Open Beta Versions

Version 1.55 Open Beta

Version 1.55 of InstantTrack, released May 12, 2002, adds a couple of minor features and corrects a couple of minor bugs:

Version 1.54 of InstantTrack, released January 29, 2002, adds a feature to limit the column width of printouts and file captures, via a setting in IT.INI (see ITINIDOC.TXT for details). It also changes the date format on the multi-day schedule from the confusing "01/02" to the unambiguous "Jan 02".

Version 1.53 of InstantTrack, released January 5, 2002, fixes a bug in the ephemeris table display, where the first line of the first pass was always displayed with an elevation of 0.

Version 1.52 of InstantTrack, released August 10, 2001, fixed a small bug introduced in version 1.51.

Version 1.51 of InstantTrack was the first open beta upgrade to InstantTrack 1.50, released August 1, 2001. Here are the main improvements:


  1. Obtain a licensed copy of InstantTrack 1.50, if you don't already have one. Get it now!.
  2. Install InstantTrack 1.50, if you haven't already.
  3. Save a backup copy of your original IT150.EXE distribution file, just in case. (If you don't have it anymore, just copy everything in your InstantTrack directory (usually C:\IT) to a safe place.)
  4. If you have customized the IT.INI configuration file, save a backup copy of it for reference.
  5. Download the InstantTrack 1.55 Upgrade distribution file.
  6. Run IT155UP.EXE you just downloaded, and allow it to overwrite files in the same directory where you installed InstantTrack 1.50.
  7. If necessary, edit your IT.INI file and restore any customizations you need (refer to the copy you saved above).
  8. That's it!


What is an "Open Beta"?

As Franklin and then I developed InstantTrack versions from 0.00 to 1.50, we used a traditional beta-testing scheme. That is, we asked a select group to pre-test each new release prior to the public release, in the faint hope that we would catch all the bugs before you could see them. That worked very well, and we are all indebted to the beta test teams. However, it does take time and it's a hassle for everybody, so starting with version 1.51 I'm going to try a different, more casual, approach.

When I come up with some changes and have satisfied myself that they are probably working OK, I will go ahead and post them here. You will then have a choice. You can continue to use the released version (currently 1.50) if it meets your needs. Or, you can live on the bleeding edge by downloading the newest open beta version and testing it yourself. If you find a problem, you can always re-install 1.50 (you did make a safe backup copy of IT150.EXE, didn't you?).

You still need a licensed copy of InstantTrack 1.50 to start with. Get it now! Once you've installed InstantTrack 1.50, you can download the open beta version and install it. This replaces some of the files from 1.50 with newer versions (and replaces some of the old bugs with brand-new ones).

From time to time I may promote an open beta version to be the new official released version. When that happens, new licensees of InstantTrack will automatically receive that version from then on. Existing licensees will still be able to download the upgrade.

Questions & Answers

What does it cost?

The upgrade from 1.50 to any open beta version in the 1.xx series is free. You must already have a licensed copy of version 1.50.

I can't believe it's free!

If you feel the need, you're still welcome to send a little extra donation to the AMSAT organization of your choice.

What if I have problems with it?

As usual with software written by volunteers, you get no promises. However, I will try to help you with any problems you can't solve on your own. First, please look through all the InstantTrack support pages and see if you can find the solution to your problem. If you still need help, please send me an email message ( with a complete description of the problem you're having. I'll try to help.

If it's a problem with the software, I should be able to fix it and release a new open beta version relatively quickly. Famous last words.

What if I still have problems? (Downgrading to 1.50)

If the problem was new with the open beta upgrade, then you can always revert to the released version, 1.50. To do that, you will need to restore the files replaced by the upgrade to their original versions. The easiest way to do that is to re-install version 1.50 from the distribution file, IT150.EXE.

When you run the restored older version, you may get a warning that says

The satellite list in the file IT.ORB has been damaged somehow.
I will try to use it, but you should probably quit the program,
delete IT.ORB, and then load new elements into the empty list.

Type any key to continue.
This is caused by the new attitude format used for AO-40. Don't panic. Hit a key to continue. Go into the Manual Edit Satellite Elements screen for AO-40 and re-enter the attitude information. Don't forget, since you're back on version 1.50 you'll need to fiddle them (negate ALAT and add/subtract 180 degrees from ALON) and enter them as ALAT,ALON. Let InstantTrack save the changes. Next time you start up, the warning should be gone.

I get "unknown ephemeris type" errors when I read Keps

Version 1.51 added a new check to make sure the NASA 2-line format Keplerian elements are really the kind of elements InstantTrack knows how to deal with. This value is encoded in column 63 of the first line of numbers (see Keplerian Elements Formats for more on this format). If that column is not blank or "0" (zero), those elements are (claiming to be) a different type and InstantTrack doesn't know how to use them.

The elements may have been corrupted somehow, or you may be trying to track a deep space object, or somebody may have just invented a new type of elements. Check the elements.

I hope this check won't cause many false alarms. If it does, please let me know and I'll take it back out.

Last updated 29 May 2002. Comments to

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