Omnidirectional Station How To
This How-To is exactly how I set up the station at home.
- 1 Expectation Management
- 2 Hardware Required
- 3 Setting up the Raspberry Pi
- 4 Software Configuration
- 5 Hooking up the RF
- 6 Taking some test passes
- Raspberry Pi
- Power supply + cable (see note below)
- Up to 16 GB Micro SD card
- Ethernet cable
- RTL SDR Blog v3 dongle
- Various short lengths of coax
- Omnidirectional antenna
Setting up the Raspberry Pi
I chose the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B for my station. There is a Model B+ on the market right now, with a faster processor. But it takes a lot more power and apparently the Ethernet port is a USB device, which is causing a lot of problems (according to the forums).
Downloading/Writing the SD image
The SatNOGs team has done a great job creating a Raspbian image with all the required software. Simply navigate over to the latest tag on Gitlab, and click on the "Zipped image" link under the latest tag. It's about 650 MBytes.
- Unzip the downloaded file: unzip image_2018-08-03-Raspbian-SatNOGS-lite.zip
- Figure out which device is the SD card. SD cards are usually start with mmcblk. sudo lsblk
- Write the image. This will take a while. Make sure you don't overwrite your host OS: sudo dd if=2018-08-03-Raspbian-SatNOGS-lite.img of=/dev/mmcblk0
Thinking I could save a few bucks, I used a no-name generic 2.4 amp "tablet" USB power supply I got as a freebie, and a micro-USB cable I use for charging my phone. What a mistake! The Micro-USB cable wire gauge was too small, so there was too much voltage drop on the cable, so the Raspberry Pi reported power problems every time it was doing anything.
Power problems are indicated by either on the monitor in the upper right (lighning bolt appears), or the red power LED flashes on the computer itself.
Creating a SatNOGs Network account
There are several different accounts you will want to make. (Why aren't they all linked??)
- Required: Network: for registering your station and adding data to the network.
- Recommended: Forums: for asking questions.
- Optional: Database: Only if you want to add satellites/modes. Not necessary for receiving satellite data.
Booting and Configuring Raspbian
After you have the image burned onto a Micro-SD card, boot it! I would recommend hooking up a keyboard and HDMI monitor, you can watch the boot process. If it doesn't boot at all, double check that you wrote the SatNOGs Raspbian image correctly.
After a successful boot, log in with username pi and password raspbian:
- Change your password! passwd
- Update and upgrade raspbian strech: sudo apt update then sudo apt upgrade
- You'll probably update a lot of packages and get a new kernel, so reboot after this: sudo reboot