The actual details of the task:

We have a high gain Yagi antenna that is to be mounted on a rotating disk. The Yagi must be kept trained on an RC plane roughly 10-25 miles away, which is traversing a circular track around the antenna at speeds between 100 and 500 mph (ideally, the system should be able to track a target moving upwards of 800 mph, but that won't be important for 6-12 months). Some back-of-the-napkin calculations indicate that I should expect angular velocities between .5 mrad/s and 2.75 mrad/s. Also, our Yagi has a half-power beamwidth of about +/-15°, which gives me an upper bound on how off-course the system can be.

I have the following inputs available: GPS coordinates of the antenna (assumed to be fixed), GPS coordinates of the plane, kinematic data on the plane (heading, velocity, possibly acceleration), the amplitude of the received signal, and the gain envelope diagram from the manufacturer (the datasheet of the antenna we ordered is here).

Some questions to get this started:

- I'm familiar with MATLAB and Simulink, and was thinking of using them to design the system. Once I have a simulink file, how can I translate it into either code for an FPGA or hardware?
- What kind of pitfalls should I watch out for?
- Are there better tools available than MATLAB/Simulink? What do professionals use?
- Is this system simple enough to lend itself to my limited controls knowledge?

Discuss, and help!