Look4Sat: Satellite tracker - Interview with the developer of a fantastic app

Did you have any prior development or coding experience?

Look4Sat was my first proper full-sized application for Android. I spent about 2 years at the time studying Java and the Android SDK, creating some test apps all while working full-time in private healthcare. So there was no other prior coding experience.

What was the most challenging aspect of developing mobile app?

The most challenging aspect is dealing with a full development cycle. I'm the architect, the designer, the programmer, the support team, and the app user at the same time. Sometimes it's not easy to find a proper balance between those entities. Although it's a very exciting process.

Apart from doing a full-time job in the healthcare industry, Arty Bishop is a self-taught app developer. He built this app to update people on interesting topics of space launches and signal transmission.

Name a few of your favorite apps and reason you love them.

I guess that would be Telegram Messenger and NewPipe. They have a really appealing and simple UI, they are not overloaded with functionality, their code is easily accessible as it's open-source. Also, I can access them via alternative providers or stores like F-Droid.

How long have you been working on this app?

It's been 2 years since the app's first release. The codebase has changed drastically, and I keep constantly revising the internal app structure. It's great to have a project of my own, it's almost like a treasure chest with good (and bad!) practices.

What need of the user did you have in mind when developing this app?

Being a radio and satellite communications geek I needed a simple and efficient satellite tracker that stores all the necessary data locally and works offline. Helps me to stay off-grid. Free, ad-free, and open-source. I haven't found one, so I created one.

In what way do you think your app is better than similar apps on the market? Please describe in detail what innovation you think you bring and what you are proud of in your app.

Look4Sat is completely open-source, there is no any and will never be any ads. It's lightweight (2 MB) and (hopefully) simple to use. No other app has that many satellites in its database (over 3200). It's written with an offline-first approach in mind and doesn't collect any of your personal data. The app is constantly being updated and supported. Oh yeah, and its developer is very friendly.

What are your future plans and expected features of the coming new versions of this app?

Lots of various UI simplifications and improvements, under the hood optimizations, are planned for this year. Notifications feature will be shipped in a foreseeable future. Additional remote antenna control protocols, bug fixes, and so on. So stay tuned...

Assuming new users of your app are reading this page. What do you want to ask them to do (contact you about X, Share the app, etc.)?

Engage in the SATCOM community, study physics and the universe around us. Share your ideas, create issues on GitHub and send me your pull-requests!

Look4Sat: Satellite tracker

About App:
Track satellite passes with ease!

Thanks to the huge database provided by Celestrak and SatNOGS you have access to more than 3000 active satellites orbiting Earth. You can search the entire DB by satellite name or by NORAD catnum.

Satellite positions and passes are calculated relative to your location. To get reliable info make sure to set the observation position using GPS or QTH Locator in the Settings menu.

The application is built using Kotlin, Coroutines, Architecture Components and Jetpack Navigation. It is now and always will be completely ad-free and open-source.

Main features:
- Predicting satellite positions and passes for up to 4 days (96 hours)
- Showing the list of currently active and upcoming satellite passes
- Showing the active pass progress, polar trajectory, and transceivers info
- Showing the satellite positional data, footprint and ground track on a map
- Custom TLE data import is available via files with TXT or TLE extensions
- Offline first: calculations are made offline. Weekly update of TLE data is recommended.

Categories: Tools

Date: February 14, 2022

Developer: Arty Bishop

About developer: Apart from doing a full-time job in the healthcare industry, Arty Bishop is ... Read more

Website: https://github.com/rt-bishop/Look4Sat


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