SatNOGS for satellite command and control

Although quite some time has passed since our last update the SatNOGS team and the community was busy working on it’s software and hardware components allowing modular setups.

A large amount of focus has being the SatNOGS client software. Allowing the user to not only use RTL-SDR based dongles but a far greater variety of SDR solutions using GnuRadio. In conjunction with that SatNOGS client is able to use Amateur Radios that are supported by hamlib (we’ve already tested on Yaesu and Kenwood radios). Such functionality paired with our new ground station hardware design, and further tests on after market designs such us Yaesu Az/El rotator would allow the SatNOGS network to not only receive but transmit data via the network to satellites.

Since a few months now Libre Space Foundation, the organization that assists the development, and operation of the SatNOGS networks is has being working together with the University of Patras on developing and manufacturing the first satellite with most of it’s components based open hardware and using free software, UPSat.

An open hardware and software satellite especially one build by Libre Space Foundation would be a great chance for the SatNOGS network to implement command and control features on it’s SatNOGS client, allowing a fully open Low Earth Orbiting satellite communication stack from earth to orbit and back.

upsat-command-control

Communications with the satellite are implemented through ECSS Standard Commands as described in ECSS-E-70-41A standard (CCSDS). You can checkout the code of the client on GitHub and the ecss services implemented on the satellite here. There has been a lot of effort to make sure that we implement all needed functionality on the SatNOGS client, while in parallel maintaining modularity and extensibility for future satellites and other protocols.

Do you have a satellite in the works and want to use SatNOGS client as command and control? Let us know and we will be happy to work with you expanding our client!

 

SatNOGS DB, the open satellite transmitter database opens for contributions

Early on, while developing SatNOGS, the SatNOGS team encountered the lack of a central and editable database for active satellite transmitters. Such information would be vital not only for SatNOGS operations but also for amateur radio operators interested in satellite telecommunications.

Over the past many years, lots of radio amateurs undertook the challenge by creating personal pages that would keep track of transmitter data, and although there are really fine examples of such efforts (props to PE0SAT, JE9PEL, OZ9AEC, AMSAT-UK and others) those are unfortunately not scalable approaches, that could easily become deprecated and are not easily exported for further usage.

Our solution was to create SatNOGS DB an open satellite transmitter database, that allows everyone to suggest transmitter information of active satellites and collaborate in keeping the database up-to date. SatNOGS DB information is freely and openly (CC-BY-SA) accessible via an API and a web application, to facilitate the needs of satellite radio operators across the globe.

satnogs-db

Technically our current implementation is based on the Django Python framework. The code can be found here and we are looking for code contributors as always! Do you have any suggestions on how we can make SatNOGS DB better? File away issues here, so we can make DB better for everyone.

If you are a satellite operator, or an amateur radio enthusiast and would like to make suggestions on populating SatNOGS DB don’t hesitate to check out our FAQ on how to do so.

satnogs db

The more transmitter information we have, the easier it is to communicate with many more satellites. So get those contributions started, and together let’s create the holistic, open and crowd-sourced satellite transmitter database once and for all!

Introducing the Summer Of Code In Space 2015 student working on SatNOGS

42_digital_logo_dark_blue_sign_AAs posted a few months ago SatNOGS is participating as a mentor organization in European Space Agency’s Summer Of Code In Space 2015, during the call for proposals we received numerous interesting proposals to work on SatNOGS during summer as part of the Summer Of Code In Space initiative, from these proposals and with the consultation of the ESA SOCIS managers we choose 

Emilio Martínez’s proposal working on “a pre-amplifier with an integrated antenna polarization switch for cross YAGI-UDA UHF band antenna, and a U/V diplexer module for the SatNOGS ground station“. Emilio provided a highly detailed proposal for his work in SatNOGS and we are really excited to work with him during summer and beyond to the development of SatNOGS.

EmilioEmilio Martínez is a Spanish Telecommunication Engineering (MSc) student at
University of Granada. He defines himself as an enthusiast of space-related technology and he would like to focus his professional career on the space industry when he finishes his studies.

He is enrolled in an aerospace developing group at University of Granada called GranaSAT. This group isformed by students and professors with the goal of designing and developing a Cubesat mission. Currently, Emilio is developing his master’s thesis about the Communications System of the Granasat Cubesat and the satellite-earth link: designing the Cubesat communication hardware, defining the link budget and improving their ground station capabilities in order to reach a reliable communication.

The SatNOGS team is looking forward for the expertise and know-how Emilio brings to our project.

We welcome all contributors that would like to be involved in the SatNOGS project and we would like to encourage all parties interested in satellite communications to join our community of developers.

SatNOGS rotator tracking a high altitude balloon

Since the conception of the SatNOGS one of our design mantras was modularity, not only we believe that the SatNOGS stack should be able use a wide variety of components but also that components should be able to used in a wide variety of applications.

