SpaceCom Platform

Since it's donation in 2010, W7YH's long term operations have all revolved around the organization and setup of "the tower." Now that the tower is in place, we're looking forward to the next long term project for the WSU Amateur Radio Club. From the inspiration of our 2012-13 Quartermaster, we propose the following as the next long term project.


W7YH is in position of a high gain 2-meter band yagi antenna. This antenna was slated to be placed on our tower, but due to concerns about wind loading we opted not to place it on the tower. We propose the design and implementation of an electro-mechanical platform to orient and aim this antenna into space for satellite communication, and so called Earth-Moon-Earth communication.

This design should be considered a two to three year project, and should be used to welcome new members into the club and provide an interesting and engaging project to learn about amateur radio as well as generalized engineering.

Early Thoughts:

The placement of this platform is moderately flexible, although in all likelihood someplace close to EME would probably work better. As 2-m is a VHF band (and as of writing our VHF/UHF radio is in EME) it would be much easier to place the platform on the roof of EME or Sloan if proper authorization was obtained. In spite of this, provided we are willing to remote a VHF radio, remote operation at someplace else on or off campus should remain an open possibility.

The design of the actual system could be handled in a quite strait forward manner. The platform would need azmith/elevation control, along with some sort of electrical feedback mechanism. Off the top of my head the following possibilities come to mind, although this is by no means a totally exhaustive list.

  • Photo-sensors:
    • Using a set of black/white stripes painted in a ring or circle with various angular spacing, along with the use of a photo-sensor, a digital rotary encoder could be made, or even using this as a way to simply measure rotation then using an alternative method to keep track of a localized region that the platform is currently in.
  • Premade Encoders/Pots
    • Though they generally provide somewhat low resolution, there are existing digital rotary encoders, linear encoders, and potentiometers. These could be mounted directly on a rotating axle, multiple sensors could be used on geared up/down forms of the axle, or through a cleaver placement of linear actuation controlled through rotation.

Furthermore, the system would need some sort of actual mechanical base and motors to actually control rotation. Even if electrical feedback is not developed, the mechanical platform could be used by manually controlling the motors with switches to test it's performance.