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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 5 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, 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
  • Mechanical Prototype

    07/06/2015 at 17:48 0 comments

    I have made a wood prototype. The horizontal bar will be cut to length and a counter balance will be added once I get antennas. Now I will begin work on adapting the gimbal controller to fit the application.

  • New Functional Schematic

    03/31/2015 at 21:43 0 comments

    The new functional schematic is here!

  • Re-imagined Smart Tracker!

    03/30/2015 at 03:11 0 comments

    I have had plenty of time to think about my antenna tracker and no time to work on it. This has allowed me to re-invent the smart antenna tracker for the better. I plan to use a brushless design much like the go-pro gimbals used for FPV. I will create a "Parasite" controller board that will attach to a gimbal controller and input corrections for azimuth and elevation. An early design of the mechanical structure can be seen below.

    The black cylinders are brushless motors and the white squares are patch antennas. The electronics will be mounted in the gap between the two vertical masts. I'm not sure where the battery will go. That depends on how much power the motors will consume. Hopefully, I can send power through the slip ring and leave the batteries below the azimuth motor.

    What isn't shown is a balancing mechanism. Brushless gimbals heavily depend on well balanced systems. So a counter weight is necessary.

    Solidworks files are uploaded to github.

    Please feel free to critique me on my solidworks abilities. I'm an nx guy so if you have links to solidworks tips, it would be appreciated.

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Indigaz wrote 09/13/2015 at 08:53 point

Brandon, are you still working on this, or stuck out of country?  This is a project that interests me greatly.  Thanks for what you've done so far!

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ted wrote 12/04/2014 at 15:51 point
Hi, any update to your project? Interested in how it turned out

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Brandon wrote 12/04/2014 at 17:26 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!

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