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RE: How does Trakbox work?

Hi Juan

> So, it isn't so complicated, is it?

Well, no, not to talk about it, it isn't. But when you sit down and do it,
now that's a different story!

Seriously, I can tell you from experience that to develop a device, even a
much simpler device such as my LVB Tracker, involves a lot of time and
sometimes significant expenditure, especially if you are going to develop it
for others to build and use.

For example, the original LVB Tracker was a project that had been swimming
in my head for two year before I picked up a soldering iron and built it. I
invested a few hundred dollars in a C compiler (yes, I could have written it
in assembler, but hey, life's too short!).

Many of the features I wouldn't have bothered doing if it was just for my
use, for example the USB interface, an EasyComm I interface or compatibility
with about ten different host programs. For my own use, there was no need
for the tracker to have its own integrated programmer - I have that
already - but a really frustrating thing about many embedded systems is that
the user has no means to upgrade the firmware in the field. So I
incorporated an integrated programmer in the design, and wrote a program to
upload the firmware from your PC.

I only very rarely design PCBs - I am from an old school that still hand
wires their prototypes - and for one off's for myself I still do exactly
that. Even after hand wiring two or three versions of the LVB Tracker, I
went through three further revisions of PCB before I had zero rework. In the
process, I gave away about twenty five PCBs gratis, as well as building
seven or eight LVB Trackers myself. You can see the time and effort building

I receive around five emails each week requesting support for the device -
and often I have to build specific environments to recreate a given problem.
This can be quite time consuming, but I quite enjoy it.

One final thing - I donated 75 sets of PCBs for AMSAT-UK to sell, so every
time you buy an LVB Tracker PCB you're buying into a future satellite
launch. In addition, a complete set of parts is available and that kit is
collected together by Jules G0NZO. Not to mention the tireless efforts of
Jim G3WGM the AMSAT store keeper.

So no, it's not complicated, but be warned - designing and distributing
tracker hardware will take over your life!

73, Howard G6LVB
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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