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Satellite Tracker program needs a new home

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#1 CharlesC

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 12:04 PM

In the past I've used Satellite Tracker program to track ISS and satellites real-time with LX200 with great success. The site is located [here].   A few years ago the orignal author sold it.  The current owner is now aging and is looking to pass it to another willing to improve upon it.  The owner sent out a message to all his users informing of his retirement.  Hopefully, someone out there is willing to continue on with this aging but very useful software. Software can be downloaded for free [here] but you have to register first to see download.  Here is the message I received from author:

 

 

I am sending this message to all users of the Satellite Tracker Forum.

 

I have decided to put up for sale the Satellite Tracker Project as I am now 71 years old and just don't have the time anymore. My health is deteriorating and it is best if I pass this project on to someone who will continue the development and servicing of the members. When I speak of selling, my goal is to unload everything so the next person can carry on the torch with the Website, the Forum, and the source code along with all documentation and the like. That means that the source code for the Website, Forum, and the Source code for the application along with all documentation is one package.

 

Here is what will be included in the sale:

1. Source code for the Satellite Tracker Application
2. Source code for adding ASCOM. This has been tested standalone and is working but not integrated into the Satellite Tracker Applications source code yet
3. The development environment which uses Powerbasic compiler - the compiler is included
4. The installation environment for delivery of the software to users
5. I was porting the Satellite Tracker application software over to Visual Studio 2010. This was farmed out via Odesk and a developer in India was doing the development work. The GUI conversion was completed and all I had to do was integrate the code into the GUI.
6. All source code for the website
7. All the source code for the Forum
8. Transfer of the domain name heavenscape.com to you. This holds the Satellite Tracker website and forum code.
9. Transfer all of the development data in a directory called Sattrkr which contains multiple subdirectories and occupies 9.33 Gb of data. This main directory contains everything associated with Satellite Tracker.
10. Transfer of the Yahoo Group https://groups.yahoo...rsations/topics to you
11. Transfer of the Yahoo group https://groups.yahoo...SatTracker/info to you
12. Transfer of the Groups.io https://groups.io/g/SatelliteTracker/ to you - this group has not yet been activated
13. Transfer all of the links to various Satellite Tracker information via Internet Explorer 11 Favorites structure
14. I had a developer via Odesk from India redo my website. I have not presented that yet live. I will include all of the software for the new website.
15.  I use OE Classic (Outlook Express Classic) for my email provider - https://www.oeclassic.com/. I will provide you with all of the emails associated with the Satellite Tracker project which occupies approximately 1.47 Gb of data
16.  Links are provided in the IE 11 favorites structure for various websites used by Satellite Tracker. I also have joined many Yahoo groups and other websites associated with various telescopes and you will be able to see which ones there are via the IE 11 favorites and various subdirectories in the email structure.

I also have a lot of hardware that I could also sell as a separate sale. If anyone is interested in the hardware I will send you a list of what would be included. The hardware will only be sold if the software listed above is sold. A nice discount will be given if someone buys both the software and hardware.

I think this just about covers it. If I missed anything I will be sure to let you know.

Regards,

John Eccles <heavenscape@heavenscape.com>


Edited by CharlesC, 23 July 2019 - 12:07 PM.


#2 555aaa

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 02:20 PM

Thanks for posting. I'll contact the owner but don't hold your breath.



#3 BarryBrown

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 11:20 PM

Unfortunately there weren't enough donations from the users of the application, so the current owner is just going to shutter the website and software. 

 

http://www.heavensca...opicseen#msg455



#4 t_image

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Posted 09 September 2019 - 07:01 AM

"Basically, it looks like there is very little interest in this software based on the response of donations I received........................It looks like the remaining members feel that making a $20 donation is not worth doing so for whatever reason and are just content letting this application die out."

 

It's sad the second owner of the software thought that it would be a successful business venture being such a niche item.

 

CN poster ngchunter has demonstrated that writing other tracking software is possible:

https://www.cloudyni...llite-tracking/

 

https://github.com/A...iveYt/SatTraker


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#5 CharlesC

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Posted 09 September 2019 - 07:39 AM

Unfortunately there weren't enough donations from the users of the application, so the current owner is just going to shutter the website and software. 

 

http://www.heavensca...opicseen#msg455

We'll see if he lets software go open source or not.  It would be a shame if that didn't happen. 

It was a great program and I'm sure someone would update it.


Edited by CharlesC, 09 September 2019 - 07:40 AM.


