Building a very low cost satellite tracker for your RTL-SDR

A satellite tracker is a motorized unit that points a directional antenna towards passing satellites. Most satellites are not in a fixed orbit, and will fly over your head a few times a day and will be receivable for a few minutes, and a directional antenna is usually recommended since the signals can be weak. The goal of the SatNOGS project is to set up various volunteer satellite tracker stations around the world, and network the received data on the internet, so that satellite data is always being received and shared.

Over on his blog, Paul has written up a tutorial showing how he’s managed to make a super cheap satellite tracker for his RTL-SDR using some pan/tilt servos, a Yagi antenna made from measuring tape, and and Arduino running the SatNOGS tracking software. When he tested the tracker he was able to receive NOAA 18 and some of the XW-2 satellites.

Although the tracker works, he admits that there are some problems and that it is probably not as good as the SatNOGS recommended build, which is a more permanent solution. But the SatNOGS build requires access to a 3D printer and higher quality components, so Paul’s solution is a much cheaper solution to implement at least for experimentation.

The low cost satellite tracker built by Paul.
The low cost satellite tracker built by Paul.

Satellite Tracker NOAA 18 40x

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