SatNOGS Update Hack Chat

Do you know where your satellite is?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 12:00 pm PST Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Pierros Papadeas from SatNOGS, the Satellite Network of Ground Stations, joins us for the Hack Chat on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at noon PDT.

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Ever since the early days of the space race, people have been fascinated with satellites. And rightly so; the artificial moons we've sent into space are engineering marvels, built to do a difficult job while withstanding the harshest possible environment. But while most people are content to just know that satellites are up there providing weather forecasts and digital television, some of us want a little more.

Enter SatNOGS. Since winning the very first Hackaday Prize in 2014, SatNOGS has grown into exactly what Pierros Papadeas and the rest of the team envisioned: a globe-spanning network of open-source satellite ground stations, feeding continuous observations into an open, accessible database. With extensive documentation and an active community, SatNOGS has helped hundreds of users build ground stations with steerable antennas and get them connected. The network tracks hundreds of Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites each day, including the increasingly popular, low-cost cubesats that are heading to orbit.

Join us as the SatNOGS crew stops by the Hack Chat to give us an update on their efforts over the last few years. We'll discuss how winning the Hackaday Prize changed SatNOGS, how the constellation of satellites has changed and how SatNOGS is dealing with it, and what it takes to build a global network and the community that makes it work. 

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 2

    Dan Maloney10/30/2019 at 20:03 0 comments

    fredy12:44 PM
    @RichardCollins Indeed that would be very useful, however there are bandwidth constraints currently. However we have iqzip project that there are thoughts to use it in the future.

    Daniel joined  the room.12:44 PM

    Taiwo12:45 PM
    @Pierros Papadeas What does it take to have one of those gracious dots on my location?

    Pierros Papadeas12:45 PM
    This is a graph or observations per time, over the last 5 years (almost since we won the Hackaday Prize)

    Pierros Papadeas12:45 PM

    morgan12:45 PM
    that's great

    Pierros Papadeas12:46 PM
    @Taiwo :) also join us on and feel free to ask any questions on how to get started

    RichardCollins12:46 PM
    @fredy @Pierros Papadeas I am tracking the established VLBI and radio astronomy networks, the GPS networks for geophysics and meteorolgy. The power system low frequency networks, electromagnetic interference groups, infrasound and earthquake early warning, magnetometer networks, gravimeter networks. And many more. They ALL have to subtract electromagnetic, electic field and magnetic field variations.

    Pierros Papadeas12:46 PM
    @Taiwo generally speaking the simplest station would be an RPi4 with an rtl-sdr and a turnstile antenna

    Corey Shields12:47 PM
    ^^ and build up from there, add improvements over time

    newen12:48 PM
    any project at Argentina?

    Pierros Papadeas12:49 PM
    @newen we need more stations in Latin America ;)

    Corey Shields12:50 PM
    we have just a couple of ground stations there.. you can see them clicking on "map" at

    newen12:50 PM
    we are at center or AR

    RichardCollins12:50 PM
    Having the data in human readable format is crucial. Proprietary binary formats, undocumented formats and undocumented processing steps, and proprietary software and development environments are a NO NO. All these networks can work together.

    Corey Shields12:50 PM
    we will be launching a request for translation help in localizing our projects, which should help in places like that

    Corey Shields12:51 PM
    @RichardCollins absolutely!

    Pierros Papadeas12:51 PM
    @RichardCollins couldn't agree more on the necessity of documentation and openness.

    For that reason we published our Libre Space Manifesto

    Pierros Papadeas12:51 PM



    Building a ground station need not be complicated. There are a few things to consider when working out what it is you are going to do. Choices such as the desire to have a fixed or steerable ground station will play a big part in the amount of equipment needed and the time taken as well as the complexity of any build.

    Read this on Satnogs

    Pierros Papadeas12:51 PM


    Libre Space Manifesto

    Space is humanity's future. It is humanity's opportunity to explore, develop, use, and thrive differently. A way to ensure the longevity, sustainability, openness, equality of those efforts for all humanity. For this, we pledge to adhere to the following: All people shall have the right to explore and use outer space for the benefit and in the interests of all humanity.

    Read this on Libre

    morgan12:52 PM

    RichardCollins12:52 PM

    fredy12:54 PM
    Here is a recent coverage from an ISS SSTV event more details about the event can be found at

    RichardCollins12:54 PM
    This is a current map of the seismometer network. They are very good at sharing data and handling things professionally. Stations include magnetotelluric and similar stations. They have standards for documentation, storage, sharing.

