Tagged: orbitron

Decoding the Russian Parus (Cosmos) Navigation Satellites with the RTL-SDR

Once again Happysat, who previously wrote in to RTL-SDR.com to let us know how to receive dead satellites with the RTL-SDR has again written in to let us know about his latest achievements.

Happysat has recently been using a RTL-SDR to decode the discontinued Russian Parus (Cosmos) Navigation Satellites. These are low earth orbit satellites operated by the Russian Space Forces that are used for military communication and navigation. Since 1974 there have been 99 Parus satellites launched, but there are only three currently active.

With an RTL-SDR, SDR# and decoder software, Happysat was able to decode data from the satellite which includes the current Moscow time and various location and telemetry data.

Russian Parus (Cosmos) Satellite Decoded Data
Russian Parus (Cosmos) Satellite Decoded Data

Happysat writes:

The Russian Military Parus satellites are/where used for low-earth orbiting navigation information and store-dump radio communications relay service for Red Navy surface vessels and submarines.

Each satellite is in a near-circular orbit of about 1000 km (620 miles).The orbits are polar (pass over the poles of the earth) and stay stationary in space so that as the earth rotates, the satellite covers different parts of the planet.

There are three currently operational, Cosmos 2407, 2414, and the last one launched in this series (April 2012) Cosmos 2463 with a lifespan of 4 years.

They are discontinued now as the GLONASS Navigation systems did take over the service which are providing a better accurate GPS position.

Why the Parus-Satellites are currently still broadcasting data is unknown. Most probably due the older vessels and submarines are still using Shkhuna Radio systems.

The satellites transmit two radio carriers, one on VHF which is FM modulated with the navigational data around 10 watts, and one on UHF which is unmodulated (tracking Beacon).

Already in 1980 the British Kettering Group was able to decode the encryption. The first 18 Bit of data contain the Moscow time, the other Bits contain the positions and orbits from the other active Parus-Satellites. Very similar data like our GPS output and the Orbcomm satellites (on 137 Mhz) with OrbcommPlotter (explained also on rtl-sdr).

With RTL-SDR and SDRSharp its possible also to decode the Russian Military Parus satellites.

Alan Cordwell did write a Java decoder that will decode the navigation data from the VHF transmission in non-real time. cosmos_export.rar [Mirror] It is experimental software and very basic.

Unfortunately his website is offline but still on web-archive (link to web archive)

You will need to record the audio from the satellite and save it as a 44100, 8-bit, mono .wav file. Which means SDRSharp included wave recording is not suitable to do this you need a external program like Audacity or any favourite which can handle the requirements above.

Then you will need to apply narrow bandpass filtering to it at 3, 5 and 7 kHz. Without this filtering step only a small portion of the data will be available, i’m still struggling with this step 😉

He did use Cool Edit Pro to do this, there are no doubt other apps available like Audacity. Included is a sample filtered audio file for you to try it with, it’s in the rar archive as well.

Unpack the archive to a convenient location a folder called cosmos-export will result. Execute the file cosdec.jar to run the application. Open a file with file/open and in the file chooser dialog select the wav file. To decode it go to Actions/Process File.

To write all output to a log file: check the Dump to log option in File menu (log file will be created with same name as audio file but with .log extension appended). Datascope does as it suggests; it launches a little frame that shows (using graphics) the waveform of the data recovered from the audio. The frequency axis is upside down! you’ll see the 3, 5 and 7kHz bits with 7 at the bottom.

There is another program (Sorcerer) which can decode in real-time only, the current actual atom Moscow time from the satellites.

[sorcer download]

Start sorcerer and go to the menu add decoder on the left FSK and choose COSMOS NAVDATA. Move the first bar slider in the spectrum to 3 kHz so the second and third are on 5 and 7 KHz as seen in the screenshot.

Its possible to run this application and record audio at the same time which is later on needed for the cosmos_export Java program.

The frequencies are as follows:

Cosmos 2407 and 2414
VHF Frequency NavData 149.970 MHz, Tracking Beacon 399.920MHz

Cosmos 2463
VHF Frequency NavData 149.940 MHz Tracking Beacon 399.840MHz

Orbital parameters and predictions:

You need to run Orbitron in SDRSharp to take care of the Doppler!

