About two weeks ago we posted our review of the Dreamcatcher, a new RTL-SDR and full ARM based computing platform built onto a single PCB. Back then the only OS available for it was a standard Armbian build, and no Outernet decoder was available. So we reviewed the Dreamcatcher with the Armbian OS and tested to see how well it worked as a general purpose RTL-SDR and computing platform.
Recently the Outernet team released a new build of ‘Skylark’ for their Dreamcatcher board. Skylark is their customized Outernet signal specific operating system that was available on the C.H.I.P. Skylark is essentially turnkey as it is much easier to setup and use. Just burn the image to an SDcard, insert the card, connect to the automatically generated Outernet WiFi hotspot on a PC or mobile device, and then browse to outernet.is to see the Skylark interface.
Unfortunately it is unclear how long some of the high bandwidth features such as the nice weather app may last. The Outernet Inmarsat L-band signal runs at a bandwidth of almost 20mB a day and appears to cost quite a bit of money to operate, so Outernet appear to be considering moving to a lower bandwidth signal in the near future. This will probably reduce content to data like text articles (news/APRS/Wikipedia/books) only. But even if it is text only it will still continue to be a very useful and interesting service.