jimblanc / $
Examples of My Work
Here are some of the projects that I've worked on recently.
Mercury2
Mercury2

A complete & open source ground station management solution.
Printsmart
Printsmart

An online print shop with custom artwork upload and proofing tools.
retroTrack
retroTrack

An open source satellite tracker for the small satellite community.
Clientbiller
Clientbiller

A simple, easy to use invoicing application.
fetchTLE
fetchTLE

A small API designed for the small satellite community that provides satellite tracking information.
Mercury2
In Active Development
What did I do?
  • Application API
  • Custom Interface Widgets
  • Application Backend
  • Mobile Support
  • Frontend Design
  • Open Source Project

A problem currently facing the small satellite community is the lack of standardization and interoperability of various ground station systems (which are used to communicate with satellites). As a result, it is typically very difficult to efficiently collaborate with other ground stations who may be willing to grant you access to their hardware. Mercury2 is a set of applications currently in development designed to solve this problem and open up the door for automatic and efficient satellite communication.

At its core, Mercury2 consists of two separate applications: the user interface and the hardware manager. The user interface will consist of a Django web application that provides an intuitive interface to satellite operators for scheduling time at the ground station (via pipelines), monitoring passes in real time, and sending commands to the ground station hardware (e.g. radios and antennas, etc). Reservations are made for "hardware pipelines", which are simply sets of hardware devices that work together for a specific task (for example, UHF receiving and transmitting). These pipelines are defined and managed by the second component of the Mercury2 system, the hardware manager. The hardware manager is a lightweight Python application that runs on a computer attached to the pipeline hardware. It quietly runs in the background relaying data to and from the pipelines, responding to commands from the user interface, and pushing live pipeline telemetry to the UI for display (such as the current antenna position and radio frequencies). The entire system is secured with end-to-end TLS encryption and user access certificates.

Mercury2 is currently in development and is scheduled for release early this summer. It will also be an open source project to encourage adoption.

Printsmart
Completed January, 2014
What did I do?
  • Custom Interface Widgets
  • e-Commerce Functionality
  • Application Backend

Printsmart.co is an online print shop built around the popular WordPress content management system. Catering towards small businesses and families, it was designed with ease-of-use in mind and makes use of several standard and custom plugins to provide a fluid and intuitive checkout experience. Of particular note is the custom built "Artwork Upload" utility, which is shown in some of the images to the right. This tool uses a jQuery uploader and image displayer to allow the user to upload the artwork that they want printed on their items, preview how it will be printed, and explicility approve the uploads before they are added to their cart. Printsmart also includes some custom backend functionality aimed at automating the ordering and printing process such as a smart order exporter, bulk coupon code generation utility, and a Fedex shipping CSV exporter for fulfilled orders.

retroTrack
Completed August, 2012
What did I do?
  • Frontend Design
  • Open Source Project
  • Application API
  • Custom Interface Widgets
  • Application Backend

retroTrack is a simple satellite tracking utility designed for the small satellite (Cubesat) community. It uses TLEs (two-line elements, basically a series of numbers that define an object's current orbit) to draw a canvas-based map that shows the current positions of the selected satellites. The tracker widget is capable of displaying individual satellites or admin-defined satellite groups, which can be accessed directly from the tracker menus or via a set of API urls. This API allows a particular tracker configuration to be embedded in any website by copying a small chunk of HTML. In addition, the tracker widget provides several togglable options such as the ground-station and satellite labels, the ground track line, the day & night shadow, and the satellite footprint. retroTrack also comes with an easy-to-use backend panel that administrators can use to configure the tracker widget settings, available satellites, custom satellite groups, and TLE sources (retroTrack works well with fetchTLE). retroTrack was written using the CakePHP framework and is an open source project!

Clientbiller
Completed April, 2012
What did I do?
  • Application API
  • Custom Interface Widgets
  • e-Commerce Functionality
  • Application Backend
  • Custom Graphic Design

Clientbiller is an online billing platform aimed at small businesses and individuals. Its easy to use interface allows users to quickly send invoices and  estimates to clients, manage client accounts, and setup public payment buttons (for donations and collections). Because Clientbiller is responsible for collecting and transferring real money, it was designed from the start with security and PCI compliance in mind. All client and transaction information is stored in a secure database and the website itself is served through an encrypted connection. Clientbiller is capable of interfacing with several popular payment platforms such as Authorize.net, Google Checkouts, and Stripe.

fetchTLE
Completed August, 2012
What did I do?
  • Frontend Design
  • Open Source Project
  • Application API
  • Application Backend
  • Mobile Support

fetchTLE is a small, standalone API that provides a variety of satellite tracking tools based on two-line elements. Two-line elements, or TLEs for short, are simply strings with a standardized format that defines the current orbit for a given satellite. These TLEs are generated by NORAD and the US Air Force and made available to the public through a variety of sources. fetchTLE will automatically update its internal TLE database from these sources and provide access to the data through a standard RESTful API. In addition to providing access to the raw TLEs, the API also offers extended functionality such as position estimation and satellite pass time calculation based on the underlying TLEs. Like retroTrack, fetchTLE features an easy to use administration panel that is used to manage TLE sources and API functionality. It was constructed using the CakePHP framework and is available on Github.