Request For Comment - Satellite "hacking" for good

I am not suggesting anyone do anything illegal!

Please see:

It occurs to me that it might have been possible to find a satellite company or two that would offer free or cheap bandwidth for the humanitarian aims that Outernet aspires to.

As an ex-network tech, I am reasonably sure that they could arrange a multicast IP, and an Access Control List to ensure that data only flowed down-stream, and was received only from a pre-authorised source - then it ought to be possible to do file-casting via UDP, so that anyone with the appropriate equipment set to sniff and filter those packets could receive the transmitted information.

I believe that a persuasive argument could convince the companies that there would be positive PR in it for them, and in time the possibility of selling more products. If I was ever granted the blessing of the admins, I would cheerfully follow this up myself with assitance (or at least until someone better, or with more enthusiasm comes along), provided it was legitimately under the Outernet umbrella.

I /really/ feel that Outernet is missing a lot by moving away from the high bandwidth transmissions, it had the capability to revolutionise education and access to information in the developing world, and much as I try, I can’t see 20MB a day doing that.

What do you think?


Low cost technology from Solar, Raspberry Pi Arm Boards, RTL-SDR dongles, Cubesats , etc is exploding at an exponential growth rate.

Its destructive. Of old methodologies. Coal, Phone companies, Microsoft, Dell, etc

The poorest person can aspire to a $9 Chip computer. Add a $9 RTL-SDR and a coiled Helical antenna and you have a Outernet receiver. (May need LNA)

I think the Outernet project should not do “Social Comparisons” to other Satellite projects, Instead concentrate on what it is doing which is “being the Gold Standard in L-Band Data-casting.”

Mobile Low cost devices receiving SPACE Data, WILL change the world.

20 Mb a day is a function of Cost. If they spend more money we can have a stronger signal (smaller antenna) l or more data.

I have watched Outernet as a community project grow and it is the most impressive thing I have ever seen.


I am absolutely not trying to take anything away from the project - honestly, I find it very impressive - I am just trying to think of a way of regaining the utility that was recently lost - the ability to send whole libraries, all of the world’s information, as well as timely news and important facts that could change people’s lives has been lost. I just want to explore the possibility of bringing it back, and this project is perfectly placed to do so IMHO. All I am asking is that there is an attempt to reach out to see what can be done with commercial assistance or sponsorship; it’s not like this idea would compete with any of their services, and I’m sure they have an altruistic bone or two in them.

With full apologies to Edward Bulwer-Lytton (The pen is mightier than the sword) I think 20 Mb of text delivered in real time at 2.4 kbs can change the world.

Disaster news alerts sent as text are all we need. Abbreviated telemetry can be minuscule in data size. We can fit a lot on that 2.4 kbs.

Outernet is currently sending the entire worlds weather every day with a three day forecast.

Voice radio did not die because Voice and moving picture, Television arrived.

With the right antenna Outernet could be in every mobile phone, it could be on the roof of every car, It could be on moving boats at sea.

KU. S, other bands (at this stage) cannot do it. Mobility of L-Band is the unique differentiator , “Business Proposition” of Outernet.

1 Like

But why not do both if it’s possible? I want to see every school have the same learning resources, I want every adult to have access to information that might help them improve their lives.

If I can’t convince you guys, I won’t get very far convincing others, but please consider the possible benefits.

On the issue of equipment cost and uptake, I do think corporate sponsorship is a good idea - but equally, I think there could be a push on school & town twinning, community groups, and Rotary lending a hand - it’s possible if the vision can be sold.


I agree that doing both would be the ideal. I tried doing volunteer Education computers here in the Philippines, they all broke for a million reasons.

We need to keep technology as simple as possible.

With a staff of 4 (i think) Outernet has to be extremely tight and focused on its core mission. Worldwide L-Band Instantaneous 2.4 kb data casting.

I think we need to realize how powerful 2.4 KB is. More, is not necessarily better.

Picasso taking a piece of charcoal out of a fire and drawing on the back of a envelope a picture did not make it any less Brilliant because it was in Black and White.

A low cost / free L-Band service might succeed where a high powered pay for data cast service might fail.

2.4 Kb Instantaneous data.
Text data rate is approx 8 times faster than we can read.
3 Satellite worldwide coverage.
$55.00 Diy receiver kits
Forum with active users.
Ability to use small antennas
No requirement for tracking mounted antennas.

Would you at least explore the idea with me?

I want to spread knowledge for the greater good, it can and will make a difference if there was the uptake.

Rog I believe your intentions are genuine and people like you have contagious enthusiasm.

Of course I will help you spread information to the world.

BUT,I think what you want is already there.

Every one, who has satellite Ku band TV service, has a satellite box with a “usb connector”.

My understanding is that the $25 digital satellite boxes are already decoding digital data H264 and possibly H265 video.

