No Mars Express experiment this time

It was a difficult decision to accept, but the Mars Express experiment with the USRP and GNU Radio is not going to happen this time! It’s a shame because the link budget looked quite promising. An optimistic estimate gives almost 20 dB signal to noise ratio, which is more than we need, so the problem … Read more

Aiming for planetary science with GNU Radio and the USRP

Thanks to the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Mars Express mission, we might have an opportunity just around the corner for doing big science with GNU Radio and the USRP!

On March 3, 2010, Mars Express will visit the Martian moon Phobos by performing a close flyby. According to ESA, the ESOC ops team is working with a number of possible scenarios, including one that would take the spacecraft to just 50 km above Phobos. At that distance the orbit of the spacecraft is expected to be influenced by the gravitational pull of Phobos. I knew this already for about a week when I first read it on the Mars Express Blog but it was first today that I realized the opportunities this event offers.

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Ubuntu 9.04 on the Eee PC 701

It’s been more than a year now that I last posted an update about using my Asus Eee PC 701 for hamradio. To be honest, my Eee PC has been more or less idle ever since. Back in August 2008 I have decided that I need a newer and better OS on it than the Asus/Xandros that it came installed with. I tried a few one every now and then but without any satisfactory results. Until now…

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Coming up in Gpredict 1.2

After fixing several major and minor bugs in Gpredict 1.1 it was time to look at what new cool features version 1.2 should include. Fortunately, there is a nice list of feature requests from users that have been accumulated over time so all I had to do was to pick one and start working on … Read more

Portable S-band Ground Station Update

I made good progress with the portable S-band ground station this week.

I took the receiver to the OZ7SAT lab to measure its performance. Using the USRP+DBSRX and no LNA we could easily detect a -132 dBm CW signal with modest FFT integration (fraction of a second) in a GNU Radio spectrum scope. Using the LNA we could go down to about -138 dBm, i.e. an improvement in SNR of 6 dB. These figures were measured at an SNR ~5 dB. This is excellent, but please note that this is not real “sensitivity” in the traditional sense because we were not demodulating or decoding the signal. We were simply integrating the spectrum for a fraction of a second to detect the presence of the signal. The measurements were done by sampling a 250 kHz wide spectrum.

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New vLog: Introducing the S-band Ground Station Project for LRO/LCROSS Reception

In this new video blog I am introducing a new project that has kept me occupied for a few weeks now: A low cost S-band ground station for receiving signals from NASA’s lunar spacecrafts LRO and LCROSS. More info at Receiving LRO and LCROSS. Based on the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) with DBSRX daughterboard, … Read more

Joomla upgrade and new comment system

Today I have upgraded my Joomla installation from version 1.5.6 to 1.5.10. Everything went all right but if you notice some problems just let me know. At the same time I have replaced the commenting system with Disqus using a plug-in from JoomlaWorks. The old commenting system has been disabled and the old comments are … Read more