SDR (Software Defined Radio) For Satellite (1 Viewer)

Scott Greczkowski

Thread Starter
Welcome HOME to SatelliteGuys!
Staff member
HERE TO HELP YOU!
Sep 7, 2003
98,779
16,082
Newington, CT
Last night on the Satellite Radio show we had Brian from Titanium Satellite on the show and he talked about something I knew nothing about... but what he told us peaked my interest. And I had to get one...

So last night I ordered a Newsky USB SDR Receiver for under $20. (http://www.ebay.com/itm/160896092118?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649)

On the show Brian explained how he was able to hook up from his satellite dish to this tiny USB stick and find loads of hidden signals coming off the satellites. He told us how amazed he was at what he heard. Michael (KE4EST) is also a user of this technology and him and Brian had an amazing discussion on this new technology.

I have found out that the majority of the software out there to make this work is freeware, and I also found out that you can create a simple server using an inexpensive Raspberry PI so that you can access your SDR receiver not only from anywhere in your house, but with a good internet connection from anywhere in the world.

They also explained using this technology how they were able to use it as a spectrum analyzer to better aim their dish.

I was amazed at what I heard, and since the show have spent many hours searching the internet learning more about this amazing technology! However in my travels I have not really found much in the way of using SDR with a satellite dish. About the closest I found was how to use the SDR receiver to download satellite weather maps from the weather satellites flying ahead. But from what Michael and Brian were talking about there seems to be a lot up there on the satellites.

I am guessing that there are others here on SatelliteGuys who have been using this amazing technology who would know more and would be willing to help others learn more about SDR and what it can do...

So how about it any other SatelliteGuys out there fool around with this amazingly low cost technology?

I would love to see discussion and tips of interfacing the SDR receiver with satellite technology. I do understand that "loose lips can sink ships" so I do think that we can talk about it but be careful when talking specifically about some of the hidden gems up there.

If we can get enough members talking about this and using this technology I have no problem opening up a dedicated SDR forum here at SatelliteGuys. :)
 

northgeorgia

SatelliteGuys Pro
Nov 14, 2011
1,538
195
North GA
I'd love to find out more about this too! I ordered a USB DVB-T dongle for SDR a few months ago, and recently added on the HR downconverter for the shortwave band produced by NooElec. I have really enjoyed playing with it. I didn't know that Satellite applications (other than non-geosynchronous tracking for the adventurous) were possible. I'd love to hear more :) Maybe a special member-only interest forum is in order? :)
 

qwert1515

SatelliteGuys TheList
Sep 26, 2005
4,244
40
Los Angeles CA
They start talking about the RTL-SDR around the 39 minute mark.

I have used them for a little over a year as a digital scanner and for tracking aircrafts, but I never got around to trying them with my satellite dish... :( I have tried the RTL-SDR with the Raspberry Pi but I had to reduce the sample rate. I have another single board PC that is faster than the RPi that I will have to try out later.

I guess I have a project to try out a little later on today :)

Thanks for letting us know.
 

Titanium

AI6US
Lifetime Supporter
May 23, 2013
7,140
8,023
Meadow Vista, Northern California
Have run across numerous beacons, a few analog audio subcarriers services are still in use and a few private voice communications.

Check out SDR Touch for Android. Successfully used my tablet and a smartphone at the dish with a voltage blocking splitter to see the satellite signals. Even though the bandwidth is only 2Mhz, you get to see a carrier level of all transponders at the dish. Even estimate the LNBFs noise level. A very poor man's spectrum analyzer (very poor)! :D
 

qwert1515

SatelliteGuys TheList
Sep 26, 2005
4,244
40
Los Angeles CA
The RTL-SDR that Scott linked to is a good SDR as it does better at high frequencies than most of the other RTL-SDR variants.

