Tagged: starlink

Radio Related News Occurring in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

In the current Russia-Ukraine conflict we've seen several noteworthy radio related events occurring over the last few days, mostly throughout Twitter.

Russian HF Bomber Communications

As mentioned in the previous post it has been found that since the start of the invasion, Russian Strategic bombers have been very active on USB voice at 8131 kHz. We've even seen a security firm predict air raid siren activations based on increased bomber HF activity. 

Russian Military HF Frequencies Jammed by Activists

It has been observed that several Russian military HF stations including the famous UVB-76 Buzzer have been jammed with either the Ukrainian national anthem, or various meme-type songs. It is likely that these stations are being jammed mostly by civilian activists, or members of the activist hacker collective known as Anonymous, rather than any military organization.

The UVB-76 Buzzer is a famous and mysterious numbers station that plays a buzzing sound and sometimes voice. It can be received from all over the world. Via civilian investigations, and through the use of the KiwiSDR TDoA direction finding functionality, it has been found to be transmitted from a location just north of St. Petersburg, and is assumed to be a military signal of some sort.

We've also seen waterfall text based jamming:

Using KiwiSDRs you can listen to these jammed stations yourself remotely through public internet connected SDRs in Europe. Some known frequencies are listed here and here

We note that there have also been reports about fake Russian frequencies being posted on the internet.

We assume most jamming is happening from outside the warring countries, and it is unknown how far the jamming signals extend onto Russian or Ukrainian territory, or how much of an impact they are having on Russian operations.

Russian State TV Hacked

Twitter account Anonymous TV has reported hacking Russian state TV to show citizens what is actually happening in Ukraine. It's unknown if this was a hack via TV transmissions being overpowered by another signal, or a computer hack.

Starlink Activated in Ukraine

A few days ago Elon Musk and SpaceX activated their Starlink wireless satellite internet system in Ukraine, and have sent over a shipment of ground terminals. This is useful as even if the local wired internet were to be destroyed, or be censored by Russia, the Starlink system will be able to connect to uncensored internet as long as there is power. 

An account of a Ukrainian engineer and RF hobbyist recently Tweeted his success at getting his Starlink system up and running from his home in Ukraine. We decided not to link to his Twitter account in this post, just in case he needs to delete his account for safety in the future as he appears to be very close to the bombing.

Viasat Satellite Service Experiences Cyberattack and Outages

Viasat, another provider of satellite internet services in Ukraine region appears to have been subject to a DDOS cyberattack, causing outages to it's satellite internet service in the European region.

SSTV Activism Seen On Russian Meridian Satellites

Meridian satellites are a "family of telecommunications satellites for civil and military use developed by Russia in the 2000s placed in a Molniya Orbit" (Wikipedia). A tweet by Scott Tilley @coastal8049 has noted that they have seen reports of SSTV activist activity occurring on the 484 MHz Meridian transponders. 

Scott Tilleys Twitter feed also shows some interesting other pieces of news and information, including frequencies and orbits of Meridian satellites, images of a destroyed Russian command and control satellite communications vehicle, and links to now deleted, but Google cached pages with information about Russian satellite communication systems.

APRS Activism against Russia causes APRS-IS DDOS

Amateur radio operators can use a system called APRS to communicate with text and packet data globally through internet connected radio repeaters. A few days ago it appears that anti-Russia activists flooded the APRS-IS (Automatic Packet Reporting System-Internet Service) system with bogus packets targeting Russian coordinates, which unintentionally resulted in a denial of service (DOS) event on APRS trackers like aprs.fi

DARC Urges Safety First for Ukraine and Foreign Amateur Radio Hobbyists

The German ham-radio association known as DARC has issued a warning to Ukrainian hams, and to foreign hams who may receive from them. Amateur radio operations are currently banned in Ukraine due to wartime laws.

