This project is solving the PhoneSat: Convert Your Smartphone Into a Satellite challenge. Description
Video version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY2YKrCpRCk
The cost of satellite bandwidth varies a lot depending on the connection. The easiest, most expensive and slowest is geo-stationary. These far out satellites need only a fixed dish, are expensive to put into Space and have a lot of demand. The next are lower orbiting around the equator, they require a dish with one motor to track their orbit, they're less expensive but still in high demand. The satellites we want to use are polar orbit. Satellites that pass over the Poles and give Antarctic researchers bandwidth. As the Earth is turning at 90º to their orbit tracking requires a dish that can track in any direction. This makes them under used and the cheapest source of bandwidth in the inhabited latitudes.
A user puts this device down and turns it on. The Android phone orientates itself using compass, GPS & three axis level detection. A list of satellites is then consulted to find the cheapest bandwidth available. The dish is pointed at the satellite and the signal is used for a final calibration of how level the phone is. Now the phone connects to the satellite, becoming a wifi hotspot. If a cheaper connection appears over the horizon the connection is switched.
How we did it:
This project has has created three main parts: server side database of usable satellites, Android phone application that uses a copy of the database to find a target, a pocket sized robotic arm to automate tracking with any small satellite modem antenna.
The 3D printed physical tracker uses two servos, as that's that we found when we raided the prize box looking for parts. As all the printed parts are generated in software, not in CAD, a user just needs to define what motor and modem they're using for new 3D printer usable file to be generated.
try it outside; for which we need a directional satellite receiver with dB output, add the phone's compass reading to angle of the target; we were in a metal building so compass and GPS didn't work and so we ignored them, re-design the robotic arm into a phone holster, decide what to do when the phone's database copy is too; SMS lookup or a quick update via an expensive geostationary satellite.
Impact: This will make a big difference to people working away from infrastructure. We've approached a disaster relief charity to field test this project. Creativity: This is a a price comparison service. It allows people to automatically shop around for the cheapest bandwidth. It's not something any one communication provider would produce. Product: We want this to be a device with one button for power. We want it to be buildable with a few tools and a 3D printer. Sustainability: We have a clear view of the features we want to add, they're all simple things. We hope to test this with a range of satellite modems ad seek loans of equipment.
License: GNU Affero General Public License 3.0 (AGPL-3.0)"
Source Code/Project URL: https://github.com/GlenSearle/SpaceBaseStationForAndroid
Long video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY2YKrCpRCk
Short video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GVk6jGkeKw