This Sunday May 1oth 2015 the SatNOGS team had the chance to test how versatile our SatNOGS rotator and control software was by tracking the Aeolus-2way High Altitude Balloon.

Tracking was made possible by receiving APRS data from the Aeolus-2way High Altitude Balloon and converting them using a specialized script as azimuth and elevation coordinates.

The Aeolus-2way is a high altitude balloon build by an awesome team of radio amateur high altitude balloon enthusiasts from Greece, and the help of several groups and organizations.

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Aeolus team preparing the Aeolus-2way payload

The balloon launched from the center of the Peloponisos peninsula of Greece in the city of Megalopolis at Plaka airstrip at around 11:10.

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Aeolus-2 way launch

 

The SatNOGS team was positioned 35 km (~21.7 miles) West – NorthWest of the launch site on the Antenna park near the Ano Dolianna village of Mt Parnon. An inverter was used to power two laptops sever ham radio transceivers and our SatNOGS rotator and provide sufficient power for the team’s needs

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SatNOGS rotator tracking Aeolus-2way

 

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SatNOGS running on power provided by automotive inverter

The balloon began it’s descent at 34.660 meters and it’s payload was successfully retrieved.

We would like to congratulate and thank all parties involved in this high altitude balloon launch for the great team work and cooperation and especially the Aeolus team for their commitment.

 

SatNOGS selected to participate in European Space Agency’s 2015 Summer of Code In Space

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SatNOGS is proud to participate in ESA’s Summer Of Code In Space 2015 as a mentoring organization.

ESA’s Summer Of Code In Space (also known as SOCIS) is an open source development program specifically for students run by the European Space Agency Under this program. ESA funds students to write space-related code for open source projects during the northern hemisphere’s summer.

If you are eligible to participate in SOCIS and interested in contributing code to the SatNOGS project, you may start by visiting our SOCIS project ideas page witch contains a list of suggested projects. Students are welcome to provide their own ideas for projects in collaboration with the SatNOGS developer community. The major communication and coordination systems of the SatNOGS project are its community forum and its github repositories.

We encourage every party interested to visit the SOCIS website, and follow read the list of frequently asked questions.

New lab equipment

Having access to an awesome 3D printer is certainly crucial for the SatNOGS project but the SatNOGS hardware is much more than 3D printed parts. To push the development of the ground station forward the core development team decided to acquire an oscilloscope, a programmable power supply and a Vector Network Analyzer

Following our ideal of sharing resources with the community, sharing it with the local hackerspace, we decided to install our instruments to it’s lab and share them with anyone interested.

In the future we plan to include to our instruments among other things a frequency generator and a signal analyzer.

 

 

 

We consider having access to a complete electromechanical lab/workspace is crucial not only for SatNOGS but for any community driven open hardware initiative.

 

LulzBot TAZ4 donated to the SatNOGS project

Since the beginning of the SatNOGS project we used 3D printed parts for our gears. To do so we mostly used a LulzBot Ao-100 3D printed donated by AlephObjects to hackerspace.gr a physical space in Athens Greece that most of the core SatNOGS teams are meeting and the home of our first permanently installed ground station.

To cover our needs we communicated with AlephObject in order to purchase a LulzBot TAZ4 3D printer. LulzBot didn’t only provided us with a superb open hardware 3D printer as usual but also they donated it to the SatNOGS project!

We are really excited by their offer, and stay true to the spirit of sharing that characterizes our project from the very beginning we decided to share our new 3D printer with the awesome community of the local hackerspace of Athens Greece a physical space dedicated to open hardware and software hacking.

Two generations of LulzBot 3D printers
Two generations of LulzBot

To celebrate the occasion members of our team and the local hackerspace gave a welcoming event, and our 3D printing expert showcased TAZ4 and it’s awesome capabilities. He gave a hands-on introduction in 3D printing in general, TAZ4 and PrintRun (the free -as in freedom- software controlling LulzBot). Members and visitors of the hackerspace had the chance to print their own stuff (from Rocktopus figures to OpenBCI electrodes).

We already printed lot’s of 3D printed parts for the ground station we’ve send in Brussels for FOSDEM and we are looking forward into printing even more and sharing our resources with the local community.

 

 

 

SatNOGS at FOSDEM

This weekend members from our core team of developers attended FOSDEM in Brussels Belgium for a scheduled lightning talk about the project.

At Saturday the  showcase the mobility features of the SatNOGS Ground Station they assembled one on the spot in under one hour.

For more than six hours the members of the team had the chance to showcase the SatNOGS hardware and get the invaluable input from fellow open source developers from across the word.

Next day the team had the chance to give a lightning talk in a packed amphitheater again assembling SatNOGS on the spot.

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The “slides” of the presentation are available in github and powered by reveal.js, feel free to check them out and don’t hesitate to localize them 🙂

As soon as FOSDEM releases a video of the talk we will share it with a new update. Stay tuned.