Over on YouTube Christopher Bridges has uploaded a video showing him using a PlutoSDR and a GNU Radio program to transmit a DVB-S signal, which is then received with an RTL-SDR. DVB-S is a digital video broadcasting standard designed for satellite transmissions and digital amateur television video (DATV) also uses DVB-S in the 1.2 GHz amateur band. In this example the PlutoSDR transmits at 1.28 GHz.
Chris uses the rtl_sdr command line software to receive the raw IQ data at 1 MSPS, and then uses the leandvb software to decode the raw IQ file directly into a video file.
If you’re interested in TXing DVB-S/DATV but don’t have a transmit capable SDR, then we note that even a Raspberry Pi just by itself can be used to transmit it with rpidatv.
Recently Michael DG0OPK wrote in and wanted to share some videos of the LimeSDR in action that he’s uploaded to YouTube. The first video shows LimeSDR running with the SDRangel software and receiving the 950 MHz mobile phone band. SDRangel appears to be GPU accelerated so the waterfall can show a lot of detail very quickly.
The second video shows the LimeSDR transmitting DVB-S/S2 on and ODROID XU4, and the signal being received on a PC using and Airspy, and being watched live with a standard DVB-S2 TV Card. The Odroid XU4 is a single board computer like the Raspberry Pi but much more powerful.
On his channel Michael also has some other LimeSDR videos that you can check out such as testing the LimeSDR with GNURadio on the 23cm band for full duplex DVB-S2, and running the LimeSDR at full speed 60fps, 50 MHz on a i7 PC.
The LimeSDR is a full duplex RX/TX capable SDR with a 100 kHz – 3.8 GHz frequency range, 12-bit ADC and up to 80 MHz of bandwidth. A unit currently a unit currently costs $289 USD on Crowd Supply.
Leandvb is command line based lightweight DVB-S decoder designed for receiving Digital Amateur TV, including signals like HamTV from the International Space Station. The RTL-SDR can be used together with leandvb and it turns out that leandvb can also be used to decode the Outernet signal. If you were unaware, Outernet is a free L-band based satellite service that provides content such as news, weather data, APRS repeats and more. Currently you can get about 20MB of data a day. Outernet receivers are also all based around the RTL-SDR, allowing for very cheap receivers to be built. At the moment you’ll need a C.H.I.P or their specialized Dreamcatcher hardware to run their special Skylark OS with software decoder, but a general Armbian decoder is in the works.
Alternatively leandvb can be used, and over on their website the folks behind the leandvb software have uploaded a tutorial showing how to use leandvb to decode Outernet. Thanks to some reverse engineering attempts by Daniel Estévez, it was discovered that the Outernet modulation is very similar to DVB-S so the standard decoder can be used with some custom flags. Leandvb only outputs raw frames, not decoded data. They haven’t tested it, but it may be possible to feed the frames into Daniel Estevez’s free-outernet project for obtaining the final files.
During the testing they also discovered some interesting notes about the E4000 and R820T RTL-SDRs. For example by patching the R820T2 drivers to add some additional VGA gain they were able to make the R820T2 chips more sensitive at the Outernet frequency compared to the E4000 chip by bringing the signal further out of the quantization noise. They also tested a 60cm dish vs a patch antenna and found that the dish works significantly better.
Although there are dedicated DATV radios, Simon decided that he wanted to use the HackRF Blue as the radio for transmitting his own DATV signals. To do this he uses the software dvgrab to grab the video stream from the camera, then passes it to ffmpeg to compress the raw video into MPEG-2 and then uses a GNU Radio program called gr-dvbs to use the HackRF to transmit the DVB-S stream at 1000 MHz.
To test that his signal was transmitting correctly, Simon then used a standard DVB-S satellite TV with the LNB bypassed.