Tagged: portapack

Receiving Iridium Satellites with a HackRF Portapack and Cheap Antenna

Recently Jared Boone, creator of the HackRF portapack posted on his blog about his experience with trying to receive Iridium satellite signals. The HackRF is 8-bit, ~0 – 6 GHz, RX/TX capable SDR, and the Portapack is a kit that allows the HackRF to go portable, by adding an LCD screen, battery pack and control wheel. Iridium is an L-band satellite service that provides products such as satellite phones and pagers. Back in December 2014 we posted how it was found that Iridium pager messages could be decoded.

To receive Iridium Jared used a simple ceramic patch antenna mounted on a piece of cheap copper clad fibreglass. This simple antenna was good enough to receive the Iridium signals with good strength. With this set up Jared was able to easily go outside and receive some packets and record them. He writes his next steps are to try and run the Iridium pager decoder on them and see what packets he captured.

Iridium Antenna + HackRF Portapack.
Iridium Antenna + HackRF Portapack.

 

HackRF Portapack Now Shipping to Kickstarter Backers

The HackRF PortaPack is a portable LCD screen with control interface and processor that connects to a HackRF software defined radio. The PortaPack’s goal is to allow for portable RF spectrum visualization, tuning and eventually demodulation of many modes. It has been in development from around the time of the August 2013 HackRF kickstarter and is now almost ready to be shipped out to the initial backers. For more information about the PortaPack see this Hak5 segment that we previously posted about where Jared Boone the inventor of the PortaPack is interviewed.

In his post Jared writes:

Getting the PortaPack H1 ready for shipping was a long slog. And as is my way, I took a lot of detours along the way. I incorporated a lightweight operating system (ChibiOS) into the firmware. I built a simple UI framework that would support arrow-key navigation, with touch as an option where appropriate. I developed a sophisticated test jig (based on this) to ensure the units I ship work correctly. I designed a milled aluminum case that I’ll offer as an option. And I finished and tested all the units myself, including doing failure analysis on a bunch of PortaPacks. I learned a great deal, and hope that my next product development cycle will be much easier and faster.

Because of all the manufacturing effort, work on the firmware hasn’t advanced very far. At this point, the PortaPack is mostly useful as a basic narrowband AM/FM receiver. But there’s still a lot of capability to be tapped in the HackRF ARM processors! I’m eager to get back to firmware, and implement more signal analysis and capture functionality, along with some digital modes demodulation and decoding support.

The HackRF Portapack
The HackRF Portapack

Hak5: Exploring With The PortaPack and HDSDR

In this Hak5 episode Darren discusses the HackRF PortaPack which is a portable LCD screen device that connects to a HackRF SDR and allows portable frequency spectrum visualization. The PortaPack is currently under development and in the future it will allow demodulation of multiple audio modes and possibly digital demodulation and recording capabilities as well.

Later in the episode Shannon presents a tutorial on HDSDR, an SDR GUI alternative to SDR#. She shows how to install and use the HDSDR program.

Exploring With The PortaPack and HDSDR; Then Relaxing In A HotTub, Hak5 1624