Based on the versatile RTL2832U chip, SatNOGS is using R820T RTL-SDR as the default signal receiver and tuner. The R820T RTL-SDR is currently the cheapest, most common, and most performing solution available in terms of general sensitivity having a frequency range of 24 – 1766 MHz. The stack allows usage of other receivers too (like amateur radio transceivers) through the usage of rigctld (part of Ham Lib project).
This thread discusses the possibility of using standard amateur radios. In general:
- You should be able to use any rotator supported by hamlib
- Gpredict support for your radio will make things much easier
- The satellites you'll be able to decode may be limited; filters have been developed for RTL-SDR, and won't be available for your radio.