Tagged: downconverter

Receiving Satellite TV Beacons with an RTL-SDR and LNB

Thank you to an anonymous contributor for sharing his experiences with trying to receive satellite TV beacons with his RTL-SDR. Satellite TV is typically up at 10.7 to 11.7 GHz which is far too high for an RTL-SDR to receive. So to receive these frequencies with the RTL-SDR he uses a satellite TV LNB (an LNB is essentially a downconverter and satellite dish feed), a DIY Bias T and a 90 cm dish. He writes:

Almost all television satellites have a special frequency for transmitting a beacon signal. The beacon signal is a reference signal with fixed frequency, power and [maybe] without modulation that is sent usually by satellites. One of the most important techniques used for satellite wave propagation studies is satellite beacon signal measurement. (http://eej.aut.ac.ir/article_433.html)

I used an universal LNB, DIY bias-T and a fixed 90cm dish pointed at 26 degrees East. By connecting 18 volts DC to LNB I am able to activate the 9750 Mhz local oscillator and horizontal operating mode of LNB.

Means that anything received with LNB between 10.7-11.7 GHz can be easily seen in 950-1950 MHz range, using RTL-SDR.

I used this set-up to receive the GEO satellites beacons. A list of beacon frequencies" http://frequencyplansatellites.altervista.org/Beacon-Telemetry_Europe-Africa-MiddleEast.html.

It is useful for measuring attenuation caused by heavy rain in Ku band or accurate dish positioning or even measuring frequency drift in LNB local oscillator caused by wind and temp change during a timespan.

It seems that the right signal is Eutelsat 21B and left Es'hail 1.

In picture 4 signal captured immediately after turning on LNB. but all others are captured after at least 5 hours of warming up.

MAYBE oscillator needs a stabilize time or temp change may caused the drift.

If you are interested in receiving these beacons, Daniel Estevez has also performed similar experiments with his RTL-SDR and an LNB as well, and has written about it on his blog.

Below we show some images of beacons shown in SDR# that the anonymous contributor received with his setup.

sattv_beacon_3
sattv_beacon_4
eutelsat-21b-beacon-zoomed-in
signal-drifted-after-1-hour-passed

Receiving Satellite TV Beacons with an RTL-SDR and LNB

Thank you to an anonymous contributor for sharing his experiences with trying to receive satellite TV beacons with his RTL-SDR. Satellite TV is typically up at 10.7 to 11.7 GHz which is far too high for an RTL-SDR to receive. So to receive these frequencies with the RTL-SDR he uses a satellite TV LNB (an LNB is essentially a downconverter and satellite dish feed), a DIY Bias T and a 90 cm dish. He writes:

Almost all television satellites have a special frequency for transmitting a beacon signal. The beacon signal is a reference signal with fixed frequency, power and [maybe] without modulation that is sent usually by satellites. One of the most important techniques used for satellite wave propagation studies is satellite beacon signal measurement. (http://eej.aut.ac.ir/article_433.html)

I used an universal LNB, DIY bias-T and a fixed 90cm dish pointed at 26 degrees East. By connecting 18 volts DC to LNB I am able to activate the 9750 Mhz local oscillator and horizontal operating mode of LNB.

Means that anything received with LNB between 10.7-11.7 GHz can be easily seen in 950-1950 MHz range, using RTL-SDR.

I used this set-up to receive the GEO satellites beacons. A list of beacon frequencies" http://frequencyplansatellites.altervista.org/Beacon-Telemetry_Europe-Africa-MiddleEast.html.

It is useful for measuring attenuation caused by heavy rain in Ku band or accurate dish positioning or even measuring frequency drift in LNB local oscillator caused by wind and temp change during a timespan.

It seems that the right signal is Eutelsat 21B and left Es'hail 1.

In picture 4 signal captured immediately after turning on LNB. but all others are captured after at least 5 hours of warming up.

MAYBE oscillator needs a stabilize time or temp change may caused the drift.

