Thank you to Carl Reinemann for writing in and sharing with us that the Meteor M2 LRPT decoder by Oleg (Robonuka) was recently updated. The Russian Meteor M2-3 weather satellite was launched in June of this year and is currently the only operational Meteor M2 satellite in the sky. It transmits images at 137 MHz in the digital LRPT format.
To receive it a simple V-Dipole antenna and RTL-SDR is usually sufficient. And to decode it software like SatDump or M2_LRPT_DECODER combined with the Meteor Demodulation Plugin for SDR# can be used. Instructions for the latter are available on HappySats instructional page.
Regarding the update Carl writes:
Thanks to Oleg (Robonuka), Happysat and Usradioguy have been testing the new decoder for about 6 weeks now, and it is ready to go!
The stability of the processing has been improved: The decoder is now more likely to produce stable results, even when there are errors in the input data.
The procedure for generating RGB and calculating GEO in the error-handling block has been improved. Now, the decoder's processing is considered unfinished until the GEO calculation is completed.: This means that the decoder will now wait until the GEO calculation is finished before generating the RGB values. This helps to prevent errors and produce more accurate results.
Exception errors fixed: Some errors that were previously causing the decoder to crash have been fixed.
AutoClose=yes by default: This means that the decoder will now automatically close when it is finished decoding. This can be helpful for saving resources and preventing memory leaks.
80K is much more stable: The decoder is now more stable than before. This means that it is less likely to crash or produce unexpected results.
Overall, these changes make the decoder more reliable and easier to use.
A MMDVM is usually a computing device running multiple radios, each of which is used for a separate channel with it's own filters and power amplifier hardware. Each channel can run a separate protocol if desired.
However in order to save on radio hardware, Adrian wanted to use his LimeSDR as the radio hardware in his MMDVM system. The LimeSDR is a transceiver which has enough bandwidth to implement several channels just by itself. To do this Adrian uses his MMDVM-SDR software.
His implementation runs multiple instances of MMDVM-SDR, one instance for each channel. Then a GNU Radio flowgraph with LimeSDR block connects to each of these instances, transferring data between GNU Radio and MMDVM-SDR via ZeroMQ or TCP sockets. The bulk of Adrian's post explains the architecture in detail. Adrian writes:
The setup can transmit 7 digital carriers in 200 kHz occupied spectrum, and each radio channel can be assigned to a different mode or digital voice network as configured in MMDVMHost.
This is based on the work of Jonathan Naylor G4KLX and Rakesh Peter (r4d10n).
Adrian also notes that this is still a work in progress and there are still several limitations including high latency and issues with filtering, overload and poor channel rejection.
One talk by Alex Pettit describes how to build a radio telescope from a an umbrella and some "Faraday fabric" which is copper cloth. The results show more than adequate performance for the cost, making this an affordable and easy entry to radio astronomy.
Alex Pettit - Umbrella Antennas
Another video presented by Dr. Wolfgang describes building small to medium sized radio telescopes. He explains how small radio telescopes less than 3 meters in size can work well for receiving the 21cm Hydrogen line, and how SDRs are the best choice of receiver for them. Many examples of small dish installations are shown.
Dr. Wolfgang Herrmann: Building Small/Medium Size Radio Telescopes
Over on the saveitforparts YouTube channel the creator has uploaded a video showing how he was able to image geosynchronous satellites with his modified motorized RV satellite dish. The idea is to scan the sky using the motorized dish, taking Ku-band RF power readings at each point in the sky. The result forms a heatmap image of satellite transmissions in the sky. For the most part, the satellites detected are TV satellites and they are at known positions in the sky.
However, in one of his recent scans saveitforparts appears to have detected an unknown satellite just outside of the geostationary plane. He goes on to discuss what it could have been, noting that it is most likely to be the AMSC 1 telecommunications satellite.
Recently I spotted a strange "UFO" with my homemade radio telescope / microwave imager. I've used this imager before to spot television satellites in geostationary orbit, but this unknown object was something new to me.
Spoiler Alert: I was able to determine that I'm probably seeing a geosynchronous (but not geostationary) satellite in an inclined / elliptical orbit. Specifically, I think this is the AMSC-1 telecom satellite, which is in a type of orbit designed to cover high latitudes like Northern Canada.
These types of satellites don't seem to show up too often on my telescope / imager setup, since they're not as common and aren't usually aimed directly at my location. This is the first time I've managed to spot one (if that's what I'm seeing), so it seems kind of rare to catch it with this particular equipment!
