Outernet for sailors (weather forecast grib files)

@Syed it is a cheap chinese clone of the arduino nano, not the original arduino board. But I think it is pretty much the same.

@Martin and that other PCB is something you designed? I’m referring to the one with the red LEDs.

@Syed I did put together the different components on a perf board. It contains the arduino, the magnetometer/accelerometer and the drivers for the motors (those have the red LEDs on them). So far it is a prototype and the connections are made by wires, so i can still make changes to add new stuff to it.

That would be great to figure out if it would be possible to make a version of it that is able to be mass produced in a way that it would be cool to be able to drop a othernet node anywhere we wanted it and it could find the link it self it would be the perfect setup.

Well done @Martin
the only comparable I have been able find on a hobbiest budget
is a two axis gps tracking mount designed for drone camera.
The most functional I found allowed a ‘home’ gps position to be stored
and the camera would maintain pointing at the ‘home’ position as the drone
changed gps position (in lat/long/altitude). Your system adds the third
axis for skew … I guess if we have a workable circular lnb then skew would
not be need.

Bottom line… you have best system I have seen !

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@tylerhoot That should’t be hard. Just add a GPS and a battery and you are pretty much autonomous. This can easily be included in the housing. It should also be possible to shrink it still. I will test the reception when the signal will be available to see if the hardware is able to track the satellite sufficiently and when everything works as planed, I am going to improve my setup regarding those issues.
But there are still a few points which could be a problem for the use on boats. It would be good if the weather-files are broadcasted according to a fixed schedule. Because I think it could be a problem if you are on a course where the rigging obstructs the reception of the satellite. Also on a small boat the power consumption of the tracker and the Dreamcatcher might be an issue. But when you have a fixed schedule you can steer a heading which allows a good reception and turn out the unit again to save power. Also I don’t know if there are any satellites available which have a beam that covers areas away from continents, where a weather update would be most needed. And I checked the weather app on kenbarbi’s Dreamcatcher. But I could’t find if you also can see a prediction of the weather or just the current situation.

Found a similiar project that tracks an antenna and points to satellites.
It doesn’t quite meet the marine needs since it uses slow 0.6rpm motors (wave action would not keep up), but the assembly pictures of the 3D sensor, rpi zero, gps, and motor driver board are interesting.
SARCTRAC web https://sarcnet.org/products.html
manual is https://sarcnet.org/sarctrac/SARCTRAC%20Manual.pdf

Faster motors could help, and design it without the wifi interface.

I like it for the idea of say like I’m out camping I can put it on the ground and let it find and set it self up in that location it takes the hassle out of among the atteena

We are pretty cost conscious on anything we sell. Would you pay much extra for this kind of add-on feature, assuming it was all turnkey in a finished product?

My recommedation would be for the new unit be the stand alone package and have an external antenna jack. This would be for users that are ‘obstructed’ by buildings, trees, mountains, mobile setup. The focus should be on the ‘stand alone package’.

However, ease of setup is an absolute must have. If it is not motorized then there must be a very good way for a user to apply power, point it with no additional hardware required and ‘assume’ it will work.

Here is my latest version. I added a second level. The tracker is sitting on the top now. On the lower level, there is a powerbank to power the tracker and the Dreamcatcher. And the tracker has a GPS now. So it can choose the closest satellite and calculate azimuth, elevation and skew for its current position. Everything still fits into my enclosure. So it is pretty much an autonomous unit now.
I am looking forward now to test it with the Othernet signal. @Syed do you already know when the european signal will be available? Is it still early September? I might be on the boat on Sept. 1st and could already do some testing then.


We should be set for September 1 start date. The only thing that is holding things back right now is confirmation of putting the carrier at a higher frequency. I’d like to stay above 12 GHz. I’ll have more details next week.


mmm… why do you want over 12ghz? is there a reason for that?

We would like to operate within a tighter band across all global channels in the future. This will eventually allow for greater optimization and cost reduction. Ideally, I’d like to stay within 12.0 - 12.2 GHz on all channels.

Ahhh okay i understand. That will be easier to optimize for sure.

It is great to optimize for a ‘best’ frequency. This is more a topic for lnbf selection, but if the assumption of a typical global sources product for high band 10600 L.O. 11.7GHz-12.75GHz link to lnbf
The downside is the higher the frequency usually means the rf chips on the dreamcatcher will run hotter

It should be noted a vector analyzer plot usually looks something like this where there is definite “better” frequencies in performance

Would we need to put a heatsink on the rf chips? Or if the chip is in the rf sheld can add a peace of thermal compound / peace of copper to get the chip to make thermal contact with the rf sheid so that it acts as a small heat sink.

@Syed do you know if September 1st will work? and do they switch on the signal randomly or is there a fixed time? If so can you tell me when it will be? I am going to be on the boat over the weekend, but I have to drive back on Sunday. I hope I will have a chance to catch some data this time.

We are going to try to bring the carrier up tomorrow. There are still some paperwork issues to deal with, so tomorrow is not 100% confirmed. But it’s at least a decent chance. Please be sure to bring your receiver to the boat.


I surely will. Do you already know the settings for the frequency?