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
  • 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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  • Nice to have it. Would you post it to too please.

    ArduPilot Open Source Autopilot
    The most advanced open source autopilot for use by both professionals and hobbyist. Supports multi-copters, planes, rovers, boats, helicopters, ante…
  • I just compiled v0.8.0 for the pixhawk if anyone needs it, since it is no longer available.


  • Developer

    I think it's best to discuss over on's antenna tracker support area.

    ArduPilot Open Source Autopilot
    The most advanced open source autopilot for use by both professionals and hobbyist. Supports multi-copters, planes, rovers, boats, helicopters, ante…
  • Well guys I put together my quad copter and antenna tracker (build 0.8 on pixhawk). Connection via 433mhz telemetry link between vehicle and pixhawk works - I can see in MP telemetry data from vehicle. Anyway I can't switch between data from AT and vehicle because CTRL-X doesn't do nothing. It is bit frustrating since when I connect MissionPlanner to AT I can see reading first parameters from vehicle 1, then from vehicle 2. Then HUD and status shows me data from vehicle, but can't switch to data from AT. Is Ctrl-X shortcut removed from MP?

    Version of MP I'm using is 1.3.48.


    OK, I found it - it is now only drop-down box in the upper right corner of MP for selection of vehicle.

  • Well! WOuld you look at that.

    Found it. Thanks. Works perfectly.


  • In the upper right corner of Mission Planner you can simply select which MavLINK COMM device you want to connect to. In the images below, you can see the change in COMM ports and GPS satellite count between my tracker and copter.



  • Hi All, we have built our tracker and it works fantastically. We have two telemetry modules on the tracker which is controlled by a pixhawk.

    The Antenna Tracker Pixhawk is able to pick up the plane and point to it.

    The problem we have is that when we connect the telem2 output to mission planner, the control is for the antenna tracker, not the plane. (i.e.what comes out of the antenna tracker telemetry is control of the tracker, not control of the plane.)

    How do we relay the telemetry from the plane received by the antenna tracker pixhawk to Mission planner.

  • @Mike, thanks for the tip.  

  • I had that problem. It was because of all the electronics and other metal parts. I put the mag and GPS up on a wood stick, now all is good.

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