Outernet Introduces Standalone & DIY Internet Satellite Kits for C.H.I.P Board, Raspberry Pi 3 Board, and Laptops

Outernet goal is to bring knowledge and/or emergency info to places without Internet either to remote places, or where Internet has been temporary shutdown due to natural disasters or political reasons through a satellite feed. In some ways, it works like a typical FM radio, but instead of receiving audio, you’ll get data. The first hardware was based on WeTek Play TV box, and called Lighthouse, but they now have a DIY kit that will work with Next Thing C.H.I.P, Raspberry Pi, or Laptops running Windows 7/10 or Linux, as well as a standalone Outernet Satellite kit including C.H.I.P Allwinner R8 development board.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

Let’s first check out “Basic Outernet DIY Kit” comprised of three items:

  • L-Band Antenna
    • Frequency: 1525 – 1559 MHz (Center frequency: 1542 MHz)
    • 8dbi
    • 4″  SMA Male connector
    • Dimensions – 12 cm x 12 cm x 1.5 cm
    • Weight – ~100 grams
  • RTL-SDR Blog Software Defined Radio/Tuner USB dongle
    • Ultra-low phase noise 0.5PPM TCXO
    • RF-suitable voltage regulator and custom heatsink
    • SMA female connector
    • SDR frequency range of approximately 25MHz – 1700MHz
    • Bias tee (software enabled)
  • Outernet/Inmarsat Amplifier (LNA) board
    • Frequency: 1525 – 1559 MHz (Center Frequency: 1542 MHz)
    • Gain – 34 dB
    • Voltage – 3.0V – 5.5V
    • Current Draw – 25 mA
    • Dimensions – 6.5 cm x 1.5 cm x 2.5 cm
    • Weight – 8.5 grams

The kit costs $69, but it’s not usable standalone, and you’ll need to connect the USB dongle your own C.H.I.P or Raspberry Pi 3 board running rxOS operating system, or laptop and configure them as explained in the documentation to configure and run the system in order to access Outernet Library through your satellite (DVB-S). It should be possible to use other boards too, but you’d have to handle the software part yourself. It should not be too complicated since the only hardware interface is a USB port.

However, if you want something that mostly works out of the box, you should consider “Deluxe Outnert DIY receiver kit” with included all items from the basic kit, plus a pre-configured C.H.I.P board, and a battery pack for $99.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

Once you’ve assembled the kit, pointed the L-band antenna to the right satellite, and completed the configuration through the web browser of a WiFi enabled device such as a smartphone. Outernet kit will freely download data (textbooks, health guides, courseware, weekly news, emergency info, disaster alerts, crop prices…) depending on your selected satellite, and anybody with a smartphone or computer will be able to access the data updated weekly/daily.

You’ll find the some details explaining how Outernet works and available data on my first post about Outernet, or for the complete details, visit directly Outernet.is.

Share this:
FacebookTwitterHacker NewsSlashdotRedditLinkedInPinterestFlipboardMeWeLineEmailShare

Support CNX Software! Donate via cryptocurrencies, become a Patron on Patreon, or purchase goods on Amazon or Aliexpress

ROCK 5 ITX RK3588 mini-ITX motherboard

20 Replies to “Outernet Introduces Standalone & DIY Internet Satellite Kits for C.H.I.P Board, Raspberry Pi 3 Board, and Laptops”

  1. Do you know if it will work with any of the cheap (<£8) RTL2832U based dongles, and compatible for those who have the far better Mirics based 'SDR-Play RSP' receivers ?

  2. I already have all these components and I can’t seem to get a clean signal anywhere. I live in northern NH in the states. At first I tried at my house but the foliage was too dense. Not a problem since I work over nights at a place with a great wide open sky. But even then the signal was crap. I was getting 8-9dbm of signal strength and I still was only receiving roughly 10% of the packets. Any one have any tips? I’m using outernet-in-a-box currently.

  3. Is the idea that anyone can push data to the satellite, or just the company?

    On the receiving side, can anyone with a satellite receiver (1.5Ghz) and SDR equipment view the data? I’d like to buy the Outernet amplifier LNA, but use it with a bias tee enabled LimeSDR.

  4. A Bias-T is a device that lets you add a DC voltage to an RF signal. They’re used to powering devices upstream of the ‘T’. In this case, it’s to power the LNA.

    Did they quote a ‘noise figure’ for the LNA?

    I have an RTL-SDR board and I could whip up a high gain antenna pretty easily. I’m curious if that’ll be enough to make up for not having an LNA. The other funciton of that LNA board is to act as a bandpass filter. A good high gain antenna will perform that function for free. 😉

  5. @Paul Technically speaking, the cheap DVB-T dongles will work, but it really depends on the type of oscillator they include. For tv use, the stability requirement is not very high, so they typically have a 20PPM XTAL. For receiving the satellite signal, you’ll need a 1PPM TCXO. We may have a software update in the next few months that will support the cheap dongles, but as of now, the only ones that will work for Outernet are the specialized, purpose-built radios (RTL-SDR Blog, NooElec, ThumbNet, etc). We will eventually support Mirics, but there is no timeline set

  6. @cnxsoft What is more important than a bias-tee, is an amplifier. An externally powered amp can be used. Our own amplifier can be be powered by external 5V. If you are using another amplifier, you’ll need 30dB of gain with a noise figure of less than 1dB.

  7. @jack324
    High SNR and low packets is generally related to local interference. I mean really local, as in a power cable being too close to the radio. Can you post your problem on the Outernet forum?

    1. It looks to be phased out. They now have something called morpheus. Maybe ask on their forums if they still have some stocks of the DIY kit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Khadas VIM4 SBC
Khadas VIM4 SBC