The Las Vegas Boulevard Tracker

Created 23 November 2003

Updated 7 December 2004

*** Please also see the LVB Tracker 2 pages! ***

*** PCBs now available***

The LVB Tracker was originally presented at the 2003 AMSAT-UK Colloquium. It's a rotator interface designed to cover a number of limitations I've found with existing designs. 

It can be used as an alternative replacement to other rotator interfaces, for example FODTrack, the Yaesu GS-232, the Kansas City Tracker, etc. Although designed to be used with the Yaesu and Kenpro series of Az/El rotators, it may also be used with other rotators requiring a similar interface. 

Here's the main design features:

o    Inexpensive! Basic device without any options is $12 for the components

o    Several physical interface options including RS-232, USB and TCP/IP over 10/100 Ethernet

o    Uses standard software interface (currently Yaesu GS-232)

o    Cross-platform compatibility - Windows, Linux, BSD, Mac

o    Compatible with existing real-time prediction programs such as Wisp and Nova

o    Open source

o    Integrated firmware programmer for easy installation and upgrade

o    No requirement to solder SMT devices

o    Bidirectional interface

LVB Tracker PCB (click to enlarge)


Q1. Where can I get a PCB?

A1. PCBs are now distributed by AMSAT-UK and every one you buy directly funds new satellites!

Q2. I don't have any PIC programmer hardware - can you supply a pre-programmed PIC?

A2. Part of the design ethos was that there should be no requirement for any programming hardware, and that firmware upgrades could be performed in the field. I don't provide pre-programmed PICs because you don't need a dedicated PIC programmer. The LVB Tracker includes an integrated programmer, but currently it must be programmed from a PC running Windows 9x/ME/NT/2K/XP through a standard RS-232 serial port (not through a USB/RS-232 converter) using the programming software provided. 

Q3. I want to use the LVB Tracker to provide speed control.

A3. So do I. It's on the wish list. I don't know if this will work with the normal Yaesu/Kenpro rotators though.

Q4. Why is there no tuner incorporated with the tracker?

A4. There are a few reasons for this. The LVB Tracker is not autonomous, and requires a host computer to provide real-time prediction data. Unlike the GS-232 software protocol for rotators, there are no common standards for providing range-rate Doppler data for external tuners. Even if there were, the PIC used in this implementation would not have enough room in its ROM to implement all the many different radio programming protocols. Automated radio Doppler correction can already be achieved directly from readily-available software running on the host computer, such as WispDDE.

Documentation & Software

Everything below in one Zip file (1.5Mb)

amsat colloquium 2003 rotator.doc Original documentation
LVB Tracker Documentation Documentation update
lvbtrack.gif Schematic update
lvbtrack3solo.pdf PCB layout update
lvbtrack2usb.pdf USB header PCB layout update
LVBTrack.c Firmware source code
LVBTrack.hex Firmware hex file
PicProg.c Programmer source code
PicProg.exe Programmer executable (Windows)
Readme.txt Shortform update documentation
The Las Vegas Boulevard Tracker Interface.ppt Colloquium PowerPoint presentation

Previous releases...

Rel0_1 Rel0_2 Rel0_3 Rel0_4 Rel0_6 Rel0_7 Rel0_8 Rel0_9

Mail Howard, G6LVB