Dreamcatecher v2.03 how to get it working

Hello there

Yesterday my Outernet Receiver DIY Kit arrived. I was quite surprised not to find the hardware I had ordered (small board, RTL2832 Dongle, BIAS Injector, LNA and Patch Antenna), but a much larger board and a different antenna. A sticker on the box told to attach it to the LNA Bypass SMA, not to the LNA IN SMA, as this is an active antenna.

Also the cable was missing to connect the antenna to the board. The antenna I had ordered had a cable directly attached according to the picture.

Well being a ham I was able to find fitting connectors to improvise a cable.

Well this is what I did. Then I spent about two hours trying to get any signal form the satellite. I nearly despaired and already feared I got some broken hardware.

I started browsing the outernet.is website, which at the moment is completely broken, dead links wherever you go. Finally I found this:

And this was the solution. It looks like by default, the bypass SMA is not the selected one and the bias tee is not active on the bypass SMA, not powering the active antenna.

After enabling the bypass SMA and bias - bang +5db signal. Not a sigle packet getting lost!

May I strongly suggest to outernet.is to please add a note to the package, on how to enable the correct connector and bias?

Please also fix all the dead links on your website.

Some more question: I would like to use the dreamcatcher for other things too, so I would like to directly access the onboard RTL chip. But ‘apt’ or ‘apt-get’ is not installed. So I also am not able to update the software to the actual versions.
I have not found this mentioned on the website.
Any hints on how to do that?


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Which image did you use to boot from? When I burned the Armbian image to an CD card and booted, I saw apt was installed. I also saw that the LNA Bypass port was enabled. However, I did have to turn on the bias tee.

It came with a pre-installed 8GB micro SD :slight_smile:
uname returns: Linux outernet 4.10.6 #1 SMP 2017-01-01 armv7l GNU/Linux
lsb_release also is not installed.
no /etc/debian_version either, just /etc/version containing the string 4.4

Hmm, so is this some kind of different image than the Armbian image which is most spoken of in the docs and the forum?

You may have the Skylark software installed on that sd card. Click on the link below and scroll down to the section labeled, “Outernet Software: Skylark”.


it sounds like you have skylark on that disk…
try this.

Selecting LNA_BYPASS SMA (external LNA option)
sudo su
cd /sys/class/leds/rfswitch1/
echo 1 > brightness
cd /sys/class/leds/rfswitch2/
echo 0 > brightness

Turning on bias tee on LNA_BYPASS SMA
sudo su
cd /sys/class/gpio
echo 119 > export
cd gpio119
echo out > direction
echo 1 > value

that should work

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Thexder an V8. Yes, the Skylark ‘application suite’ is on that disk. And as told I already figured out how to switch to the correct rf input and turn on bias. I just wonder, that this is not correct by default and not even mentioned in the Skylark documentation. I found this in the armbian docs.

So I concluded skylark is a application on that disk with an Armbian distribution I got.
But I wonder, how can I update the packages? This is usually the first thing I do after installing an image which often has outdated packages. Or how do I install further software packages?

Or did I misunderstand something and skylark is not just an application suite that runs on armbian, but a custom made distribution by outernet, which has no package system and therefore cannot be updated nor further software packages be installed?

Outernet should really clarify this on their website.

Well, so the next question is: If I pull that sd-card and write the Armbian image on it. Will this also contain skylark 4.4?

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personally i would get another sd card…that sd card you have with skylark on it save it…since you will not be able to download it off the site(as of right now)

no if you write the Armbian img. it will only have Armbian on it… (this can be updated, upgraded. and load software that will make your dreamcatcher a NORMAL rRTL-SDR)
hope that makes sense

this is from what i have learned since the website is FUBAR

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Which antenna do you have? If you received Skylark on the SD, then you should have also received a passive antenna, which would be connected to the top RF port.

The need to turn on LNA bypass and Bias T on my just arrived Dreamcatcher V2.03 board took a bit of thinking through. Everything else set up perfectly once I worked it out, but I could not find a signal, even though I have many years of satellite experience. Then a quick meter check revealed no DC on Bypass port. Forum search and Benoit’s answer. Having virtually no Linux experience it took me ages using Terra Term to change settings, but this doesn’t record to card, as on power down back to the original settings…I realize I am showing my total ignorance, but can someone explain what I need to do.I am a fast learner!

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Syed, no I definitely got the active ceramic antenna. Also there is a sticker on the cardboard box telling to attach the antenna to the LOWER socket. The top socket has a sleeve on it.
Maybe I got shipped the wrong antenna and this is also the reason for the missing rf-cable to connect the antenna, as the passive antenna, as I understood it, comes with a cable attached.
Well it’s not a problem since the antenna works fine after I figured out how to activate the correct socket and bias. But as I had to wait for a while for my shippment and got other hardware than I ordered, I suppose you had to wait for a production batch and probably a lot of buyers would get the Dreamcatcher with active antenna about the same time I got mine and run into the same problem. This is why I created that post.

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Ok, some more help for other users.

You might want to make the correct input and bias working at bootup? I had a look at the rc-scripts and there is one intended to start a ‘user’ script.

So all you have to do is, log in via ssh and get root:

$ sudo su -

Then you create the directory where the script must reside:

mkdir /mnt/conf/bin/

And add a file with name ‘user.sh’ (you can use vi). with this content:

— snip —

cd /sys/class/leds/rfswitch1/
echo 1 > brightness
cd /sys/class/leds/rfswitch2/
echo 0 > brightness

cd /sys/class/gpio
echo 119 > export
cd gpio119
echo out > direction
echo 1 > value
— snapp —

Then make this file executable:

chmod 755 /mnt/conf/bin/user.sh

reboot, and voila, reception works without intervention.

I have seen, that the configs for the tuner settings are just plain json. If the whole ‘Tuner Setting’ Web-thingie is somewhat template based, it could be possible to extend that template to also accommodate a input selector and bias checkbox. So maybe somebody has time to look into it to make it more user friendly.


+20 Ben
thats what im talking about No more pc next to the Dreamcatcher every bootup…

Now that Dreamcatcher is downloading files (Great job to everyone)… I want to use the second sd slot on the main board… hopefully as “extenal” storage as described in the Skylark DIY manual. Question do I format it as ?? FAT32 ?? . Normally I use windows “SDFormatter V4.0” that I got from somewhere, usually the only working option is to do ‘quick format’. Do I need to do anything with media-mounting to get Skylark to use this second sd?

FAT32 is fine. As FYI for everyone, it is also possible to boot from the second SD. Try it out.

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You know for a “much reduced staff number” Outernet inc. appears to be sharing it’s experiences of poor version control both in software and documentation (and hardware). Would it not be better to rely on github with a bin reference number explicitly stated alongside the hardware, software and document names to assist everybody in getting things right?

The discussion here says everything about the problem as it is happening!

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