#6 NGC3031

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 08:48 AM

Too bad he's not releasing the source, I was looking forward to implementing the supported mounts in my software.



#7 ikarageo

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 10:46 PM

I would like to add my 2 cents about this as well.

I was a member of the Satellite Tracker forum (heavenscape.com). At some point I asked John Eccles (the owner) if he would consider releasing the source code of the program, since the development had been stalled for so many years and the program seemed dead. He asked me if I would be interested in buying it and gave me an offer of $19000! I was not interested at all in buying any software or forums but continued the discussion anyway so that I explain how excessively high that price was. I communicated my arguments as to why this sounds like a joke. I suggested him to think of a reasonable price and ask people in the forum to chip in so that he can release the program (which he eventually did). After this discussion, he made me another offer for $4500 this time! This shows how preposterous the first offer was. Seems like he tries to find someone "naive" (to avoid using a different word) to make some money. We did not agree to the second offer either. Eventually I told him that I will be better off developing my own tracker software, rather than paying money for a program that I consider antiquated*. After a couple of months, when I showed him my first tracker demo (1-2 weeks before he announced the fundraiser) and asked for some feedback and ideas for collaboration, he turned aggressive, telling me that I am a competitor, seized every communication and deleted my profile from the forum.

 

* The main reason I consider it antiquated is that it is developed in PowerBASIC, a Microsoft proprietary 32bit compiler. I consider this to be a bad idea. The software will be bound to Windows and to 32 bits forever. It would need quite some effort to port it to a better language.

 

Good luck to the next owner and I wish he/she will continue the development and bring the program to modern standards.  

 

I.K.


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#8 john10906

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Posted 08 October 2019 - 04:49 PM

I would like to add my 2 cents about this as well.

I was a member of the Satellite Tracker forum (heavenscape.com). At some point I asked John Eccles (the owner) if he would consider releasing the source code of the program, since the development had been stalled for so many years and the program seemed dead. He asked me if I would be interested in buying it and gave me an offer of $19000! I was not interested at all in buying any software or forums but continued the discussion anyway so that I explain how excessively high that price was. I communicated my arguments as to why this sounds like a joke. I suggested him to think of a reasonable price and ask people in the forum to chip in so that he can release the program (which he eventually did). After this discussion, he made me another offer for $4500 this time! This shows how preposterous the first offer was. Seems like he tries to find someone "naive" (to avoid using a different word) to make some money. We did not agree to the second offer either. Eventually I told him that I will be better off developing my own tracker software, rather than paying money for a program that I consider antiquated*. After a couple of months, when I showed him my first tracker demo (1-2 weeks before he announced the fundraiser) and asked for some feedback and ideas for collaboration, he turned aggressive, telling me that I am a competitor, seized every communication and deleted my profile from the forum.

 

* The main reason I consider it antiquated is that it is developed in PowerBASIC, a Microsoft proprietary 32bit compiler. I consider this to be a bad idea. The software will be bound to Windows and to 32 bits forever. It would need quite some effort to port it to a better language.

 

Good luck to the next owner and I wish he/she will continue the development and bring the program to modern standards.  

 

I.K.

I feel that I have to defend myself against what I.K. wrote since he is effectively slandering me. The $19,000 price tag represents the value that I have invested in this project that would allow me to approach a break even point. For me, this was not a business purchase but was a hobby purchase to keep me fresh and up to date with technology since I just retired as a hardware, firmware, software design and development Engineer holding a BSE EE degree. Money was not a problem for me as I worked very hard all my life and have significant savings.  Many, many hours were put in to this project over the years in an effort to ready it for improvements. Actual cash outlays included $5000 for the purchase of the source code, $4500 for the purchase of the website heavenscape.com, $1500 spent on a developer thru Odesk to convert the GUI written in Powerbasic over to the GUI written in Visual Basic 10 (Visual Studio 2010), $1500 spent on a developer thru Odesk to totally revamp the Satellite Tracker website which has not yet gone live since there are some minor things that need to be done to it, $1000 spent on ASCOM development work, $2000 spent on setting up the forum, time spent extracting all of the original Yahoo Group messages (approximately $1000 in equivalent time), time spent on modularizing the source code from four modules containing the majority of the code (26000 lines of code) to 36 modules (approximately $3000 in equivalent time), time spent researching using EzGUI to develop the GUI, time spent making up a new Yahoo group, a lot of time spent communicating with the users for improvements to the application which includes a list of approximately 30 or more items that users are requesting with each item documented, time spent maintaining the forum where it started out with one member (me) to currently where it is now at over 1500 members and many, many hours researching. I did not detail my expenditures when I proposed that price. If someone thought that price was unreasonable they could have asked me for a justification. I.K. did not ask for justification but just concluded all on his own that I was trying to rip someone off. That is drawing a conclusion (incorrect) without having any facts. The very complex algorithm that make Satellite Tracker work is already coded in the source and porting it over to another Basic compiler is not all that hard to do. It just takes time. However, there is no guarantee that, once ported over, that it will run properly. That is where the fun begins in debugging it. A 32 bit program can easily run on a 64 bit OS with no problems. The Satellite Tracker application is running under many Win 10 machines with no problem. There are so many 32 bit programs out there that 32 bit programs will be supported for a long time to come.

