Raspberry Pi Satellite Tracking Globe is Out of This World

Raspberry Pi Satellite Tracker
(Image credit: Matthew Walker)

It takes a down-to-earth maker with their head in the clouds like Matthew Walker to pull off a Raspberry Pi project like this. Using a Raspberry Pi, this globe (a former Ikea lampshade) displays the current location of a given satellite in real-time.

It works by projecting a laser from inside the globe so it appears as a red, glowing dot on the surface. A Pi Zero controls two stepper motors that rotate the laser into place, approximating the low orbit location.

The code used to operate the laser mechanism was made with Python. It checks for XYZ coordinates, the present time and even takes into account the rotation of the Earth. Once everything is calculated, the stepper motors move the laser to the appropriate location.

The Pi Zero and laser is powered via USB while the stepper motors draw power from a battery bank. The globe only runs for a little over an hour before it needs to recharge.

If you want to check out this project in-depth, visit the full thread on Reddit. Walker delves into the code a little deeper, explaining the nuance of how the laser location is calculated. You can also follow him on YouTube for more cool Pi projects.

Ash Hill
Contributing Writer

Ash Hill is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.