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System Maker v1.3

Posted: 28.11.2006, 19:08
by Monolyth
Hey guys....My first time here so be patient with me. I guess from what im reading this is the place to post announcements about new stuff we add. Here goes.....I have recently written a program that helps in scripting Solar Sytem Catalog files. Unfortunately Im recieving no feedback. People are downloading it so im not sure if silence in the feedback is a good thing or a bad thing. In any case I would like some sort of outside opinion to better understand if it is a worth while venture and if so what can be done to improve it. The program is called System Maker v1.3. I threw it together in Visual Basic 6, however the package and deployment wizard is worthless for all intensive purposes so I only posted the executable and two support files I thought might be required. To be honest Im not sure if the software will run on every computer without the rest of the garbage VB wants to package with it. So please drop me a line......

P.S. Its posted on Geocities so there is a limit to how much can be downloaded. If you get the "This page is passed its hourly limit" message please be patient and try again later

Heres the software ... erv13.html
Just unload trhe contents to your Celestia directory.

Posted: 29.11.2006, 00:59
by buggs_moran
How does it work? Is there any math/science behind it as far as stable orbits, or is it just a facilitator to create a system?

Posted: 29.11.2006, 01:15
by MKruer
0. First, bring back the standard file menu bar; you could probably reduce clutter on the page.
1. Project directory mapping. Most people create project under the extras directory and then add their image into there.
2. Multiple scc file import export. For my personal project I have each planet in its own scc file
3. stc star generator. (Simple enough but it becomes complex when creating ternary star systems. You could add some inherent logic to auto calculate some of the stars values.
4. Advanced system hierarchy. The general idea is to replicate the system browser by having an expandable tree structure; it?€™s easier to keep track of the objects.
5. Color-code the tree items to easily distinguish between object classes.
6. Non standard field. I know form looking a lot of peoples project that a lot of them tend to include information not supported in Celestia but just have those items commend out. A great example would be the mass of the object.
7. Simple 2d orbit mockup between parent and child. I will try to get you an quick example as soon as I can.



Posted: 29.11.2006, 01:40
by Monolyth
First to answer bugs.....At this point its only a fascilitator not a calculator. However this is a good idea....I will begin work on this immediately.

Second to reply to MKruer.....What you have suggested it of enormous help....I appreciate it greatly and will begin immediately on developing them into the program.

I do want to say that VB6 is very limited on how things can be displayed. But nothing is impossible when you put your mind to may take some time but I will start right now on the items suggested.

Posted: 29.11.2006, 06:44
by MKruer
Not a problem. if you can implement even 1/2 of what I say you will be doing extremely well.

Visual of Center of mass. (Java required) ... frame.html

Something that you should ues to help people figure out what each property it doing

Here is my old Celestia System Editor


Posted: 29.11.2006, 19:04
by Monolyth
This is interesting...I have implemented something to this effect in the program already I think. When positioning the mouse over the label of each property and clicking once with the left mouse button it brings up a reference window to that property...Is this what you are reffering or is it something else?

Posted: 29.11.2006, 22:36
by MKruer
wow, I Didn't even see that, yes that is exactly what I meant. I guess the only thing that you could do would be to dynamically generate them in a window, so when you change the value you get instant visual conformation.

overkill? yes, but cool none the less.

Getting closer to the next level

Posted: 02.12.2006, 03:10
by Monolyth
Im currently adding:

*Object copying buffer to copy and paste individual objects as planets or add them as satellites to other objects. This will include automatic conversion of the semimajoraxis and orbitalperiod properties, with an estimate based on radius for mass, to depict a stable orbit.

*Import and Export commands that will be able to import and append a file onto the existing, as well as export either a single object or an object and its satellites to a separate ssc file.

*Arrow commands to allow easy editing of object position within the file. This will also include an auto-sort button to arrange objects in order of semimajoraxis and pecking order of satellites.

*Tools menu for calculating various types of data and buttons to place the output values to there respective property boxs.

Im currently fixing:

*The [Add Object] and [Add Satellite] buttons are giving me rubbish so im fixing them so they display appropriately. Im going to rig the [Add Satellite] button to place the moons added in their appropriate place automatically instead of appending them to the bottom of the list.

* Im going to affix a drop down menu to the window to clean up the contents a bit.

*Im not sure yet how I will accomplish it but Im going to setup the star selection list to output star masses to better calculate stable orbits. I think I might try to apply this in conjuction with something from the tools menu.

*Implementing an option to select either a file name or the entire path when selecting images meshes and textures. This should ease them pain of mixing all project images in one of the three default directories and allow for resourcing from anywhere.