 

The second offer to I.K. was made at $4500 because I believed he would have been a good candidate to take over the project and that seemed to be his limit of the purchase price. Was I taking a great loss - yes I was but it is what it is. Then I.K. was telling me his wife was totally against it and that his wife would be sort of okay at a price of $3000.  I was indicating that the $1500 difference could be paid over time. Then things started getting complicated about the purchase for which I won't get in to and then I retracted the offer.

 

Once the offer was retracted then I.K. decided that he was going to write his own Satellite Tracker Application and started writing it and asking me to take a look at it. At this point I felt that it would be inappropriate for me to critique his software as he was now becoming a competitor. Eventually I felt that it would be best for I.K. to branch out and away from me since I was not really interested in supporting him to compete against all of my hard work. So I cut him loose from my forum since I did not want him to start using all of my documentation and application in a reverse engineering effort. I did not turn aggressive - I just removed him from the forum - which I believe anyone with a rationale mind would do the same thing in order to protect their investment. It had nothing to do with his work. What he did was very, very basic movement of his mount via his program. I don't have the time to deal with his development.

 

On another note, PowerBasic is not antiquated. It is a very powerful compiler and produces extremely small and stand alone (no libraries or DLL's needed) executable which run very fast and is a perfect match for running the math intensive Satellite Tracker Application.. Take a look at the website and forum for PowerBasic and you will see the activity. A 64 bit version of the compiler is in the works but has been slowed down because the PowerBasic developer has passed away and another company purchased PowerBasic.

 

At this point I am not sure what I am going to do with this project. I am still maintaining the forum and have been providing support via the forum or via private messaging.


Edited by john10906, 08 October 2019 - 04:50 PM.

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#9 Cali

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 09:39 PM

"PowerBASIC, a Microsoft proprietary 32bit compiler". 

 

Not quiet. Its owned by PowerBASIC Inc. The compiler only supports Microsoft Windows using a BASIC syntax expanded to include many Windows functions, and the statements can be combined with calls to the Windows API. Microsoft itself has nothing to do with the product. 

 

PowerBASIC was formerly Borland International's Turbo Basic which was formerly Basic/Z. You can read about the lineage here

 

I don't remember Turbo Basic but I lived on Borland's Turbo C. Borland had great tools (integrated development environments which included compilers, debuggers, profilers, editors) for under 100 dollars, a price unheard of back in the day. 

 

I can understand the author's statement, "It is a very powerful compiler and produces extremely small and stand alone (no libraries or DLL's needed) executable which run very fast ..." I'll bet its quick to develop apps with this software too. There was a time when that was important. Now what's used is mostly whatever language is in vogue this week. If your code is too slow and bloated you can just throw more hardware at the problem, the stuff is so cheap. I would be surprised if there is anyone making a living programming today who knows what Basic is, or Cobol, or Pascal or ...  

 

Sorry to hear about Satellite Tracker.

 

- Cal


Edited by Cali, 13 October 2019 - 09:51 PM.


#10 ikarageo

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 10:02 PM

"Its owned by PowerBASIC Inc"

 

That's right. I was not clear, my bad. What I meant is "Microsoft-bound" proprietary compiler.
I would disagree with "It is a very powerful compiler" though. 

 

I.K.


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#11 Cali

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 10:31 PM

"Its owned by PowerBASIC Inc"

 

That's right. I was not clear, my bad. What I meant is "Microsoft-bound" proprietary compiler.
I would disagree with "It is a very powerful compiler" though. 

 

I.K.

Agreed, "powerful" is a subjective term. Maybe good if used as a scripting tool for a quick and dirty, proof of concept.

 

- Cal


Edited by Cali, 13 October 2019 - 10:32 PM.



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