am not using Kitlog, I thought it would be nice to take a look at the project and archive off it's entries for historical record.

Kitlog Pro seems to be pretty popular amongst builders. I went over to the website, downloaded a copy, created a windows VM to run it in (unfortunately it only runs under Windows) and started to dig around. It seems like a pretty nice program, but with that said I still did/do not intend to use it. 

The backup looked to be some sort of database records with a TPS file extension. I tried importing these files into KitLog Pro 2.0, but it appeared that in version 2.0 the program changed to an XML format for its data storage. I emailed support and they were very responsive. They gave me the link to the 1.7.3 version of the program and proceeded to tell me that I should download 1.7.3, replace the installed database files with the ones that I had, and then upgrade to 2.0. I tried it (I didn't try that hard), but when I got 1.7.3 running and replaced the install files and rebooted, nothing showed up. I am sure this process would work, but I wasn't even intending to use Kitlog, so I went another way.

I really just wanted the data that was in the TPS files so that I could reference it at a later time in case there was something that I could not make sense of from the work logs in the construction manual. I started to see if my filesystem knew of this file type.

No luck. The second check was to see if there were any words that could be picked out of the file. i.e. was the file in some crazy binary format, or was it plain ASCII.

While that doesn't look that interesting, if you look further into the strings dump you start finding sentences!

So at this point I can at least figure out how to extract some data from this file and probably piece it back together. Developers rarely roll their own file data storage these days though in lieu of an already existing format. The next step was to figure out what sort of file this was. After a bit of digging in the hexdumps of the file I determined it was a Clarion Top Speed database file. Clarion TPS is proprietary file format that holds table based data, but with that said, people have already reversed the proprietary file format!

I ended up using the github tps-parse project: Once you get that compiled, it is pretty straight forward to convert the files from TPS to CSV.

By giving the program the directory with all of the saved TPS files as input and an output directory to save the CSVs to, I now have all of the logs saved in a useable format. From here I will probably write a small python script to import these into my own worklog. For the time being, Google sheets provides all I need.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Flaps: Part 3

 Over the past couple of days I was able to finish up the de-burring, dimpling, priming, and riveting the Right Flap skeleton. It is always a much better feeling putting things together rather than taking them apart. All in all, awesome!

I don't know why, but I ended up priming the components in small batches. I started with the main spar. After priming the main spar I went back and re-wrote all of the placement numbers on top of the primer due to me not really paying attention during my MEK wipe down. With the main spar primed I went back and laid everything out on the table making sure the order was not disturbed.

If you have been keeping up with these posts, you will know that this is the first major component that I am really doing from start to finish. I had picked this project up from another builder... After internally debating my primer choices for weeks I decided to go with rattle can self etch primer. I remember reading a bunch of posts about self-etch rattle can primer needing a top-coat because it was prone to absorbing things like air tool oil (I am not going to weigh the pros and cons of primer choices here, but even the Vans manual specifically states that they don't think you really need to top coat primer on the internal structure [if you so choose to primer the internal structure with rattle can self etch]). I distinctly remember thinking to myself at the time of reading that, why do so many people call out air tool oil absorption? Well... Take a look at the photo below. This was the first piece that I riveted. I clearly put air tool oil thumb prints on it. So I guess I get it now. 

As everyone other builder has mentioned, a pneumatic rivet squeezer is the bomb!

There were two places in which were un-squeezable. The first I forgot to take photos of, but the center flap bracket with the 2 doublers in it was too wide to squeeze the -10 rivets that hold it together. I initially had heard that from someone else, so when I put my squeezer on them and they fit I was pretty excited. Then when I attempted to actually squeeze the rivet I learned that while the squeezer fits, the problem is actually that because the squeezer is so far extended it does not have the power in the beginning of its throw to squeeze the rivet. 

The second part that was problematic were ribs at each end of the flap. The pnematic squeezer can squeeze the middle rivet, but has a hard time getting in to the top and bottom rivets. While hard to see in this photo, you can see the slight angle on the setup. Even if you bend the rib inwards the bulk of the squeezer makes getting good alignment impossible.


 An alligator type squeezer would have been good here. Given that I don't have one I was about to buck these three rivets when I thought I would dig through my tools to see if a manual squeezer would fit. After all, I have never used it, and have heard people say that you should still get a manual squeezer if you intend to go with a pneumatic one. To my amazement, the manual squeezer was able to get a perfect alignment! I guess those things are useful.

While writing this, I realize something pretty dumb on my part. While squeezing the rest of the skelton together I ended up using a 1/2 inch flat set to get around the flange. I tried every configuration I could think of to get the manufactured head on the thinner rib material, but in the end put the shop head on the rib side of the spar so that I did not have to bend and stress the ribs in order to get the squeezer in place.

I don't know what I was thinking while doing this. This isn't a horrible thing, until you hear that I have a flanged yolk for my squeezer that is just sitting in the drawer. The flanged yolk would is designed exactly for this setup, but I completely forgot I had it. O well.

Just some photos: