the sun going to be today?
Wheeler Sunpredictor™ PDA Software
|My name is John Wheeler ACS. I am a professional
cinematographer, and the inventor of the Wheeler
Sunpredictor™ designed for cinemaphotographers and
photographers who need to know precisely where the sun is
going to be on any given day, time and location, even
months in advance.
In the past there have been various methods and devices for predicting the future position of the sun; clunky mechanical devices, computers with printers firmly attached, military GPS units and, of course, asking the locals (who always get it wrong).
After 30 years of filming all over the world, and trying all of these methods, I decided that there must be a better, more accurate way.
With the advent of the GPS-equipped PDA, a sophisticated world wide sun prediction system became possible. Finally it was feasible to have a hand held sun prediction system that could instantly generate a visual display of the movement of the sun for any given day, anywhere in the world, and be able to make instant calculations for future times or dates. A device you could keep in your kit. Even in your pocket.
In 2003 the Wheeler Sunpredictor™ began its
development. In August of that year I engaged a lecturer
in geospatial science to write a basic software program
with a simple text interface. In essence,
this was just to prove that it could be done.
While this initial software development was underway, I
decided on the type of data I wanted and how it should be
Los Angeles Sun Position,
Same Time of Day, 5 Months Apart
Screen shot of Sunpredictor software on PDA running Pocket PC operating system. Instantly calculate the sun's position for anywhere in the world.
Ease of use and pinpoint accuracy make the Wheeler Sunpredictor an essential tool for planning shots and fine tuning locations.
|Right from the start, the fundamental design
philosophy for the program was that it be very graphic.
After all, the WSP was being developed for
cinematographers and photographers, people who relate to
images more than text. It also had to be easy to set up,
intuitive to use and easy to read.
I also wanted to build in a sense of I want to use this tool. And the WSP had to be elegant, a real one of a kind.
With my design parameters set, all I needed was someone with the knowledge to write the actual program and understand where I was coming from.
Enter Darren Bennet, head developer for Listech, a company with 20 years experience writing complex surveying programs. Liscad, one of their internationally respected products, is distributed world wide by Leica.
Darren Bennet and his team developed the Sunpredictor™ to my specifications, and they continue with its ongoing evolution.
The WSP is now on the market, and all of my expectations have been met. It is a very powerful, yet simple to use tool. It is elegant and sophisticated, and its fun to use.
The WSP runs on any PDA running the Pocket PC operating system, preferably GPS enabled, although latitude and longitude can be manually entered. Of course WSP will also operate on any Smart Phone running Pocket PC. Blue Tooth GPS modules can be utilised if the phone is not GPS enabled.
The Wheeler Sunpredictor™ displays the suns position both graphically and numerically, as compass bearing, angle of elevation, date and time of day. Time is displayed in both analog and digital form.
The first step is the set up page, where compass settings are selected, GPS accuracy is selected, port number (for GPS) is selected and the baud rate set. This is a once-only set up.
The program then operates on two pages:
The Location page is where the GPS is activated. Once the location is locked, the user can name and save the location to a data base, allowing the information to be repeatedly accessed without the need to re-input location data. The Time Zone is selected from a dropdown menu. (This is the only function that needs to be manually set. WSP will automatically set daylight saving time.)
All calculations are carried out on the Prediction page. When this page is opened the display shows sunrise, total hours of sunlight and sunset for the selected day, plus the current position of the sun on its transit path as a graphic display. The suns current position as compass bearing and angle of elevation is also displayed. Dragging the sun along the transit path instantly updates time, compass bearing and angle of elevation.
Predictions can also be made by changing time on the analog or digital clocks. The compass bearing or angle of elevation can also be changed in their respective windows.
Predictions can be made in the calendar by selecting the appropriate date. This can be days, weeks or months ahead.
In short, I believe the Wheeler Sunpredictor™ is the ultimate hand held sun prediction tool.
Visit www.sunpredictor.com for more information. Download the Wheeler Sunpredictor™ or try the 7 day fully functional free trial.
John Wheeler ACS
Return to the contents page of ACE Camera photography magazine. Go
Photo Magazine Photo Equipment Photo Labs Repairs Manufacturers ACE Forum
Authors for ACE Camera Photography Magazine retain full copyright to their words and images. Entire Contents, including all text and original artwork, Copyright (c) 1996-2006 ACE Camera Web Services, All Rights Reserved. Trademarks, brand names, and links are the properties of their respective owners. Thousands of hours of labor went into research, preparation and writing of this compilation and online magazine; statutory copyright protection has been filed with the U.S. Copyright Office, Washington D.C. No part of this web site may be stored in a retrieval system, reproduced in printed or electronic media, or posted in whole or in part elsewhere on the World Wide Web. ACE Camera Web Services, 2400 N.W. 61st Street, Seattle Washington 98107.
Published April 8, 2006