TLE’s for the current satellites, (these are current as of 10th November 2014)

COSMOS 2407
1 28380U 04028A   14313.17698750  .00000073  00000-0  59418-4 0  2927
2 28380  82.9601 332.2565 0038129 220.5020 139.3308 13.75978622517201

COSMOS 2414
1 28521U 05002A   14314.08629907  .00000094  00000-0  65641-4 0  6502
2 28521  82.9510   6.9860 0040501 164.6577 195.5838 13.87513505496523

COSMOS 2463
1 36519U 10017A   14313.57202739 -.00000009  00000-0 -27079-4 0  4041
2 36519  82.9553 122.2841 0036820   7.8477 352.3245 13.71357663227175

New ones can be downloaded at celestrak: musson.txt

Good luck and if anyone has good knowledge on how to apply narrow bandpass filtering at 3, 5 and 7 kHz, please write in the comments!

Note that Orbitron can be downloaded from http://www.stoff.pl/, and the SDR# plugin to interface with it can be downloaded from SatelliteTracker2.zip or here. A tutorial on using Orbitron with SDR# for Doppler correction can be found on our NOAA Weather satellite reception tutorial.

SDR# with Orbitron for Doppler Correction and Sorcerer for Decoding Cosmos
SDR# with Orbitron for Doppler Correction and Sorcerer for Decoding Cosmos
Image of the Russian Parus Satellite
Image of the Russian Parus Satellite
Image of the Russian Parus Satellite
Image of the Russian Parus Satellite
Which option to choose in Sorcerer
Which option to choose in Sorcerer

Video Tutorial: Setting Up Satellite Tracking with SDRSharp and Orbitron

YouTube user HamradioSat has put up a video tutorial showing how to connect SDR# and Orbitron together. By interfacing the two, Orbitron can then be used to automatically tune to the doppler corrected frequency of a satellite passing overhead in SDR#. Orbitron is a free satellite tracking software program.

This can be useful for simplifying the tracking of NOAA weather satellites and downloading their live images.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7Ut-HvnRb8&feature=youtube_gdata

List of SDRSharp Plugins

There are a number of SDRSharp plugins that extend its functionality. Here is a collection of all the plugins and download links that I could find. The installation of most of these plugins will require editing the Plugins.xml file with a text editor such as notepad. Most files will contain a readme.txt or magicline.txt file that shows what line to add to the Plugins.xml file. Just copy and paste the plugin .dll into the SDR# folder and add the magicline line to the plugins.xml file to install the driver.

Note: Now that SDR# has updated to the .NET4.6 platform (October 2015), many old plugins that are not maintained may no longer work. However the actively maintained plugins have all been updated and are listed below.

Note 2: Many of these plugins may only work on the x86 version of SDR#.

Frequency Manager + Scanner and Scanner Metrics and Frequency Entry Package Plugin

This is a plugin package which comes with three plugins. It comes with a more advanced frequency manager than the one shipped with SDRSharp.

It also has a scanner option which can quickly scan through a group of your saved frequencies, looking for an active signal.

It also has a scanner metrics plugin, which records frequency activity to a database. Later this database can be analyzed to find out which frequencies are the most active, saving you time searching manually for active frequencies.

Finally, this package also has a frequency entry plugin, which works like the old SDRSharp frequency entry used to work. Basically, it just allows you to choose a center frequency and IF frequency easily by typing it in instead of adjusting it with the mouse.

Download the installation packager here

Frequency Manager + Scanner Plugin

Fast Scanner Plugin

Similar to the Frequency Manager and scanner plugin in that it automatically tunes to active signals above a certain power.

Download Link

Fast Scanner SDR# PluginFast Scanner SDR# Plugin

DDE Plugin

Allows programs like WXTrack to work with SDRSharp through a DDE interface.

Instructions and Download Link Here.

QPSK Demodulator Plugin

Used to demodulate QPSK signals from the Meteor M2 weather satellites. Used in conjunction with LRPT decoder. See tutorial here.

Download Here

DDE Tracking and Scheduler Plugin

Another plugin that allows software like WxTrack and Orbitron to interface with SDR#. This one is meant to be used with the QPSK decoder plugin for automatic scheduling of satellite passes. See tutorial here.

Download Here

DDE Orbitron Interface SDR# Plugin.

SDRSharp Net Remote

Allows you to remotely control SDR# through a network connection.

Download Here

CTCSS Detector and Squelch Plugin

Adds a Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) decoder.

Download Here

CTCSS SDR# Plugin

DCS Detector and Squelch Plugin

Adds a Digital Coded Squelch (DCS) decoder. Similar to the CTCSS detector.

Download Here

dcsplugin

TimeShift SDR

Allows signal reception to be timeshifted to allow for time to click on a signal.

Download Here

tssdr

Digital Audio Processor

Adds digital audio processing features such as an improved squelcher, an audio inverter and a bandpass and deemphasis filter.

