Not 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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Awesome!  Thank you.

Greg Covey said:

Here you are...

I abandoned the antenna tracker in favor of the Mission Planner tracker which works very well. It's simple and needs no GPS or compass.  My setup includes a 5.8ghz dish antenna, and a modified version of Mission Planner that tunes the tracker to peak the signal using RSSI.  If anybody is interested in this setup as an alternative, I can post a blog.

Hi Patrick, could you please share more infos on this or link ? Seems very interesting and definitly more simple than AR
Actually, the AT with version 0.8 is working very fine.

I'm working on a heavy duty version, all 3D printer parts and the first prototype is already in action.

It is super accurate, simple to build and very few components are needed.


Anthony Verloop said:
Actually, the AT with version 0.8 is working very fine.

I'm working on a heavy duty version, all 3D printer parts and the first prototype is already in action.

It is super accurate, simple to build and very few components are needed.
Attachments:

@Jean-Marie,  I will post instructions for the updated tracker here : http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/how-to-build-an-fpv-antenna-tra...

The newer setup is similar, but uses a digital connection to the drone instead of analog as described in the blog.  

There are still some modifications to be done, but the concept is working very fine.

Once it is finished, I will make the STL files available for download. Everything is printed in ABS to make it temperature resistant. PLA will get soft during summer in direct sunlight.

Wow, that's some serious tracking gain! What distances are you planning for? Is it a commercial tracker design?

Anthony Verloop said:

There are still some modifications to be done, but the concept is working very fine.

Once it is finished, I will make the STL files available for download. Everything is printed in ABS to make it temperature resistant. PLA will get soft during summer in direct sunlight.
Well, yes and no. On one side, it could be commercialized, but I still consider it just a more rigid, heavy duty version.

It's not difficult to print and assemble, but I also realize it will not be the beginners kind of thing.

As mentioned before, I'm still doing some minor modifications. I noticed for example it wasn't easy to position the servos easily to get the gear perfectly line up.

I'll keep you posted.

Here's a photo of the 3-d printed tracker I built that works with the MissionPlanner tracker API.  If anybody is interested I can post the STL files.  The dish is a Ubiquity Nanobeam 5.8ghz version. 

Patrick, That would be great if you could post the STL files.

Thanks

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