Lantern: A New 925 MHz to 2175 MHz RTL2832U Based SDR for Satellite Reception

Over on Reddit we’ve seen news about a new 925 MHz to 2175 MHz RTL2832U based software defined radio which is currently under development. It is called the “Lantern” and is being developed for the Outernet project.

The Outernet project aims to be a “library in the sky” satellite based service that will provide free access to daily downloads of data such as books, news, videos and other information. It’s goal is to provide people who may not have easy physical or uncensored access to the internet an easy way to access daily information.

Outernet Overview Poster
Outernet Overview Poster

To achieve this goal the Outernet project needs a good low cost satellite receiver. The RTL-SDR is a good candidate, but it’s performance at about 1.5 GHz isn’t great, and this appears to be the frequency Outernet wants to use. To improve the performance for satellite reception at these frequencies they have redesigned the RTL-SDR by replacing the R820T2 tuner with a MAX2120 tuner chip which tunes from 925 MHz to 2175 MHz. They have also improved the components used and the PCB layout. The regular RTL2832U chip is used as the ADC and USB interface, so the maximum bandwidth and ADC bit depth remain the same.

The Lantern is currently being prototyped and there is a discussion about it on Reddit. They are aiming for a price point below $20, but note that it will take time to get to that low price as mass production will be required.

The current Lantern prototype.
The current Lantern prototype.

6 comments

  1. Mario

    I hope this board will available soon, would like to try it with SDR# or HDSDR for L-band reception. Best reception might be using a satellite dish and an L band antenna at the focal point, as shown in later posts. An inexpensive in-line preamp such as the Eagle Aspen, mounted at the dish, would boost the signal.

  2. Damon Schaefer

    Please put a TCXO in it. These DBV-S signals need a good solid center freq to maximize the data rate, especially when it takes such skill to point a dish and keep it oriented.

  3. signalclear

    please use a tcxo instead of the crystal oscillator for the latern. or offer a enhanced version with txco for more money.

  4. JAACK

    Tony; There is a win 7 & 8.1 version of SDRSHARP that is open source too, making it free, plus there is weather satellite imagery program; to see the NOAA satellite images captured every 30 minutes of earth, broadcast in image format open sourced here too.
    The GOES satellites transmit data on 1691 and 1685.7 MHz. The NOAA polar orbiters use frequencies in the 137-138 and 1698-1707 MHz bands. see http://noaasis.noaa.gov/NOAASIS/ml/faqs.html See arrl.org on making antennas for the freq you want. You can have multiple radios plugged in at once. I have aircraft position signal squirtter ADS-B ADSBSHARP that can help map aircraft over head up to 200 miles away!! Depends on antenna & signal losses on cables. These little radios are only limited by your imagination. Have fun.

  5. tony kelts

    Is the software going to be based on Linux? That would keep the overall cost down. A $75 used laptop , a $20 SDR and free operating system. The expensive thing will be antenna or dish for that.

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