This is the heart of the app, reached by tapping PREP in the first
screen associated with the TRACK tab. The TRACK tab is the leftmost
tab and has an airplane icon.
PREP stands for preparation for a trip.
If you have no trip credit (perhaps you have used up your free trips),
then you will be thrown to the SET..PURCHASE screen when you tap PREP.
There are two screens, named PREP and OBSERVERS, to interact with (to
define a trip plan) before you can start recording a new trip.
In the PREP screen you see a table of fields (with visible names such
as TAG, DEP, DEST) each of which can be tapped to enter or modify the
The main fields to select or enter are the names of the start and end
points of the trip (referred to as DEP and DEST, for departure and
destination), as well as a short name for the trip, which is called
the TAG. The TAG is one word of your choice, and can be can be 'HIKE'
or 'SHOPPING' etc, or can be a vehicle registration such as 'VH-TTS'.
If the default value shown for a field is not what you want
(the usual case),
just tap a default value to see the selection screen, which will have a
list of possible values, in alphabetical order. Note that these values
are ones which you have already prepared in the SET function (see
Simply tap to select one of these value, if it is what you want.
But if the value you need is not in the selection list, simply enter a new
value using the keypad. Tapping 'Edit', or tapping the current value
shown in the top cell, will allow you to type in your new value. Then
either tap 'Done' (on keypad), or tap the 'OK' button, or tap the new
value, to confirm it and return you to the main table.
The VIA field is optional (default blank), but if you tap that row,
you will get a select/edit menu with the same location names as the
DEP and DEST fields.
(DEP, DEST and VIA can be codes like 'YCBR', names like 'WAGGA WAGGA',
or latlon like -25.35,131.04).
The NOTE field is similarly optional, but you can tap it to enter text
(upper and lower case supported, 240 characters maximum) which will be
seen on the email sent to your trip observer(s).
The fields discussed above (TAG, DEP, DEST, VIA, NOTE) are always
present in the PREP screen. There is also an optional extra set of
fields (EET, END, SAR, POB, ELT) which are only seen if you have gone
to the customisation screens (via the SET tab) and chosen SAR instead
of the default SIMPLE option. It is easy to change that setting option
at the time of trip preparation if needed.
The SAR (Search And Rescue) group of fields are for when you want your
observer to know more about your trip. Notably, how long it should
take, and when they should worry about you being overdue on the trip
(ie when an unexpectedly long time has passed since START, and you
have not pressed STOP on an active trip). These fields are:
EET (Estimated Elapsed Time) or, more simply, the expected duration of
your trip. Entered by tapping the row showing the default time, which
exposes a "carousel wheel" time interval picker
(hours and minutes, with 5 minute intervals).
END (Endurance) is also a time interval - it could be the approximate
time before you run out of fuel, or simply the longest elapsed trip
time that could reasonably be expected in slightly adverse conditions.
SAR (Search and Rescue) is also a time interval, and is the time when
your observer(s) should try to contact you and maybe even consider
starting some kind of search for you, or do whatever you have
privately pre-arranged with them. Note that you should be very careful
to press the STOP button when you finish your trip to avoid a false
alarm. Also note that there is no guarantee that the observer(s) will
actually receive the associated emails (eg if you are in an area with
no cell coverage).
EET must be less than END which must be less than SAR.
POB (Persons on Board) may be set by you to indicate the total number
of people on this trip (including yourself).
ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) is a yes/no field which can be
tapped to set it to Y if needed. You should set this if you have, and
will use, some sort of emergency beacon such as a 406MHz EPIRB or PLB.
Using these beacons is advisable (preferably a distress beacon with
GPS capability) - they have long battery life, reliable detection by
satellite, and you should be known to relevant safety authorities via
After you have filled in all the needed rows in the main PREP table,
you tap 'Next' in the top navigation bar and you will be presented
with the OBSERVERS screen. You will see a list of emails. These emails
will always include your own, as used when you first registered the
app. The other emails will be ones you have selected in one of the
customisation screens associated with the SET tab. You can tap on any
of the emails to select or deselect it. Selected emails are indicated
by a small red tick mark. You must select at least one email, but if
you want a private trip, simply select just your own email.
If you want to add another from your device's email contacts list
(but not shown in the list here)
you will need to go back to the settings to add it,
and then return to this screen (and it will be in the choice list).