Poland Amateur Radio Society Provides WinLink HF Email Service

In response to geopolitical threats, the Poland Amateur Radio Society has set up a HF WinLink email system, aimed at provided email services to amateur radio operators that could be cutoff from internet email services. It appears this may be aimed at helping Ukrainians communicate, however in these modern days of electronic warfare, it is important to take into account the warning from DARC above too as transmitting stations could easily be located by Russian electronic warfare forces.

Dear HAM operators, in the face of the latest threats in our region and a possibility of an incoming wave of refugees, with over 2 mln already living in Poland, we would like to remind you that we are at your disposal.

If you are a licensed amateur radio operator, you can send information by e-mail to your relatives in Poland or Emergency Services with via the Winlink system, which works on HF bands, independently of access to the local ICT infrastructure https://winlink.org/WinlinkExpress.

We advise you to download the software, install it and check its operation.
Polish WinLink nodes are QRV on 160,80,20m
SR5WLK dial frequency 3595,5 kHz USB
SR3WLK dial requency 14111 kHz USB
SP3IEW dial frequency 1865 kHz USB

If we receive information about the cut-off of the Internet in the region in danger, we will be QRV daily as SP0MASR @ 18-20 UTC on the frequencies 3770 kHz +/- QRM, 7110 kHz +/- QRM. In such a situation, please communicate in Polish or English.

We are here to serve you.

Shortwave Listening Updates

The excellent SWLing.com blog has also provided some updates on shortwave, including news that WRMI have resumed broadcasts of Radio Ukraine International, Ukrainian state radio resumes broadcasting at 549 kHz, and that the BBC adds to new broadcasts to Ukraine.

Russian Oligarch Jets Tracked with ADS-B

An activist has set up a Twitter account to track the private jets of Russian Oligarch's via ADS-B. ADS-B aircraft data can be used to track aircraft locations, and these signals are typically received with low cost SDRs like RTL-SDRs. The project appears to use data sourced from adsbexchange.com which is known to be one of the only ADS-B aggrators that does not censor data.

The 7055 kHz 'Radio War' Frequency Sees Increase in Activity

In has been reported that the 7055 kHz LSB amateur radio frequency has been used by Ukrainian and Russian amateur radio operators for some time now to insult each other in a 'radio war', and recently activity has significantly increased. Other frequencies involved include 7050 kHz LSB and 3731 kHz.

Captured Equipment Shows Russian Radio Hardware In Use

A recent tweet shows a photo of hardware supposedly captured from Russian forces. Of interested is a Russian R-187PI Azart, a handheld digital software defined radio.

At the same time unconfirmed reports suggest that some parts of the Russian army may be relying on civilian Baofeng radios.

Receiving Starlink Beacons with an RTL-SDR and LNB

Derek OK9SGC has recently posted a write-up of how they’ve been able to receive the Ku-band beacon signals from the Starlink constellation of communication satellites continually launched by SpaceX since 2015. While we recently covered Starlink Beacons being captured with a HackRF Supercluster Derek has noted that receiving the beacons requires little more than an LNB, a low-cost SDR such as the RTL-SDR V3 and a power injector to provide 12V DC to the LNB. Derek notes that a dish is not even required as the beacons transmit with high power.

Starlink Beacon Receiver Setup

Due to the low earth orbit and thus high speed of travel of the Starlink constellation you’ll notice strong Doppler effect drifts in your received signal. Derek notes that it may be interesting to perform Doppler analysis on the satellites with the satellite tracking toolkit for radio observations (strf) software. He also noted that in the 30 minutes he was receiving for, there was almost no point in time where a beacon was not being received, indicating that the Starlink constellation is close to achieving 100% sky coverage. 

Derek has made the process easy to understand and illustrates just how easy it is to listen to these beacon signals. Of course we note that these are just the beacons, and they carry no data. Still they are fun signal to receive, and doppler analysis could reveal interesting information about orbits. 

Starlink beacons shown in a fast FFT (LEFT), and slow FFT (RIGHT)

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