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

            • Developer

              There are a couple of companies who are making these commercially. I am trying to convince one more to start making them as well.

              • Who are they? I would also be interested. I'm using an old, modified MFD AT, but it's not really what I want. And, buying from those companies would fund the development as I assume they would pay the developers, right?
              • Really. Can you point me in the right direction? I am looking at a MFD AT that i really do not even want to use.
      • I will work on these features someday, there is no need for a kickstarter campaign :) Unfortunately I changed my job recently (again) and I still lack time but my new job is a big change far away from software and hardware design and I will have more motivation to develop AT to stick close to technical stuff :)

        And yes, I am aware that I have been promising new features for the last year and nothing happened so far but I will eventually find some time for it :(

        • Dear Jakub, thanks, no rush. I'm already using your version and works OK so far.
  • this is the first time it's worked the only thing i cant get to stop is  shaking 

    https://youtu.be/KMg2FDfQ_7Q

    • Developer

      well, it's progress anyway!  The gains are just too high I think.  D in particular should probably be lower and P perhaps as well.

  • Randy,

    It would be nice to have the Pixhawk voltage monitor alarm added into the AT firmware when using a Power Module. I find myself often checking the Lipo pack voltage since the AT, servos, 5.8GHz receiver, and monitor are all powered by a 3-cell Lipo pack. A user-set low voltage buzzer warning like in the copter software would be a nice enhancement.

    • Developer

      Yes, makes a lot of sense to decide what V1.0 should include.  Top of my list is sorting out the pitch issue which I'm sure is based on the baro data not getting through some how.  So I plan to add an "ALT_SOURCE" parameter that allows choosing between baro and EKF (EKF uses baro+accelerometers or gps+accelerometers to estimate the height).  It's possible that Jakub will come up with an alternative solution (which of course I am more than happy to pull into master) so the final solution could be a slightly different than what I'm proposing.

      By the way, I've released 0.7.6 as the official version now (it was beta only before) so it should appear in the mission planner as the default version in a few hours (certainly by tomorrow it'll appear).

      • Developer
        Awesome!

        And my requests are as follows....
        Seperate the servo choice so pitch and yaw can have different servo types. I am building a tracker fo on my car roof, and it will be continuous rotation for yaw, but standard servo for pitch.
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