Also it's probably a good idea to get dongle with the Rafael Micro R820T tuner as it has continous coverage over the L-Band. The dongel's with the Elonics E4000 tuner have a gap in the L-Band from around 1100 MHz to 1250 MHz. For Satellite we are most interested in 950 MHz to 2150 MHz.
 

northgeorgia

SatelliteGuys Pro
Nov 14, 2011
1,538
195
North GA
With the accompanying software, I have been able to decode ACARS (Aircraft beacons) and unencrypted pager data. This is in addition to amateur hams, police/emergency bands, business radio (I have heard hotel staff and school bus dispatchers), FM radio, NOAA radio. With the converter, I could get the SW bands, SSB and USB transmissions. I don't have a great antenna yet for AM and LW, but did manage to get a few. This is before any Satellite experiment :)
 

Scott Greczkowski

Thread Starter
Welcome HOME to SatelliteGuys!
Staff member
HERE TO HELP YOU!
Sep 7, 2003
98,779
16,082
Newington, CT
Brian mentioned to me I should pick up and upconverter for around $50, but I haven't figured out what an upconverter is. :D

I think in 2014 its time for me to get my Ham License.
 

Titanium

AI6US
Lifetime Supporter
May 23, 2013
7,140
8,023
Meadow Vista, Northern California
Try this link for the up convertor: $37
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ham-Up-RF-U...203?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item258068f58b

Also buy MCX adapters with jumpers: This is some of my collection for connecting to any feed coming into the shack (not shown the F to BNC). From China, $2.50 - $3.50 each including shipping! :D

MCX cables.JPG

All this SDR talk got me all "Hot and Bothered" :eek: .... just bought the upconvertor as well. Merry Christmas to me.... $42.50 including shipping. Anyone recommend a case?
 
Last edited:

lost_mesa

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 18, 2010
512
396
New Mexico
I've been playing around with SDR using SDR# and have two Newsky TV28T DVB-T dongles, one with the Elonics E400 chip and the other with the RTL2832U chip. I have mostly used them connected to my satellite dishes, so haven't spent much time looking at OTA signals. They are prone to overloading on strong OTA signals, but this isn't an issue with satellite signals. I also have the Ham It Up converter. Mine converts the H.F. band up to around 100 MHz. I just moved to a house near some FM broadcast transmitters, so the 100 MHz I.F. wasn't a good choice for me.

I certainly wouldn't consider myself an expert on the software side of things, but I was able to get it working after a few problems, and have since totally forgotten what I did to make it work.

Anyway, a few observations about using them with satellite dishes and a splitter with a DC block. Neither of my dongles cover the full 950 to 1450 MHz I.F. range. Neither of them even covered the often advertised frequency ranges, but between the two, I could mostly cover 950 to 1450 MHz. They tend to stay in lock better at their problematic frequencies if you tune up to the frequency in small increments rather than jumping straight to that frequency. In other words, if a dongle doesn't cover 1100 to 1250 MHz, you may get it up to 1125 MHz by starting lower than 1100 MHz and tuning up in 10 or 1 MHz steps. Go straight from 950 MHz to 1125 MHz and it won't lock. YMMV.

They only display at most 6 MHz of spectrum at a time, so are great for narrow band signals, but wider signals, such as many video signals, may not be so obvious.

I mostly use them to find satellites via their telemetry beacons, something I have been doing for about 20 years. They are nice for peaking a dish, even if there are no other signals on that satellite. You can also track satellites in real time that are being moved. Most beacons are within 1 or 2 MHz of 3700, 4200, 11,700 or 12,200 MHz. The photo is of the Anik G1 beacons last May, before it was geostationary at 107.3 degrees. My L.O. was 10.6 Ghz. The beacons are not intermittent as the waterfall display seems to indicate. I was running Crazy Scan at the same time and it was switching between the two local oscillators in my universal LNBF.

This may be a bit out of date as I've been moving so haven't had a chance to play with them for 6 months. But a lot of fun for $20.
 

Attachments

  • Anik G1 Beacon 1.jpg
    Anik G1 Beacon 1.jpg
    337.3 KB · Views: 308

northgeorgia

SatelliteGuys Pro
Nov 14, 2011
1,538
195
North GA
So, before I hook up my satellite to this, I keep hearing DC block or voltage block splitter. I'm thinking this would be a good thing to get in my collection before experimenting. Any links to example products?
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 0, Members: 0, Guests: 0)

Top