    Pierros Papadeas12:54 PM

    Ethan Waldo12:55 PM
    Any thoughts on building a GRID so people can contribute processing resources for distributed data processing and analysis?

    G Mallery12:55 PM
    So, the "data" tab (in observations) needs ascii/hex AND ax.25 to be human...

    Read more »

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

    Dan Maloney10/30/2019 at 20:02 0 comments

    Pierros Papadeas12:00 PM
    Pierros here indeed :) Also @fredy and @elkos from the core team

    Pierros Papadeas12:01 PM
    (apart from @cshields)

    OK, great - hard to keep track sometimes. Welcome all! Can we start off with a little introduction on what SatNOGS is for those who don't know?

    Pierros Papadeas12:02 PM

    alan.b.johnston joined  the room.12:02 PM

    Pierros Papadeas12:02 PM
    SatNOGS is an open source stack of technologies for tracking, communicating and gathering data about satellites

    manaschhabra12:03 PM

    manaschhabra12:03 PM
    What is the technology behind ?

    Pierros Papadeas12:03 PM
    That includes Ground station designs, (antennas, rotators etc), Client software, Radio software, and then on the server side many applications to orchestrate this data gathering (network, db, dashboards and others)

    RichardCollins12:04 PM
    So the intention is data sharing, and the hardware side is the enabler?

    manaschhabra12:04 PM
    What is the motivation behind ?

    Corey Shields12:04 PM
    with a goal of improving access to data coming from space (mostly in the ham radio bands)

    Pierros Papadeas12:04 PM
    @manaschhabra depends on the part of the stack ;) For client running the satellite observations locally it is C/GNuradio and Python, for server side it is mostly Django

    Hexastorm12:04 PM
    how is the business sustained? like a charity?

    manaschhabra12:05 PM
    How are users getting benefitted ?

    manaschhabra12:05 PM
    And isn't it a niche area

    Pierros Papadeas12:06 PM
    @manaschhabra motivation is to have open data for everything space (check our foundation : Libre Space Foundation) and to promote usage of open source technologies in the space domain

    Corey Shields12:06 PM
    Let me set a little background/context,

    manaschhabra12:06 PM

    Pierros Papadeas12:07 PM
    @Hexastorm Non profit foundation behind it (Libre Space Foundation), we do have grants for development and do provide services, also winning prizes (hackaday 2014) helped kickstart this!

    Corey Shields12:08 PM
    typical satellite operators doing low-cost LEO (cubesats, etc) are often universities or research groups who may see their satellite overhead a couple of times a day. There's a lot of data they may miss out on inbetween. SatNOGS is building a global network of receivers (and the network software) to automate the collection of data for these satellites using SDR devices and raspberry pi, thus increasing the amount of data *collected* from these satellites

    RichardCollins12:09 PM
    What about from "regular" satellites - images, datasets, etc?

    Corey Shields12:09 PM
    we have hundreds of ground stations contributing now, and an automated path to go from RF to telemetry dashboards (

    ted12:09 PM
    Would you say satnogs/libre space is at production state, or "beta", or well before that?

    anfractuosity12:09 PM
    Is satnogs, rx only?

    Pierros Papadeas12:10 PM
    @ted I would say in production for most Telemetry oriented usages, and alpha on other.

    Pierros Papadeas12:11 PM
    @ted for Libre Space projects some are well in production (or proven in space) (check UPSat mission and others in )

    Pierros Papadeas12:12 PM
    @anfractuosity It's Network side yes. Locally client can TX as well. but we are trying to sort out the legal constrains around TX'ing though the Network

    anfractuosity12:12 PM
    gotcha cheers

    Pierros Papadeas12:13 PM
    (It is a deliverable for us for an ESA project to do TX to, so it should be solved by end of 2020 any case ;) )

    anfractuosity12:13 PM
    ooh nice

    Ethan Waldo12:13 PM
    Is Satnogs in any way associated to AWS Ground Station?

    Corey Shields12:14 PM
    consider it the "free tier", open source alternative ;)

    fredy12:14 PM
    @RichardCollins What do you mean by regular? NOAA, ISS METEOR etc... ?

    RichardCollins12:14 PM

    anfractuosity12:15 PM
    there seems very little information on the hardware of the AWS ground station stuff

    anfractuosity12:15 PM
    at least that i could find

    Corey Shields12:15 PM
    AWS ground station is focused on their commercial...

    Read more »

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