Monthly Archives: August 2019

GOES satellites

Above you working silently are Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES).  They are operated by NOAA and are essentially weather satellites.

Now here’s the current configuration above.  Seeing as how I live on the East Coast of the US I aim at GOES-16 or GOES East.   Getting the signal is a bit of a challenge and requires some special hardware.

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RTL-SDR Fun

One of my favorite hobbies of course is radio.  I own a few.

I think the most interesting “radios” are RTL-SDR devices.  The RTL stands for Realtek (which is the chipset) and SDR stands for Software Defined Radio.

They only cost a few bucks for a “generic” one and there are more sensitive and selective ones that cost bigger bucks.

Essentially if it is a radio signal of some kind, with a $20 USB Software Defined Radio you can listen to or decode a multitude of radio traffic/chatter.  In fact it seems darn near illegal, and sometimes it is.  I have other blog pages with this information but I’m just going to re-hash what I’ve been up to this week.

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Syctale-C For Decoding Inmarsat STD-C EGC Messages

Everybody over at the Facebook SDRPlay message board is having fun decoding L band ACARS and STD-C messages.  One of the SDRPlay guys, Mr Mike Ladd, put together an excellent guide on using the RSP devices to decode L band traffic.  It has invigorated that Facebook community somewhat and I’m excited to see everyone trying it out and posting their results/questions.   Mike posts excellent tutorials and videos and if you fancy yourself an SDR enthusiast or hobbyist you owe it to yourself to check out his videos.

ACARS AERO messages are for, you guessed it, Aircraft,  and Enhanced Group Call (EGC) messages are Maritime notices and warnings.   These messages are from Inmarsat Satellites and the one I use specifically is Inmarsat 4-F3.  Clicking on the image will show you that its geosynchronous orbit covers North and South America.

Inmarsat (click to enlarge)

Inmarsat 4-F3 is located at 97.6 West.  Strongly recommended to get an app called Dish Align to locate the satellite.

So to pull this off you need:

  • An RTL-SDR device capable of delivering Bias T voltage to the antenna.  For today I used an SDRPlay RSPDuo.  There are certainly cheaper devices out there though.
  • An L band antenna such as this one or an old Othernet L Band Patch antenna from the old version 2 hardware.  I had one of the old L Band Patch antennas laying around already. You might be able to find one on eBay or of course make your own..
  • A Windows laptop with a little bit of OOMPH
  • Software such as SDRUno if you are using an SDRPlay device or SDR# if you may be using an Airspy device.
  • Virtual Audio Cable to get the audio from your SDR software into Syctale-C software.
  • And of course Syctale-C software

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Radio – An Observation

Radio.  It’s an interesting medium.  From Edison to Marconi it has been with us since the late 1800’s.  Among the first wireless, commercial transmissions were referred to as Marconi-grams.

Marconigram Mar*coni*gram, n. [Marconi + –gram.] same as {radiogram}; a wireless message. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

Transmitting messages wirelessly became preferable over wired transmissions referred to as the telegraph.   In 1920 our world changed as KDKA, a government radio station was thrust upon the airwaves and commercial radio kicked off.   The BBC in England followed suit around 1922.

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Chuwi HI10 Air Windows Tablet Review For RTL-SDR

Batten down the hatches and store food.   The end is near.  I bought a Windows Device and I am going to review it.

Let’s be clear.  I F’n-ing hate Windows.  I have been using Linux and Mac way before it was cool to do so.  Windows is an abomination.  That being said I have long since owned a Vinyl Sign Cutting machine.  The very best software for it runs on Windows.  Also recently I bought an SDRPlay RSPDuo and the only real software to exploit it properly is called SDRUno and it is Windows only.

This is a review for a Chuwi HI10 Air Tablet .  I bought it EXCLUSIVELY for using RTL-SDR radios on.  If you are looking for a review of how well this tablet does ANYTHING besides RTL-SDR, then by golly you are in the wrong place.

I travel a lot and I love listening to radio signals and like it or not I just need to carry around a Windows device.

Sure I can run Windows in a Virtual environment but I’m kind of king of the low power devices (read:  CHEAP) and the things I try to do require more power and speed than what I typically carry around.

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How Do You Like To Listen To Shortwave?

Probably not a lot of us shortwave junkies out there.  That being said there are several ways to listen.

  • Portable shortwave
  • Tabletop shortwave with external antenna
  • RTL-SDR
  • Internet based SDR

Probably missing something but those are the ways I can do it at Castle Hagensieker.  And while I own many, many portable shortwave radios……………

I have pretty much two preferred ways to listen.

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Icom IC-R75 Mini Review

Ok, I’m late to the show.  Really, really, really late to the show as this receiver has been out of production for a while.  I know.

While some of these aren’t my photos they are indeed photos from the eBay auction of the Icom IC-R75 receiver I bought so hopefully that’s okay.

I can give you specs and point you to all the features that you can easily look up yourself but I’m just going to focus on how I like the receiver.   Most of my reviews are subjective and basically boil down to “I like it” or “I don’t like it”.   I let others handle the super technical reviews.

While I am an electronics tech I’m mostly just a hobbyist, a user, and I know what I like, what makes sense, and what doesn’t work for me.  I’d be willing to bet that most people who are thinking about buying an R-75 don’t want to know how fast the electrons flow through the perfect waveform but rather the common sense nuts and bolts operation of the receiver.

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