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Lights up when the International Space Station is overhead
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This is an old software project that puts an icon on certain linux desktops.

Looking for the light-up hardware project? See:

Python Gnome-Panel Applet for International Space Station Passes

This is a quick and dirty python app that runs in the Gnome panel and acts as an alarm for when the Internations Space Station is overhead.

When loaded it downloads a list of upcoming passes from It then goes to sleep and the next time the ISS is overhead it turns red and, optionally, lights LED's on an ardruino.

To install:

Make sure you have the right packages installed

$ sudo apt-get install python python-gnomeapplet python-serial

Then install it

$ sudo ./

After the gnome pannel restarts right click and choose "add to panel". ISS-Notify should appear in the list.

To update:

Get the latest code (git pull) then remove the applet from your panel if it's running and try

$ sudo ./
$ sudo ./

To uninstall:

$ sudo ./

To test:

$ ./ -debug

This will run the applet in it's own window and you can see print statements in the terminal you called if from. Great for debuging.

Setting your location:

Find this line in

class PyApplet():
  ha = HeavensAbove(45.47361, -122.64931, 100, "PST")

and change the latitude and longitude to your location.

ha = HeavensAbove(latitude, longitude, altitude, timezone)

Connection to notification lamp

See the circuit diagram and firmware in the arduino folder. You might have to set some udev rules to get a predictable name for the python app.

Find this line in

class lamp():
  device = '/dev/ttyACM0'

Make /dev/ttyACM0 the right thing (dmesg | tail is often useful). Example of the udev rule that worked for me

SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", ATTRS{idVendor}=="16c0", ATTRS{idProduct}=="04[789]?", MODE:="0666"
KERNEL=="ttyACM*", ATTRS{idVendor}=="16c0", ATTRS{idProduct}=="04[789]?", SYMLINK+="ttyUSB00%n", MODE:="0666", ENV{ID_MM_DEVICE_IGNORE}="1"


© 2011 Nathan Bergey

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/ormodify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details at

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