Outernet 3.0: 30kbps now, 100kbps eventually - even smaller antenna

Yes, that is a commercially available Ku-band LNB. No modifications were made to the “antenna” and I was catching packets as I took that picture. Our guess is that the horn on an LNB provides about 6 dBi of gain. We were pointed at Galaxy-28 and received at 30kbps. That is well over 10-times the throughput of L-band. This picture was taken today, but we’ve been link-testing since August.

So this is Outernet 3.0: Back to Ku, but with a much smaller antenna.

Our original network required a 60cm dish to receive a 100kbps data stream. 100kbps over the course of a day is 1GB of content, which is enough for all kinds of files, including video. And 1GB per day is plenty of to grow a local library. Although 30kbps is not even close to 100kbps, future network changes are not needed to increase performance. From here on out, we can make improvements to the network without needing to change the modem. Dreamcatcher 3v01 (prototype in background of picture) is what makes this all possible.

The fatter pipe makes a lot of things possible, one of which is a true radio broadcast. How about a national radio broadcast that isn’t SiriusXM? Our new receiver will include a speaker; audio through the speaker while files download in the background. But more data is not the most important thing that comes out of all this. The real win is that leasing standard, commodity Ku bandwidth is far, far more cost effective than the few kilohertz we have on L-band. Long-term sustainability of a free broadcast is no longer the financial burden that it once was–especially considering how much more interesting the service becomes.

But now for the bad news. We will be officially deprecating L-band on December 16th. This is going to be a hard reset for us, with the website completely changing and also with the store being temporarily unavailable. We will find alternative channels to sell various RF products, under a completely different brand, in order to prevent confusion.

I’m sure there will be very many questions and I’ll try to answer as many as possible. Regarding the secret sauce we are using to get packets down to a tiny Ku-antenna, I’m going to punt on those until the new beam is live. which will be right after the first (we would like to have receivers in stock when we make the announcement). I’m sure many of you will be able to figure out what we are doing once you see it in a spectrum analyzer, but until that time, it’s all open to speculation :wink:



Quick question:

Will you continue to support the L-Band frequency after the launch of the Ku-band? Or will you be able to replace the items I have just bought which will no longer be supported with the new hardware?

Also, in my current L-Band Raspberry Pi set-up which isn’t working, the ‘descrambler’ box isn’t checked: every time I try, it doesn’t work. Please help.

What will the approximate new price be, and when is the launch date, please?

rxOS worked with the L-Band reception, even though it wasn’t officially supported. Will rxOS work with the new Ku-band reception?

Awesome work that you are doing there Syed!

The old Dreamcatcher was already awesome and worked great, but i’m curious what the price of the new one will be. LNBs are really cheap these days, so anyone can buy the new dreamcatcher and stick a cheap LNB on. Thats great!

I have to say that I really dislike that you are shutting down the L-Band downlink that soon :angry: :frowning:

I also have some questions:

  • Are you still using a SDR in the new DC or a dedicated receiver?
  • Do you already know what satellites you will use to cover each part of the world?
  • What will be the price of the new Dreamcatcher?

Also my CHIP and SDRx is still running great:


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L-Band transmission will be deactivated on the 16th of December on all Satellites as he writes in the post above.


In the current L-Band system, a Dreamcatcher with an antenna can be used as one method of receiving data. But there are also other options with CHIPs and Raspberry Pi. In the new Ku-band system, will there be similar support for other hardware apart from the new Dreamcatcher?

Thanks! I learned a lot from the L-Band project. My current DreamCatcher becomes a wall decoration. Santa Claus will save his money for a bit. I will use my L-Band satellite antennas for listening for other things out there.

Now that we know that the signal is on Galaxy-28, we will need to figure out the polarization - Vertical or Horizonal, and which transponder(s) it might be on…

It looks like my chance of learning more about Ku-band satellites has come.

