Skylark Image for Outernet’s Dreamcatcher RTL-SDR

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.

Skylark_apps
skylark_news
skylark_aprs
skylark_weather
skylark_wikipedia
skylark_tuner
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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.

10 comments

  1. peter

    Al Jazeera, no surprise there, I have stared before Outernet is political agenda driven propaganda outlet with content that is selected for it’s narrative. Bet you won’t see Breitbart on there eh….

  2. Ben

    Of course, this assumes you can actually BUY a CHIP board. I’ve had one on order for months…and no shipment. I know Outernet wants to keep the cost very low…but it was so nice when they had Raspberry Pi releases because one can actually obtain Raspberry Pi hardware…

      • admin

        I’ve had a CHIP on order for about that length of time too, I don’t expect to ever see it.

        But this is one of the reasons Outernet is transitioning to their own Dreamcatcher hardware. So they can actually supply users.

        • Alex

          I’ve had a CHIP for about 6 months now. Don’t really use it, and have only ever played around with it. Reply if you want to buy it I guess. We can use Ebay and all.

  3. Joe Q.

    Newbie question. I have a standard RTL-SDR USB stick (NooElec type) and a spare Raspberry Pi 3 lying around. I also have a home-brew antenna for the ~ 140 MHz range.

    Is it at all practical to set up an Outernet receiver with what I already have plus stuff I could make very simply at home? Or do I need to buy more equipment?

  4. George Wahr

    I am not sure how many KB of Data the Outernet Weather program Used to show 3 days of prediction but from memory it would come down at a set time each day and take approximately from memory 30 to -45 minutes.

    If Outernet was to move to a slower but possibly more powerful signal then I think a download of One and a half hours to get a 3 day weather prediction Grib file for the whole world would still be acceptable.

    When Outernet gats out of Beta mode and into a money making mode it can then increase the signal and increase the amount of Value added content it sends down.

    Ps Congratulations on Outernet in Pushing the boundaries of Low Cost satellite reception.

    The new Dreamcatcher and the Skylark software are a remarkable achievement.

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