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Smart Antenna Tracker

An antenna tracker that adjusts for real-time changes in location, tilt & heading. It replaces a 915MHz 3DR ground radio module.

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This project was created on 07/26/2014 and last updated 7 months ago.

Ever dreamed of having a mobile command center for your copter or plane? Maybe you don't like the idea of calibrating an antenna tracker before you use it. The Smart Antenna Tracker will allow you to place your antenna tracker on the ground or on your vehicle. It can sense it's heading, tilt and location to correct for sloping terrain or moving ground stations.

The Smart Antenna Tracker acts like a 3DR Radio Ground Module. Meaning it is compatible with your 3DR Radio Air Module as well as Mission Planner. The best part is the Smart Antenna Tracker can operate without Mission Planner! So if you want to leave your laptop at home you can.

The Smart Antenna Tracker will determine its location and attitude using a GPS, accelerometer, gyro, motor encoder and a magnetometer.  The Smart Antenna Tracker will then determine the 3D location of your copter/plane/rover by sniffing the MAVLink data from the TTL serial line between the radio module and the FTDI chip.  With that data the Smart Antenna Tracker can then point the antennas in the direction of your copter/plane/rover.


Project logs
  • Status Update

    7 months ago • 0 comments

    It's almost the August 20th deadline!  Here is an introduction to the Smart Antenna Tracker: 

    The mechanical portions of the build are going great!  I have dusted off my woodworking skills and started building an attractive yet light weight base for the antenna tracker.  Anticipate pictures within a week!  

    Also, I am seriously considering some ServoCity gearboxes that will make the build sturdier and will save some space on the PCB.

    Fun Fact: The Smart Antenna Tracker is going to look like it fell out of a Portal video game.  A happy accident!

  • All Electronic Parts are on Their Way

    8 months ago • 0 comments

    I have ordered my PCB from ITEAD and a whole bunch of parts from Digikey.  Digikey didn't have a HM-TRP module but a quick google search revealed a few suppliers.  Now we play the waiting game.  ITEAD can take up to a month to reach your doorstep.

    Now I can start working on the mechanical potions of the build!  This might be my greatest challenge so far.  Stay tuned!

  • I Lied About Finishing the Eagle Files

    8 months ago • 0 comments

    When I finished my eagle board I went to digikey and began sourcing my parts.  I found out that one of my power ICs was no longer available so I had to change one of my buck convertors.  Then I decided to change out my Accelerometer/Magnetometer for a LSM9DS0 which is a 9DOF IC including an Accelerometer, Gyro, and Magnetometer.  This will help me sleep at night knowing I will have very good attitude awareness of the antennas.

    Also if you read my last log entry you will notice I had some trouble getting a .GKO from the CAM job provided by ITEAD studios.  A .GKO is a board outline file.  Unfortunately, the CAM job provided by ITEAD does not produce a .GKO but it does produce a .do and a .GML which appear to be similar.  I was unsure which file I should send in to I emailed ITEAD's customer service.

    ITEAD opened a service ticket and immediately closed it.  I did not get a response from them.  Two days later I sent them a nasty gram and I got this response.

    Maybe I am doing something wrong, but this customer service sucks.  I used ITEAD once before and I think I just renamed my .GML to .GKO.  I'll try it and see what happens.

View all 4 project logs


ted wrote 4 months ago point
Hi, any update to your project? Interested in how it turned out

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

Brandon wrote 4 months ago point
I started a new job and they sent me out of the country for a few months so I haven't worked on it in a while. I do have the completed boards back in the US. My next post will be demonstrating the ability to determine the tracker's attitude/orientation. You can expect to see this by March. Thanks for your interest!

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

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