People are throwing away Ku band dishes all the time. My HOA won’t mind if I put one up. It’s my right under 47 CFR 1.4000

Incidentally, this is really cool since AMSAT phase 4B is still working out the details and has not been launched yet!

Happy satellite hunting!
–Konrad, WA4OSH


L-Band seems to be still online here in Europe, but there is no Data in the Signal as it seems :frowning:


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This change is the Greatest Christmas Present of all for all of us hackers and hams as we refer to each other…

Everyone must keep in mind that Outernet’s ultimate purpose is to be a service that supports the many millions of the world’s population without an internet connection for information receipt. For us hackers and hams, it is an opportunity to be part of future information technology.

Think back to 12 December 1901 (exactly 116 years ago to this day) when Guglielmo Marconi made the first trans-Atlantic transmission from Poldhu, Cornwall, England to Signal Hill, St John’s, Newfoundland. Yes, back then there was skepticism too, as to whether he actually achieve reception during daylight hours, but look where we are today.

Outernet 3.0 is the right step toward the future we will all be part of. I’m ready to receive. Ken


Knowledge gained from the L-Band experiment can be applied to listening to the LNB’s output. It’s block converted into the L-Band. Use your Rasbperry Pi to look at signals coming from the bird. Hackers will be looking to make bias tees to power LNB’s now :wink:

–Konrad, WA4OSH


Can we get a notice on the forum a few days in advance of the ordering page being available so we can get first dibs, so to speak, and be ready to receive Jan 1? Or is there a way for us early adopters to bribe you this week to get extra early access?

/steeples fingers in anticipation

I see that the antenna is connected to an add-on board that is sitting on a standard dreamcatcher. I can’t identify the LNB you’re using, so I can’t tell if it’s a single or dual polarization, and whether you’ve connected it to one or the other port if it’s dual. You’re definitely holding it in a horizontal position, though, so if I had to guess I’d expect it’s a single polarization LNB and it’s horizontally polarized. Just a wild guess though…

Looks like the SDR isn’t up to snuff. I’d guess the LNB requires more than a little preamp current, so the add-on board will be required. Hopefully it won’t double the cost of the dreamcatcher.

I love the LED strip along the left side! Or at least that’s what I think I’m looking at, and if it’s not please consider adding a whole passel of LEDS. BEing able to aim and use the outternet device without fiddling with a secondary device with a display would be wonderful because you can go to a new spot, set it up, and allow it to download things while you set up other equipment/supplies, and then once you’re settled in you can “check in” to see what’s new.

Thanks for continuing your work on this! I know it’s been a long road, and there’s still lots of road left, and I appreciate the effort everyone on the team is putting forth on this.


Galaxy 28 at 89 W has two nice ku beam patterns

So probably different frequencies for the north america and south america beams

It seems to have 36 ku transponders in the 11 to 12 GHz


I assume a Ku dish is part of the new system. No reference to one, other than the 60 cm dish before L band. I suppose the LNB by itself could work. Please clarify Syed. Thanks.

Some of us Even have the old passive lna attenna that it could be as easy as changing a saw filter also do you mean 30kb/s of data over 12 or 24 hrs what is the total data amout we are taking about at the lower speed.

I might be missing some questions, so please feel free to re-ask.

@london We will officially be shutting the L-band service down on December 16th. Who knows, the channel may still be available after that date.

Price: We are targeting a $99 retail price. We have a roadmap to cost-reduce with a slightly different design, but it won’t be a very feature-rich device. We have most of the parts on hand to built 1000 units, but we are waiting on the first Dreamcatcher 3 prototype to be assembled. After that, we’ll need to make a minor revision and then wait for the proto to be built. It’s looking like mid-January at this point.

rxOS will definitely not work with the service. We do intend to offer a more generic way for non-Outernet compute devices to receive the data stream. This will come after the Dreamcatcher 3.

