General question

Hello SatNOGS community!

I read about your project and would like to build ground station! There is only one little issue: i’m completely newbie in electronics, mechanics and space technologies. However I’m ready to learn (a lot).

So I’ve started from official guides on how to assemble ground station (thanx Pierros!). However I don’t understand general design of ground station. How it works in principle.

Could someone help me with this:

  • How this station works in principle (scheme or link to research)?
  • How to connect antenna to electronics?
  • How to connect power supply. Do I need batteries or ~220V?
  • How to connect ground station to SatNOGS network (ethernet, 3G, wi-fi?).
  • How to connect Opto-endstops to electronics (they are in guide, but cannot find how to connect them)
  • How to create custom PCBs? Could I buy them somewhere or should I order them from local PCB-maker?
  • Why do I need “SatNOGS PSU PCB”?

I would be happy to update guides (documentation) with the answers.

I am very new to SatNOGS, but have been doing satellite ground station work for quite a few years. I would like to better understand the specifics of the SatNOGS system and helping to answer your question would be a good reason for me to dig into the current documentation. First, please give me the link you used to get your ground station guide. This will ensure I am looking at the exact documents you are.

I can offer a few preliminary answers that may help your further investigations:

  1. In principle there are many types of satellite orbits. The ones you are probably most familiar with are geostationary (which actually are in orbit but at exactly the same speed as the earth) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. The LEO satellites appear to move with respect to a ground station. Their orbits are described with an equation that has coefficients called Keplerian Elements (Keps). When you put the current Keps in the equation you can predict the path of the satellite with respect to an observer on the earth. That path is the “track” that the ground station must point at in order to maximize received signal. There is a lot of good information for how this is done with Amateur Radio satellites at 1. The slide deck linked as “Intro_Sats” will answer a lot of questions about the principles. Once I have your link I will respond on how they apply to the SatNOGS ground station.
  2. Most antennas and electronics will have specific connectors for each. You will need to make a jumper cable that connects between them. That cable must be high quality coax and be as short as reasonable with room for all the antenna movement.
  3. Power – I need to research. You could possibly use both.
  4. This will need to end in a port to the Internet. How you get the ground station to the internet will be your choice. I will need to see the default design in the SatNOGs documents.
  5. I don’t know. However most opto sensors use 2, 3, or 4 wires and go back to the board with a low voltage hookup wire.
  6. There are many was to create custom PCBs. A simple one is ExpressPCB. Lots of people like them because their layout software is free and links seamlessly to their pricing/order system. If you want to do your own and really want to learn a “professional quality” system, I recommend you start with KiCad. It is open source and there are good tutorials on YouTube. The output of it can be sent to any custom board manufacturer you wish.
  7. I don’t know. I will guess that the PSU PCB is for the power supply and that links back to your 3rd question. You need to get you answer to #3 before you try to decide on #7.

I hope this helps. Do not be discouraged at starting something you do not fully understand – the beauty of the project is the path through learning.

Good Luck,

Good day!

I’m using the very first guide:
SatNOGS Ground Station v2 Mechanical Assembly

I will read Amsat for beginners then.

Sorry for the long delay. I have looked into it and I believe you will be much happier with mains power because it allows longer running times. You could use solar and batteries, but I have not seen any information on long term average power use. That would be needed to properly size the batteries and panel.

In general the system is designed to predict where a satellite is and then track it while the signal is being received. Then the interesting thing is this is also uplinked to the internet.

I am still teaching myself about how the ground station exactly works, but plan to be more familiar with it over the next two months.

How are you progressing?

I’ve started to 3d print required parts. They should be printed no matter my understanding of the whole design :smile:

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