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This paper describes the design methodology and low-cost solutions implemented in a low-cost 1K-element phased array system for mobile direct broadcasting satellite (DBS) reception. The techniques and configurations used to reduce the cost and complexity of the system are described in this paper. Moreover, the design of a novel compact sub-array antenna to reduce the overall size of the system, the signal processing unit to suppress the noise on feedback channel and the mechanical structure to make the system agile, light and low cost are presented. Three efficient, model-free beamforming techniques are discussed and their performances in terms of convergence speed and steady state behavior are compared using several road tests. Results show that the developed intelligent antenna can meet the stringent requirements of the highly dynamic mobile applications.