@Tysonpower In the near term, we’ll be focusing on the core receiver. Our own integrated antenna/LNB will follow in the future. I’m trying my best to keep the retail price of Dreamcatcher 3 to $99.

  • Hardware or software radio: We are using a hardware radio.
  • We will be rolling out new beams as we ramp up production and distribution of the new receivers. We have not yet determined which beams to use, but that is something I am spending a lot of time now. We will likely need a total of 7 separate beams for global coverage. We’ll start with North America and follow very shortly with Europe. The other beams will be added once we can find distribution channel partners in those parts.
  • We’ve had the DC2 outside in sub-zero temperatures and it’s been running with only minor hiccups.

@Konrad_Roeder There is always ADS-B reception and/or webSDR! The G-28 was only a test signal. We have not yet contracted for capacity on it. There are a host of options in North America from Telesat, SES, and Intelsat. We do want to provide truly national coverage with the North American beam. By the way, you won’t need a dish. A regular dish will only making pointing more difficult. You’ll be better off using a naked LNB, or fabricating a simple 20dB horn (maybe).

We will definitely still support APRS on the new Ku.

@kenbarbi Thanks for your vote of confidence. You understand and a very core-level why we are doing this. I’m frustrated that it’s taking so long to make these really important steps, but at least we are finally here. I will be sure to let everyone know about any future test signals.

@Konrad_Roeder Yes, you will definitely be able to see the signal in your favorite spectrum analyzer software. And I think eventually, some clever people will build a software demodulator.

@stienman Yes, the forum is the first place where news is shared. The add-on board was only for prototyping purposes. DC3 has the new radio integrated into the board; it’s replacing the RTLSDR. We are focusing on supporting only one polarization, as the antenna/LNB can easily be twisted to catch either V or H signals. That’s a single port LNB, by the way. The LNB does need to be driven by at least 12V. We are not keeping the LED strip on either DC or the radio. You’ll see why below.

@donde Definitely no dish will be required. I hate dishes. And most people hate pointing them. They are also to bulky ship in a cost-effective manner to individual end users. Definitely not portable.

@tylerhoot I mean 30kbps, as in kilobits per second, continuously. That comes to roughly 300MB over 24 hours.

By the way, this is just the early proto. DC3 has the radio integrated on to the board (and eliminates the L-band ports).


@Syed Please could you confirm whether the Raspberry Pi will be supported - if so, please could you give a date range, as I have a deadline to meet in February.

We won’t be supporting the Pi by February.

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[quote=“Syed, post:17, topic:4395”]
you won’t need a dish. A regular dish will only making pointing more difficult. You’ll be better off using a naked LNB, or fabricating a simple 20dB horn (maybe). [/quote]
We’ll soon see how good of a signal I get with a bare LNB. We’re at 47 degs latitude and very far west for many of the satellites on the Ku band in the Seattle area. It’s hard to believe to most people that I know that live in Chicago or on the East coast that we are much further north than the north most point in Maine or Chicago :wink:

I think that would definitely be a good thing to keep. Not only does APRS provide location reporting for hams, but it also can serve as a very short packet messaging or paging function if there’s some decoding software that looks in the last field behind the OUTNET.

[quote=“Syed, post:17, topic:4395”]
@Konrad_Roeder Yes, you will definitely be able to see the signal in your favorite spectrum analyzer software. And I think eventually, some clever people will build a software demodulator.[/quote]
It would be nice to at some point get the specs for the modulation details once things have settled down. This would be very useful because this software (eg. GNU Radio Companion) can run on a laptop, which has enough horsepower to decode complex modulations, FEC’s, de-scrambling, etc.

I can imagine a simple little box that contains the LNB, a bias tee to power the LNB, an SDR that digitizes the block converted signal and a USB cable to the laptop. Depending on how much current the LNB draws, there might need to be a power supply. Depending on how much link margin is needed, a small feed horn might be needed.

I agree.

–Konrad, WA4OSH