Folks might also ask if this "UFO" could be the sun or moon producing microwave signals, but those were both off to the left of the scan, not where the mystery signal showed up. It's also probably not a reflection / side lobe / "lens flare", I do get those, but they show up as rings around the main signals, and in fact this mystery signal has its own faint ring around it. Since my dish takes 3-4hrs to do a full scan, this also isn't something fast like a plane or low-orbit satellite as those don't show up on my imager (I'm essentially taking a very long time exposure).
I'm still planning to upgrade / rebuild this mini radiotelescope device in the future, hopefully with more flexibility to pick up different frequencies. That should let me see even more satellites (and maybe other space stuff!).
Mysterious Space Object Detected With DIY Radio Telescope
In his Hackaday.io post (and a post on the main Hackaday blog), Tom Farnell explains how he used two 10-meter tape measures combined with an RTL-SDR Blog V3 software defined radio to receive numbers stations in the HF bands. We want to add that this antenna isn't restricted to just numbers stations, and could receive many different types of shortwave and amateur stations on HF.
In his post Tom explains what numbers stations are and why they are interesting. In brief, a numbers station is a radio broadcast of a voice saying a bunch of numbers continuously. These stations are known to be espionage related, containing some sort of coded message for international spies to decode.
Tom goes on to show how the antenna is constructed. As HF antennas need to be long to get the best reception, Tom uses the long metal tape measure and attached it to the included dipole assembly that comes with the RTL-SDR to increase them to an appropriate length.
Can You Pick Up Number Stations With A Tape Measure Antenna ?
Over on his YouTube channel Aaron who created and maintains the DragonOS SDR Linux distribution, has uploaded a video demonstrating how to use an RTL-SDR and SoftEOT/PyEOT to decode North American wireless train telemetry.
HOT (Head of Train), EOT (End of Train) and DPU (Distributed Power Unit) telemetry is sent from various parts of a train and contains information about things like voltages, brake line pressure and to monitor for accidental separation of the train.
In his video Aaron uses his DragonOS Linux distribution, SDR++ with an RTL-SDR Blog V4 dongle and the SoftEOT and SoftDPU decoders. SoftEOT and SoftDPU are both Windows programs, however Aaron shows how to use WINE to run them in Windows. Later he shows how to use an alterative decoder called PyEOT which is based on GNU Radio.
Over on his YouTube channel dereksgc has uploaded a new video where he tests out a new yet to be released downconverter product from NooElec. A downconverter works by shifting high frequencies down into a range that can be received by the RTL-SDR. This makes it useful for receiving 2.2 GHz S-band satellite downlinks which is out of the tuning range of RTL-SDR dongles.
In his video dereksgc shows the new 'Ham-it-down' downconverter, and tests it with an LNA and S-band helix feed and dish. He shows that he is able to easily receive S-band telecommunications satellites without a dish, and with a dish he is able to receive the Coriolis and Chandrayaan-3 satellites.
The ham-it-down is expected to cost US$90 when released. We note that a much lower cost solution might be a commercial 2.2 GHz MMDS downconverter which also comes built in with an LNA and filtering and can be obtained from Aliexpress for less than US$20. Alternatively, the $90 might be better put towards a HackRF clone which is almost the same price and can receive S-band natively without the need for external downconverter.
Receiving 2.2 GHz with the RTL-SDR and Nooelec Ham It Down
If you weren't already aware, KrakenSDR is our 5-channel coherent radio based on RTL-SDRs, and it can be used for applications like radio direction finding. KrakenSDR is in stock and can be purchased from CrowdSupply or Mouser. More information is also available on our website at krakenrf.com.
Last month we used the KrakenSDR to find the location of a low power FM transmitter. Now in this video we're using KrakenSDR to find the location of GSM base station transmit towers for four frequencies. We're also using the multi-vfo feature to capture the bearing data of these four frequencies simultaneously which can save us some search time.
Once we've found the first transmit tower, we already have some logged bearing data that can be used to help us find the second tower faster. Then the third and fourth towers are even faster to find due to even more data having already been collected.
Interestingly, it also turns out that the first frequency we search for is actually being used by another tower that we pass along the way back. The location of this tower was picked up on the drive back to the first tower. It's possible that these two towers which are a few kilometers apart are covering different areas with directional antennas.
Also note that the first two transmitter searches use the "auto-zoom" map camera feature, which will automatically zoom the screen to show both the vehicle and estimated transmitter location. The second half uses the standard free camera mode.
This is on a new build of the App which is currently in testing, so some things may look slightly different to the currently released version. The new app version will have some minor feature improvements.
KrakenSDR: Finding Multiple GSM Base Station Transmit Towers with the Multi-VFO Feature