No lock in San Francisco?

I just received my kit (CHIP, antenna, ampli, dongle), I am located in 37 44.04 N, 122 30.44 W.
Based on my calculations, the altitude of the Americas sat should be 46 degrees, its direction 144.

My SNR never goes above 1.0 :frowning:

Everything else seems good, I can connect from a browser, I can SSH, all good.
I tried inside and outside, the sky is perfectly clear today.

Any idea of what I could try next?
Any clue welcome, thank you!

  • Olivier

Ticking off all the little problems I have found:

Is the USB power supply cube a 2 or higher amp (to provide max current to run the SDR)?

Is your USB cable a fast charging cable (again to provide max current to run the SDR)?

Does the red light on the LNA light up (indicating the SDR is feeding the LNA a dc supply - I have had cold solder connections in a brand new SDR that prevented that)?

Are the SMA connector on the antenna, LNA, SDR tight? (Unscrew them and re-tighten them - also check that there is a pin in the connector. I have had broken pins).

That’s a good start - - please let us know how it goes. Ken

Hi Ken,
Thanks for all that.
I re-checked connections and pins, they all look good.
The red led on the LNA is definitely ON.
I was using the power pack delivered by Outernet for feed the CHIP.
I just tried the adapter I use for Raspberry PIs, I do not see any difference (yet!).

Is there anything I could/should measure or check to make sure all the hardware is OK? Any way to look at the signal?
Should I try on another board (I have several Raspberry PIs available) with other soft versions?

The Tuner displays the same as before, the Lock State goes from “Search” to “Signal Detect”, no Lock can apparently be acquired.
I can provide any info you’d need,

Again, any advice welcome!
Thank you,

  • Olivier

Connect your SDR, LNA and antenna to a computer and use software like sdr# to check for noise. Remember to enable bias T. You can also use this method to check for signal on 1539.825mhz.

After a little investigating I found some transmitters that broadcast near the same frequency as outernet. I am not sure if these are the cause of your problems, but from what I could find the outernet LNA amplifies frequencies between 1525 – 1559 MHz. A few of these transmitter falls within that range.

Are you aiming for Inmarsat at 97.6W? For your location, isn’t the elevation 36 deg and the compass bearing 129? Clear view of the sky in that direction?
When I started out, I used a cell phone satellite finder app and held the antenna parallel to the phone.
I have tried a lot but never could get a signal indoors.

Hello Oliver

Martin is right. Using from San Franscisco, Inmarsat 97.6 W is 39.1 deg elevation and azimuth mag 129 deg Ken

Thanks everyone for all the details.
The problem seems to be my location. I went to Half Moon Bay tonight, and the exact same setting acquired a lock in no time, SNR over 6!
Surprisingly, the original area (37°44.94’ N, 122°30.45’ W) is known for bad cell-phone reception. Can it be any related?

Thanks again to everyone,

  • Olivier

You likely have too much noise in the area. If you follow my post above you can confirm that. You could try a more directional antenna like a helical. Check out the helical madness thread, they are pretty simple and cheap to build.