Setting Up A Ground Station

Zac Manchester edited this page Mar 11, 2014 · 13 revisions

What You Need:

To set up a ground station to listen to KickSat and/or the Sprites, you need 3 pieces of hardware; an antenna, a low noise amplifier (LNA), and a software defined radio (SDR) interface. Below is a list of examples of hardware that should work with links to suppliers.

Antennas:

  • Arrow Antenna 440-5. This is the one I have the most experience with and recommend, but any small hand-held Yagi antenna should work.

LNAs:

SDRs:

Odds 'n Ends:

Putting it Together:

Software:

You'll need to have GNURadio installed to run the Sprite receiver. I've tried recording .wav files with several other SDR programs (SDR#, HDSDR, etc.) and demodulating them later with GNURadio with limited success. It seems most Ham radio SDR programs are optimized for receiving audio and do some unpredictable things when not used in that intended application. If you want to record .wav files, please use GNURadio as it is known to work reliably.

The best solution is to install GNURadio natively on your system. If you have the latest Ubuntu Linux (13.10 as of this writing), this is pretty painless - just follow the instruction elsewhere on this wiki.

If you are unable to install Ubuntu, then you can run the radio stuff inside a virtual machine on Windows or MacOS X. This easy to set up, but does not perform as well as a native installation. Here are instructions for setting up the GNURadio inside VMWare Player on Windows.