Receiving Mexican Pirate SSTV on Military Satellite Frequencies with the RTL-SDR

Happysat, a reader of RTL-SDR.com wrote in to let us know his experience with receiving Milsat pirate SSTV images using his R820T RTL-SDR and his homebrew QFH antenna. During his research he found that Brazillian Mexican Pirates hijack military satellite transponders to send SSTV pictures of their families on 255.560 MHz 22.4° West UFO F7 (USA 127).

Happysat writes that he found an active signal on that frequency most of the time. To receive the SSTV signal happysat used the free RX-SSTV software.

SSTV is an acronym for slow scan television and is a mode usually used on HF (0-30 MHz) frequencies by ham radio enthusiasts for sending out digital calling cards.

More information about pirate SSTV can be found here.

Edit: From our Facebook page comments, it seems these signals are actually from Mexican pirates. More info here http://www.qsl.net/py4zbz/ec/ec.htm.

Milsat Pirate SSTV
Milsat Pirate SSTV in SDR#
SSTV Image
Received SSTV Image 1
SSTV Image
Received SSTV Image 2

13 comments

  1. Genaro

    One of the pictures have a word written on it “chungo” this word is not known to Mexicans. According to my internet language research it is related to people in Colombia, Peru or Spain. Nowhere else. The anthropologic details of the faces of the people appearing in the pictures are not of Mexican origin. Latin-American yes, not Mexican. I live and enjoy radio communications in Mexico. I am a telecom engineer by trade and bear an extra class amateur radio license since 1989 and never ever heard of anybody here with the capabilities to hack those kind of services. Dear Happysat, your article is truly interesting, but please, keep from pointing your finger to anybody before making sure that you have the certainty of the origin of these transmissions. Could be anybody nowadays with access to the images section of the Google search just to disguise their dark intentions. I can be quite sure of that. There is a lack of hacking capabilities in Mexico to do this, otherwise we would be heading to a deeper knowledge and domain of telecom arts which nowadays is not the general case in Mexico. Thank you. Respectfully, Genaro

    • Hermes

      Genaro, soy de Mexico y me estoy iniciando de manera autodidacta en esto del rtl-sdr, quisiera pedirte alguna guia o consejos de como usar apropiadamente el sdrsharp ya adquiri mi dongle y pues no he hecho muchos avances aun., mi intención es poder escuchar las frequencias de la policia, o de la cruz roja y también como no poder ver imagenes de satelites del tiempo, pero bueno ante todo un saludo y pongo mi correo por si te llegas a dar una vuelta por aqui.

  2. Guido

    I am using a DVBT Dongle and SDR SW together with a simple antenna.
    I still receive exactly the same pictures on 252.150 MHz.
    But I am located in Germany….
    I do not beleive that I receive this signal from Portugal or Spain as it is very strong here and my equipment is not perfect at all.

  3. Wireless Waffle

    Fascinating stuff. It’s almost incredulous that anyone would go to such lengths (e.g. to pirate a MilSat) in order to send pictures of a family. Clearly to receive the signal a good receiver and a PC are necessary so it begs the question, why not just send by e-mail (or use HF). Can’t help thinking that the subject matter of those pictures may be more nefarious than just ‘family photos’…!

  4. Emily Taylor

    Actually they are brazil not mexico. Facebook is dumbasses. Your sdr is shit btw. I have the full quality rendering of those 2 images.

  5. Luiz Rebelatto

    in Brazil we speak and write in Portuguese, the pictures are with plates and maps in Spanish and there before transmission Mexican music. 🙁

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