I bought a cheap micro-B-USB-to-normal-USB-receptacle adapter for my Android tablet, so now I can enjoy the peculiar experience of using a tablet with a mouse. Surprisingly, it supports it “out of the box” – no extra software is necessary and a little mouse pointer just appears on the screen. I guess my keyboard will work, too. Surprisingly, the adapter also apparently allows me to use normal USB flash drives, too. The only problem is that this version of Android limits write access to external storage.

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Migrating to Xubuntu

I’ve migrated my netbook’s Ubuntu installation to Xubuntu. The main reason is that Unity requires 3D acceleration that my netbook’s Intel card could not provide, so everything ran with software rendering. This wasn’t a major problem, but if I want a shiny-but-sluggish OS I could boot Windows (literally – the netbook came pre-installed with Windows 7).

I did it without reinstalling from scratch, just by installing/removing packages. So far it seems to work, but hunting down the last remnants of Unity and Gnome will take some time.

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I am still alive

I am still alive. The previous few months have been… interesting. My head starts hurting when I try to imagine how much catching-up with Stellarium I’ll have to do.

A picture of the building of the Mathematics and Informatics Faculty of the Shumen University:


Yes, that’s a telescope dome on the roof. The main building of the uni (outside of the picture, to the right) looks better.

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Cheap binoculars + cheap camera = ?

Cheap binoculars + cheap camera = ?

Both the binoculars† and the camera‡ were handheld, with no adapter.

† Bresser 10×50, with no model name and no visible coating on the optics (O_o)
‡ My old Nicon Coolpix L10 (yes, it’s very old).

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There’s about zero interest in the Joystick plug-in, so that’s on hold for now, unless as an outlet for my own amusement (an learning git). People seem to be interested in gamepads only as a means for telescope control, which is out of the project scope. (For a start, because the Telescope Control plug-in doesn’t support “pulse guiding” anyway.) I didn’t publicize the project well, anyway – a single forum thread is not quite “known far and wide”.

There are a number of things I am supposed to be doing on Stellarium, but life and relatives interfered. (This Sunday is Easter in Bulgaria.) An incomplete list:

  • Cleanup/rewrite of the Satellites plug-in for better handling of updates, adding/removing satellites, handling magnitude data and the “realistic mode” simulation and infrastructure for easier transition to alternative GUIs. Oh, and fixing some outstanding bugs.
  • The location-dependent time-zone feature, which involves cleanup of the delta-T code, which involves a rewrite of the delta-T calculation methods handling. Only the last last part is partially done.
  • The Joystick plug-in prompted me to look at the Text User Interface plug-in (as a potential joystick-friendly menu). Let’s just say that some parts of it need a smarter implementation…
  • I need to copy-edit a lot of the strings added in the development version. English is not the first language of most active developers, and it shows.
  • I need to review Alex Wolf’s mouse coordinates plug-in and merge it…
Posted in Stellarium | Comments Off on Status

Stellarium Joystick plug-in 0.1.0

The first release of the joystick/gamepad plug-in for Stellarium I mentioned before is ready. An installer compatible with Stellarium 0.12.4 is available at the project’s Releases page at GitHub:


From the README/release notes:

At this stage of development:
– the plug-in supports only one controlling device. If there are more than one
connected to the system, it will pick the first indexed by SDL.
– all controls are hard-coded. Customization is planned for the future.

Joystick controls:
– the first two axes are assumed to be the X and Y axes and pan the view
– the third axis (throttle? yaw?), if present, controls zoom
– any hat switches, if present, pan the view
– button 1 (trigger?) toggles the mount mode (between alt-azimuth and
– holding down button 2 allows finer movement when panning and zooming,
similar to holding down SHIFT when using the keyboard.

Gamepad controlls:
– the left analog stick (if present) pans the view
– vertical axis of the right analog stick (if present) controls zoom
– direction buttons pan the view
– the button quartet on the right side:
+ the bottom button (X-cross or A) toggles the mount mode
+ holding down the right button (Circle or B) allows finer movement
+ the left button (Square or X) returns to the default zoom
+ the top bottom (Triangle or Y) returns to the current time, which is
necessary, because…
– the left shoulder button slows down time, the right one speeds it up

I’ve also started an annoucement/feedback thread at the Cloudy Nights forums. Let’s see what kind of feedback I’ll get.

I should have done this five days ago, but several circumstances and my own tendency to procrastinate delayed it until now.

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On Github (and joysticks/gamepads for Stellarium)

Now you can also find my poorly thought-out code on Github:

The only project there so far is a work in progress: a plug-in that will allow controlling Stellarium with a joystick or gamepad instead of a mouse. (Of course, you’ll still need a keyboard if you want to use all the hotkeys, unless you have one of those exotic gamepads with a full QWERTY keyboard.)

Since it introduces an external dependency (on SDL, for multi-platform joystick support), I’ve decided to implement it as a dynamic plug-in distributed separately from Stellarium. As a side effect, this may result in changes that will make dynamic plug-in development easier, such as creating a “development package” for Stellarium (a “stellarium-dev” for those familiar with Unix naming schemes).

Since this adds more to my already well-padded Stellarium work list, don’t expect miracles. After the initial enthusiasm abates, I’ll treat it as a task to turn to when I get stuck somewhere else. (On a second thought, I treat all my Stellarium tasks that way, so it won’t be an exception.)

Posted in Plug-ins, Programming, Stellarium | Comments Off on On Github (and joysticks/gamepads for Stellarium)

Moving a 100 ton telescope with Stellarium (Video)

One can find interesting things in their Inbox when they bother to check their e-mail. Such as the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on Mauna Kea.

Posted in Stellarium, Videos | Comments Off on Moving a 100 ton telescope with Stellarium (Video)

Location Window: time zone controls

I’m supposed to be working on Stellarium’s time zone support. The only work so far is on what I should have left for the end: the GUI.

I need to cram somehow three radio buttons, a spin box, a drop-down list and the label that describes the whole group in the existing window, while keeping it simple. The best I could come up with so far:

A screenshot of an experimental layout of Stellarium's Location Window.

One of the advantages of putting the name field at the top is that it puts it at the top of the tab order, solving some of the problems we had (and still have) with changing focus when certain controls are disabled. The internal logic of the window will also have to be overhauled anyway, though. 😦

Posted in Screenshots, Stellarium | Comments Off on Location Window: time zone controls

Back to regular Stellarium development?

I’m back home. I was hoping that I can use my limited free time to work on Stellarium, but I’m getting severely unpleasant feelings even thinking of all the stuff I’ll have to do. Burn out? Or I just need some rest?

Rest is probably a good idea anyway.

Posted in Venting | Comments Off on Back to regular Stellarium development?