Radio Astronomy with an RTL-SDR, Raspberry PI and Amazon AWS IoT

Recently amateur radio astronomer Mario Cannistrà wrote in and showed us a link to his project. Mario has been doing some interesting experiments with an RTL-SDR that involve receiving emissions originating from the Sun, the planet Jupiter, and one of its moons Io.

Jupiter and its satellites like Io sometimes interact to create “radio storms” which can be heard from earth at frequencies between 3 to 30 MHz. The radio storms can be predicted and Mario uses the Windows software Radio Jupiter Pro to do this. This helps to predict when are the best times to listen for emissions. On his Raspberry Pi Mario has also written a python script that can do the predictions too. 

To make the radio emissions measurements, Mario uses an RTL-SDR dongle and upconverter together with rtl_power to gather FFT frequency power results and waterfall plots. To measure the emissions Mario writes that he keeps the frequency scan running for at least several hours a night with a Raspberry Pi as the receiving computer. For his antenna the low Jupiter frequencies necessitate a large 7 meter dipole tuned for receiving at 20.1 MHz.

For the Internet of Things side of the project, Mario envisions that several amateur radio astronomers around the world could run a similar setup, with all sharing the data to an Amazon AWS data storage server. Mario has already written software that will do the scan and automatically upload the results to the server. To participate you just need to write to him to receive the AWS IoT authentication certificate files.

Some example Jupiter spectographs stored on the AWS server can be found at

Mario's setup including RTL-SDR dongle, upconverter and Raspberry Pi.
Mario’s setup including RTL-SDR dongle, upconverter and Raspberry Pi.
Overall design of the receiver and IoT side.
Overall design of the receiver and IoT side.

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>