Tracking of Low Orbit Satellites with a Dish & RTL-SDR

Travis Goodspeed has shared a project on his blog about his adventure in tracking low orbit satellites using a fairly complex setup. He is using a dish intended for connecting to one of the Inmarsat satellites while at sea on a maritime vessel, a EiBotBoard connected to a BeagleBone for motor control and a RTL-SDR for receiving radio signals from the dish. His goal has been to track the whole sky, including moving targets and it looks like he has been pretty successful.


At Black Hat DC in 2008, I watched Adam Laurie present a tool for mapping Ku-band satellite downlinks, which he has since rewritten as Satmap. His technique involves using an DVB-S card in a Linux computer as a receiver through a 90cm Ku-band dish with fixed elevation and a DiSEqC motor for azimuth motion. It was among the most inspirational talks I’d ever seen, and I had a blast recreating his setup and scanning the friendly skies. However, such a rig is limited to geostationary satellites in a small region of the sky; I wanted to see the whole sky, especially the moving targets.

In this article, I’ll demonstrate a method for modifying a naval telecommunications dish to track moving targets in the sky, such as those in Low Earth Orbit. My dish happily sits in Tennessee, while I direct it using my laptop or cellphone here in Europe. It can also run unattended, tracking moving targets and looking for downlink channels.” — Travis Goodspeed


via RTL-SDR.com

World’s cheapest INMARSAT reception systen using DVB-T USB dongle (RTL SDR)

World's cheapest INMARSAT reception systen using DVB-T USB dongle (RTL SDR)DVB-T dongles based on the Realtek RTL2832U can be used as a cheap SDR, since the chip allows transferring the raw I/Q samples with up to 3MHz bandwith to the host. I am testing here a DVB-T USB dongle based on Elonics E4000 tuner chip covering around 60-1700MHz (same tuner chip as used in the famous Funcube dongle SDR). For this quick test I am using only a temporary 45cm dish (old unused TV “Camping equipment” dish) and a wideband PCB based Log-Periodic Antenna as a dish-feed. I am loosing some signal due to the linear polarization (-3dB) of the feed whilst the sat is transmitting circular polarization and some losses due to a couple of adapters between Antenna and DVB-T stick. SNR on FFT is around 15-16dB for Inmarsat with this tiny antenna….which I find quite impressive. You really g Source


Dongle Shootout: Funcube vs RTL SDR – Part 1

“A small “side by side” comparison of a Funcube dongle and a cheap RTL SDR DVB-T dongle (Hama Nano) connected to the same antenna and using identical test systems from a geostationary INMARSAT satellite to compare received signal to noise ratios (SNR).

The FCD is used “live” in this video while the DVB-T IQ stream (1MHz bandwith) was prerecorded a few minutes before the video in order to avoid having to switch the dongles and reconfigure software back and forth and thus save some time in the video…” –Ottiki

World’s cheapest INMARSAT reception using DVB-T USB dongle (RTL SDR)

MegaOscarVideos over on youtube has posted a great video regarding his use of a RTL-SDR dongle to receive INMARSAT

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