*I almost forgot....Im definately writing an extensive help document!!!

Getting Closer!!!

Posted: 05.12.2006, 05:09
by Monolyth
Ive updated the download pages with snapshots of the progress thus far.

Hey MKruer.....Im trying my tail off to get those suggestions up. Im pretty sure I can get most of them in and running in a couple of weeks.

Posted: 06.12.2006, 06:59
by MKruer
Right now I think you nailed it for the planet tabs, (General, Atmosphere, Orbit and Rings) But I am not sure of the relevance of the utilize star field, to me this is more of a drop down menu then anything else. I would place it up above the Load objects but below the file path. The general idea it to create a hierarchy of how the system is laid out.

I think that the tree view will help greatly, and you can get rid of the Sol/Earth/Moon and replace it with,

Code: Select all

+ Sol
  + Earth
    + Moon

The parent tag can also be removed in favor of a drop down list of existing objects.

Finally is there a reason why you would not just load the object when selected?


Posted: 06.12.2006, 18:18
by Monolyth
I agree that a tree heirchy (hierchy,High Arky....crap i cant remember how to spell it) would be an optimal presentation; I am working toward this. However some of the processes are based on the ListIndex property of the list drawing the record position from it. I will try to create a separate array to hold the list for processing while creating a parallel list for displaying. This should solve that issue soon and I will be able to exact the tree.

As for a there being a separate instance between selecting an object and loading it; this is to allow for an independant action of deleting copying and sorting (either manually or automatically) of records while not disturbing the particular record one is working with. It also leaves me more room to conduct record list operations while leaving the editing of individual records undisturbed.

On the subject of the tab index; yes it is nice but far from perfect. I still havent added the mesh center property nor the alternate surface aspects not to mention the notes(or commented out) statements. I wouild also want to add the epoch aspect at some point as well.

Currently I am formulating the tools menu and what would be useful to be there.

Again I want to reiterate your feedback has been most helpful and I greatly appreciate it. What first started out as a trinket is turning out to be a wonderful adventure for me. I would like to say I owe a portion of this adventure to you and your analysis.


I dont know if youve seen it yet but theres a developement version of what Im currently working on at the download page for version 1.3. Im tenatively calling this version 1.4 beta although I am one for catchy name and do not believe this will be the name of the final product.

Posted: 06.12.2006, 20:41
by Dollan
So... in the end product (or a future version thereof), would I be able to generate realistic orbits about binary stars?



Posted: 07.12.2006, 04:18
by Monolyth
In the lituature Ive written on the subject of the program I have referred to "The big guns". This reference is to a number of tools that I plan to add which includes an orbit stability calculator. However along with the reference to "the big guns" I also stress it will take time. Im not very good at budgeting the time I am allowed in this jagurnaut of a society we live in. The orbital stability calculator and the reconfiguration of the object listing into a tree hiearchy (im horrible with this word) are at the top of my list of things to accomplish next. Depnding on the complexity of the code will dictate how many stars may be utilized in figuring a stable orbit. From preliminary research Im of the belief an optimum of three would be fair. However I must stress this is preliminarily.

On another note I would like to thank you john for your inquiry. This allows me to assess what portions of the program should recieve the most attention. Any suggestions and/or questions are greatly appreciated and incouraged.

Posted: 07.12.2006, 05:48
by Dollan
Hey, anything like this really catches my interest. I'm suprised that I hadn't noticed it until today. I tried out your currently available version and see that it holds a lot of promise, and is fun to play with right now.

My biggest suggestion (and it sounds like you'll be addressing a lot of this anyway) is to cater to the lazy folk, like me! I like to be able to give a star, its physical and orbital (if a binary or more) data, and then press "generate" and receive a magical file that has a relatively realistic system. I can do a lot of the math, but frankly much of it is very difficult for me (I have a notoriously bad time with math, even that which most other folk find easy, and it isn't for the lack of trying, believe me!).

One feature that you've incorporated which I really like is the list of real stars. My only suggestion here reflects a personal preference, so take it with a grain of salt: Depending on the star, I like to see a certain way that they are named. I first and foremost go with the Greek letter name. if there is none, I go with the Flamsteed numbers. If none of those are available, I go to the Gliese number. If none, I go to the HD number, then the HR number, the the HIP number, or finally a variable star designation. When there is no other recourse, I go with whatever I can find, though I try to avoid the ponderous BD numbers whenever possible.

Like I said, this is my own personal idiosyncracity, and I know that it doesn't jibe with most folks. but I thought I'd throw it out there.

By the way, I've compiled an Excel file on about 1500 stars, gathered from various online sources, if you're interested (though you may not want *that* many ready made suns available!).



