MGRS, the military grid

The military grid reference system, MGRS, is the geocoordinate standard used by NATO militaries for locating points on the earth. (more on Wikipedia)

We had MGRS support in BattleTac for long ago, the coordinate of the map center is always displayed. If you want to read the coordinate of a point, you have to scroll the map center over it.

MGRS coordinate of map center is displayed in the upper-right corner.
Map is "Range Vranow", created by our user "zafa"

Recently we have announced several enhancements to the grid handling:

Coordinate read-out

MGRS can express positions with different precision. We include 2x4 digits at the end of the coordinate which gives the fairly good 10-meter precision. On the image above the coordinate is 33U UR 2821 6507

When you want to read this coordinate out, you may want to avoid characters not interesting for your communication partner. What characters are interesting and what not, depends on your situation but on milsim events most of the time the 1-km and the 100-meter digits are the important ones: They allow you to report the position with 100-meter precision on a 10 km x 10 km square only by reading out 4 numbers. So we highlight those numbers for you with blue color.

Grid drawing

The grid drawing feature  helps you read the coordinates of any point on the screen and also to roughly estimate distances:

MGRS grid helps estimate distance and reading out non-center coordinates.
Note that the grid is not parallel to latitude and longitude lines, but it nearly is.

To read out a coordinate using the grid, you have to find the numbers on the left and bottom edges of the square containing it. E.g.: The point with number 13 is in the square 81 (left edge) and 51 (bottom edge) so its 100-meter precision coordinate is 33U UR 281 651.

Estimating distance using the grid

To estimate a distance you just have to count the lines between the two points. E.g.: between point 13 and point 8 you have to cross two vertical and two horizontal lines which means that the distance is about 400 meter if you walk only "horizontal" and "vertical". This is an overestimation of the real distance, but the error is never more than 41% compared to the straight line (worst case according to the Pythagorean theorem) and you rarely can walk in a straight line so I find this estimation accurate enough.


Share .KMZ maps!

Starting from version 1.5.0 our new mapping infrastructure is available in every version of BattleTac. Maps are created in .kmz format using Google Earth and shared on our website.

BattleTac shows you the list of maps near to you so you can select the map you want to use:

The selected map will be displayed on top of the base map:

Tip: turn off the base map while you are using a shared .kmz map to lower the network traffic generated by map usage.

Creating maps

Maps are created with Google Earth and saved in .kmz format. At the time we only support Image Overlays so you have to draw your map as an image and create the .kmz map from it as showed in this tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLzvg2vnUDM.

Waypoints are not yet supported, you have to draw your points to the image or share them as POI in the app before the event. 

Sharing maps

You can easily upload and share .kmz maps on our website: http://battletac.com/mapping.html.

You have to add a name and a short description to your map so users can select the right map from the list.

Offline maps

The offline map feature is unchanged, it is available in the full version. You can store .kmz maps on the device and use them. This way you can use private maps and this also helps you when your internet connection is slow on the field. Later we will also implement caching of online maps in the full version.


Organizer's View in Full versions

Starting from v1.4.0 you can connect to 2 radio channels in BattleTac Full, which comes handy if you are an event organizer and you want to monitor both side.

When you turn this view on, you can set up two radio channels and you can select which one do you want to see on the map. Of course you can display both side at a time. The secondary radio channel will be displayed using different colors so you can easily differentiate.

You can also mark POIs and send messages to each channel or to both. This way you can send out organizing messages to both channels or you can give some help to one side if the game gets unbalanced.

With a little creativity you can use this feature as a tool to improve the game experience!

Please note that your position will not be reported while using this mode and the in-game status control is also disabled because the organizer is not part of the game.

As always we welcome your suggestions! This is just the first version of this feature, we have a lot of plans to improve it but your ideas can be also included!


Choosing the right data plan for BattleTac

How much traffic BattleTac consumes? This is an important question especially if you use BattleTac on a dedicated device without 'unlimited' plan.

The simple answer is 4MB/hour, but it depends and you can tune it.

The system was designed from the ground up to work seamlessly on low quality internet connection because this is typical on the field. Data usage is optimised, network outage is handled, lost commands are sent again automatically after network recovery.

The traffic volume varies greatly, between 0,1MB/hour and 10MB/hour. The following factors affect it:

  • Map usage: Maps are downloaded over the network so you can save some data with scrolling sparingly to previously unseen map areas. This is important on large areas, use a lower zoom if you work on a large area. (A high zoom is not very usable in that case anyway)
  • The radio refresh rate (position update interval): This is the time between two synchronisation with the BattleTac server. You can change it to tune your data usage. Higher interval means lower data usage but not so accurate tracking of units on the map. The default is 30 secs which is a good balance. You can set it to 10 secs to have near-real time tracking, or you can set it up to 15 mins if you are on a really big area event where things do not happen very quickly. This setting is not available in the Lite version, it uses the default 30 secs!
  • The number of units and POIs on the map and the number of messages you receive. This means that on a big event with lots of units you will have bigger traffic.
  • Ad display: The Lite version displays ads which changes every minute. This also consumes some traffic.
What does it mean? If you want to play 6 hours per week, you will need 6hours x 4 weeks x 4MB/hour = 96MB monthly data plan.

If you have a smaller plan then I suggest you starting with normal settings, monitoring the traffic for 1-2 weeks and tuning the 'Position report interval' according to what you see.


1.3.6 is out: Guest Access & Localizations

Starting from this version user registration is optional: you can use BattleTac as guest to try it out or to track assets on the field. You need to register a user only when you want to upload your profile image.

Another news is that BattleTac is now translated to French,  Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese,  Spanish and Russian! If you feel that translation to your native language is the main thing what is missing from BattleTac, contact us!

There are also some usability improvements and a lot of bugfixes in this version. If you experience any problem, please send an issue report to us: you can send it from the support menu of the app, or using our website!