Way back in 2019 I got an introduction to AMSAT, and have been interested in making contacts ever since. I picked up an Arrow antenna, collected some telemetry, and even tried making QSOs once, but the extreme level of multitasking was overwhelming. The one thing I’ve been really keen to automate has been tracking: keeping the antenna pointed at the satellite throughout its pass. Automating that part requires an azimuth-elevation (az/el) rotator. The most well-known option for that is the Yaesu G-5500 rotator which retails new for about $700, too expensive to justify using once or twice while I see if I enjoy working AMSAT regularly. I’ve kept my eyes open for lighter-weight options, and one that stuck out was SATRAN by Daniel Nikolajsen, SM7YSA. For a while, it was sold as a kit, but mainly in Europe and explicitly not to the US or Canada.

Well, it seems SATRAN is no longer being sold as a kit, but the plans to build it are available, so I’ve finally decided to build my own. Daniel published pretty much everything necessary to get it going: STL files to 3D print the enclosure, Gerber files to order PCBs, scale drawings to cut sheet metal parts, and firmware code. I’ve spent some time reverse-engineering which electrical components need to go on the PCBs, as well as started prepping and 3D printing the housing. For the two sheet metal parts, there’s a service called OSH Cut that I think I’ll try. They seem to be tangentially related to OSH Park who I’ve used in the past for PCBs. However, Daniel only published PDF printable templates, not DXF CAD drawings, so I’ll have to redraw those in CAD to be able to send them off.

It might take a while to gather all of the different bits and pieces of this project, but I think it will be rewarding to put together, especially if it gives me a workable AMSAT tool in the end!