If you are interested in receiving these beacons, Daniel Estevez has also performed similar experiments with his RTL-SDR and an LNB as well, and has written about it on his blog.

Below we show some images of beacons shown in SDR# that the anonymous contributor received with his setup.

sattv_beacon_3
sattv_beacon_4
eutelsat-21b-beacon-zoomed-in
signal-drifted-after-1-hour-passed

Modded SUP-2400 Downconverters now Available at RXTXDX.com for $25

Last week we posted about KD0CQ’s interest check on his ready to go modded SUP-2400 downconverter. Interest was strong so the unit is now available for sale on a store he’s just set up at RXTXDX.com. The ready to go unit costs $25 USD including a 9V battery plug and F->SMA or MCX adapter.

Last year KD0CQ discovered that the SUP-2400 is a cheap $5 – $10 DirecTV (US satellite TV) module which can be hand modded into a downconverter for the RTL-SDR. A downconverter allows you to listen to frequencies above the maximum frequency range of the RTL-SDR by converting frequencies down into a range receivable by the RTL-SDR (or of course any other SDR). The modified SUP-2400 allows to you listen up to just over 4 GHz.

The SUP-2400 modification is moderately involved and requires soldering and desoldering SMD pieces, so this product is great for anyone who just wants a cheap and low cost downconverter which is ready to go. And at $25 USD it’s still very good value. Shipping within the USA is $7.75, and internationally it is about $13.50.

The modified SUP-2400 Downconverter
The modified SUP-2400 Downconverter

Interest Check: KD0CQ Pre-Modified SUP-2400 Downconverters

Over on his blog KD0CQ has posted an interest check. He’d like to know if anyone would be interested in purchasing pre-modified SUP-2400 downconverters from him. We’ve posted about the SUP-2400 a few times in the past. Basically the SUP-2400 is a cheap (about $5 – $10 USD) DirecTV device which can be modified and turned into a downconverter for your RTL-SDR. A downconverter allows you to listen to higher frequencies, up to 4.5 GHz in the case of the SUP-2400 and an RTL-SDR. 

The modification involves some decent soldering skills as it involves removing some small SMD components and using wires to bridge some points. KD0CQ writes that he’s thinking of selling premodified SUP-2400 units for $20 – $25 to interested customers. If you think that you’d be interested in this please comment on his post.

SUP-2400 Circuit.
SUP-2400 Circuit.

Potentially Receiving up to 10 GHz with an RTL-SDR and Multiple SUP-24000 Downconverters

Back in 2016 KD0CQ discovered that a $5 DirectTV device with model name SUP-2400 could be used as a downconverter with an RTL-SDR for receiving frequencies of up to 4.5 GHz. A downconverter is a device that converts high frequencies such as 4.5 GHz down into a frequency actually receivable by the RTL-SDR. The SUP-2400 is able to be modified into a useful downconverter by opening it up and manually removing some mixing harmonic filters.

In his latest post KD0CQ shows how you could combine four modified SUP-2400 downconverters to create a quarduple conversion mixer which allows you to receive up to 10 GHz. The post goes into the mixing math and practicalities of this idea. KD0CQ writes that some amplification will most likely be required to push the signal through, and in the past he’s managed to receive up to 7.5 GHz.

The SUP-2400 Directv upconverter that can be converted into a downconverter.
The SUP-2400 DirecTV device that can be converted into a downconverter.

Nigun Downconverter PCB Completed

We last posted about Nigun back in January 2017, and at that point the schematic design had just been completed. Nigun is a downconverter which can be used to allow the RTL-SDR and other SDRs to receive frequencies above their typical maximum tuning range, which for the RTL-SDR is about 1.8 GHz. A downconverter works by taking those high frequencies and converting them down into a frequency which the SDR can actually tune to.

