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SatNOGS Community Discovered – A New Hobby

satnogs community

You might enjoy learning more about the SatNOGS community, build your own low-cost satellite earth station, and listen in. It’s another use for your radio gear.

While researching ideas for DIY antenna rotators, I stumbled across the SatNOGS Community. SatNOGS is an open source community of satellite ground stations, focused on hams and makers. You will discover that this community is focused on low-cost, home-made networked ground stations especially geared towards Low-Earth Orbit Satellites, or LEO.

Or, in their own words ” It’s a network of satellite ground stations focused on observing and receiving the signal of satellites, particularly low earth orbit (LEO) cubesats.”

These guys have spent the past five years designing and open-sourcing hardware and software designs for satellite tracking on the cheap. You can receive satellites with the RTL-SDR dongle. You can control the equipment with a PC, Arduino or Raspberry Pi. You can make the antennas and rotators yourself without special equipment, not counting a 3D printer.

Here is a short video introduction to SatNOGS Community.  For a deeper dive, you should check out this edition of Ham Radio Now. You will see demonstrations of DIY antenna rotators later in the video.

Ham radio enthusiasts have been interested in satellites since the first Oscar was launched in 1961. Many hams have communicated by satellite over the years, and learned how to track satellites using free software.

SatNOGS Community – What is there to discover?

It’s pretty easy to receive satellites, as long as you can point your antenna in the right direction. Some satellites are in high geo-synchronous orbit. By many more whiz by in low orbits, including ham satellites and the International Space Station. These transmit data and telemetry on VHF and UHF frequencies.

Just how many satellites can you receive, anyway? Lots. Here’s a taste of what’s up there. Check here if you want to learn more.

Incidentally, it’s getting very crowded up there.

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