AntennaTracker v1.0 on NAVIO2 with Bebop2

ArduPilot's Antenna Tracker firmware has been making some quiet progress over the past few months.  They're all documented in the Release Notes but at a high level the improvements include:

  • More accurate control due to bug fixes in how the vehicle's position estimation was done
  • Smoother movement through additional filtering
  • Separate servo types possible for yaw and pitch axes
  • Tilt compensation meaning it tracks the vehicle accurately even when the tracker is leaned over
  • Improved Mission Planner setup screen (i.e. Extended tuning page)

The parts I used to build my tracker included:

I used a NAVIO2 instead of a Pixhawk mostly because it's easier to make a Wifi connection this way.

I haven't yet tested the range of the telemetry connection to the Bebop2 but I suspect it's between 1km ~ 2km.  In fact, the antenna used here is not ideal for use with the Bebop2, a simpler non-Helical antenna like this one would likely do better.

Some limitations of this setup:

  • we don't yet support receiving live video from the Bebop2 but this is coming within the next couple of months so during this test I simply had telemetry data from both Tracker and Bebop2 visible in the Mission Planner
  • the networking connection between the PC to the RPI2 was quite simple but not very flexible.  For whatever reason the PC and RPI2 nearly always appear with the same IP addresses so the Tracker startup scripts were hardcoded to always uses these.  It would be better to setup dhcp on the RPI2 to set PC's IP address
  • the bebop's Wifi ssid is hard-coded in the start_tracker.sh script on the RPI2.  If someone wanted to repeat this setup they would need to change this to match their particular Bebop.

In case people want to replicate this setup, I've uploaded an image to firmware.ardupilot.org here.

Thanks to the beta testers for their ideas and feedback and Stefan Lynka for his code contributions.

Views: 2332


Developer
Comment by Andy Little on July 28, 2016 at 3:02am

Looks great. I love the tilt compensation and the movement looks very smooth

I really hope some day soon to be able to hook this up to my old tracker hardware 


Moderator
Comment by Vladimir "Lazy" Khudyakov on July 28, 2016 at 4:01am

PT785 is too powerful...


Developer
Comment by Randy on July 28, 2016 at 5:33am

@Vladimir, It certainly has extra beefy servos so it can handle a far larger antenna than I've put on it...


Moderator
Comment by Vladimir "Lazy" Khudyakov on July 28, 2016 at 5:37am

@Randy

SPT400 easily turn half kilo 433 MHz antenna :))


Developer
Comment by Linus on July 28, 2016 at 5:54am

Really great how far the tracker has come :) Thanks Randy!

Comment by Simon Wunderlin on July 28, 2016 at 6:28am

Looks really good. What is the minimum hardware requirement? Could i re-purpose APM2s as trackers ?

Comment by Dusan on July 28, 2016 at 10:01am

For the price of PT785 servo city pan/tilt setup, one can build heavy duty tracker that can carry  far heavier antenna setup. Guys at satNOGS have developed nice tracker, V3 is using DC motors with encoder feedback, which makes it highly precise. Probably overkill for small 10-12 turn helix and smaller patch antenna, but definitely nice to have for larger 2.4ghz or 5.8 dish setup 

Comment by Rana on July 28, 2016 at 11:26am

Excellent !


MR60
Comment by Hugues on July 28, 2016 at 11:50am

Great improvement over the previous tracker 0.76 release. Do you have 360 movement on both axis with the PT785 ?

Comment by lianpinkoh on July 28, 2016 at 4:30pm

@Simon, here are the instructions for both pixhawk and APM2: http://ardupilot.org/antennatracker/docs/connecting-with-gcs.html

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