Recently “raziele”, the designer of Nigun has completed the PCB design and he aims to order the first batch of units during June. The main specifications of Nigun are pasted below:

  • Dynamic LO – LO will be determined by the user and programmed by the MCU
  • Almost no filtering – will leave this challenge outside of this project scope
  • Power up and programming via micro-usb connector. Should be able to power up from a USB power-pack (but probably not from a computer port)
  • Highest RF frequency will be 3GHz
  • Product also features a VCO for signal-generation purposes. VCO support should be 200-2700MHz

Previously Outernet had been working on a downconverter design for their 1.5 GHz satellite service, but they decided that it was not economical. So it is good to see an alternative downconverter in the works. More details about Nigun are available on the GitHub page.

The Nigun Downconverter PCB Design
The Nigun Downconverter PCB Design

Nigun (Melody): Open Hardware Plans for an RTL-SDR Downconverter

A downconverter is a circuit that allows the RTL-SDR to receive frequencies above its maximum frequency range of about 1.8 GHz. It works by converting all higher frequencies down into a lower frequency which can be received by the RTL-SDR. It is the opposite of an upconverter which is used to receive HF frequencies on an RTL-SDR. In the past the Outernet project was working on a commercial downconverter product for the RTL-SDR, but they had to unfortunately put an end to that project as the costs were not economical.

But now over on GitHub Raziel Einhorn has uploaded plans for his open hardware 1.5 – 3 GHz downconverter which is code named Nigun (Melody). Currently the design has just about been completed, and he is planning to order the first prototype this January. The main component appears to be the ADRF6612 RF mixer which is controlled by an ATSAMD21E18A ARM microcontroller. On the GitHub page he explains the main properties as:

  • Dynamic LO – LO will be determined by the user and programmed by the MCU
  • Almost no filtering – will leave this challenge outside of this project scope
  • Power up and programming via micro-usb connector. Should be able to power up from a USB power-pack (but probably not from a computer port)
  • Highest RF frequency will be 3GHz
  • Product also features a VCO for signal-generation purposes. VCO support should be 200-2700MHz
Nigun Downconverter Schematics
Nigun Downconverter Schematics

Using the SUP-2400 Downconverter with an LNA and RTL-SDR to Receive 2.4 GHz Video

Earlier in June YouTube user T3CHNOTURK posted a video demonstrating him receiving signals above the maximum 1.7 GHz range of the RTL-SDR by using a modified SUP-2400 downconverter. Back in April it was discovered by KD0CQ that a $5 DirecTV SUP-2400 circuit could be modified and turned into a downconverter for use with the RTL-SDR.

Now T3CHNOTURK has uploaded a new video showing more demonstrations of the RTL-SDR + SUP-2400 combo in action. This time he adds a PGA-103 based LNA to boost the signal strength, which gives him better effective range. In the video he shows reception of a wireless keyboard once again, and then goes on to show him receiving 2.4 GHz analog PAL video using the RTL-SDR program TVSharp. The picture is not particularly clear, but it is a decent demonstration.

A Demonstration of the RTL-SDR Receiving WiFi and 2.4 GHz ISM with a Modded SUP-2400 Downconverter

Back in April we posted about how KD0CQ found that he could receive signals up to 4.5 GHz with an RTL-SDR by using a $5 downconverter for DirecTV called the SUP-2400. The RTL-SDR can only receive up to a maximum frequency of about 1.7 GHz, but the SUP-2400 downconverter can be modified to convert frequencies at around 2.4 GHz down into a range receivable by the RTL-SDR.

When we first posted the story the instructions for modifying the SUP-2400 to use as a downconverter weren’t uploaded yet, but they are now. The modification requires decent soldering skills as it involves desoldering a few small SMD components and bridging some points with wires.

Over on YouTube user T3CHNOTURK has uploaded a video showing the downconverter in action. With the SUP-2400 downconverter and RTL-SDR he is able to receive some WiFi at 2.447 GHz as well as signals from a wireless keyboard at 2.465 GHz