Construction of Skybuck's UFO Alert Tool

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Skybuck Flying

Aug 9, 2022, 9:44:03 PMAug 9
Construction of Skybuck's UFO Alert Tool log:

Day 1, 31 july 2022, Scouting if UBER H3 compiles/builds/works and can be used from Delphi, SUCCESS !

Video log of my activities of Day 1:

1.1 UBER H3 library works, it was build with VS 2019, CMAKE GUI was first used and later CMAKE command used to make DLL version.

1.2 Delphi's TDUMP was used to inspect the produced H3 dll library and exported functions.

1.3 VIRUS TOTAL was used to confirm the H3 dll is a PE32+ library which means it's 64 bit.

(1.4 Lazarus/Free Pascal's H2PAS and H2PAS Wizard was tried (twice, different versions) to convert from C to PAS but FAILED to produce anything useable.)

1.5 (Nes's) CHET was used to convert C api headers into Pascal headers some further work will be necessary but it already works and is usefull.

1.6 (Nes's) CLang for Delphi was used to build CHET successfully.

1.7 UBER H3 library/api was loaded into Delphi console application and some simple functions tested OK.

Day 2, 1 august 2022, Implemented H3CellIndex in Delphi which will be superior to C/C++ thanks to Delphi's property language feature ! ;) =D :P*

Video log of my activities of Day 2:

2.1 UBER H3CellIndex implemented in three different versions: 0.01 (fast), 0.02 (resolution range protected), 0.03 (cells integrated into one property)

2.2 Test program written to test UBER H3CellIndex

2.3 Investigated the ammount of pentagons and hexagons, the latter of which is huge, possibly special rendering library needed to handle it.

2.4 Contacted who has a nice geodesic grid rendering engine, it appears it does not yet use or support UBER H3, filled
an issue/request/idea that maybe it might interested him to implement/integrate it (off/after video/live recording):

Day 3, 3 august 2022, Trying to understand H3 indexing/coordinate systems + Investigated possibility of rendering a sphere/earth with OpenGL

Video log of my activities of Day 3:

3.0 Trying to understand how H3 indexing works, it has multiple coordinate systems, it could get quite complex, I don't yet fully grasp the coordinate
systems, so this shall require some more studieing and experimenting.

Further clarifications about coordinate systems may be found here:

3.1 Custom OpenGL was tried, by missing 3D perspective matrices.

3.1.1 Experiment with threaded renderer/opengl, surprisingly it worked somewhat.

First a custom opengl renderer was tried, but I more or less discovered that OpenGL does not seem to apply 3D effect automatically.
To create the 3D effect some kind of perspective matrices must be computed/created which is very boring to do, so I decided to investigate GLScene which
has already implemented all of this.

3.1.2 Investigated the possibility of creating custom 3D perspective matrix, but just boring and waste of time for now, maybe in future.

This man explains how to create those 3D perspective matrices as well as other youtube videos/links.
Basically it's a sign to use GLScene and avoid all that work. However GLScene might throw some exceptions in the future and then maybe a custom renderer
could be tried to avoid that those problems, or hack GLScene instead to fix those exceptions, so far GLScene seems promising.
as well as this:

3.2 Switch to GLScene library which has lots of support classes/components for working with 3D scenes and OpenGL.

3.2.1 Downloading GLScene (I downloaded and used the zip file (GLScene_v2.1_VCL_Win32_Win64) from sourceforge)

3.2.3 Installing GLScene

Following the installation guide/pdf allowed me to install GLScene flawlessly, it is not necessary to copy any DLLs into the windows system folder,
I also highly recommend not to do this. These DLLs if used for for example sound and such should later be distributed with the application anyway.
So it's good to be able to test what the effect would be if the DLLs are missing.
The only real step required to install GLScene is to add the source folder to the library path inside Delphi and then open the GLScene.groupproj
and choose compile all, then per BPL/DT (design time) install it into the Delphi environment, only GLScene_DT needs to be installed to get GLSCene/OpenGL working,
the rest is optional for additional functionality.

