Tagged: rtl2832u

Crowd Supply Discovery Dish Teardown Session: Thursday 30 November Noon PST

Crowd Supply is hosting Teardown Session 38 on Thursday 3- November at Noon PST time which will feature the Discovery Dish. Join us for this livestream where I will be talking about and showing the Discovery Dish prototype.

Discovery Dish is currently being crowd funded over on Crowd Supply. It is designed to be an easy entry to the world of L-band weather satellites, hydrogen line radio astronomy, and Inmarsat reception. The Discovery Dish aims to be the start of an ecosystem of hardware designed to get users set up with satellite reception, including a planned companion light-duty antenna rotator.

Remember to click on the “Notify me” button on the YouTube link in order to be reminded about the stream!

Teardown Session 38: Discovery Dish

TotalPower: Windows Program for Hydrogen Line Detection and Analysis with an RTL-SDR

Thank you to Mario A. Natali (I0NAA) who wrote in an wanted to share his Windows software called TotalPower which is designed for mapping the galactic Hydrogen line and works with RTL-SDR dongles.

The Hydrogen Line is an observable increase in RF power at 1420.4058 MHz which is created by Hydrogen atoms. It is most easily detected by pointing a directional antenna towards the Milky Way as there are many hydrogen atoms in our own galaxy. This effect can be used to measure the shape and other properties of our own galaxy.

Mario writes:

[TotalPower] was originally designed to measure total power of received spectrum and that, thanks to the input of many users, is now able to perform many other tasks including the 3D mapping of selected sky areas and HLine detection with the ability to estimate the speed of rotation of galaxy arms ( respect to our position )

TotalPower is available from the downloads section on Mario's website. Mario has uploaded a manual which explains how the program works, which we have mirrored here.

TotalPower measuring the rotational speed of galactic arms
TotalPower measuring the rotational speed of galactic arms

Modifying a 2.4 GHz WiFi Grid Antenna for Improved 1.7 GHz Reception + DIY Rotator Instructions

People have had much success in receiving L-band weather satellites like GOES and polar orbiting HRPT satellites using 2.4 GHz WiFi grid dishes, even though their 1.7 GHz signals are considered out of band for the WiFi grid dish feed. While this works most of the time, reception can be sometimes weak and borderline.

Over on Facebook and usradioguy.com, António Pereira has been sharing his mod which optimizes a 2.4 GHz feed for 1.7 GHz instead. The mod involves removing the enclosure of the feed which requires a heat gun to remove the glue, extending the feed's dipole by soldering on copper extension strips, tuning the dipole with a VNA, and finally tweaking the focal point. This results in an optimized L-band weather satellite antenna.

António Pereira has also shared instructions for creating an antenna rotator from an ESP32, Arduino Nano, two NEMA 23 stepper motors, two stepper controllers, two 50:1 worm gearboxes, and two optical homing switches, as well as power supplies for the motors and circuits. He also shares the Arduino code that he's written.

We also note that we currently are crowd funding for our Discovery Dish, which will be a ready to use satellite dish system for L-band weather satellites, as well as Inmarsat and hydrogen line radio astronomy. Check it out on Crowd Supply.

Modified dipole feed on a 2.4 GHz WiFi grid antenna feed
A DIY antenna rotator for the modified 1.7 GHz WiFi grid dish.
A DIY antenna rotator for the modified 1.7 GHz WiFi grid dish.

A Technical Overview of the Watch Duty Wildfire Monitoring Project Powered by RTL-SDRs

Previously in 2022 we posted about Watch Duty, a nonprofit organization aiming to improve access to live public safety information regarding wildfires in California. Several populated regions of California are extremely prone to wildfires, and it's important that residents get timely notifications about nearby wildfires so they can evacuate early and/or prepare their defensible spaces.

The system works by using RTL-SDRs to monitor public safety radio channels, and ADS-B aircraft positions of firefighting aircraft in order to gather information in real time about how wildfires are moving. Volunteers monitor this information and distribute anything of importance via a smart phone app to the public. Often the information is significantly more timely compared to official channels.

Recently Nick Russel, the VP of Operations at Watch Duty sent us a link to a technical overview blog post explaining how their 'Echo' remote monitoring devices work. The post describes how Echo devices consist of a Raspberry Pi and multiple RTL-SDR Blog dongles, with all the electronics being powered via Power over Ethernet (PoE). For the antenna a wideband Discone is used. 

Inside the Watch Duty 'Echo'
Inside the Watch Duty 'Echo'

The rest of the post explains how their voice monitoring system works, how "tone out detection" works, which are orders for engines, strike teams, and other heavy equipment, how they make use of ADS-B data and how they are able to remotely maintain and update the system.

Importantly, Watch Duty note that they rely on volunteers and donations from the community, so please consider donating via the Watch Duty app.

