KerberosSDR Tracking a Drone Carrying an FM Beacon

KerberosSDR is our 4-channel phase coherent capable RTL-SDR unit that we previously successfully crowdfunded back in 2018.  With a 4-channel phase coherent RTL-SDR interesting applications like radio direction findingpassive radar and beam forming become possible. It can also be used as 4 separate RTL-SDRs for multichannel monitoring. KerberosSDR is currently in stock and available on the Othernet store.

Recently Zuokun Li et al from the University of East China Normal University published an open access conference paper that documents their results at using a KerberosSDR to track a drone. As typical drone control frequencies at 2.4 GHz are outside the range of the RTL-SDRs used on the KerberosSDR, they carried a 446 MHz FM beacon on the drone.

In their experiment they set up both circular and linear antenna arrays for the KerberosSDR, then flew the drone in front of the antenna array while recording the bearings calculated by the KerberosSDR system. The results showed that the KerberosSDR was able to successfully track the drone's bearing with either antenna array, however the linear array produced more accurate results as expected.

We note that a linear array cannot differentiate if an object is in front or behind the array. However, if this knowledge is known it can be used instead of a circular array to get more accurate bearings that are less affected by multipath.

If you're interested in this, you might also like our articles on using a KerberosSDR to track a weather balloon, to locate a P25 transmitter, or our Android app in car demos

The KerberosSDR + Drone Setup
Results from the drones at three locations.

5 comments

  1. Alan Campbell

    If you have a second planar array, at an angle to the first one, you should be able to use triangulation to solve the front vs behind issue. However, the antennas take up double the space and you need to synchronise the data from 2 SDRs.
    How easy is it to scale up to multiple kerberos sdrs?

    • admin

      Connecting 2 Kerberos together is fairly simple. As of yet there is no software that supports multi-kerberos though, but it is in the development pipeline.

  2. Bunny

    Yeah, too bad it’s almost twice the price that they said it would be at retail. Othernet isn’t even selling it for the price it says it should be in the RTL-SDR.com store.

    • admin

      Prices have unfortunately gone up with new tariffs, COVID component prices etc. Plus we do need to turn over some profit to fund new developments and new software features 🙂

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