3.2.4 Compiling/building GLScene

Delphi compiler is lightning fast and compiled GLScene pretty quickly, in about a minute or less. C/C++ would have taken forever ! LOL
GLScene consists out of at least 2.7 million lines of code. The earth's executable size was still below 4 megabyte which for now for me at least is acceptable.
The GR32 RT (runtime) and DT (design time) BPL did not compile due to missing code for GR32 which is a graphics32 library but this code is not necessary.
Only GLScene RT and DT where installed for now.
Installing and compiling/building GR32/Graphics32 might speed up the application even further, but might also introduce some more complexity and potential for bugs,
but could be tried, the source code was somewhat hard to find, but can be found here:

3.2.5 Testing GLScene thanks to quick start guide
Following this very simple quick start guide proved that GLscene can work:

3.2.6 I came across a "Earth" advanced demo which could be perfect for Skybuck's UFO Alert Tool.

While browsing the GLSCene website and it's demos/examples I came across this "Earth" advance demo which is awesome it even has sky light scattering.


GLScene (version GLScene_v2.1_VCL_Win32_Win64) has a very good advanced demo of Earth and it should be just fine for Skybuck's UFO Alert Tool.
And GLScene is necessary to get some "3D" look, otherwise it would be necessary to implement perspective matrices which is very boring for me to do.
The software rendering mode was tried and does work, it is possible to set it. Though the earth advance demo does produce some integer overflow and
range check errors in software mode. The advanced earth demo renders some sky/light scattering thingy, not sure if this is the cause of it.
Most likely the real cause is some kind of texturing issue and mipmapping issue that might not work so well in software rendering mode.
(I report this issue on github and also on the sourceforge page of GLScene, maybe somebody will fix it, but I doubt it for now.)

Most likely it is possible to re-create this earth demo step by step to see how far it will work in software rendering mode.

(Perhaps an option can be added to switch to software rendering mode for the user, however this should be in some ini file/text based so user can change
it in case of problems starting up the application and/or the software should automatically fall back to software rendering mode in case of problems
however GLScene already claims to do that so should be ok. In my case the GPU is half broken and it did not automatically switch to software rendering mode,
which in my case allowed me to at least run the demo to get some kind of impression on this broken GPU.)

Discovering this advanced demo of Earth and the usage of GLScene will most likely seriously reduce my development time for this UFO Alert Tool.
That is the power of Delphi ! =D Quality code as your fingers tips ! ;) =D

Maybe this will be helpfull in the future perhaps for routing network to figure some things out, for now I include it in this log:

Not sure if this will be usefull, maybe:
HexASCII: a file format for cartographical hexagonal rasters

*New* Construction of Skybuck's UFO Alert Tool Playlist:

Day 4, 5 august 2022, Fixed advanced earth demo for software rendering. Massive fails: Tried to download/load better 3D Earth + Google maps

Video log of my activities of Day 4:

4.0 Even though day 4 ended in a massive fail, it was still an important day. This day I discovered how to fix the software rendering for GLScene.

This is especially handy for the advanced demo: Earth.
In folder:

4.1 Fixing the Advanced Earth Demo for software rendering:

4.1.1. Change GLSceneViewer.Buffer.ContextOptions.roSoftwareMode to true.

4.1.2. Change GLSceneViewer.Buffer.AccumBufferBits from 0 to 8, 16, 24 or 32.

4.1.3. Deleting the flare component from the sun component:

GLScene(right click)->Show Scene Editor->LSSun->GLLensFlare1

Right click->delete object

4.1.4. Disable following two lines in GLScene library unit: GLS.Graphics.pas

for slice := 0 to d - 1 do
// Skybuck: disabled, buggy in software mode
// Build2DMipmap(GetLevelAddress(0), LAddresses, fColorFormat, fDataType,
// AFilter, GetWidth, GetHeight);
for level := 1 to fLevelCount - 1 do
Inc(PByte(LAddresses[level - 1]), GetLevelSizeInByte(level) div d);

4.1.5. Disable the following line in fEarthd.pas:

procedure TForm1.GLSceneViewerBeforeRender(Sender: TObject);
// GLLensFlare1.PreRender(Sender as TGLSceneBuffer);

4.2 A bigger/more detailed Earth 3D model was tried. However it sucked, the 3D model itself was just a sphere with triangles the texture maps
where weird. Most 3D Model sites found with google suck and require payment of money.

4.2.1 Conversion from FBX to OBJ was done:

4.2.2 Difficulty loading MTL into GLScene, FAILED, undocumented, unknown.

4.2.3 Difficulty loading Texture maps into GLScene, not even tried, because of 4.2.2

4.3 Google Earth library 1.5.3 for Delphi was tried. However it cannot be used because Delphi's TWebBrowser component relies on Internet Explorer and
Internet Explorer does not support the javascript api of google earth. Very maybe chromium browser could be used by changing some include file.
Howebver chromium is a different browser than chrome from google. Chromium requires some kind of building of files, way too much work for nothing most likely
so this was not tried.

