Othernet short term and long term status update?

When will we get an update on the status of othernet? There have been some vague grim posts.

May 14, 2024: “There’s really no agenda anymore. Sadly, I think the project is on its last legs. I’ll have more to share in a few weeks. Sorry I don’t have better news.
Syed” Weather Feeds
Apr 5, 2024: same as below. 2024 updates - #3 by R_N
Aug 29, 2023: “What I’m still trying to figure out is how the broadcast can be an ongoing, self-sufficient service. What currently pays for the broadcast is the margin from Dreamcatcher sales. Well, that’s not actually true. I personally subsidize the broadcast and margin from Dreamcatchers offsets some of the costs.” […] “then we are stuck with the existing broadcast-only service, which just isn’t a viable business.” What is the plan for IGG Lantern backers as of today, 28 August 2023

Discussing the satellite costs would help the othernet community understand the state of the project, as long as that information can be shared.

I don’t think the posts are vague–at least I didn’t mean for them to be. I assumed it was common knowledge that the project has failed.

The reason for releasing the Dreamcatcher chat and FT8 transmit code is so that the Dreamcatchers will still have utility in the event that the broadcast is shut down. At this point, it does seem like the broadcasts will come to an end at the end of 2024. SES recently stated that Astra 3B is going EOL and they have no plans to move Othernet to another satellite.

We could continue to operate on SES-2 in the US, but only a few Dreamcatchers are sold per month, which doesn’t come close to offsetting the costs for maintaining the broadcast. SES doesn’t like their customers sharing pricing information, but I can say we need about $12,000 per year to offset the cost of each beam. This cost includes the satellite lease, hosting a server and modem at the teleport, uplinking through the teleport, virtual machines fees, and a few hours of software maintenance and support.

Hi Syed…it is a sad news.
Do you think will be possible to send my own lora signal to the othernet D.C. in the future?
I mean the right lora parameter and frequency , type of file (tar-gz) and so on…appreciate any help on doing this in the future ( end of trasmission here in europe). Thank’s for the job on othernet project… hope the bullseye lnb will on production anymore.
alberto

@iw0hjz Do you mean to transmit a file over a stream of LoRa packets, from one Dreamcatcher to another?

Hi,I’m sorry about my English, I hoped it was like wine that improves with time. But it’s not like that.
no not exactly…but close
I would like to transmit a Lora signal ( files yes) on 2 GHz with hackrfone that replaces the one that now arrives from the satellite. That’s all… it has no specific purpose, just don’t let the D.C. gather dust.

Oh, I don’t know anything about the HackRF One. We use a modified Dreamcatcher for uplinking to the satellite.

@Syed

Thank you for the update.

Continued content from the satellite through the end of the year is good news.

The chat feature on the dreamcatcher is a nice addition, will we be getting directions on how to use it?

It is interesting that a modified dreamcatcher is used at the satellite uplink. Could you explain how and why it is modified, the software stack involved, and maybe include diagrams of the content and signal flow.

@stvcmty A set of instructions for the chat application is a good idea. Hopefully in the next month or so.

The documentation for the teleport equipment is a bigger task. Hopefully I have time after the summer.

3B is currently replaced by 3C in the same orbital position. Didn’t they offer to move you to the newer bird?

@caveman99 No, they didn’t offer a transition. They actually created a contract that ends in December, rather than going a full 12-months.

But even if they did offer to move us, it’s just not financially viable for Othernet to continue the service.

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Well, i was thinking about this last year. When a satellite gets older and is taken out of broadcast service it is usually relocated to a new orbital slot and is rented out for ‘ocasional use’ like feeds and short term data traffic. Also the fuel to keep it in its spot is slowly running out so the position accuracy is reduced. It’s still in the same orbital slot but with an oscillating decination of a few degrees to the north or south. This would be an ideal constellation for othernet boradcasts since when receiving with the bare LNB, the focus is not THAT important. Of course if you use a small dish to improve reception, this won’t work.

