Using the UT-100 DVB-T modulator on Linux

In October last year I learned about the UT-100 series of DVB-T modulators available from a company in Taiwan. At that time I have already been working with software defined video broadcasting; however, I still found the idea of a small USB-stick modulator very appealing for use with embedded devices. In this post I have collected my notes about setting up and testing the UT-100 modulator on Linux.

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FM transmissions over FO-29 linear transponder

I have previously written about interference from FM stations on the HO-68 linear transponder. Now it appears the other satellites with linear transponders also suffer from local FM traffic by people who haven’t got a clue that they are transmitting in the satellite uplink segment of the 2 meter band.

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Funcube Dongle with Quisk SDR

Today I have spent some time trying the Funcube Dongle with Quisk SDR. The setup procedure was quite painless and the results very satisfactory: Using an Arrow II hand-held yagi connected directly to the FCD I could receive the HO-68 CW beacon with very good SNR.

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CuteSDR – Open source SDR for Linux, Mac and Windows

CuteSDR screenshotIt looks like Moe Wheatley, AE4JY, is working on a cross platform software defined radio receiver intended for SDR hardware from RFSPACE. It is written using the Qt toolkit and will be available soon under an open source license with the purpose of providing an SDR interface program example for other developers. It is still very early and no code has been released yet, but you can watch this first demo video published few days ago and you can also join the CuteSDR Yahoo group if you are interested in following the project.

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Interference on HO-68 linear transponder

Wednesday, November 10, Pete MI3EPN reported that he heard what sounded like FM transmissions on the lower end of the HO-68 / XW-1 linear transponder and it didn’t sound like ham radio operators making contact over a satellite. It was an interesting coincidence because I could remember that I have seen some FM-like signals while I was recording HO-68 on Tuesday evening but I thought it was some local interference.

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Fun with WebSDR and Fldigi

Tonight I had some fun with Fldigi connected to Web SDR. I could actually listen to and decode digital ham radio traffic on the 80 and 40 meter bands without using a radio or antenna.

The way I achieved it was by configuring Fldigi to capture its data using the built-in microphone and turn the volume in Web SDR up until it was sufficient. The result was surprisingly good; of course partly because the Mac has relatively good sound hardware – at least when compared to some standard PC sound chip.

I prepared this video demonstrating how it works. You will hear and see many PSK-31 stations as well as some RTTY and other modes. Enjoy and have fun.

Watch in high resolution.

Portable S-band Ground Station Update

I made good progress with the portable S-band ground station this week.

I took the receiver to the OZ7SAT lab to measure its performance. Using the USRP+DBSRX and no LNA we could easily detect a -132 dBm CW signal with modest FFT integration (fraction of a second) in a GNU Radio spectrum scope. Using the LNA we could go down to about -138 dBm, i.e. an improvement in SNR of 6 dB. These figures were measured at an SNR ~5 dB. This is excellent, but please note that this is not real “sensitivity” in the traditional sense because we were not demodulating or decoding the signal. We were simply integrating the spectrum for a fraction of a second to detect the presence of the signal. The measurements were done by sampling a 250 kHz wide spectrum.

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New vLog: Introducing the S-band Ground Station Project for LRO/LCROSS Reception

In this new video blog I am introducing a new project that has kept me occupied for a few weeks now: A low cost S-band ground station for receiving signals from NASA’s lunar spacecrafts LRO and LCROSS. More info at Receiving LRO and LCROSS. Based on the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) with DBSRX daughterboard, a super low noise preamplifier from Kuhne and GNU Radio software.