Day 5, 6 august 2022, Loading JSON file with country coordinates/lines and visualized/converted them to X,Y,Z coordinates on globe, quite awesome !

(Forgot to post this link in day 3 log so for those that missed it here it is):
Video log of my activities of Day 3:

Video log of my activities of Day 5:

5.1 This day was an awesome day, it made me so happy I played the starwars theme song as I completed the mission for this day:

Load the country borders of earth, try to visualize them in GLScene and added bonus, try and convert the coordinates from latitude, longitude to X,Y,Z
3d coordinates on a sphere. Big Success ! JSON was parsed using a library I already had installed and used before:
For easy to use, very powerfull, very fast JSON parser !:

5.1.1 JSON data download for earth country lines:

5.1.2 JSON Parser used:

5.1.3 Explanation of Earth X,Y,Z coordinate system:,_Earth-fixed_coordinate_system

5.1.4. Explanation of lat/long to x,y,z conversion formula:

5.1.5 Converted this python code to Delphi to convert Latitude, Longitude coordinates to X,Y,Z:

5.2 Scaled Earth in Y direction (important to visualize lines better).

I also played a bit with earth scaling options, this is kinda cool, now earth can be a bit more realistic by scaling it in the Y direction slightly,
this also helps to render the lines for the countries better.

5.3 Playing with atmosphere.

I also played a bit with the atmospheric rendering/constants to try and make it look a bit better, using real earth radius and such in km:

5.4 High detail of country lines (10m a little bit slow on software rendering)

I also managed to load a more high detail version of the lines to show the country lines better, this does slow down the renderer a little bit, a slightly
less accurate version could also be tried. So far the 10m seems to be the most accurate. A 50m version could be tried to speed it up a little bit.
(Same link as above, mentioned one more time here ;))

5.5.1 Huge Visible Earth Map (failed to load, too big)

I then proceed to try and download and load a VisibleEarth High Resolution Map (43200x21600) assuming it would simply display and load in glscene.

5.5.2 Windows 7 System Crash, and Image/Photo/Graphics Software Failures

Boy was I in for a surprise: Not only did windows 7 completely crash and restart, GLScene/Delphi also fails to load it because TBitmap cannot handle this size,
All other software I tried also failed: paint,, glassimage, gimp and photoviewer. All for different reasons, mostly out of memory reasons or 3D issues.

So unfortunately the day ended in another mass fail, but good progress was made ! ;)
(I didn't see the crash of windows 7 because I bailed to my bed to rest lol, but when I came back the system had rebooted and I checked the system log):
Bugcheck: 0x00000018 (0x0000000000000000, 0xfffffa8005fe0570, 0x0000000000000002, 0xffffffffffffffff)

There were some other peculiar thing in the system log, like the firmware limitting certain processors, possibly system getting to hot.
Main cause of crash seems to be failure of system to respond in time, possibly caused by out of memory situation.
I checked the youtube stream nothing is visible on it concerning the crash lol. It would be diserably to have a seperate system for live streaming
to catch these crashes lol, not that it matters that much, just a funny thing to see/notice, but could also be used to attack windows systems !

Day 6, 9 august 2022, Provinces and Hexagon World

Video log of my activities of Day 6:

6.1. Provinces was tried/implemented, however there is a backface culling issues with the input data (version 4).
I have found the original source which might have a better version, version 5, issues also reported on multiple sites, however the original source
uses a different format, no JSON is available, but dbf is available dbase database file format which can be handled by Delphi.
Original source of data seems to be:

6.2. Hexagon world implemented by using the UBER H3 library. It isn't completely perfect yet, but already looks pretty good. Still trying to wrap my head around it.

To solve the problem with the provinces two hexagon worlds could be created. One for zooming, and one which describes the "ground" of earth and it's provinces
and/or countries. This could be done with UBER H3 compression technique where large parts are covered with large hexagons and smaller ones with little ones.
However for routing purposes it would probably be better to main the same size, but for visualization purposes this compression might help.

Possibilities for further research is either zooming functionality where level of detail is adjusted as user zoom in closer. Or a selection technique
where only the selected hexagon to user is pointing towards is zoomed in... which would be a cool/funny technique maybe ! ;)

Now that hexagon grid is working, more time should be spent on the networking and gui design of ufo alert tool and the routing of messages and/or broadcast
messages to alert people of the presence of a ufo, especially if within their region. Plus perhaps also some time on some kind of server based/algorithm
to distribute the initial peers to the main hexagons or so and perhaps further research into "leader" selection per (main) hexagon or so...

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