PocketSat and PocketSat+ Data Sources

[At the moment, PocketSat+ for PalmOS uses normal PocketSat import databases, and so this is still the place for data and tools. This may change in the future, but I'll be sure to let you know.]

[And another thing: Check out the new BigFatTail support forums for more info about PocketSat and PocketSat+.]

Satellite orbits are always changing, so it is necessary to periodically update your PocketSat data. Actually I'm not all that sure how the predictions degrade with time, but I find that I have generally have no problem using month-old data for naked-eye observation.

Ready-to-use PalmOS Data

For your (and my) convenience, I have set up a perl script that periodically fetches TLE ephemeris data from a couple of my favorite satellite observation web sites and converts it into PocketSat for PalmOS input databases. These can then be downloaded using your web browser and loaded right into PocketSat:

bullet 100 (or so) Brightest Satellites. This list, currently containing data for about 150 satellites, is maintained by Jay Respler and can be found at www.celestrak.com
bullet 50 Bright Satellites. This smaller list is maintained by Rainer Kracht and can be found at his web site. It is of particular interest because it contains orbital data for American spy satellites that is not published by the US government.
bullet AMSAT Bulletin. This is AMSAT's list of satellites of interest to radio amateurs.
bullet Alain De Carolis' Data. This amazing site (not mine) is pretty much a mirror of all of Celestrak, but in PocketSat format. Wow.

Pocket PC Data

Since you can copy a normal text file onto a Pocket PC, PocketSat+ for Pocket PC doesn't have a special import format. In the interest of being "parallel", however, here are links to the TLE files used to create the PalmOS databases listed above. Download them by right clicking and choosing "Save Target As" (or however you do it using your particular browser):

bullet 100 (or so) Brightest Satellites. This list, currently containing data for about 150 satellites, is maintained by Jay Respler and can be found at www.celestrak.com
bullet 50 Bright Satellites. This smaller list is maintained by Rainer Kracht and can be found at his web site. It is of particular interest because it contains orbital data for American spy satellites that is not published by the US government.
bullet AMSAT Bulletin. This is AMSAT's list of satellites of interest to radio amateurs. Be careful, however: this file has a header at the top which must be removed before importing. I guess I oughta figure out how to get PocketSat+ to ignore it...

Other TLE Data Sources

There are several places where you can find up-to-date TLE data files for a wide variety of satellites and types of satellites. Here are a few of them:

bullet Celestrak This site, maintained by Dr. TS Kelso, contains a large number of data sets, both current and historical.
bullet VSOHP The Visual Satellite Observer's Home Page contains several data sets.
bullet NASA Spacelink Look here for ephemeris data for current Space Shuttle missions. Be careful, though: because the Shuttle often performs maneuvers, ephemeris data for shuttle flights is only useful for a very short period of time. You can sign up to automatically receive email containing TLE data during Shuttle missions.

GetTLE

Andreas Schneider has written a really cool utility that allows people with Palm Pilots that can connect to the Internet to import text TLE files directly into PocketSat. It's free, too. Get it at his web site.

Other Tools

Once you've downloaded a TLE data file, you need to get it into your Palm Pilot. One way to do this is to create a memo containing the data (remember that it must start with a title line), HotSync it to your Pilot, and use PocketSat's "Import from Memo" feature. Unfortunately, memos are limited to 4K of text, which is only enough for 15 satellites or so. For larger amounts of data, you will want to create a PocketSat Input Database and HotSync it to your Pilot just as you would any .PDB or .PRC file.

Here are some tools to convert TLE files into input databases:

bullet tle2pdb.c - This is a simple C program which should compile on pretty much any system. [C Source] [Windows console exe]
bullet tle2pdb.pl - This is a perl program to do the same thing. [Perl Source]