Developer

figuring out the Antenna Tracker

3691139590?profile=originalNot many people know but we have an piece of open source software for controlling an Antenna Tracker.  It's been built by Tridge (Arduplane lead developer) for use in the outback challenge.

Sadly we have no documentation and, as far as I know, nobody except Tridge has used it.  Still given Tridge's track record on building great software I suspect it works well and if it doesn't, I'm sure we can fix it.  So to not let this piece of code go to waste, I'd like some help from people who are interested to give it a try and help me figure out how it works.

Here's the little that I know:

  • It runs on any of our supported board (APM1, APM2, PX4, Pixhawk, Flymaple and perhaps VRBrain)
  • For APM1/APM2 users building the code is as easy as opening our hacked ArduinoIDE and selecting File > SketchBook > Tools > AntennaTracker and then building in the normal way.  For PX4/Pixhawk, our autobuilder doesn't automatically build a binary but I can provide one if people are interested.
  • It can control a Pan and Tilt gimbal like this or this found on servocity.com.
  • It may or may not require a GPS
  • It must somehow receive vehicle position updates from the ground station which has the telemetry radio that is connected to the vehicle. Maybe through a USB cable.  Tridge probably uses the python ground station, MAVProxy, to passthrough the vehicle position data to the AT but perhaps we can get MichaelO to build out a similar feature in Mission Planner.
  • I imagine this antenna tracker could also be used to keep a camera focused on the vehicle which might be good for easing the burden on creating videos of our vehicles.

So if you want to give it a try please do and stick any findings, questions or issues below. Alternatively Issues can go into the issues list.

I'll start sticking things into the wiki as they become clear.

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Replies

  • Hey all, just got done with a fully custom antenna tracker which:

    1) does not require a laptop to run

    2) can accept a roughly 2lb or so antenna (or camera if you like :)) 

    3) works beautifully, even at close range

    4) is fully tested

    5) can be made for < $300

    6) works with any mavlink stream

    See here if interested in copying/improving my results.  What I've been using it more recently for given the performance is actually just filming myself flying!

  • Steve,

    There are complete instructions here.

    Cheers!

    AntennaTracker Home — AntennaTracker documentation
  • I've built an antenna tracker a couple of years ago using the old antenna tracker model from diydrones. I know that sometime later they made it simpler so you could just put an APM on the pitch part of the tracker and it would auto point to the drone's APM. I have many APM 2.6 laying around and I would like to do this the new way. Are their any instructions for the setup or is it simply installing the tracker software on the trackers APM?

  • APM 2.6 with RFD900x
  • Hi Ofir, I finally got mine working a while ago. I have never needed to arm it so assume maybe that it doesn’t require arming? When I apply power to it, it seems to fire up straight away.
  • hallo

    i have a apm 2 flashed with antenna tracker firmware 

    i cant arm it, why ?

  • I have a geared servo setup so it moves at the correct speed. Do you have direct drive or what? Try lowering P. Servo City has gears and gearboxes.

    I finally got my tracker set up just the way I have always wonted it. I have it working with a Servo City gimbal since firmware 0.7 was out. I was using the stock servos that would get less than 360 yaw. I finally upgraded to continuous rotation servo for yaw and V1.0 firmware.

    After a bit if tuning the V1.0 firmware is working with no problems. Not sure why some are having problems with it. I learned a few things during the process so if anyone is having problem I might be able to help.

    .

  • Hi 

    I have an issue it move's so fast it tips over 
    in did try to set the max Rate in yaw gain but it makes no difference

    Thanks 
    Colin

    https://youtu.be/avnlnGXJ-is 

  • This is what I have currently:

    trackerpids.png

  • What are your PID values?

    I upgraded from position YAW servo to continuous rotation but I think my gains might be a little low.

    Also what does the I term do for yaw or is it turned off in the firmware.

    V1.0 firmware - So it seams to be a fairly good version.

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