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Satellite Environment Software on the NetBeans Platform

· Java Zone

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Amphinicy Technologies is a software company specialized in producing complex software for organizations that operate in satellite environments. The company operates in Luxemburg and in Croatia and works with the world’s leading hi-tech professionals.

Thus, for more than a decade we are closely cooperating with SES-Astra, developing software solutions in different layers: from low level solutions all the way up the enterprise systems. Together with SES-Astra TechCom, we are providing software support for a regular operation and business systems but also for building complex satellite-specific systems.

Around three years ago, we decided to start RCP development, and between Eclipse RCP and NetBeans Platform, the decision was made to go with the NetBeans Platform. Swing support and backwards compatibility were some of the reasons behind the decision. From then on, we developed around 10 different RCP applications and are still going in that direction. Some of those applications are described in the following sections, while others involve confidential data and are thus not exposed here.

Our latest cooperation with ND SatCom, another big NetBeans Platform consumer, gave us another strong push in that direction. Today, we are starting to use NetBeans as a primary IDE for any Java related development, and are slowly replacing Eclipse.

Before describing the projects, below, I would like to mention the very pleasant and hardworking people from the team I’m working with on the NetBeans Platform applications:

  • Mr. Frank Zimmer – SES Astra TechCom manager – a visionary and passionate satellite engineer who is in charge of all of projects listed below.
  • Miss. Ivana Baric – Amphinicy Java Developer – a hard worker with enormous dedication and concentration, who can solve any issue that could possibly appear in the world!
  • Mr. Hrvoje Basic - ground station simulation expert and one of the NetBeans pioneers inside the company.
  • Mr. Andreas Reichert – Amphinicy Senior Java Developer (located in SES Astra TechCom) – who is an excellent, not just SW but RF engineer also. His on-site support and expertise is crucial during any development.
  • Mr. Tomislav Nakic-Alfirevic – Amphinicy Senior Java Developer – big OpenSource lover, the master of enterprise systems and multi-module NetBeans Platform applications.
  • Mr. Frane Milos (me) - Amphinicy Solution Manager – handling satellite related projects on Amphinicy. Good or bad engineer, you decide. ;)

Station Simulator GUI


The main purpose of the application is to give the monitor and control possibility of the RF instruments in the In-Orbit Testing earth station. The rack-like layout, drag&drop, and shuffle possibility gives the operator a visual impression while looking at the real instruments in the control room’s rack.

Beside the Instruments window, Log, Switch position and Telemetry windows are available. The palette of available instrument types is on the right side and instruments can be dragged to the main instrument panel. Of course, our typical log output component is at the bottom of the application.

Although the name could indicate that the GUI is used only for simulations, it can be used to monitor the instruments in the real systems also.

The application was developed as a NetBeans Platform 5.5 application, consisting of suite, application, and wrapper modules.


Figure 1 - Station simulator GUI instruments
Figure 1 - Station simulator GUI instruments

Figure 2 - Log window

Satellite Test Cockpit


The Satellite Test Cockpit gives control over the complete In-Orbit-Test-System. It groups the different tools that have been developed around the In-Orbit-Test-System in the past. Those tools are now modules that are integrated into one big suite. This way we now have a unique look and feel throughout all modules.

The most important modules are:

  • Measurement System Selector – choose between the stations that are supported.
  • Script Engine – execution of Bean-Shell scripts
  • Plotter module – Pots X/Y or timeline charts (CSV and PDF reports)
  • Admin Client – Start/Stops server components of the IOT  system
  • Test Launcher - Control test execution (Start/Stop/Pause/Resume) of all test types.
  • Mimic panel  – The panel with mimic schema of RF instruments.

The application contains 31 modules in total.

The application was developed as a NetBeans Platform 5.5 application, consisting of suite, application, and wrapper modules.


Figure 3 - Test setup in Engineering View

Figure 4 - EIRP graph in Operations View

Figure 5  - Mimic panel view

Figure 6 - Instrument configuration

Figure 7 - Application Options

Satellite Performance Measurement System


Satellite Performance Measurement System (SAPMES) is a system deployed on transportable earth stations. Those stations are used for measurement of satellite parameters on various locations, e.g., borders of footprints.

The screenshot depicts the GUI for the system with an EIRP measurement graph for multiple satellite channels.

The application was developed as a NetBeans Platform 5.5.1 application, consisting of suite, application, and wrapper modules.


Figure 8 - SAPMES main screen

Ka-Band Reference Station


This was our first application and we gained most of our NetBeans knowledge when developing it. It is used for the same purpose as SAPMES, as it was its ancestor.

We used big fonts and white backgrounsd because measurements on some very sunny spots like Gibraltar required it!

The application was developed as a NetBeans Platform 5.5 application, consisting of suite, application, and wrapper modules.


Figure 9 - Ka Band Reference Station

Figure 10 - Antenna pointing screen

TLMCore Remote Configuration


The application is responsible for the remote configuration of the telemetry servers (TLMCores). It enables the operator to do the configuration either in the Designer or the XML editor and do the upload to the telemetry servers. Local storage of configurations and uploading to multiple servers are just some of the special features...

Technologies like binding and JMX are widely used to achieve transparency and user friendliness.

The application was developed as a NetBeans Platform 6.1 application, consisting of suite, application, and wrapper modules.


Figure 11 - TLMCore RC application main screen

Current development

We are continuing with our NetBeans Platform developments. Thus, we are developing online JavaHelp for one specific satellite NetBeans Platform application on NetBeans Platform 6.7.1 together with ND SatCom.

Moreover, we are starting to use NetBeans IDE as our Number 1 choice for development. Before, during the NetBeans IDE 5.5.x era, we had a lot of issues with the IDE (such as that new packages from CVS were often invisible, debugging couldn't be stopped with stop button [process wasn't killed], testuserdir often remained locked, IDE windows couldn't be detached from the IDE)... and found Eclipse to be a better solution for non-RCP related development. But things have really been changing for the better since then. ;-)

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