Radio pirates often make use of the Fleetsatcom satellites to send and receive slow scan television (SSTV) pictures over a wide distance. Fleetsatcom is a satellite communications system used by the US Navy for radio communications. Since these satellites are simply radio repeaters with no authentication mechanisms, pirates soon discovered that they could take over the satellites for their own use.
Over on YouTube user LEGION ELMELENAS has uploaded a video showing his reception of some pirates transmitting a SSTV image at a Fleetsatcom frequency of 252 MHz. To receive the image he used a home made turnstile antenna, an RTL-SDR dongle, SDR# and the RX-SSTV decoder. The image appears to be a photo of a pirates son.
We previously posted more information about Fleetsatcom SSTV pirates in this post.
SSTV from Satcom satellites. RTL-SDR SDRSharp FLTSATCOM pirates
Happysat, a reader of RTL-SDR.com has written in to remind us that the International Space Station (ISS) is currently transmitting slow scan television (SSTV) images out of respect of the 80th birthday of Russian cosmonaut and first man to go to space Yuri Gagarin. The images will be transmitted continuously until 24 February 21.30 UTC.
SSTV is a type of radio protocol that is used to transmit low resolution images over radio. A RTL-SDR dongle and satellite antenna (QFH, turnstile, even terrestrial antennas like random wire antennas and monopoles have been reported to work) can be used to receive and decode these images. Happysat writes that it is expected that the ISS will continuously transmit 12 images at a frequency of 145.800 MHz FM using the SSTV mode PD180, with 3 minute off periods between each image.
On December 18 and 20 the International Space Station transmitted several SSTV images to celebrate what would have been the 80th birthday of Yuri Gagarin who was the first human to orbit the Earth. SSTV stands for Slow Scan Television and is a method for sending small low resolution images over radio.
Over on YouTube several RTL-SDR users captured these images. UltraTechie shows a video where he captures the SSTV image using a portable set up consisting of a Windows 8 tablet running SDR#. He used a handheld 3 element 2m Yagi antenna to tune into the 145.8 MHz signal. UltraTechie writes that he also used an LNA, but that it was probably not required as the signal was quite strong.
ISS SSTV reception on a portable setup using RTL-SDR
Another YouTube user Tom Mladenov shows another video where the SSTV image is received. Tom used a QFH antenna.
Happysat, a reader of RTL-SDR.com wrote in to let us know his experience with receiving Milsat pirate SSTV images using his R820T RTL-SDR and his homebrew QFH antenna. During his research he found that Brazillian Mexican Pirates hijack military satellite transponders to send SSTV pictures of their families on 255.560 MHz 22.4° West UFO F7 (USA 127).
Happysat writes that he found an active signal on that frequency most of the time. To receive the SSTV signal happysat used the free RX-SSTV software.
SSTV is an acronym for slow scan television and is a mode usually used on HF (0-30 MHz) frequencies by ham radio enthusiasts for sending out digital calling cards.
On the FUNcube Dongle blog/store amateur radio enthusiast DK80K (a.k.a Nils) has sent in a link to a 16 page pdf file showing a comprehensive tour on the FUNcube Dongle Pro+’s capabilities on the HF spectrum.
He gives an overview of many digital ham and HF utility modes including DRM, WSPR, RTTY, Olivia, MFSK16, PSK31, Pactor, Packet, Hellschreiben, ROS, SSTV, HF ACARS, SSB, CW, DSC/GMDSS, SITOR-A/B, Globe Wireless, Time Signals, ALE, Baudot, FAX and Stanag 4285.
The University of California Berkeley has started using RTL-SDR in the course EE123: Digital Signal Processing. Every student in the class gets a DVB-T dongle and given the task of designing a SSTV transceiver system.