Posted: 07.12.2006, 07:09
by Monolyth
Ok, I will admit I may have overstated my understanding of the math behind an orbital stability calculator of binary and trinary star systems. However I refuse to let this detour me from tackling it. For now it might be in the interest of all who use the software to develope at least a single star orbital calculator. I plan to allow users to not only calculate a stable period and semimajor axis of an object but also calculate habital orbital zones. Of which this will allow the user to choose the orbital zone of a given average surface temperatures such as a range from tropical to standard to fridged....maybe (and this is a strong maybe) also stating what ratio of surface ice to water one might have for a body with 100% hydrosphere coverage.

Again john, your input is excellent. Mkruer and his input were the initialization for the further developement of this program. As you guys can see It all started with a rather quaint tool I wrote to aide in the fabrication of my own star wasnt sexy but it had teeth. Now thanx to you guys Im really motivated in to developing this much further than I had originally intended.

To adress something MK said about the star list. I understand it seems kinda goofy at first glance for such an item, but there are two reasons I added it. First I got very frustrated when trying to remember what name celestia used to reference a given star so I wanted to use it as a guide of sorts. Second I figured It might be handy down the road if I chose to add star attributes to it in the case I wanted a specific mass or spectral type. Again this is also for pure reference purposes. However, now that you said something, I noticed it is rather intruseve for what it is, hence I will impliment your suggestion of placing it on the menu bar and have the command open a separate window....(maybe aline that window's activation with the side of the main window).

One other thing I think might be worth mentioning.....I originally was using StarGen in unison with System maker. If youll notice, the orbital attributes, and some physical attributes, that StarGen generates make up an incomplete picture of a given body. So where StarGen leaves off I created Random Value Generation buttons on the Orbit tab. I think where Im heading with this may not be a random planet generator per se' but a step by step planet generation wizard.

Anyhow I want to thank you both again for your help, it means alot to me.

John your the first Ive heard to describe System Maker as "FUN".

Re: uhhhhhhhhggggg!!!!

Posted: 07.12.2006, 14:53
by Dollan
Monolyth wrote:...BTW....John your the first Ive heard to describe System Maker as "FUN".

But things like this are fun. Stargen, in all of its incarnations over the years, was quite fun, too. I used to collect programs like this, from Stargen, to programs like "It's Full of Stars!" and Max Lambertini's "WARP".

But yours, as far as I can tell, has some of the greatest potential, even if it is geared towards Celestia.


be back soon

Posted: 07.12.2006, 16:59
by Monolyth
Well I appreciate that big J. Anyhow I will be on vacation in th caribean until the 17th so my corospondance will be little if any until then. See you guys when i get back.

Posted: 07.12.2006, 19:37
by Dollan
No worries. Definitely looking forward to the product, but Christmas vacation comes first. Enjoy your break!


Posted: 20.12.2006, 06:50
by Monolyth
Hey guys im back....ok its come down to this. I will add an orbital stability calculator for single and binary systems. However it appears that the trinary sytems will be difficult. Without having to tackle the n-body problem I can calculate the stable orbit around a single star at a time. There are no figure 8 or loopty loops stable orbits that i can forsee beeing able to calculate. So as long as the orbit is around one star and not a looping speghetti mess around two or three ... Im down. This means that trinary and more are possible to calculate by simply matching Roche limits and Roche radii between the stars to certify that a peticular stable orbit doesnt intersect with the other stars.

Further more im thinking of embedding some extras.

* Adding a starlist that will automatically populate fields in the orbit calculator for star mass, density, spectral type and temperature for use in identifying a peticular set of surface conditions wanted on an object.

* Adding a wizard to walk one through creating a planet from scratch.

* Adding a specialized data block to each file created by system maker that would store misc. planetary data (e.g. density, mass, specific class type). This data block would appear in the file as several lines commented out at the end of each object record.

* Adding some sort of previewer for the system. However this may be difficult due to the aspect that one ssc file can support the definition of objects in multiple systems.

Anyway I just wanted to run these ideas by you guys let me know what you think.


Posted: 28.12.2006, 23:37
by Monolyth
Ok gang its finally in there. It may not be sexy but it works. The new orbit calculator window is finished. Just keep in mind that all fields required for calculations must have values. The numbers it comes up with do not take in to consideration alot of misc variants like solar wind, binary star effects, and things of that nature. It only uses mass density and radius to find the perfect orbit of stability. As I have found however many orbits within our own solar system are not perfectly stable. Hence you may wish to fudge some numbers a little before using them.

Let me know if i got it right or if you have suggestions for improvement.