Tagged: starlink

Receiving Starlink Beacons with a HackRF Supercluster

Over on Reddit member u/OlegKutkov has recently posted about his success at receiving Starlink beacons at 11.325 GHz with his HackRF "supercluster". Starlink is an Elon Musk / SpaceX venture that aims to provide fast global satellite internet access for low cost. The venture is advanced enough that in most locations the service is now operational, and there will be Starlink satellites in the local sky at any given time.

Oleg's setup to receive the satellite beacons consists of a small hand tracked satellite dish with LNB feed connected to his HackRF "supercluster". The supercluster is 8 HackRFs connected to the same antenna via a splitter, resulting in 160 MHz of bandwidth. Oleg's blog post from last year appears to contain a bit more information about the start of the supercluster. The 11.325 GHz beacon frequency is out of range for the HackRF which covers up to 6 GHz, so a standard satellite TV LNB is used to downconvert the frequency. The LNB had to first be converted to circular polarization, and is fed via an 'invacom' feedhorn.

Update Notes: Thank you to @dereksgc for pointing out that the HackRF supercluster and modified LNBs aren't actually required to receive Starlink beacons. Derek notes that the Starlink beacons are actually very easy to receive. All you need is an RTL-SDR V3 and a stock "astra" LNB (or the Bullseye LNB) which will convert the 11325 MHz beacon frequency to 1575 MHz which is in the range of the RTL-SDR. The bandwidth of the beacons including doppler shift is also small enough for the RTL-SDR. The beacons are circularly polarized, but strong enough to be received with an unmodified linear LNB and small offset TV dish. So receiving the beacons is possible with modest hardware, provided you have a way to power the LNB. Oleg's setup appears to be gearing up to receive the actual wideband data from Starlink, or some other wideband satellite signals.

In the spectrum waterfall image, the doppler shift of the beacons is clearly visible due to the speed at which the satellites orbit.

More information about his setup is available from his followup Reddit comment and the Twitter links he provides there. You can also visit his Twitter directly at @olegkutkov where he shows more images of his HackRF supercluster and the hardware he' using.

In the past we've posted about how IU2EFA and Jan de Jong were able to track the Starlink satellites via an alternative means involving reception of the European GRAVES space radar being reflected off the satellite body.

Oleg's HackRF Supercluster
Starlink Beacons Received. Doppler shift clearly visible.

Starlink Doppler Reflections Caught with an RTL-SDR

Over on YouTube William IU2EFA has been uploading multiple short "meteor scatter" videos. This involves using an RTL-SDR to briefly receive distant radio stations via the RF signal reflecting off the ionized trail left by meteors entering the atmosphere. However, in a similar fashion satellites orbiting the earth can also reflect distant radio stations. 

In one of his latest videos William caught a train of Starlink satellites reflecting the signal from the Graves radar in France. To do this he uses a 10 element VHF Yagi, and an RTL-SDR running with HDSDR and SpectrumLab. In the video you can see and hear the change in frequency caused by the doppler shift.

Starlink is a SpaceX project aiming to bring ubiquitous satellite internet to the entire world. Currently 358 Starlink satellites are in orbit, and the end goal is to have 12000.

IU2EFA Starlink radar Graves doppler reflection

Starlink GRAVES Radar Reflections Received with SDR

Over on YouTube Jan de Jong who is based in Germany has posted a short slide show video showing that he received reflections of the GRAVES space radar from the new Starlink satellites.

Starlink is a SpaceX run satellite constellation that is slowly being launched in order to provide worldwide satellite internet access. The last launch was on 11 November 2019. Typically multiple satellites are launched at once, and they follow each other closely in a line, slowly spreading out.

The GRAVES space radar is a powerful radar based in France that is used to track satellites. If you are not too far away from France and within the GRAVES radar footprint you can point an antenna at the sky, and tune to the GRAVES radar frequency of 143.05 MHz with an RTL-SDR or any other SDR. You might then receive the reflections of this radar signal coming from satellites passing overhead. GRAVES has also been used for meteor scatter detection.

As the 60 and more satellites from Starlink 2 pass over the Graves radar signal they reflect a vertical track on the HROFFT radar image from the 143.05Mhz signal. In the first images the satellites are all still very close together, in current passes they have spread already and the display looks almost like rain in the sky on the 1 second radar plot from HROFFT.
Signal received with SDR RTL (SDRuno RSP1A) and 3 element Yagi at 45 degrees towards south

#Starlink-2 Passes over #Graves Radar #ElonMusk