Thank you to RTL-SDR.com reader André for submitting and sharing with us his QO-100 ground station setup. The setup also includes antennas and equipment to receive HF and VHF/UHF. His setup can serve as an example of a well set up permanent installation.
André's set up consists of a 1.8 meter prime focus dish, Raspberry Pi 4, GPIO connected relay, Airspy R2, Ham-it-up upconverter, coaxial relay for switching between Mini-Whip and Discone Antenna, and FM bandstop filter and a power terminal rail block. The Airspy R2 is used for HF/UHF/UHF reception and the antennas and upconverter are all controlled via a web connected relay system. All equipment is enclosed in an outdoor rated box, and André notes everything has been working well from temperatures range from -10C to 35C.
Inside the satellite dish feed is housed an Adalm Pluto SDR, and a wideband LNA and a USB to LAN converter with power over Ethernet. A small log periodic Yagi serves as the feed. In order to work the wideband DATV band on Qo-100, André' swaps out this feed for a custom feed and brings the PlutoSDR indoors where it is connected to a 120W Spectran Amplifier and modulator.
On his Medium.com blog, Mohsen Tahmasebi has posted an article about his journey into listening to satellites which started with his acquisition of an RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongle. The article begins by explaining his motivations for receiving satellites and how difficult hobbies like this are to get into in his home country of Iran. Despite the challenges he tasted success when he was able to receive NOAA APT signals on his second attempt using the included portable dipole antenna in a V-dipole configuration. Shortly after Mohsen was also able to receive Meteor-M2 LRPT.
Mohsen then built a more permanent V-dipole out of copper rods and optimized his antenna using NEC simulation software, finding that adding a reflector significantly improved reception. He then moved on to building a slightly more complex Turnstile antenna, which yielded even better results and allowed him to explore CubeSats at 435 MHz and contribute to SatNOGS. Finally, Mohsen ordered a Bullseye LNB and using a homemade bias tee, he received the QO-100 amateur radio transponder.
Overall, Mohsen's journey demonstrates that there is a lot of fun and learning available from internationally available satellites even in a country where equipment is hard to come by.
Over on the TechMinds YouTube channel Matt has been experimenting with using a PlutoSDR for QO-100 amateur radio satellite communications. The PlutoSDR is a low cost RX/TX capable SDR with up to 56 MHz of bandwidth and 70 MHz to 6 GHz frequency range (with mods). The PlutoSDR can suffer from frequency instability, especially when warming up, however on the latest model C/D PlutoSDRs it's possible to inject an external clock signal.
In his video experiment, Matt uses a Leo Bodnar GPSDO as an external clock source. A GPSDO is a "GPS Disciplined Oscillator", as it uses the accurate timing information found in GPS signals to create a high quality clock signal. Matt shows how to set up the GPSDO, and how to tell the PlutoSDR to use the external clock.
He goes on to show the effectiveness of the GPSDO with some transmit experiments.
Remote SDR V2 is software that allows you to easily remotely access either a PlutoSDR, HackRF or RTL-SDR software defined radio. It was originally designed to be used with the amateur radio QO-100 satellite, but version 2.0 includes multiple demodulation modes, NBFM/SSB transmission capability, CTCSS and DTMF encoders, modulation compression and a programmable frequency shift for relays.
In his latest YouTube video Tech Minds explains and demonstrates Remote SDR V2, which is software that allows you to easily remotely access either a PlutoSDR, HackRF or RTL-SDR software defined radio. It is designed to be used with the amateur radio QO-100 satellite, but version 2.0 now include multiple demodulation modes, NBFM/SSB transmission capability, CTCSS and DTMF encoders, modulation compression and a programmable frequency shift for relays.
In his video Tech Minds shows how to install Remote SDR V2 onto an Orange Pi via the SD card image, how to access the web interface, and how to access and use the connected SDR.
Remote SDR V2 with Orange Pi and Transmit Capable
We note that the code is designed to be run on Orange Pi boards, which are low cost single board computers similar to Raspberry Pi's. However over on Twitter @devnulling has indicated that his own fork of the code should run on x86 systems. Aaron @cemaxecuter is also working on including it into a DragonOS release.
The image below demonstrates a typical Remote SDR V2 transceiver setup with two HackRFs.
We're holding our first black friday week sale with 6% to 30% off selected products!
Only until Monday, and orders are subject to stock levels and possible back ordering if stocks sell out. Sale is only valid on our web store, Amazon and Aliexpress (the eBay platform will not be discounted due to high fees). Discounts are summarized below, with everything still including free worldwide shipping to most countries:
RTL-SDR Blog V3 Dongle with Dipole Antenna Set: $34.95 $32.95
RTL-SDR Blog V3 Dongle Only: $24.95 $22.95
QO-100 Bullseye TCXO LNB: $29.95 $24.95
Airspy YouLoop Passive Magnetic Loop Antenna: $34.95 $24.47
FlightAware Prostick Plus: $29.95 $27.95
RTL-SDR Blog ADS-B Triple Filtered LNA: $39.95 $34.95
Metal Case Upgrade for SDRplay RSP1A: $24.95 $22.95
Remember to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and via our email list to keep up to date on new posts, product releases and sales. We're also planning a giveaway or two in the coming months which will be done via those platforms.
Thank you to Happysat for reviewing the QO-100 Bullseye LNB which we have available in our store, eBay and Aliexpress. The Bullseye LNB is an ultra stable TCXO (temperature compensated oscillator) based LNB which makes it very good at receiving the narrowband signals on the QO-100 amateur geostationary satellite.
Standard LNBs that are sometimes used for QO-100 are not designed for narrowband signals and hence do not have temperature compensated oscillator which can result in the signals drifting in frequency significantly as the ambient temperature fluctuates. Happysat also notes that the extra stability seems to have increased signal strength on the more wideband DATV reception as well.
First test's on Es-Hail Narrow SSB transponder compared to my old regular sat-tv LNB clearly is showing more signal stability overall.
It does need some time for both the tuner and LNB to get stable, but that's only a few minutes.
Weather conditions shows less "drifting" of the pll where the old LNB was very sensitive of temperature changes, clouds before the sun did have immediately effect on the signal stability.
Some days with storms reception was impossible on SSB Narrow band.
Winter is coming over here so it gets a lot colder and more storms, but I don't expect any problems with this LNB.
Wideband testing DATV reception also shows a more stable signal although its a wider signal then narrowband, it also did increase the signal, e.g. a signal lock happens much faster.
On September 15 we began our 33% off stock reduction sale for the Bullseye LNB. The Bullseye is an ultra stable LNB for receiving QO-100 and other Ku-Band satellites/applications. We'll be ending this sale on Wednesday, so if you'd like to purchase a unit please order soon to avoid missing out on the sale price. The current sale price is US$19.97 including free worldwide shipping to most countries.
To order the product, please go to our store, and scroll down until you see the QO-100 Bullseye TCXO LNB heading. Alternatively we also have stock via our Aliexpress storeor on eBay.
For more information about the Bullseye and some reviews please see the original sale post.