Download Here

digital_audio_processor_sdrsharp_plugin

Audio Processor

Similar to the digital audio processor shown above, but adds the ability to graphically adjust the bandpass filter in the audio spectrum of SDR#.

Download Here

audio_proc

audio_proc_2

RDS Logger Plugin

Logs Radio Data System (RDS) data to a CSV file.

Download Here

RDS Data Logger SDR# Plugin

DSD+ GUI Interface Plugin

Adds a GUI interface for the popular DSD+ digital speech decoder program.

Download Here

DSD+ SDR# Plugin GUI

AUX VFO Plugin

Enables multiple VFO’s in SDR#. (In other words, you can tune to several stations simultaneously within the same swatch of live bandwidth)

Download Here

avfoplugin

IQ Plugin Autocorrection

Replacement for the standard IQ autocorrection. Helps improve performance on slow computers.

Download Here

iqcorrect

Audio Waterfall Plugin

Adds an audio spectrum waterfall to SDR#.

Download Here (Original plugin seems to be dead but the link is left up just in case it comes back)

Download Alternative Plugin Here

audiowaterfall

PAL/SECAM TV Plugin

Allows you to watch analogue PAL TV channels in black and white through SDR#.

Download Here

PAL / SECAM TV SDR# Plugin

IF Processor & Tracking Notch Filter Plugin

Adds the ability to set tracking notch filters in the IF stage and to asymmetrically filter the IF stage.

Download Here

if_notch

Modified Baseband Recording Plugin

An enhanced version of the recording plugin that comes standard with all SDR# installations. Adds a scheduler, a feature to record only when there is a signal, select samplerate, and choose file output location.

Download Here

baseband_rec

Modified Audio Recording Plugin

A modified version of the default audio recording plugin. Adds a scheduler.

Download Here

audio_plugin

IF Recorder Plugin

Allows you to record an IQ file of just the current IF bandwidth. An IQ recording of just the IF bandwidth will be much smaller than one of the entire bandwidth.

Download Here

IF (Intermediate Frequency) Recorder SDR# Plugin

CSVUserlistBrowser SDR# Plugin

Allows users to interface with the CSVUserlistBrowser plugin intended for use with Winradio products. The CSVUserlistBrowser is a program that provides a database of radio stations.

Download Here

csvuserlistbrowser_sdrsharpplugin

MPX Output Plugin

Allows programs like RDS Spy to work with the audio output from SDR#.

Download Here

MPX_Output

Radio Sky Spectrograph Plugin

This allows SDR# to interface with Radio-Spy Spectrograph which is radio astronomy software that allows fine control over a waterfall display.

Download Here

The Radio-Sky Spectrograph SDR# Plugin

Aviation band 8.33 Calculator Plugin

Automatically converts the current frequency input to an aviation one according to the standard 8.33 kHz channel spacing.

Download Here

aviationcalc

Frequency Lock Plugin

Simply locks the frequency settings in SDR# to prevent accidental changes.

Download Here

freqlock

Unitrunker Serial Based Trunking Plugin

Allows Unitrunker to interface with SDR#. For example it can be used to allow unitrunker to control the frequency setting in SDR# to following trunked conversations over various frequencies.

Download Here

serial

Passive Radar Plugin

Allows you to use the RTL-SDR as a passive radar detector.

Download Here

The Passive Radar plugin by Dr. Kaminski in SDR#.

IF Average

Averages the current bandwidth. Is useful for applications such as radio astronomy.

Download Here

The IF Average plugin by Dr. Kaminski.

Front End Plugins

Modified R820T FrontEnd with Manual Control and Decimation

Not really a plugin, but a modified front end interface and driver for the RTL-SDR that allows manual control over the LNA, Mixer and VGA gain stages. Also enables decimation which allows for better narrowband warefall views, and a easy control for activating a SpyVerter upconverter.

Download Here

rtl_sdr_frontend

File Player

This plugin give a playback interface when playing back recorded IQ files. Allows you to view the entire waterfall of the recorded file and quickly skip to any time.

Download Here

file_player

E4000 Gain Mod Enabler

A plugin which allows the E4000 Linrad gain profiles to be used in SDRSharp, via use of a modified rtl_tcp server.

Download Here

Plugins that no longer work

These plugins no longer work, but may still work with older versions of SDR#. Usually they stop working because of an SDR# upgrade that requires some minor modification to the plugin, but the plugin is no longer maintained. Some provide code so there may be hope in getting these running again if someone is willing to make the changes and recompile the code.

