New Outernet Products For Sale: E4000 RTL-SDR, L-Band Patch Antenna, L-Band LNA

Outernet is a new satellite service that aims to be a free “library in the sky”. They continuously broadcast services such as news, weather, videos and other files from satellites. Their aim is to provide up to date information to users in locations with little to no internet (rural, third world and sea), or in countries with censored internet. It may also be of interest to disaster preppers. Currently they have an active Ku (12 – 18 GHz, though due to be discontinued shortly) and C-band (4 – 8 GHz) satellite service, and now recently have their L-band (1.5 GHz) service active. The L-band signal is currently broadcasting at 1539.8725 MHz over the Americas, 1545.525 MHz over Europe/Africa/India and 1545.9525 MHz over Asia/Pacific.

To receive their L-Band service you will need an RTL-SDR capable of receiving 1.5 GHz, like a R820T/2 RTL-SDR (preferably at least passively cooled like our RTL-SDR Blog models as some R820T/2 units tend to fail at 1.5 GHz without cooling) or an E4000 dongle. You will also need an appropriate L-Band antenna and L-Band amplifier.

To help with these hardware requirements, Outernet have just released for sale an E4000 RTL-SDR with bias tee enabled ($39), an L-band satellite patch antenna ($24) and an L-Band LNA ($19). There is also a E4000 + LNA bundle ($49) available. The E4000 comes in a metal case, and has the bias tee always on. The LNA requires bias tee power and is also compatible with our RTL-SDR Blog units that have the bias tee. The patch antenna is tuned for 1525 – 1559 MHz and is the production version of the prototype antenna we used in our Inmarsat STD-C tutorial. Combined with an LNA we found that the patch antenna gives good performance and can also be used to receive other services such as Inmarsat STD-C and AERO. Currently shipping is only available within the USA, but they write that they will have international shipping available shortly.

EDIT: For international buyers the Outernet store is now started selling these products at http://store.outernet.is.

The L-Band Outernet signal decoders aren’t finalized yet, but we expect them to be released in a matter of days to weeks. They will have decoders available for the $9 CHIP computer and Raspberry Pi 3 platforms. They way it works is that you plug your RTL-SDR with L-band LNA and patch antenna connected into the CHIP or Raspberry Pi 3 which is running their customized image. The CHIP/Pi3 then broadcasts a WiFi access point which you can then connect to with any device, and access the files as they are downloaded. Once these decoders are released we’ll do a full tutorial on receiving the Outernet L-Band service with an RTL-SDR.

The Outernet L-Band Patch Antenna
The Outernet L-Band Patch Antenna
The Outnernet L-Band LNA
The Outernet L-Band LNA
The Outernet E4000 RTL-SDR in metal case with bias tee.
The Outernet E4000 RTL-SDR in metal case with bias tee.

17 comments

  1. Chris Lowe

    I would like to run a long transmission line to the l band patch antenna to get it in the optimum place for a signal. Is there much issue on line loss?

    • admin

      Yes at 1.5 GHz there are definitely potential issues with line loss. Depending on how long and lossy the cable is, you’ll definitely need a high gain LNA to overcome those losses. Google for a coax loss calculator to see how much loss you’re getting at 1.5 GHz with your cable of choice. At 10m with quality RG6 cable you’d get about 4-5 dB loss, so you should be okay with the Outernet LNA placed next to the patch antenna.

  2. Mario

    Syed,
    Hey this is one exciting project, wish you and your staff the best of luck. One question, I see the L-band frequency for the Americas is 1539.8725 MHz, but what satellite are you using? Inmarsat 3F2 at 15.4W? Need this information to know where to point the patch antenna. Thank you very much!

  3. Mario

    Sounds very interesting, like the idea of the dongle with bias tee already enabled.

    The idea of packaging the dongle + LNA, then offering the patch antenna, all for sale on Amazon, makes venturing into this aspect of monitoring a snap.

    You can ascertain what type of tuner it is by opening up the case to be sure. From the Amazon site they claim frequency coverage is 25 – 1700 MHz; when I owned one of the original E4000 dongles from Nooelec, the coverage was 64 – 2200 MHz, so I am a bit perplexed, but for me it’s not a deal breaker as it has the bias-tee enabled; no need to have to unsolder teeny tiny SMT parts to enable the bias tee.

    Definitely ordering one, time for some new radio adventures.

  4. Adam

    Are you sure for the rest of the world frequency? Nothing received on 1545.9525 Mhz
    There is a signal on 1545.525 MHz and this was their previous channel, but see now again with reduced BW from 10KHz to 6KhHz wide channel?

    • Syed

      You are correct. It is 1545.525 in Europe/Africa/India. This may change in the coming weeks as we move from IOR to AlphaSat. We did reduce the channel bandwidth. The reason for that was to both have a stronger signal and also open up the APAC beam.

  5. Max

    The frequency range specifications for the Outernet dongle are those of the R820T. Are you sure they use the unavaialble E4000 chip?

    • admin

      Yeah i’m sure it’s the E4000, they probably just made a mistake in their listing, i’ll ask them to check the range later. These dongles are apparently produced by Nooelec, who seem to have the majority of the remaining E4000 stock, so I have no doubt it is the E4000.

      • phaged

        I received mine today. Cracked open the case and yes it’s an E4000 based dongle, custom board by Nooelec. Looks good. I think I see a polyfuse on the bias-T. Nice touch. The one I received tests from 52-2135MHz with a gap from 1093-1230Mhz. I also bought the LNA. It’s a MAX12000 with a SAW filter centered on 1542MHz between the first and second amplification stage.

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