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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    • I do not want to talk about another project here in detail. My APM tracker worked with SITL and refused to work out on the field. Open360tracker works in both cases and supports many telemetry protocols besides mavlink.
      • MR60

        On what hardware/companion computer does Open360tracker work ?

    • If you are using missionplanner press ctrl-f to bring up a screen with advanced option. There you can relay the SITL mavlink stream to a comport of your computer. I tested my APM tracker and now my open360tracker that way.
      • MR60

        THANK YOU Sebastian ! That's how you can do it. Was looking for that information in the last few weeks, especially since the antenna tracker/SITL wiki does not provide this information (and gives a wrong information how to do this, i.e. how to forward SITL/mavlink info to a COM port).

        I can now forward SITL mavlink to my real antenna tracker.

        Next issue I'm facing now : when the tracker comes to the servo limits (using servo posiiton with 180 deg range), the tracker does not do the 180 reversal routine. Any idea why ?

      • Sebastian,

        do you use open360tracker rather then APM tracker? Is it better one?

  • What’s going on with firmware development? Can we expect any improvements anytime soon?

  • @Jakub Oller @Stefan Jorgensen

    l know some time back there was talk of adding guided mode to this so the tracker would point at a single location regardless. Does anyone have any info on this? I would love to figure it out but I'm still pretty new (i.e. horrible) at the codebase.

    I want to move the tracker around (on top of a car) but always have it point to my home flying location with no telemetry connection needed (it's always pointed at the same point so it wouldn't need the remote location info as it would not change but could call the local info from its own GPS and tracker's sensors on the pixhawk). Sort of like a relay type of scenario. Any thoughts on the difficulty of this?

    • For testing purposes it is easy - you can hardcode your location in the firmware. It gets complicated if you wish to use it like guided mode in Mission Planner. I believe there was a working solution based of 0.4 version, you can try to find it in old posts somewhere at the begining of this thread.

  • Parameter file:

  • can you post your pram file

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