Using the Raspberry Pi and GPredict software to track Funcube-1 (or many other) satellites

A couple of days ago, I had an email from Terry M0CLH who said that he was using his Raspberry Pi computer and GPredict software to track satellites. One of the things I really like about the Raspberry Pi is its’ ability to run particular applications without tying up the main computer, so I thought Terry’s idea was a good one.

This morning I decided I would see if I could get it going. It proved to be even simpler than I imagined! Boot your Pi up, and then start up a terminal window (LX Terminal). Then type

sudo apt-get install gpredict

The Pi will then download and install the GPredict software for you and return to the commaind prompt once it has finished.

To start the software up, from your terminal window, simply type


The software will then start. You need to do a little configuration to tell the program where you are (the default is Copenhagen where the author lives!).

Click Edit/Preferences and then select the Ground Stations tab. Hit Add New and you can add the details for your location, latitude/longitude and your altitude. Save that, then you can delete the sample location of Copenhagen and make your own the default.

Whilst you’re in preferences, you can decide on the layout of the screen. If you’ve got a nice large monitor, then the optimum is Map, table, polar and single sat (wide), but you can play around and see what suits you best. I found I had to restart the program to see those changes take effect.

Around now it might be good to check that you have the latest satellite data, which the program will download for you. Choose Edit/Update TLE/From network and wait for the update to complete.

Finally, you’ll want to configure which satellites you are tracking. The software defaults to the Amateur radio module. Click on the module options/shortcuts which is in the top right of the main window, just below the main Windows controls (minimise, maximise and close). Click on that, then configure…

You can then choose which satellites you want to track. Funcube-1 or AO-73 is not showing up under those names, but it is thought to be 2013-066B, so you can search for that and include it. Other satellites that I included were FO-29, ISS, SO-50 and VO-52. Your choice may vary.

You should now see the position of all your satellites plotted on the screen.

If you want to see more about a particular satellite, highlight it in the list at the bottom and right mouse to select ‘Show next pass’ or ‘Future Passes’.

GPredict software works nicely on the Pi. It does seem to max the processor out pretty well, but it’s quick to start up and shut down if you want to do something else.

Happy tracking!

Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

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