Forum: Virtual Classroom - Why Do You Need Arduino At All?

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Why Do You Need Arduino At All?

On your diagram ( you are going to control the az-el tracking by Arduino with Pololu drivers. Most (everyone I ever heard about) single-board computers, however, have more than enough controlled pins to control drivers on their own. CHIP also have some.

So why not avoid the Arduino? It will decrease the price little bit and will make the system more simple and reliable.Yuriy 26th Feb 2016
That is a fantastic question Yuriy and one we agree with 100%!!

The current diagram on the website is based on an older design which we are revising right now.

As a matter of fact, we have spent a large part of this week rewriting the software to be able to use a Raspberry Pi or C.H.I.P. to talk directly with the Polou boards using the GPIO pins as you suggest and eliminate the Arduino all together.

That was a great suggestion and feedback!

What other redundant things have we overlooked???

Wade 26th Feb 2016
> What other redundant things have we overlooked???

Well, SDR# :)

As far as you have Linux-capable computer inside your tracking station, you can run GNURadio directly on it. In most cases there are more then enough performance for SDR. GPS may lack more performance, but not for sure - maybe it's just matter of implementation.

It's separate topic for discussion, anyway. Yuriy 26th Feb 2016
Of course SDR#. :-)

As I think you can tell, we're in the transition phase between handheld antennas operated by students on laptops and a more formal and automated tracking station in each location.

As we begin shipping revised station kits in the very near future, the online information will have to be adapted as well, but at the moment, it should still be possible for a student in Kenya to follow what is posted already on the site, and track the ISS.

Thanks for the feedback. We welcome it all.


Wade 26th Feb 2016
SDR# is good, but the core software changes quite frequently and the plugins must be re-written... so older versions must be used to be stable.

SDR-Console by Simon Brown has sat tracking built-in and is much easier to set up, in my opinion.. and version 3.0 is due to be released in a few weeks, which will make major improvements over version 2.x.. problem is SDR-Console is for Windows only... whereas, SDR# runs on almost any OS..

bobbie Bobbie 1st Mar 2016
Hi Bobbie

We've played with SDR-Console quite a lot to investigate it as a potential alternative to SDR#. The current release is excellent, and far more advanced than we need.

Our ultimate aim is to have our own dedicated SDR software that is perfect for ThumbSat and ThumbNet, pretty good for general satellite listening and space science, and OK for most other SDR uses. In the meantime, we'll certainly continue to experiment with SDR-Console.

Thanks Shaun 2nd Mar 2016
I know this is a couple days late, but as a note, we did reach out to Simon to ask if he might be interested in helping develop a streamlined ThumbNet specific application. Unfortunately, his work load is as high as can be and he was forced to decline.

We will continue to explore and see what works best for the ThumbNet community.


Wade 7th Mar 2016
I am a member of Simon's yahoo group and know that he is very very busy. He is working to release version 3.0 of his software about March 25th. And he is very busy with the commercial version of his software.

Thanks for asking him..

Bobbie 10th Mar 2016