School project - British Science Week

Hello all,
I am a UK Computer Science teacher (and I am also a Ham) and have been asked to plan a whole school project for science week between 5th to 14th March.

As you are all too aware, education around the world has been severely affected by the pandemic and has been forced to move online in most countries. I want to make our school project about the impact that lack of internet access has on education: “Schools around the world have been relying heavily on the internet to continue to support children’s education during the pandemic but what if you live in an area where there is no internet at all?”

I had hoped to set up a working version of an Othernet receiver but I can see that it has moved on since I had last looked at it when you could build a receiver with a raspberry pi and an SDR dongle and it is currently in a transition as it is moving to Dreamcatcher v4 which is not yet available. I can also see that there is some transitioning of frequencies going on which may or may not be completed by the commencement of this project.

As an alternative to this, is there any way I can simulate Skylark that could contain a representation of the content that might have been downloaded if we had a working receiver?

Ideally this could be in two ways, if there is a way I can make content available in a skylark-esque environment so that students in lessons such as Art, Geography etc. can browse and evaluate it over the school network. This would be the whole school part of the project.

Another project would be specific to Computer Science and Technology lessons where students practice connecting old laptops and devices to a Skylark system. I would like them to plan and document how they would support a hypothetical school that is in a disconnected area. How closely to the real thing can I do this?
Here is a slide for the project.
I do have access to a CHIP computer, it’s one of the first ones that was released back in 2016 (or thereabouts). Would that work for this project? What else would I need?

Is any of this even possible without the real equipment?

(Hope so)

Kind regards,

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Hi, that is a great Idea for a Project week!

If you are lucky the Othernet EMEA Beam should be working in the Projekt Week, otherwise i have an idea.

I developed the Webinterface of the new DC4 and helped a bit on the rest of the firmware as well.
I think it should be easy to setup an emulated Version of the future Othernet DC4 on a Webserver, i did a similar thing while developing the GUI. When you use a Raspberry PI or something similar you could also test the Networking Project you wrote about. As an alternative i could setup a Emulated DC4 on one of my Servers so you can use it.

73 Manuel DO5TY

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Hi Manuel,
Thanks for your response. If Othernet EMEA Beam is working by the project week, in your opinion will I be able to build a receiver in time? As far as I can tell there I cant obtain a DC currently.

The emulated version of a DC4 on a raspberry pi is something I could certainly set up quite easily. Could you please point me in the direction of a copy of the web interface?

Thanks again!
44 :wink:
Steve M7RPH

Hi Steve,

getting a DC4 Prototype could get complicated because there are only a few Prototypes currently.
But maybe i could send you one of my Spare DC3, it isn’t the newest Interface etc. but it should work to show the receiving side to your students. I also have some Bullseye LNBs here for sale that are good for reception if you don’t have a spare LNB, maybe interesting for QO100 as well :slight_smile:

The DC4 Firmware is Open Source (, but it will not work without some Modifications, i will take a look at it and build a Emulated Version, i will let you Know if i got something, shouldn’t be to hard.

73 Manuel DO5TY

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Thanks Manuel! I’m getting really excited now.

I’ll digest the your link on GitHub this evening. I have to admit that I already ordered a Bullseye yesterday because, well why would I not?

Here is a link to something we did back in 2015 in a previous project. This was for the launch of a little micro-controller you may have heard of called the ‘Micro Bit’.
If you could spare us a DC3 that would be really amazing.

Thanks once again,
Steve M7RPH

Just send me a quick mail because of the DC3 to [email protected] :slight_smile:
You can never have enough Bullseye LNBs really :stuck_out_tongue:

Hi Steve,

You are welcome to access my dreamcatcher at and browse through its functions. You could use it as a live demo or take screen shots as you want for your presentation. This is a live Dreamcatcher v.3.05. It is online, but not currently receiving, as we have not yet made contact with the new satellite parameters that are forthcoming.

73, Jerry W0HU

Done :smiley:

Thank you that’s really kind.
I will definitely check this out :slight_smile:

Likewise, Steve, you can look at my on-line Dreamcatcher here outside of Washington, DC. It too, as Jerry’s, is not receiving now until Othernet gets their new stream up… Address is: Ken (Annapolis, MD, KC3OYM)

When exactly do you need this finished by?

If you really wanted to, it’s possible to turn a Pi and rtlsdr into a receiver, but all of the additional RF components won’t be cheap. You’ll need a bias tee to drive the LNB. The bias tee from the V3 dongle only goes to 4.67V. There is 2V of drop out on the LNB and the converter in the LNB doesn’t really like to go below 4.5V (though it will work below that figure).

You’ll also need an additional down converter, since the IF from the LNB will be too high for an rtlsdr. And then you’ll need to demodulate LoRa packets in software. It’s actually all doable, but a ton of work. Probably the easiest thing to do is borrow a Dreamcatcher.

Hey Morphy,
I’m in the U.K. and can loan you my kit. Alternatively if the MUX isn’t up the experiment I did with my son to teach him about satellites just included a sat finder and one of those “caravan” dishes (although you could do it with a used Sky one too, there are loads of second hand on eBay very cheap), just running into the Freesat transponder and showing them how to receive a TV broadcast.

Thanks everyone for all of your input. I will keep you all posted in this thread as things progress.
73 Steve M7RPH

Just as quick info, a DC 3.05 i had laying around is on it’s way to Steve :slight_smile:


Hi all,
DC 3.05 has arrived!
Science week has coincided with students returning to school from lockdown so rather than this being part of a short “flash-in-the-pan” project week it will now be incorporated into a longer running STEM initiative. It will be a few short weeks until things settle down and we work out the logistics of running after school clubs that are compatible with year group ‘bubbles’.

I will have fun this weekend learning about the DC 3.05 and Bullseye LMB.
73 M7RPH

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Be interested to hear how you get on!

73 de MW1MDH!

Hi everyone,
Thanks all of you for your interest, communities like this one which are genuinely friendly, helpful and enthused are rare on the internet.
Sadly, after school clubs now need to be managed more strictly and with less time available due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic.
Nevertheless we are planning to run our first session on Tuesday 27th April for an hour. There can be additional sessions on subsequent weeks. The Maths department has also offered to run sessions to support the maths we cover.

In that one hour session I think it would be good to cover the background, ie. effects of the information divide and some of the efforts that are being made to counter it, obviously focusing on Othernet but not limiting it. (There is also Elon Musk’s Skynet(?), Google’s project Loon

The students can then get hands on aligning the LNB and fine tuning the DC…

I have to go but will add more later.

The SpaceX Starlink internet service will be a major disruptive force in the satellite communications industry. It will also impact terrestrial ISPs in rural areas.

Google Loon recently shutdown.

That’s good, I can use all of this…

Can you point me to anything about disruption from spaces please?