Final Project

Unauthorized Drone Tracker

A device that can detect the presence of an unauthorized drones and send its live location to the concerned authorities.

Initial Idea

A device that can detect the presence of an unauthorized drones through distributing detection nodes all around the city to provide a full coverage for the area. In the UAE, we have General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) which applies regulations on flying drones and practising recreational aerial sports and activities. Some of the safety measures under the regulations are licensing and registration procedures, identification of no-flying zones, laying down rules for pilots flying the drones and penalties in case of violation and maintaining the airworthiness of the drones. The regulations aim to ensure safety in air and on land. It also aims at protecting user data and their privacy. Many users have wrong practices and unauthorized uses of the drones, thus the aim of having these nodes is to detect the drone ID and location and communicate with the local police to do the required action. This will be used by and limited to the military, police and first responders only, which will help to keep drones out of restricted airspace.

Question Answer
What will it do? Detect drone flights that fly above the authorized level.
Who's done what beforehand? Currently unauthorized flights are detected on spot. Authorization process includes signing up on form that contains route of the flight for limited duration only.
What did you design? A piece that can be attached to drones that enter the country that will act as a tracker and communicate constantly to the authority station to report any unauthorized flights. The design was made based on on a fablab made drone satshacopter 250X and tried it also on one of the existing drones.
What materials & components were used? For the electronics:
  • PCB microcontroller that i designed which uses same components as arduino using Atmega 328p
  • GPS sensor
  • SIM module
  • Pressure Sensor
  • Battery 2500mAH 3.8V
  • LM2596 dc-dc converter
For the enclosure:
  • 2D: Black Acrylic 6mm
  • 2D: Vinyl Red Sticker
  • 3D:Z-ABS pure black
Where did they come from? Fablab
How much did they cost? Almost all of the materials were found in the lab, some only were purchased through dealers and local markets.The following table shows a breakdown of the materials used and their unit price, note that the price is considered approximate since the lab buys the items in bulk amount and thus usually the unit price will cost way less than when it is bought individually.
What parts and systems were made?
  • The Enlosure of the detection device
  • The microcontroller PCB
  • Integration of all components with the microcontroller
What processes were used?
  • CAD design for enclosure using Fusion 360 Software
  • Electronic Design for pcb using Eagle Software and flatcam to generate gerber files
  • 3D printing the enclosure using Zortax M200 printer,Z-suite software, Ultimaker printer and software for importing design to printer
  • Electronic production using Roland SRM-20 for Milling the PCB
  • Computer Controlled Cutting using Universal Laser System (CO2) for cutting acrylic for enclosure base
  • Soldering for components
  • Computer Controlled Cutting using Roland CAMM-1 GS-24 for Vinyl stickers and using Corel Draw 2017 and Roland Cut Studio Softwares to import design
  • Programming and integrating all components using Arduino IDE
What questions were answered? Throughout the project creation, I was able to answer the following questions that i asked in the previous weeks:
  • How will it detect that the drone is flying?
  • How to detect that the drone is flying above the approved level?
I was able to answer it by adding the pressure sensor which wasn't initially there, to answer and solve the issue that arised from those questions
What worked? What didn’t? What worked:
  • GPS gave accurate locations
  • Pressure Sensor limits to indicate the Maximum Height that the drone can stay below
  • Sim Module to communicate the message to the receiver side
  • Combining the logic in one code and test the conditions
What Hasn't:
  • GPS output format changes if we use software serial, it is readible but not as easy as the normal format when it is conneted direct to the RX pin, solution will be using a different GPS module in the future.
  • To control the gap duration between every sent message through sim module
  • To stop from sending the same alert messsage if drone is almost in same area
How was it be evaluated? When the device can detect unauthorized drone flights after it exceeds the authorized height and can communicate the coordinates of this drone to the receiver side (authority in real life).
What are the implications? As mentioned before, the project is targeted to be used by and limited to the military, police, and first responders only. I am working currently with one of those sectors to submit and present the project idea on them and look into how we can proceed further, since currently detection methods happen only on site and there isn't a solution to detect public drones remotely unless they are near sensitive zones such as airports, jails, military and so.

Fabrication Processes

Electronic Design & Production

Using the knowledge acquired from the Electronic Production & Electronic Design weeks, i was able to design a microcontroller for my project that mimics the arduino microcontroller with making some essential changes to adapt it with my components. There has been some changes to the design but after i milled it, some components were omitted such as the regulator, and the terminals on the board were replaced by 3 external terminals where the main input will be from the battery and then it will power the main board (through LM2596 dc-dc converter) and the Sim Module. The schematic also contains the labels for connection of the components to the board as per the code that will be executed.


