How to increase range for BVLOS operations

Antenna tracking is a critical component of many drone applications, including aerial photography, surveying, and search and rescue operations. The ability to maintain a stable and reliable connection between the drone and its control station is essential for safe and efficient drone operations. In this blog post, we will explore how to use ArduPilot to implement antenna tracking for drones.

What is Antenna Tracking?

Antenna tracking is the process of using a motorized antenna system to keep a drone’s communication link with its control station in a stable and reliable state. This is accomplished by continuously adjusting the position of the antenna to maintain a direct line-of-sight connection with the drone. Antenna tracking can be performed manually, but this is often impractical, especially when the drone is flying at high speeds or over long distances. Automated antenna tracking systems are therefore used to ensure that the drone’s communication link remains stable and reliable.

How Does ArduPilot Implement Antenna Tracking?

ArduPilot is an open-source software platform that is widely used in drone flight control applications. It provides a flexible and customizable framework for implementing antenna tracking. The basic principle behind antenna tracking with ArduPilot is to use the drone’s GPS position data and telemetry information to calculate the optimal position for the antenna. This calculation takes into account the drone’s altitude, position, and heading, as well as the location of the control station.

ArduPilot uses a motorized antenna system to adjust the position of the antenna continuously. The antenna is typically mounted on a pan-tilt system, which allows it to move in two dimensions. The ArduPilot software sends commands to the pan-tilt system to adjust the antenna’s position based on the calculated optimal position.

Configuring Antenna Tracking in ArduPilot

To configure antenna tracking in ArduPilot, you will need to set up the hardware and adjust the software parameters. Here are the basic steps to get started:

  1. Set up the hardware: You will need a motorized antenna system that can be controlled by ArduPilot. This typically involves a pan-tilt system, a motor controller, and a GPS module. You will need to mount the antenna on the pan-tilt system and connect it to the motor controller and GPS module.
  2. Configure the software: You will need to configure the ArduPilot software to enable antenna tracking. This involves setting up the GPS module and telemetry link, as well as adjusting the software parameters to suit your drone’s characteristics.
  3. Test and adjust: After configuring the software, it’s important to test your drone’s antenna tracking in a controlled environment. You can use a simulator or fly your drone in a safe area to observe its behavior and make any necessary adjustments to your software parameters.

Benefits of Antenna Tracking with ArduPilot

Antenna tracking is essential for many drone applications, especially those that require reliable communication links over long distances or in challenging conditions. With ArduPilot, you can implement automated antenna tracking to ensure that your drone’s communication link remains stable and reliable. ArduPilot is an open-source platform, which means that it is highly customizable and can be adapted to suit a wide range of drone configurations and use cases. Additionally, ArduPilot has a large and active community of developers and users, which means that you can find support and resources online to help you optimize your drone’s antenna tracking performance.


Antenna tracking is a critical component of many drone applications, and ArduPilot provides a flexible and customizable framework for implementing automated antenna tracking. By using ArduPilot, you can ensure that your drone’s communication link remains stable and reliable, even in challenging flight conditions. With the right hardware and software configuration, you can optimize your drone’s performance to increase the range for BVLOS operations.

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