Following Satellites

Last Saturday was Field Day for North American amateur radio, an annual ‘open house’ where 40k ham radio operators get out the radio equipment to make contacts and demonstrate to others how it’s done. We’ve helped out the local group PCAUXCOM the last few years by having a project to build or putting on an education session at their location.

Amateur Radio Satellite Tracker
This satellite tracker was built with 3D printed parts and components from Castlemakers.

Last year we did something on using WSPR with a Raspberry Pi, so for this year we talked about listening to amateur radio satellites and the International Space Station(ISS). Although we don’t currently have the equipment to transmit to a satellite, it’s not hard to listen with a handheld receiver or police scanner. We have hopes of someday acquiring the necessary equipment to be able to actually contact other amateur radio operators using one of the satellites, or one of the radios on the ISS.

We also showed off a prototype satellite tracker that Ian has been designing that was made with 3D printed parts from the makerspace. While it’s still a work-in-progress, the prototype uses data from a satellite tracking app to move a mounted antenna to follow the satellite as it passes the sky overhead. There wasn’t an ISS pass but Ian was able to show how it tracked another satellite during the presentation. The major components were designed in Tinkercad, the same program we use in our Intro to 3D Printing class, and the tracking hardware is moved by software running on a Pi Pico!

4 thoughts on “Following Satellites”

  1. Hello,
    I saw a video about the satellite tracker on YouTube.

    I also have the ISS Detector Pro app with rotator control.
    Do you have further information on how the data from the ISS detector is transmitted to the PI PICO?
    I’m very interested in reproducing it.

    I would be grateful for your help

    DG9BAN Wolfgang

    1. We’ve started a webpage to document what we did & what we’re updating – here’s the link, although it’s mainly a placeholder right now. Just printed out another last week and will be documenting what was created, not surprisingly there’s some improvements that will make it easier & better.

  2. Hello, thanks for the reply.
    I’ll always check here to see if there’s anything new.

    Thank you for the effort.


  3. Hello, I’ve been watching this project for a while.
    But how can it not continue?
    I’m interested in how you get the data from the ISS detector app into the Pico.
    I would be very happy if you could post a description.


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