Questions regarding new build

Hi SatNOGS team,

First of all congratulations for the good work you guys (m/f) are doing!

I am currently investigating the construction of my own base station. Like everyone else I have my own set of specific constraints (money being an important one), so I’ll be building a modified version of the station based on the standard you developed. Before I commit I’d like to run some of my thoughts by you to make sure what I am attempting to do sounds reasonable. Prepare for a somewhat lengthy post with quite a few questions.

  1. Hardware design

I am looking at building a V3 design. Would this be the recommended design to build (mature, proven)?

I read about digital/analogue pots for indexing the movement of the axis. As I don’t see them included in the documentation yet, I am assuming this is a work in progress and the current version indexes its position by counting steps and occasionally homing the system using the end stop sensors?

  1. Metalwork vs 3D-printing

I have more skills in metalworking than in 3D printing, so I’m looking to fabricate most of the hardware instead of printing it. One exception being the worm gear/axis gear combination. Since I don’t have access to a mill, 3D printing would make more sense than attempting to cobble up something in metal. I will attempt to arrange access to a fablab to print 2 sets for me.

Would there be other parts where you would recommend printing over fabricating?

  1. Electronics

What would be the best version to build? I am assuming this one: /satnogs-rotator-controller/tree/v1 ? Although I am proficient at etching PCBs at home, perhaps someone is interested in selling some spare PCBs?

Where do you guys get the Polulu drivers and the PSU converter? If I order from Polulu there is a substantial shipping cost, I wonder if eBay knock-offs are an option (if so, links appreciated)?

  1. Controller

I see you support both the Raspi and the BeagleBone Black. I am leaning towards the Raspi2 because it’s cheaper and I have experience with it. If that would be a mistake because of support, processing power or other reasons then I’d like to hear about it. A 25€ difference isn’t worth getting stuck on Raspi island if all the rest of you are living on the BeagleBone continent :slight_smile:

  1. Antennas & receivers

For now I plan to mount a simple laser pointer on the tracking system and attempt to track the ISS with it. Since the ISS is the brightest object in the sky, pointing a laser at it would IMHO be a good way to test-drive the system. Of course I don’t plan to leave the laser on all the time, just occasionally send a brief pulse so I can test if the system is tracking correctly.

Thanks in advance,

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Hey, David!

Hardware design
We recommend to build it. The v3 rotator with stepper motors is ready, we do not have yet a guide (how to build) for the weather-proof cover but i think in the next weeks it will be ready.

you are correct.

Metalwork vs 3D-printing

This is fantastic!!
I haven’t enough experience in metal work to recommend you other parts, but @manthos ??

The /satnogs-rotator-controller/tree/v1 works and has been tested by the community. You can also try the magnetic encoder :wink: .
The polulu drivers and PSU convert we got from ebay.

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I order a “LM2596 Breakout” for the SatNOGS PSU V1 board off of ebay as suggested here. But now I’ve learned that not all LM2596 Breakout board are the same size, so the one I got doesn’t fit the PSU. So I ordered a different breakout that looked closer in size, but it also doesn’t fit the PSU either. Could you provide more information / specifications on the exact LM2596 Breakout that the PSU was designed to use so I can get one what fits the PSU? My attempts to search one out that fits has not been very successful.



The vertical distance between holes for the pins are ~17.5mm and the horizontal are ~37.5mm.
The dimensions of the PCB are ~(41.3x20.3)mm.
This “LM2596 Breakout” fits to SatNOGS PSU v1 .