Galileo is a European Union owned satellite navigation system. Galileo was created so that the EU does not need to rely on the US GPS or the Russian GLONASS satellites, as there is no guarantee that these systems won't be purposely turned off or degraded by their governments at any time.
Unfortunately since July 11 the Galileo system has been out of service. Not much information about the outage has been provided, but it appears to be related to problems with the Italian ground based Precise Timing Facility which consists of two ultra high precision atomic clocks that keep the Galileo systems' reference time. (We note that recently within the last few hours of this post, most satellites seem to have come back into operational status, but the EGSA website still reports an outage.)
Over on his blog, Daniel Estevez has been using his LimeSDR and a small patch antenna to gather some more information about the outage directly from the Galileo satellites. His investigations found that the modulation and signal itself are still working correctly. However, by using the GNSS-SDR software to investigate the signal data he was able to obtain the ephemeris, and see that the ephemeris is stuck in the past. The ephemeris data is used to calculate compensations for orbital drift and without frequent ephermis updates, orbital errors add up within hours resulting in poor positioning accuracy. In order to generate the ephermis, the Precise Timing Facility must be operational.
Daniel's post goes into further technical details about the information he's collected, and it's definitely an interesting read. One interesting bit of information that you can read from his post explains why the service has gone from initially just heavily degraded accuracy from July 11, to completely nonsense results from July 15 onwards.
The Es'Hail-2 satellite is positioned at 25.5°E which is over Africa. It's reception footprint covers Africa, Europe, the Middle East, India, eastern Brazil and the west half of Russia/Asia. There are two amateur transponders on the satellite. One is a narrow band linear transponder which uplinks from 2400.050 - 2400.300 MHz and downlinks from 10489.550 - 10489.800 MHz. Another is a wide band digital transponder for digital amateur TV (DATV) which uplinks from 2401.500 - 2409.500 MHz and downlinks from 10491.000 - 10499.000 MHz.
Daniel's ground station uses a LimeSDR Mini running on a Beaglebone Black. A 2.4 GHz WiFi parabolic grid antenna is used to transmit to the satellites digital amateur TV uplink. In order to generate enough power for the uplink transmission a GALI-84 amplifier chip is cascaded with a 100W power amplifier. All the electronics are enclosed in a watertight box and placed outside.
Over on his YouTube channel SignalsEverywhere, Corrosive has just released a new video titled "Software Defined Radio Introduction | What SDR To Buy? | Choose the Right one For You". The video is an introduction to low cost software defined radios and could be useful if you're wondering which SDR you should purchase.
The video includes a brief overview of the Airspy, KerberosSDR, PlutoSDR, LimeSDR Mini, HackRF, SDRplay RSPduo and various RTL-SDR dongles. In addition to the hardware itself Corrosive also discusses the compatible software available for each SDR.
Software Defined Radio Introduction | What SDR To Buy? | Choose the Right one For You
Steve notes that to get the Limesdr Mini to run in SDR# he simply had to download and extract into the SDR# folder a front end plugin developed by Goran Radivojevic (YT7PWR). After adding the front end plugin XML definition, it can now be found in the SDR# device selection menu. This plugin should work for the standard LimeSDR as well.
We note that this is the same procedure for other SDRs too, such as the PlutoSDR. If you have an SDR not supported by default in SDR#, search for "[your_sdr] + SDR# front end plugin" on Google, and if you are lucky you might find something already exisiting.
The GRAVES radar at 143.05 MHz is often used by amateur radio astronomers as a way to detect the echos of meteors entering the atmosphere. The basic idea is that meteors leave behind a trail of ionized air which is reflective to RF energy. This RF reflective air can reflect the signal from the powerful GRAVES space radar in France, allowing the radar signal to be briefly received from far away. Detecting the angle of arrival from these reflections could help determine where the meteor entered the atmosphere.
Their experiments used a pair of J-Pole antennas and a LimeSDR receiver. The LimeSDR has two channels and can receive the signal coherently from both channels. The phase difference in the received signals from the two antennas can then be measured, and the angle of arrival calculated.
In their testing the first tested with 145 MHz amateur radio satellites. Unfortunately due to the low elevation of the antennas and multipath from terrain obstructions an angle could not be calculated. In a second experiment they tried receiving terrestrial APRS signals. With APRS they were successful and were able to determine the angle of arrival from multiple stations. Unfortunately for GRAVES meteor echoes they were not entirely successful, citing multipath issues due to houses, and the need for a clear view of the horizon.
DAB stands for Digital Audio Broadcast and is a digital broadcast radio signal that is available in many countries outside of the USA. The digital signal encodes several radio stations, and it is considered a modern alternative/replacement for standard analog broadcast FM.
The tutorial is split into four parts. The first part simply explains what SDRs are and in particular discusses the LimeSDR and how it can be used with ODR-mmbTools. Part two discusses what hardware you need, and explains what each component of the ODR-mmbTools software does. Part three gets into the actual setup of the software on Linux. Part four finishes with actually transmitting the signal and decoding it with an RTL-SDR and the Welle.io DAB decoder.
The end result is a DAB radio station with three stations being broadcast.
Over on CrowdSupply LimeMicro are currently preparing to crowdfund their next project called 'LimeRFE'. LimeRFE is an RF front end power amplifier with filtering. It is designed to be used in conjunction with a LimeSDR or LimeSDR Mini. The LimeSDR and LimeSDR Mini are 12-bit TX and RX capable SDRs that were crowdfunded in the past. The LimeSDRs appear to be mostly aimed at cellular/industrial/commercial use cases, but there have been efforts (mostly from Marty Wittrock) to make the LimeSDR useful for ham radio.
For ham radio usage the LimeRFE front end module contains band filters for the HF band (1.6 - 30 MHz), the 2m band (144 - 146 MHz), the 70cm band (430 - 440 MHz), the 23cm band (1240 - 1325 MHz), the 13cm band (2300 - 2450 MHz) and the 3300 - 3500 MHz band. They do note that for HF use, additional filtering may still be required. On these bands the power amplifier is capable of boosting the power up to a P1 point of 35 dBm on the lower bands down to 26.5 dBm at 3 GHz.
The LimeRFE is not yet available for CrowdFundng as it is still in the prototype stages, but they note that the board is close to being finalized. You can sign up to be notified of when the board is ready on the Crowd Supply page.
Over on his YouTube channel SignalsEverywhere, Corrosive has uploaded a tutorial video that shows how to update the LimeSDR firmware and drivers. The LimeSDR Mini is a US$159 12-bit TX/RX capable SDR that can tune between 10 MHz – 3.5 GHz, with a maximum bandwidth of up to 30.72 MHz. The specs and price of the LimeSDR mini are pretty good, but documentation for actually using it can be a bit confusing, so videos like Corrosive's tutorial are great.
LimeSDR Mini Tutorial Drivers and Firmware Update on Windows 7/10