After selecting observer(s) you can then tap 'Next' in the top
navigation bar and you will be presented with a simple screen titled
'READY' which has a START button. At this stage, all the PREP details
that define your upcoming trip have been locally stored, and all you
have to do is press the START button to set the start time (for
calculation of the expiry times of EET, END and SAR) and begin the
trip. But until START is pressed, you are free to go back and make
changes to the PREP details.
When you do press the START button, one trip will be deducted
from your trip credits, and you will be presented with the all
important RECORD screen, which has a STOP button and some other
The START button, and the 4 buttons on the RECORD screen, all need a
special long (dit-daah) press. (double tap with hold on 2nd tap). The
special long press will trigger an alert to pop up, for confirmation.
The reason for this is that an accidental press would likely confuse
your trip observer(s). This dit-daah is a bit like Morse code for the
letter A by the way (ie '.-' aka dot dash).
When the RECORD screen is active (ie after START pressed), you can no
longer go backwards to modify your PREP data. Until you do the special long
(dit-daah) press on STOP (vital at trip end!) you can only stay on
that screen, or visit the MAP tab. While you are on the RECORD screen
(or the MAP screen while the trip is in progress), the GPS will be
active and your track will be updated on your device, and there will
also be periodic attempts to update the track on our server, so that
your trip observer(s) will be able to see it mapped in near real time
(subject to cellular conditions, but not needing a constant good
connection). When on this screen, you can turn off the physical
screen, or switch to another foreground app, but you must always
remember to NOT quit our app, and switch back to it to officially
end your trip with a press of STOP.
When you are recording a trip, but temporarily using another app in
foreground, you may note (immediately after switching to the new app) a
system message at the top of the screen which says
"TrackEcho is Actively Using Your Location"
and you will notice the location icon on
that top blue system bar as well, which is a convenient reminder. You
can tap this system bar (if it is showing) to quickly switch back to
When you press the STOP button your trip will end, GPS will be
stopped, and you will be presented with a FINAL screen which simply
shows statistics about the trip. If you tap OK (just a simple tap
here) you will go back to the first screen of the TRACK tab screen set
(with a single PREP button), and all tabs will be visible. One of the
statistics shown is maximum speed - very occasionally, if you travel
slowly in an area of very bad GPS reception (eg in a river gorge,
densely timbered valley, cave, a building with thick solid walls,
especially at start up), the GPS derived speed can be untrustworthy
and may claim to be too fast.
You will note that the buttons for controlling the trip have a
slightly visually different (red) border, to remind you that these are
critical control buttons, with email side effects,
and a "dit-daah" press is needed.
All trips will involve a press of the START and STOP buttons. You will
probably be reminded by 'notifications' if you forget to press the
STOP button and a significant amount of time has passed since expected
trip end etc.
Most trips will only need the STOP and START buttons, but there are 3
other buttons you may use:
When you press this (with the dit-daah press), you will be presented
with a keypad so that you can type in a short message, which will be
included in an email, similar to the start email, sent automatically
to your observer(s). You might use this if you have experienced a
When you press this (with the dit-daah press), the PAUSE button will
be replaced by a RESUME button, which must be similarly pressed at
some time before you STOP the trip. There will be an accompanying
email to your observer(s), but more importantly, GPS tracking will be
suspended until RESUME is pressed. You might use this if you are not
moving for a while, or you do not wish your observer(s) to see your
forthcoming location, or if you want to save battery. When you
eventually press RESUME, another email will be sent. It will be useful
to use PAUSE-RESUME when your trip has a natural break (perhaps to
admire the view, talk, and eat an apple). For much longer breaks you
have a choice of this, or STOP and then START (but the second trip
will require you to fill in the PREP details again, so PAUSE-RESUME
can still be more convenient, and may be simpler for observers). Note
that if you pause a trip, but keep moving, the indication in the trip
summary screen of time MOVING will be an under-estimate.
If you press this (with the dit-daah press), the PANIC button will be
replaced by a RELAX button, which must be similarly pressed at some
time before you can STOP the trip. There will be an accompanying email
to your observer(s). Also, the frequency of attempted server updates
to your location will increase. When you eventually press RELAX,
another email will be sent. Note that pressing PANIC should not be
relied upon in emergencies - the email or position updates will not
get through if there is no network connectivity, and anyway your
observer may not notice the email. There will be a slight increase in
battery usage in 'PANIC'. If you specially want to contact your
observers, you should also attempt to send a regular SMS text message.
The associated emails for PANIC/RELAX are standard but will include an
extra short note that will be something like
"NOTE:ALARM! please note my trip progress."
or "NOTE:RELAX! - trip now progressing normally."
You might consider also sending an UPDATE to explain the situation.