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Author Topic: Early beta of satellite tracking chat room  (Read 3480 times)

Posts: 12

« on: November 14, 2014, 04:41:02 AM »


There is an early version of a chat-room + satellite tracker I am testing at this web address:

I am looking for some hams  to help test it or provide feedback. 

It is not yet as full featured as satellite tracking software.

The idea is that two, or several, users could text while they are listening to the satellites or waiting for them to come back around
the Earth.  On some satellites like SO-50 there isn't a chance to chat much.   

Although it is commercially hosted as opposed to served out of the basement, be aware the satchat site may not always be up when I'm tweaking it.

73 Paul KI6CQ


Posts: 12

« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2014, 03:35:26 AM »



Posts: 1

« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2014, 02:41:52 PM »

Hi Paul,

If you need to pay money from your own pocket for the site to host the satellite chat AMSAT can offer free space on our servers. If you are running on a similar platform as our web server (i.e Linux Apache MySQL PHP) we could host it. Once beta testing is completed what would you think of running as something like I tried the beta site and it looks good already.

73 de JoAnne K9JKM
AMSAT VP User Services


Posts: 12

« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2014, 03:57:11 AM »

I'm glad you like it and would probably be a worthwhile place for it to be to attract traffic.

Server cost is not an issue, as it currently shares space with other projects.  A CNAME DNS entry could be created by AMSAT so that the name "" points to a server that the chat maintainers completely control.  This is the modern way to delegate operations such as this.  The old way of collecting programs on a single server can lead to delays over system admin tasks, explaining and documenting what is to be done, etc, that can be dispensed with in a simpler hobbyist environment. 

The underlying system is Linux, but it is not apache/PHP.  The technology stack is Linux/NGINX/MeteorJS/MongoDB/Predict (yes, the old Linux text-based predictor runs under the hood and gets dumped to the database) and is more flexible for building real time systems such as chat.  Meteor has also made a reputation as a new way to do rapid prototyping of web apps, see:

I believe it can be made reasonably secure, and low-maintenance, except for certain human factors -- for which "control operators" or moderators could be worthwhile to watch for the occasional riff-raff.

Also, I have ideas for several features which I haven't put into code yet, like a tool to figure out skeds between two people, or a tool for DX to announce when they might be on.  Cooperative/competitive map building for the weather sats.  It is possible to make a fair (but not great) weather sat map collector with a $20 usb dongle, completely free (and hackable) software, PVC end cap turnstile antenna, and $100 Linux pc and no ham license whatsoever (and thus, a kids/beginner project kit might be born).  Occasionally the fair setup makes nice pictures, that with some filters might be uploaded somewhere automatically.  Imagine 20-30 hobbyists doing that effortlessly. It could even catch on.  Libraries of sound recordings of the ham birds is a little more expensive but not that much harder, and is certainly also doable.

Anyway, I suggest we followup by email and see where this goes. 

73 Paul KI6CQ

Posts: 250

« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2014, 07:31:45 AM »

Paul, thinking of "desired options" for such a chat page, I am wondering if there might be a way to allow for someone to 'text' a message into the chat or better yet, twitter. The reason I ask that is because there are a number of stations that do a lot of rover work and they have moved to twitter to announce their locations, etc. as opposed to a list getting private text messages. Myself, by agreement with "she who must be pleased", am not on twitter or any social media. (She is a school teacher and you cannot imagine the problems that teachers here have gotten into because of social media postings.) So while I can go and watch their twitter page without having an account, having their messages post to the chat room as an "announcement" would be great. Something like any tweet to @satchat showing up there.

Also, if you are looking for ideas for other features, you might take a look at the ON4KST chat pages. They are used worldwide for 6m and low band skeds and chat. Very useful and very popular.

In the meantime, I'll be quietly waiting over here and watching...  Grin  I'm currently in the process of getting my sat station up and running.

(For anyone that might be curious, I've started posting my efforts to a blog:

73, Kevin N4UFO

Posts: 12

« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2014, 05:46:32 AM »


The tweet in would be convenient to some people.  Actually, twitter is fine for a chat app and not reinventing the wheel.

Downsides are extra complexity, potential for abuse,  and one way nature.  Not saying it won't happen but some other things need to happen too.

I didn't know about ON4KST.  My inspiration for satchat was pingjockey, a site for meteor scatter enthusiasts to chat while in the somewhat tedious process of looking for weak signals
with K1JT's software and the use of a simple text chat server during the North Fulton Amateur Repeater Club net.  It sure beats sitting there quietly listening to stuff you've heard elsewhere
or while waiting for a particular part of the net.

73, Paul KI6CQ


Posts: 672

« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2014, 09:54:52 AM »

Looks good. Might be nice to add some prediction capability, since you already have our location and you're using gpredict. Maybe just a simple 1 line "up next" with countdown to AOS.
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