Crew 197 – Special Report on HAL system – Sol 1 – October 22, 2018
HAL was a system created by Judd Reed, a former Director of Engineering of the MDRS project. It consisted of a laptop with a custom software stack which the early MDRS crews used to monitor their bandwidth, plan out EVAs, check the weather, and write their crew reports in a standard format. It was also intended to automate the crew report process.
Over the years, HAL fell into disuse because it was not being actively maintain, and at some point it stopped working and the laptop was lost. Judd Reed provided me the source code of HAL and I attempted to recruit volunteers to revise and maintain it. Several people suggested starting fresh with a Raspberry Pi-based solution using modern technologies. RPi is a very low cost linux-based computer that can run all modern applications and software stacks.
Starting in 2017, I began working with Josh Baldwin, Matt Hopson and (later) Ryan Watson to create a new HAL solution, including both hardware and software. What we have today is a custom-built Raspberry Pi powered touchscreen that will be wall-mounted and also has a standard monitor, keyboard, and mouse plugged into it.
Our crew and future crews can use the HAL system to write their daily reports and also for general productivity such as web browsing and office documents. The wall-mounted display is intended to show the most important information that the crew needs to be successful including their current bandwidth usage, their daily schedule, current time (Mountain and UTC) down to the second, current weather
conditions, and finally notifications from MarsChat which is a new time-delayed chat application we are also testing out as part of Crew 197.
An early concept image of HAL is visible on this Marspedia web page: https://marspedia.org/MDRS:HAL_Development_Log
Future crew reports will have a photo or two of the HAL system in operation.
– James Burk, Executive Officer, MDRS Crew 197