So digital Data is already coming down to every one on earth.

If you just rent one channel off the satellite company in each country you could transmit Gb’s of data down to each houses satellite decoding box that they already own. Just connect the $9 Chip or Raspberry Pi computer to the satellite box and in theory (some hacking may be required on the sat box) the data should feed into the CHIP / Raspberry pi.

That’s it. You have your world wide Ku band GB’s data casting. Go do it.

It’s not that easy and you know it! Cost is the factor, and that’s why there would need to be cooperation from the companies - we can’t give away free stuff for free and find a way to pay the bill.

That’s why I am giving Outernet my 100% support, as I think they will DO IT!

In Satellites, the smallest success teaches you more than the biggest failure.

Everyone should watch this Video.

If your building an Amateur satellite the simple choice would be to assemble a device with all the latest satisfyingly advanced and complex tech. The $50SAT team made a decision to go against convention and produce a design with the minimum of components.

I truly love the [outernet] idea, I just wish it was back to where it had the greatest potential to change lives - I implore you, consider what I’m saying - nothing that Outernet is already doing would have to stop, I just think it can be added to, and the benefit would be immense.

What’s wrong with giving it a try? On my own I’m nobody, I understand this, but it the community backed what I am suggesting, I believe it could become a possibility in the not too distant future.

I’m prepared to put the work in, but I know I would need a lot of help - hence my call for buy-in.

I’ll watch that vid tomorrow - but I promise you, if the community here was on board with the higher bandwidth delivery, I’d work tirelessly to help make it happen.

Are you proposing higher bandwidth on the existing L band? That would be pretty useful. It would allow more robust and speedy transfers, therefore a potentially much more comprehensive library of knowledge, and also the ability to create geographically/user base defined content streams. I am absolutely a believer in L band delivery. It is the easiest to implement at low cost and complexity.

Right now, the test phase is interesting to watch.

I don’t believe it is, ever. Something like Outernet needs to be a free, “clean” service. I don’t want a bunch of advertisements being downloaded, specially when we are limited to 20MB a day. I believe Outernet in my mind should treated like Amateur Radio, and we need adopt some of it’s rules and regulations. Seasalt is correct, you can fit plenty of text in 2.4kb, and be effective in informing people in any situation. It would be nice to have more bandwidth but do we really need it? How much more do we need and at what cost? I don’t believe the Outernet experience changed drastically when they disconnected the Ku Band, otherwise no one would be still using it. It needs to be low cost(as in cost of hardware), yet useful. I know, I know, you want your cake and eat it too. Just take the good with the not so good. I’m just happy that this service exist for free as it is now. The KISS method is the best method for Outernet in my opinion. We need to make this easy to use and enjoyable for everyone. I believe that we need to concentrate more on the hardware side of things, specially, when it comes to powering the hardware and the quality of information that is being sent over the air.

1 Like

We tried for a long time with Ku; the dish was a serious impediment to adoption, which is another way of saying it was not commercially viable for us. We’ve seen a hundred-fold more interest in the L-band service over Ku.

Cost is king and size matters. With the proper SDR, we’ll eventually make it inside of a mobile phone, along side the GPS, FM, and wifi radios. But in the near(ish) term, a $50 receiver the size of a DVD is far more interesting than a dish that needs to be pointed by a technician.

More than you can imagine, I would like to delivery educational video courses. But the world did not care when we were doing so last year. I had pitched various governments, UNICEF, the World Bank, etc. In retrospect, Ku was a waste of time and money; we should have been focused on L-band from the very beginning.


Lets wait for higher bandwidth until they get the bugs worked out. I didn’t get involved last year because I know how much of a pain it can be to point a dish. I had the L band kit out of the box and receiving files in under 10 minutes. Besides L band has plenty of potential for more bandwidth.

1 Like

In this type of development, focus is important. There will be trade-offs made along the way. At $100 a pop for a DIY kit during development, even with possible near future changes in delivery, it is such a relative bargain. Complaints about pieces of the architecture being proprietary do not phase me at all. Let the complainers get together and develop something. That is the posititive side of competition.

1 Like

Question: How does Clyde Space help the Outernet, or do they? Their website shows the Outernet in their of services. Does Outernet pay them for satellite service? It would be nice if Clyde Space could help us more, or maybe they do now? Could someone explain to us how this very big company fits in? This is the kind of backing we need. Or do we? I think I’m a bit confused! :relaxed:

Clyde Space built some cubesats, which the UK Space Agency paid for. The L-band service has nothing to do with anything Clyde Space is involved with.

So the word Outernet is a general and known term used in the industry?
I was referring this article. []

OK on Clyde not doing L band. Maybe they were involved when you were using Ku band.

I’ll drop this thread trail now. You’ve got enough to do with the new Skylark. Guess I got get a CHIP!