I know for sure SES has a couple of these old birds flying around (see https://gso-satellites.nl/, the ‘incl.’ column) and they might be willing to support an experimental broadcast of one or more signals on one of these birds. Hopefully for free or a greatly reduced fee.

Ways to move forward with Othernet

@Syed

Have you shopped around to look at prices for using other satellites? Have you contacted other providers of beams that cover Europe? From your posts it sounds like SES does not want to do business with you. Have you talked to other providers of satellite service? Capacity is for lease at 121 or 105 from EchoStar. EchoStar Satellite Services

The OLPC G1G1 program was a method OLPC was able to get cash and get their devices into the field. If othernet could identify users who would benefit from getting content without internet and a donor/user base that would want to play with othernet, that could bring in funds to sustain the service. For example, buy a dreamcatcher and a dreamcatcher gets sent to someone in Ukraine; or buy a dreamcatcher and a dreamcatcher gets sent to a broadband-desert in the US.

Use the recent cell outages to sell an idea of an independent way to receive content. For example, It is hurricane season so send up NWS hurricane/tropical storm content(https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/).

Content could help interest people. Midi files are tiny but in the absence of other content pleasant to listen to. University of Arizona has a database of public domain MIDI files MIDI Database - University of Arizona School of Music. XKCD is a webcomic that is black and white images distributed under a creative commons license https://xkcd.com/ “you’re free to copy and share these comics (but not to sell them”. Sending out Daily puzzles (crossword, word search, sudoku etc) would be fun if off the grid. Books over satellite from different fandoms may lead to people buying a dreamcatcher to get to say it came from space: Fire with fire, first book is free (Fire with Fire by Charles Gannon - Baen Ebooks, fandom Redirecting...); Sci fi free content from drivethroughrpg DriveThruRPG, ect. Find a homebrew game to send over satellite and generate publicity on the game’s forum. Talk to authors and see if any would write serials where it is a small part of a story sent over the satellite daily/weekly (possibly in combination with analog science fiction https://www.analogsf.com/). Add a Recipe of the day. Send people daily cat pictures, from space (that should not be a selling point but it sounds like it might).

The more passionate hobbies you could appeal to the bigger your audience. Find a way to appeal to geocachers. Use the UART to add a serial port, for a text terminal for retro hardware. Seriously, retro hardware geeks would eat up the ability to read modern content delivered by satellite on their green monochrome CRT monitors. Similarly adding gopher (a light early web protocol) support would appeal to retro computing enthusiasts (https://www.floodgap.com/, xkcd: Not Enough Work, Gopher (protocol) - Wikipedia ). Having an internet independent way for gopher content to be delivered would excite them, and the same text that othernet uses to serve web pages could be used for gopher.

The Spectrum Monitor has published 4 articles on outer/othernet, you could see if they would condense them text only to send over the beam (https://www.thespectrummonitor.com/).

To increase the number of people using othernet you could sell the dreamcatcher/LNB on tindie (https://www.tindie.com/), ebay, amazon.

To have any hope of saving othernet you cannot break compatibility with your hardware again. All current dreamcatchers need to keep working even if you release new versions of the board or a LNB/board integrated in a tube to finally be a lantern. You can probably get away with needing a different LNB if you go to a different band/polarization but the core hardware needs to stay the same.

The firmware needs some work. For example, simplify the web interface to work on old browsers on old hardware, it is mostly text (OLPC, kindle, w98 laptop, old android phones, etc.) Fix the software so the thing can be set it and forget it. Demonstrate a LNB/board/battery(power bank?)/solar in a weather resistant case setup in a public place with people able to connect and look at content without using their data. Need to set it up so not everyone who connects can mess with settings.

If everything came together to keep the satellite going, plan a version that can plug into a pi and lets the pi do the content hosting to improve performance. Put a GPS receiver a dreamcatcher or make it so a user can set location. Grab NWS alerts, have dreamcast able to show relevant alerts to the local area. Add a Barometer, generate local weather at location of dreamcatcher (might want to talk about working with ASI DBX2 barograph order page )

I don’t really want to see it, but sponsored political content would bring in funding.