After asking several questions, the initial concept was a bit changed. The detection device, that mimics the "Black Box" of the drone, will contain 3 main components:
  • GPS GP-20U7: To send the coordinates of the drone after unauthorized detection to the control center.
  • Sim Module IOT-GA6: To communicate the coordinates to the control center.
  • Pressure Sensor BMP180: To detect the altitude above the sea level of the current city from the barometric pressure.
Thus, the logic of the code was written so that the BMP180 keeps reading the altitude, and whenever it exceeds the allowed height, it starts reading the location from GP-20u7 and communicate it through the Sim module as a text message.The devices and codes were tested individually and explained during Input Devices Week and Output Devices Week.

Programming Code

#include <SoftwareSerial.h>
String inWord;
char inByte;
String data;
SoftwareSerial GPS_Serial(10, 11); // RX, TX 11 is not connected
SoftwareSerial mySerial(3, 2); // Rx & Tx is connected to SIM module Tx and Rx
#include "<Wire.h>"
#include <Adafruit_Sensor.h>
#include <Adafruit_BMP085_U.h>
Adafruit_BMP085_Unified bmp = Adafruit_BMP085_Unified(10085);
/* Calculating altitude with reasonable accuracy requires pressure, sea level pressure for the position at the moment the data is converted, as well as the ambient temperature in degress celcius. Usually the sea level hPa have a 'generic' value of 1013.25hPa can be used defined as "SENSORS PRESSURE SEALEVELHPA" from "Adafruit_Sensor.h" library, but this isn't ideal and will give variable results from one day to the next.A more accurate value can be taken from the local <a href="" ><b>Aviation Meteorology NCM</b></a> for UAE in my case.   */
void setup() {
  // Start the GPS module

  Serial.println("Pressure Sensor Test"); Serial.println("");
  /* Initialize the sensor */
    /* There was a problem detecting the BMP085 ... check your connections */
    Serial.print("Ooops, no BMP085 detected ... Check your wiring or I2C ADDR!");


void loop() {
  sensors_event_t event;

    if(bmp.pressureToAltitude(seaLevelPressure, event.pressure) >= 1){  // number 1 here is just a value used for test, but this should be chnaged with the maximum height the drone can fly to.
  while (GPS_Serial.available() > 0) {
        inByte =;
        if (inByte == '\n') {
 // check is data we want
 // you can change this to get any data line values
            if (inWord.startsWith("$GPRMC")) {
                // put data string in variable
                data = inWord;
mySerial.println("AT"); //Handshaking with SIM
mySerial.println("AT+CMGF=1"); // Configuring TEXT mode
mySerial.println("AT+CMGS=\"+ZZxxxxxxxxxxx\"");//change ZZ with country code and xxxxxxxxxxx with phone number to sms
mySerial.print("unauthorized drone flight detected at:");
mySerial.print(data); //text content
                // clear the inword variable
                inWord = "";
            } else {
                // clear the inword variable as not the data we want
                inWord = "";
        } else {
            // build data string
            inWord += inByte;   
    } // end if serial



void updateSerial()
  while (Serial.available()) 
    mySerial.write(;//Forward what Serial received to Software Serial Port
    Serial.write(;//Forward what Software Serial received to Serial Port


3D Printing

The enclosure design was made based on the components size and also based on the structure of the drone i chose which is the satshacopter 250X that was made in the lab. The internal structure "legs" were designed to lift components and to use the space efficently and reduce the size of the enclosure.
  • Zortax M200 printer & Z-suite software were used for the main enclosure
  • Ultimaker printer and Cura software were used for the internal leg structure


Computer Controlled Cutting

The base of the 3D enclosure was made to attach it to the upper frame of the satshacopter 250X, it is made from Black Acrylic 3mm and the design is the same as the upper frame of the satshacopter 250X with few modifications from the screw sides to be attached to the 3D enclosure. Universal Laser Cutting Machine was used.
I also used Roland to cut vinyl sticker in red color and to place it on the upper side of the 3D just to give an option for an alerting color for the enclosure.

Future Improvements

There are many plans to improve the system performance and design which include the following:
  • To explore other network communication methods that consume less current and size-wise smaller.
  • To explore other GPS modules that displays the information while connected to the RX or software serial ports which can be readible and user friendly.
  • To look onto several methods of connecting the devices and show them on a map such as google map, to allow live streaming and that can be easy to target and track and follow up for the authority control center.
  • To look for more sustainable options for the battery for longitivity and to track the levels in case power went off.
  • Drone ID should be linked to the user ID to impose penalties in case of violation.
  • To explore vandal proof materials for the enclosure and to send an alert in case someone tries to open it.

Presentation & Video


I would like to express my deepest appreciation to Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Distinguished Academic Performance and FabLab UAE for giving me this great opportunity to enroll in fabacademy 2020 cycle led by the creator of this program Prof.Neil Gershenfeld. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to our instructor Hashim Nabil for the continuous support, patience, motivation, enthusiasm, and immense knowledge, we have enjoyed our time working under your leadership. Finally, I could not have completed this program without the support of my colleagues , we always worked as a team and shared our experience and encouraged each other throughout this journey.