Watch Duty | Echo Radio Project | Fixing emergency radio dead zones

RTL-SDR Blog V4 now in stock at Amazon USA

Just a quick note for those waiting to confirm that the RTL-SDR Blog V4 is now in stock at Amazon USA. We have linked both the dongle + antenna set, and dongle only listings below. For customers outside of the USA please check our international purchasing links at www.rtl-sdr.com/store.

With the demand being high, if you were waiting please order soon as the next shipment most likely won't be in until January. To learn more about the RTL-SDR Blog V4, please see our product release post.

The RTL-SDR Blog V4 Dongle
The RTL-SDR Blog V4 Dongle

KrakenSDR Black Friday Sale 15% Off on Crowd Supply

Over on Crowd Supply our KrakenSDR is currently reduced by 15% for Black Friday. The sale lasts until November 30, or while stocks last. This brings the price of the KrakenSDR down to US$424, down from the regular US$499 pricing. The companion antenna set is also reduced from US$199 down to US$169.

If you weren't already aware, KrakenSDR is our 5-channel coherent radio based on RTL-SDRs, and it can be used for applications like radio direction finding.

The Latest Progress on Discovery Dish

Over on Crowd Supply we are currently crowd funding for the Discovery Dish, a system that aims to help make satellite dish based radio projects more accessible for use with low cost software defined radios like the RTL-SDR. We've recently posted an update which we pasted below.

Discovery Dish: Simplified system for weather satellite reception and hydrogen line radio astronomy

The Latest Progress on Discovery Dish

First, we want to thank everyone who has purchased a Discovery Dish! We are about two weeks into the campaign now and we’ve reached over 30% of our goal. Please help us get there by sharing the campaign with anyone you think might be interested!

Progress Report

Here are the latest updates:

  • We’ve been working on getting manufacturing of the molds and electronics ready to go once we receive funding. We’re finalizing our CAD files and double checking everything so we’ll be ready to go once the campaign ends. We put six months as our target before shipping, but we’re hoping to actually get the product out sooner than that. The main delays in the timeline will be the Chinese New Year holidays early next year and the time it will take to sea freight our bulk production runs.
  • For the enclosure, we’ve begun getting samples of the general electronics mounting board. It will be made out of a conductive metal which is important for grounding RF noisy electronics to the enclosure, and will also allow heat to transfer out of the enclosure via a thermal pad underneath the board. Once we get our prototypes we will share more images.
  • We've also began considering how we might implement a 2.2 GHz S-Band feed for the Discovery Dish. The return-loss characteristics of the feed were designed to be good at 2.2 GHz, so we probably don't need to change much of the core feed design. The main question will be if it's feasible to implement a downconverter for use with RTL-SDRs (which have a maximum frequency limit of 1.766 GHz), or if it's better to just use a HackRF for this band. Updates on our investigations will be provided as we test further.
  • We are also actively working on our rotator prototype which we hope to release next year as a companion product to the Discovery Dish in order to make reception of polar orbiting satellites easier and more accessible. We don't want to release too much information on the rotator at the moment as things could still change a lot, but currently we are ordering samples of some custom parts that we need to test a production version. We are also developing the microcontroller firmware so that it will be compatible with the EasyComm II rotctl protocol.

Customer Questions

Finally, we’ve received a few questions from customers which we’ll answer publicly below:

Inmarsat is circularly polarized. Is the Inmarsat feed circularly polarized?

Our feeds are all linearly polarized. But this actually does not matter much for Inmarsat because our dish is more than large enough for Inmarsat, and Inmarsat signals are relatively strong. Using a linear feed on a circularly polarized signal results in a 3dB loss which is relatively insignificant in this case. With a small patch antenna such a difference is significant, but not so with a larger dish.

Will this work with a SatNOGs rotator?

Yes, the Discovery Dish comes with a standard pole mount which can be used to mount it on the SatNOGS rotator arms.

What is the amplifier/filter architecture like in the feed?

The signal chain is as follows: Feed -> QPL9547 LNA -> SAW -> QPL9547 -> SAW -> SMA Output. So our feeds are dual-amplified and dual filtered.

Can the coax on the feed be swapped out for longer and lower loss coax?

Yes, the feed uses an SMA connector so you can swap out the coax cable if you like. Thicker cables may require different sized strain-relief at the end of the feed arm, though.


SDRSharp Controller Plugin: Control SDRSharp via any USB Hardware Controller

Thank you to Alan De Windt who has submitted news about the release of his latest SDR# Plugin called "SDRSharp Controller". Alan writes that this is a plugin that is "similar to the existing SDRSharp Net Remote plugin by Al Brown but which allows simpler physical controllers to be built". 

With this plugin you can create a key/value text mapping to turn any USB control device into something that can control various settings in SDR#. The controller hardware could perhaps be anything from a USB knob controller to a gamepad.

Alan also provides an example of a hardware USB knob controller that he's created which works together with the plugin. On the linked page he shows the components required to build the controller, how to wire up the circuit and provides the Arduino code.

A custom SDR# controller knob