Orbitron Plugin (Not working with 1400+)

Superseeded by the DDE Tracking and Scheduler Plugin (shown in the above list)

Allows the Orbitron satellite tracking software to control the frequency in SDRSharp. This is useful as Orbitron can automatically correct for the Doppler shift when listening to satellites.

Download Here

Mirror At the bottom of this page

Satellite Tracker Plugin

Easy Scanner Plugin (Not working with 1400+)

Another scanner plugin similar to the scanners already shown above. Add frequencies to the database, then use the scanner to automatically find an active signal.

Download link and users guide here.

Easy Scanner SDR# Plugin

Audio FFT Plugin (Not Working with 1400+)

Adds a audio FFT display in the plugin window.

Download Here

Audio FFT SDR# Plugin

ScopeView Plugin (Not working with 1400+)

Adds a simple audio scope to the plugin window.

Download Here

Scope Viewer SDR# Plugin

Simple Audio EQ Balance Plugin (Not working with 1400+)

Adds a simple audio EQ balance setting option box in the plugin window.

Download Here

Audio EQ Balance SDR# Plugin

Level Meter Plugin (Not working with 1400+)

Adds a power meter for the currently tuned frequency and bandwidth.

Download Here

Level Meter SDR# Plugin

Signal Strength Logger (Not working with 1400+)

Logs signal strengths over time of specified stations.

Download Here

SignalStrengthLogger

SDR# short-wave.info Plugin (Not working with 1400+)

Enables SW station names to be displayed within SDR#.

Download Here

short-wave.info SDR# Plugin

GlobalTuners SDR# Plugin (Not working with 1400+)

Allows SDR# to associate with a GlobalTuners.com account.

Download Here

Unitrunker Trunking Plugin (Not working with 1400+)

Allows the trunking control software Unitrunker to control the frequencies in SDRSharp. This allows digital and analogue trunking systems to be followed. Note that Unitrunker can now directly interface with the RTL-SDR, so using SDR# together with Unitrunker is no longer recommended.

Download Here

SDRSharp Trunker Plugin

AutoTuner Plugin (Out of date)

Automatically tunes to signals that appear in the spectrum which are above a certain adjustable signal strength. Can also create null areas to prevent automatically tuning to unwanted signals. There seems to be only an outdated version, which is built in to an old version of SDRSharp available.

Download Here

Auto Tuner SDR# Plugin

ADSB# Plugin (Missing)

Runs the ADSB# ADS-B decoding program as a plugin in SDRSharp. The main advantage to using this plugin is that you get to visually see the waterfall whilst decoding. It also adds a 1-bit CRC error check.

Download from the files section of this Yahoo group. (You will need to register first) (Note: File is gone now, still looking for updates to this plugin)

ADSB# SDR# Plugin

Modified ScopeView Plugin (Missing)

A modified version of the scope view plugin with Decimation, HoldOff and Hold options resides in the SDRSharp Yahoo group files section under the name TXmonitorScopeView.zip (you will need to join the group first to download).

Download Here

ScopeViewPlugin

Other Plugin Lists

http://www.sdrsharp.com/#plugins

http://sdrts.amoti.ru/perechen_plaginov_i_modifikaciy_sdr___

http://rtl-sdr.ru/category/plugin

http://sdrsharp.pbworks.com/w/page/62589136/FrontPage

http://www.rtl-sdr.ru/page/komplekt-plaginov-dlja-priema-sputnikov

RTL-SDR Tutorial: Receiving NOAA Weather Satellite Images

Everyday multiple NOAA weather satellites pass above you. Each NOAA weather satellite broadcasts an Automatic Picture Transmission (APT) signal, which contains a live weather image of your area. The RTL-SDR dongle combined with a good antenna, SDRSharp and a decoding program can be used to download and display these live images several times a day.

This tutorial will show you how to set up a NOAA weather satellite receiving station, which will allow you to gather several live weather satellite images each day. Most parts of this tutorial are also applicable to other software radios, such as the Funcube dongle and HackRF and Airspy, but the RTL-SDR is the cheapest option. Hardware radio scanners can also work, provided the radio has a large IF bandwidth (30 kHz +) and a discriminator tap.

Note that if you have success with this tutorial, you may also be interested in decoding Meteor M N2 weather satellites which provide much higher resolution images. Also, an alternative tutorial for decoding NOAA satellites that uses rtl_fm can be found here.

NOAA Weather Satellite Image

Examples

YouTube user GaitUutLiern shows an example of receiving NOAA satellite weather images with a RTL-SDR, SDRSharp, a decoding program called WXtoImg and a QFH antenna.

Continue reading