Ham Satellite news

Setting Up Your Own Satellite Ground Station with SatNOGS

This is a repost from ANS-154:

Robert Theiss, W5ITR, had the pleasure of interviewing Dan White, ADØCQ, from the Libre Space Foundation at the 2024 Dayton Hamvention about their innovative SatNOGS project. This initiative enables anyone to set up a satellite ground station, collect valuable data, and contribute to global satellite operations. You can watch the interview here on the Digital Rancher YouTube channel:

Dan explained that SatNOGS provides detailed blueprints and documentation for building a satellite ground station from scratch. The foundation offers the necessary software, identifies accessible hardware, and maintains the infrastructure that allows citizen scientists to engage in satellite-related sciences. Their vision of making outer space open and accessible through open-source technology is truly inspiring.

Setting up a basic SatNOGS station is surprisingly straightforward. All you need is a Raspberry Pi and an RTL-SDR dongle. Dan explained the process: the Libre Space Foundation provides a ready-to-use image for the Raspberry Pi, which includes the operating system and necessary configurations. You just create an account, register your station, and schedule a test observation.

Robert Theiss, W5ITR, interviews Dan White, ADØCQ, with Libre Space at the 2024 Dayton Hamvention. [Credit: Robert Theiss, W5ITR]

For those looking to enhance their setup, SatNOGS offers extensive documentation on building antennas and integrating additional components like low noise amplifiers and band pass filters. Although they plan to offer kits in the future, you can currently follow the detailed instructions and suggested links available on the SatNOGS Wiki:

One of the most fascinating aspects of SatNOGS is its network of interconnected ground stations. Once your station is set up, it can schedule satellite passes and collect data, even while you’re asleep. This data is shared across the network, allowing other users to access it, and vice versa. This system ensures continuous monitoring and data collection, maximizing the utility of each station.

The SatNOGS community is highly active and supportive. The forums on the Libre Space Foundation’s website are a great resource for troubleshooting, sharing experiences, and staying updated on new satellite launches and developments.

Dan White, ADØCQ explains the makeup of their SatNOGS Demonstration Ground Station. [Credit: Robert Theiss, W5ITR]

For those interested in taking their ground station to the next level, SatNOGS supports more advanced setups with full azimuth and elevation rotators and larger antennas. These setups, while more costly, significantly increase data collection capabilities and overall performance. The Raspberry Pi used in the basic setup can interface with these advanced systems, allowing for automated tracking and data collection.

Dan shared insights into practical aspects such as bandwidth requirements and equipment wear and tear. While the data collected by a SatNOGS station can be bandwidth-intensive, there are settings to optimize for lower bandwidth situations by disabling audio uploads. Additionally, proper setup and maintenance of antennas and rotators can ensure long-term operation without significant issues.

The Libre Space Foundation and its SatNOGS project provide a unique opportunity for anyone interested in satellite and space communications to get involved. Their open-source approach and comprehensive support make it accessible even for beginners. Setting up your own satellite ground station is a rewarding experience, contributing to global space exploration and satellite communication. Check out the resources at and get involved!

[ANS thanks Robert Theiss, W5ITR, for the above information]


Webmaster and member of the AMSAT-SM steering group.

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