Outernet Receiver L-Band and APRS Antenna design Competition

Here are my ideas for the Antenna design Competition. Syed has already agreed as per message below.


Proposal for a Inaugural World Wide Outernet Receiver L-Band and APRS Antenna design Competition.

The following Categories could be available.

Low cost antenna
Best Mobile Car / Boat antenna
Highest SNR Antenna
Experiment Antenna
APRS / Outernet Com-bi Antenna
General Purpose Antenna.
Smallest Antenna.
Best Overall / most popular.Antenna.

Best contribution to L-Band Antenna software

Prize for each could be at least a Outernet 1.0 Receiver engraved with the names of all Outernet staff and a framed Award.

More detailed Category description.

Low cost antenna. Less than $5.00 SNR Equivalent or better than current Patch Antenna.

Best Mobile Car / Boat antenna-Hardware combination… 180 Degree Hemispherical reception. ie Hard disk stabilization, Multiple directional antennas combined, Robotic directional , Omni-Helical etc.

Best General Purpose antenna. Must be weather Proof.

Highest SNR Antenna direct to RTL Dongle.

Experiment Antenna that is not practical to build commercially but displays a new property or technique in L-Band reception. ie Floating, Plasma arc antenna, High Mass antenna, Miniature etc all would be acceptable.

APRS / Outernet Combi Antenna. Since APRS return path is a intrinsic part of Outernet for Hams. A combination of both antennas will be very advantages. Must demonstrate Up-link APRS down-link Outernet.

Best Overall / most popular.Antenna.

Smallest Antenna. Smallest antenna that can consistently receive a Outernet signal for 24 hrs at the Outernet Headquarters in Chicago.

Best contribution to L-Band Antenna software. ie L-Band propagation tables, Antenna Calculator etc.

Al Antenna applicants must put up a thorough description of their proposed antenna design and agree to interact with all request for information advice etc.

All submitted designs must be open sourced and be available to every one.

Antenna submissions can be in Video (preferred) ,PowerPoint , Web-page, or PDF.

All Antenna submissions must document the reception report say over a 24 hour period if possible ( ie In experimental category this may not be possible)

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This is an excellent idea. We are in full support, but I worry that the turn out world be kind of thin–especially for all of those categories.

Thanks Syed. Lets wait a few days and get every ones input and then start to fine tune the ideas for the competition.

I think the main thing here is that anything that boosts Outernet Usage and creates L-Band knowledge is a winner for all.

I think if the same Antenna Design can be entered into multiple categories. Then I think we will have just the right amount of categories.

We are already seeing an incredible collection of user made antennas in the User Internet forum. This competition will be an excellent way of saying we love your Antenna design and enthusiasm and would love to reward your effort.

I was thinking about building an autonomous tracker for using outernet in vehicles. It would cost around $100 to build (in fact most of it comes as a kit). It would be even cheaper if the chip could be used to control it, not to mention more accurate. The hardest part would be calibrating the accelerometer.

That is perfect that could go in the Boat / Car antenna / hardware section.

Anyone ever build a basic steadycam rig?

Replace the handle with a dampened gimble (give it some friction) and add a digital magnetic compass sensor and a rotating collar (gyro heading) and you have a boat antenna. As long as you do not travel to far north or south, but that could be adjusted by hand as needed (barn door tracker), A 180 deg reversing switch if you cross the equator). You could ditch the arm and the weight and add a 9 DOF (about $10 with i2c interface online) sensor and add az/el (two servos, think helicopter swash plate gimble mount) and do a car mount. In fact all of the inverse kinematics are already solved in model helicopter control gyros… As long as you keep your car mostly facing upright you might even be able to put this together in a hobby store…


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Nice idea on the competition!

How would it be judged? I wonder if the any of the hams who wrote ARRL (and other) antenna books would be involved in judging–e.g. this one: http://www.arrl.org/shop/ARRL-Antenna-Book-23rd-Softcover-Edition/?page=1

Great idea. Will give me an excuse to open a few tuna fish cans < grin>

I’m not sure why I thought this was a good place to post that. I will make a new topic later it would be nice to get some opinions anyway.

I think some categories could be popular vote. Such as Low cost antenna.

Others would need judges.

Smallest could be the Outernet Office staff Judging.

I was thinking with APRS/L-Band Combi antenna Judging we could get Mr APRS Bob Bruninga, WB4APR Involved.

Th other big thing with this is sponsors. I wlll ask Syed if it is ok to ask other sponsors to donate prizes.

Can you give a brief explanation of your idea?

What would happen if you substituted 10,000 rpm hard drives for the weight?

I am working on a new topic right now. However my internet is kind of flaky right now. I should have it up soon as long as my internet doesn’t completely fail me.

Syed would you have a problem if I chased up some other sponsors for prizes as well.

Never mind I guess I will just post here since I keep getting “page cant be displayed” when trying to make a new topic. I don’t know if it is the forum or on my end.
I was thinking about using this arm from EBay.

with these servos, since the arm doesn’t come with them and are recommended.

Then using a gps receiver to find location coordinates, do some math that I haven’t wrapped my head around yet, to get azimuth. An accelerometer could be used as a compass to rotate the arm to the calculated azimuth. Up to here this project could be done with an Arduino. But it would be better if the chip could run it, because it would have access to tuner status. I know I can make this with just an Arduino, but I have never used a microcomputer until I got my chip in the DIY kit. Does this seem like something that could work? How difficult would it be to program the chip to control this?

In my experience there is already a tone of autopilot software that already does a lot of what you want.I think the programming would be doable.

The (azimuth) angle of the antenna to the satellite never changes as long as the car stays flat. Would be different on a boat.

But for a car you would only have to adjust for compass heading correction.

My suggestion is go for it. I would definitely want one of these servo based antennas.

Well I am going to do a lot of research before I spend the money. But as long as it is doable I will do it, even if it doesn’t get entered into your competition.

You could enter this in two categories.

  1. Car/ boat antenna.


In experimental we will be judging you concept and your “attempt” to make it work. I do not expect people to submit only successful experiments.

My hope is we broaden the knowledge through sharing everyone’s attempts.

Just not too sure, With the top in a mount that free floated to keep the antenna level to the horizon you would need something with more force to track the AZ to keep pointing south, or north if you are down under.


@Seasalt Sure thing. Go nuts!