DO-IT-YOURSELF OUTERNET RECEIVER
User Manual for Skylark v4.4 with RTL-SDR or SDRx
NOTE: Outernet and Skylark are both in beta
How Outernet Works
Outernet provides a unique service, broadcasting digital media content at no charge. We send files over geostationary satellites that transmit in the L-band frequency range. The receiver converts these analog waves into data files. The receiver creates a local WiFi hotspot, and users access content over WiFi and view that content through any web browser.
3 versions of the receiver kit exist; they have identical capabilities for receiving the Outernet broadcast.
There are 5 components required to build and operate an L-band receiver with an RTL-SDR component:
There are 4 components required to build and operate an L-band receiver with an Outernet-branded SDRx component:
For hobbyists, the L-band hardware can also be used for Inmarsat reception, including SafetyNET, EGC, and AERO.
L-Band Air Gap Patch Antenna:
SDRx - Software Defined Radio:
Software Defined Radio Dongle
Power: The receiver requires 5V/1.5A power source. A 1A power supply may work, but we do not recommend it.
How The Components Work Together
Antenna The antenna receives satellite signals in a particular bandwidth.
SDRx This software defined radio is designed for L-band reception. It tunes into a particular frequency within the bandwidth and passes the signal to the computer running the demodulation software.
Computer The computer demodulates and decodes the signal and manages and stores the received files.
Power An external battery or other USB power source powers the receiver.
DIY Receiver Assembly
1. Remove the components from packaging. Leaving the components inside of packaging may lead to overheating and long-term damage to the components.
2. Connect the male connector of the Antenna to the female connector on SDRx.
3. Connect SDR unit to CHIP:
3a. Insert the SDRx full-size male USB-A plug into the USB port of CHIP or
3b. Insert the RTL-SDR full-size male USB-A plug into the USB port of CHIP or
3c. insert male micro-USB-B plug of cable into the micro-USB port on the SDRx and insert the full-size male USB-A plug into the USB port of CHIP
4a. For RTL-SDR units, connect the LNA to the RTL-SDR by screwing the male connector of LNA onto the female connector of the RTL-SDR.
4. Connect power to the CHIP through the micro-USB-B port on the CHIP. You cannot power the receiver through the micro-USB port on the SDRx. Most standard phone chargers or USB power packs will provide sufficient power for the receiver. We recommend any 1.5 -amp power source. 1-amp sources may also work, but we do not recommend using a lower-amp source.
If the CHIP does not light up, press the CHIP power button, a very small circular button located on the side opposite of the USB connectors.
Handle the CHIP with care! The CPU and other sensitive components are exposed. Always be sure to place the CHIP with black plastic headers down when resting it on a surface. Do not allow the CPU (marked as R8) to touch any surface.
Setting Up the Receiver
After assembly, use a WiFi enabled device to complete the receiver set-up:
1. Open the list of WiFi networks on a WiFi-enabled device and connect to the wireless access point named “Outernet.”
2. Open any browser and type http://my.outernet.is or http://10.0.0.1 in the address bar.
3. Log into Skylark using the the administrator credentials: username “outernet” and password “outernet” (both without quotation marks).
Outernet Software: Skylark
View the code on GitHub: https://github.com/Outernet-Project.
Outernet encodes and modulates data files and sends them to several Inmarsat satellites. These satellites transmit the radio waves in the L-band frequency range. The waves are received by the SDR radio component of the receiver and then demodulated by the CHIP component of the receiver. Demodulation turns the analog signal into bits and then passes them onto the decoder, which extracts the file information from the data and reconstructs the files on the receiver’s on-board storage. You can then access the stored files through Skylark.
Initial use instructions:
Satellite Reception Guide
To receive files, two things are required:
Once logged into Skylark, click the icon in the upper-left corner for Applications. Then click on the icon for Tuner. There are three tabs: Satellite, Custom, and Status. Click on Satellite to find information about the satellite:
To change the satellite, choose from the dropdown and click “Apply.” For more information, see Appendix.
Click on the Status tab and you will find a list of changing values. You may need to make adjustments to the antenna positioning if these values are not acceptable. See the next section, POINT THE ANTENNA, for information on adjusting the antenna.
You will want to pay attention to:
The other values described include:
Point The Antenna
To achieve a signal lock and an acceptable SNR, the antenna needs to have a clear view of the satellite:
If you have achieved signal lock and the device is receiving data, you should be able to see files in Skylark. If the device has signal lock but is not receiving packets, you will need to readjust the antenna.
The DIY Kit utilizes the NAND flash on Alpha CHIP, and 3GB is available for received content. Adding external storage via USB allows for content that is received to be backed up against the larger external drive. Content is backed up every hour. The data on the external drive is available through the home/external directory in the File Manager app. External storage can also be used to add content to the receiver. Only one external storage device can be used at a time.
External storage may be formatted using one of the following file system formats: NTFS, FAT32, and Ext2, Ext3, and Ext4 (on Linux). Once the external drive is added, Skylark will re-index any content already saved on internal storage. This process may take up to several minutes.
Skylark is the content management software of the receiver. Outernet continuously sends content over its data broadcast. Once received, that content is displayed in Skylark.
The Outernet Logo in the upper left will launch Applications, displaying your options for interacting with the software.
Skylark’s File Manager organizes content in a file structure format, the way a computer organizes files. Click through the folders to find content. To delete a file or folder, right-click its name and select Delete. You may interact with files while connected to the receiver, or, for off-line access, right-click on the file and select “Download to computer” to download onto your device for later use.
The network application provides information and settings for the built-in WiFi. We do not recommend that you modify the preconfigured network settings unless you are confident in what you are doing. If you choose to modify Skylark’s network settings, you can do so in the following ways:
The weather application delivers live interactive weather information (using NOAA data). Data you can access includes but is not limited to wind vectors, temperatures, relative humidity, total precipitable water, total cloud water, mean sea level pressure and ocean currents.
In What’s New, you can see the files your receiver has most recently downloaded. You can choose to view files received in the last 3 days or the 100 most recent downloads.
If you have no signal lock:
If applications are not receiving data:
Outernet broadcasts over three Inmarsat satellites offering coverage on every continent and on open waters. All satellites use L-Band and have a bitrate of 2kbps, or roughly 20MB of content per day.
I-4 F3 Americas at 98°W covers North, South, Central America, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Outernet Frequency: 1539.8725 MHz
Alphasat at 25°E covers Europe, Africa, Middle East, East Asia, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Outernet Frequency: 1545.94 MHz
I-4 F1 APAC (Asia-Pacific) at 144.0°E covers Asia, Australia, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Outernet Frequency: 1545.9525 MHz