The Phoenix Ground Station
The Phoenix ground station projects has its name from the correspondent sacred firebird from ancient mythology, always reborn anew to live again (see Wikipedia article). The name hints that the project is a rebirth of used equipment and the continuation of previous SSIMUC projects.
The aim of the Phoenix project is the implementation of a ground station in the 3m class. Its purpose is to be an experimental station that offers the possibility for hands-on work in satellite communications, for example in the framework of the university's Satellite Communication Lab.
Location. At the moment, the ground station is not yet at its final position but in an university workshop. The final location most likely will be the roof of the N4 building at TUM's main campus.
Tracking Mechanism. The "Phoenix" idea behind the projects becomes particularly obvious in the tracking mechanism. Designing and implementing a tracking mechanism would require considerable work, and procuring one would mean great efforts in terms of money. Therefore, an unconventional yet promising solution was chosen for implementation. Tracking shall be done by an industrial robotic arm moving the dish.
Tracking Control Hardware. Despite little documentation available for the robotic armís motors, it was possible to figure out how to control them and how to read back the position using the angular encoders. This means it is not necessary to buy expensive dedicated control hardware, but rather go for a combination of low-cost off-the-shelf components and hardware developed in-house.
Tracking Control Software. Yet again, the control software is planned to be sourced from already existing resources, following Phoenix's concept. An appropriate software, developed in the framework of the European Student Earth Orbiter project, is already in existence. It uses the popular SGP4/SDP4 algorithms to derive a satellites's orbital trajectory from NORAD-type two-line element sets. (Have a look at a screenshot.)
RF equipment. The RF equipment work package will be a playground to develop, test and improve, taking into account experience from previous projects. For example, cheap yet proven amateur radio equipment and procedures can be used.