You may have already seen tooltips in the Gpredict user interface. I have made extensive use of them for providing short description of the functionality of the GUI controls all over the application. Lately, I have felt a desire to extend the usage of tooltips to also include graphical objects like satellites shown on the map or the passes shown in the “Sky at a glance” module.
Gpredict uses GooCanvas for graphics, which adds a the “missing” 2D canvas library to Gtk+. Since version 0.15 GooCanvas includes support for Gtk+-like tooltips for any objects on the canvas. This is really great since it simplifies the effort from messing with own popup windows to using single line API calls.
I’m sorry to report that despite coordinated efforts between Japanese and European teams we have not been able to receive any signal from UNITEC-1 over Europe. Japanese ground stations were able to receive both the orbit determination downlink and the major/minor data downlink during the first pass after launch; however, the signal has been lost during the first mission day sometime between LOS over Japan and AOS over Europe.
Yesterday was day 2 where we were repairing the broken Azimuth rotator and making a small 90cm dish ready to track UNITEC-1 on 5.84 GHz. Actually, we already fixed the rotator on Monday but we ended up mounting it 180° off and we decided to fix it properly instead of just correcting it in software.
Fixing the orientation of the Azimuth rotoator was very quick – it took only 17 minutes to get up to the mast, lift the antenna construction, change the orientation of the rotator and fasten the nuts and bolts again. We had the practice from yesterday.
Next item on the agenda was to make a small helix with two turns to feed the 90cm dish so that we can use this smaller dish for tracking UNITEC-1 in the beginning of the interplanetary cruise. We found some online helical antenna calculator to generate the design but that was more than 1 GHz off and it took a lot of tweaking and tuning to get it close to 5.8 GHz. Here are the results, photos and videos.
As you probably already know the UNITEC-1 launch got scrubbed today (17th May). Fortunately, there is a launch window every day for the next few weeks.
During the last few days I learned that tracking UNITEC-1 will be very difficult because the available trajectory data can be very uncertain. Therefore, we decided to use a smaller antenna with wider beam width in the first few days after launch. One option was to mount the IKEA dish to piggyback the 7m dish, another option was to use a 90cm dish which is currently equipped with a 2.4 GHz feed. We decided to go for the second option.
Now that I have Ubuntu 9.04 runnign on my Asus Eee PC 701 it was very easy to get Gpredict up and running. After a few configuration tweaks related to the views it runs and looks very well even on this small 800×480 pixel display!