Homebrew Satellite Tracker

Pointing North at 0 deg. Elevation

Pointing East at 45 deg. Elevation

Components list purchased

  • Arduino Nano CAD$5 (Amazon)

  • MPU9250 9 axis position sensor CAD$10 (Amazon)

  • L293D Motor driver controller board for Arduino CAD$13 (Amazon)

  • Used camera tripod CAD$7 (Thrift store)

  • 12v DC Motor with reduction CAD$6 (Surplus store)

Total CAD$ 41 = USD $30

Other parts used

  • Old satellite TV elevation motor for dish antenna

  • 12v DC power supply

  • Cables, connectors, perfboard, plastic pieces for mounts

This was one of my most challenging building projects. The challenge was to build an affordable system for under $50 Canadian. To keep the price low, basic motors and a low cost position sensor was used. The integration of these low price components has been proven difficult.

Main difficulties found with DC motor and position sensor:

  • DC Motor speed/power setting to move the antenna, but not too fast not too slow

  • Position sensor heading, elevation, and roll calculations (the most expensive version has a chip that does the calculations on board)

Extra coding was done to overcome this issues, on the motor side, to regulate the power dynamically sensing the speed of rotation continuously. A mouse wheel attached to the azimuth plate was used to measure rotational speed. For the position sensor, code used for the tilt stabilized compass with integrated into the main code, to obtain reliable (but slow) heading and elevation indication at all times.