Investigate reasons for low SatNOGS coverage in Russia

As rightfully pointed out in the LSF - US Space Command agreement thread, SatNOGS is lacking stations in some large parts of the world, e.g. russia.

@rumlin implied this might be due to the two-way sharing agreement between LSF & US Space Command.

I remember that the number of stations in russia wasn’t significantly higher than it is now. Regardless of this, the point of starting this thread is that there seem to be inherent reasons for this low number of stations I want to understand (and to ultimately overcome problems maybe).

Did stations in russia stop their submissions to SatNOGS after the agreement? Did you run or plan to run a station and decided against it now?

If yes, please speak up and explain your concerns! It would be very sad if even a single station had been lost due to the agreement, especially any stations in areas of low coverage.

Thank you, seeing forward to hear from you!

kerel / Fabian


In 2014, I read an article about Satnogs in russian.
This project seemed to me interesting and exciting. And I began to follow this project carefully and try to learn more. The above article, in my opinion, is the only publication in Russian at this time. Despite the fact that the article is posted on a popular site, whose audiences are engineers, radio amateurs, programmers, but this did not affect the popularization of the project.

The first thing I discovered is very bad documentation on Very high level of entry into the project. Since 2016, I had a hobby - radarspotting. I can compare how easy it was to start doing this hobby.

Technically, this is the same. RPi, RTLSDR, LNA, Antennas, housings, power supplies. But there is a huge difference. Easily understandable instructions. Active communication on the forums and exchange of experience. A large number of photographs of setups that give illustrative examples how to better construct their own receiving station.

Yellow stations are the stations that Flightaware sent for free. But white station - diy.

Documentation is one of the problems. Another problem is the platform and components on which the station is built.
The ADSB-station can be built on a variety of inexpensive platforms. Old router with openwrt. Or cheap board for Armbian.

Or for example SatNOGS Rotator - It is built using a 3D printer and an aluminum T-slot frame. In local realities it is expensive. The use of the cheap component with Aliexpress looks more optimal - belts, gears, stepper motors for 3D printers.

In 2018, I joining Libre Space Community, hoping that in this forum I see more information than official wiki. But unlike the forum Flightaware, I did not see the wealth of alternative technical and software solutions here.

So briefly I see obstacles to the construction of own Sannogs station. US Space Command agreement is not the main problem for the project that is not open to non-English-speaking users.


Thank you for your detailed response!

A lower entry barrier to learn about SatNOGS for the English-speaking general audience is the Introduction to LSTN presentation. It is accompanied by further resources, including the LSTN Handbook (pdf). This handbook is a reference guide to to help build, operate and troubleshoot a SatNOGS ground station (non-rotator and quality RF hardware).

Indeed SatNOGS is lacking non-English documentation. To improve on that, there is a project to translate the LSTN handbook. I’d love to see it translated to russian!


I’ve read this LSTN Handbook before. This handbook is almost useless. With caveats, the information on software setup on pages 64-80 is helpful.

First of all, the book describes examples for the OSX instead of programs for Windows.
Secondly, the book describes a certain receiver, which cannot be called cheap and suitable for self-production. Expensive components, housing, injection power, antenna … I guess this receiver costs about $200 or more.This is an unacceptable price. Therefore, this part of the assembly instructions for the receiver does not make sense to translate since there is no chance that this device will fall into the hands of someone.

My experience with ADSB-receivers says that design will be repeated by other radio amateurs if it is cheap and uses widely available components.
“People’s Receiver” should cost $100 or less.

  • Raspberry Pi 3 ($70)
    OrangePi even cheaper, but not supported.

  • Power supply ($12)
    5.1 Volts 2.5 Amps power supply recommended

  • Micro SD Card (size: 8 GB or larger)

  • USB SDR Receiver (RTLSDR RTL2832U + R820T2) ($9)
    The USB SDR (Software Defined Radio) - RTL-SDR V3 1PPM TCXO ($29) recommended.

  • 433 MHz Antenna
    homemade antenna, for example QFH.


  • LNA SPF5189 ($5)
  • 433MHz Band Pass Filter ($7)

Total $103.

Ideas for enclosure/box :

1 Like

Replace the 433 MHz antenna with a VHF or UHF turnstile and you got the SatNOGS station hardware. See the wiki. Hardware requirements are really similar!

The important difference is translated documentation then apparently?.

1 Like

I think even in English it is a bit confusing. I had never seen the LSTN handbook before, nor do I see reference to it in the wiki. That becomes another problem: scattering of documentation. Where should one look?

If you note by rumlin’s valid comments, my takeaway is that people presume a rotator is needed, when noobs can start with just an omni, which is way easier. I have done an ADS-B (“Flightaware”-like) setup too. It is basically the same except the antenna and cable.

Perhaps a simple “kit” bom, with a minimal viable setup, at lowest cost, would drive more adoption. I don’t really see it as a “Russian” problem, but a problem of cost, ease of use, and language. We need more in China, Africa, and South America too!


Just to be fair in 2014 the project was focused around the initial project that started on that year the Rotator. Back then RPi with an image to flash and to create a station without rotator was far from being even an idea. So, it is not a surprise that not many people had been involved.

Indeed wiki needs improvement, updates and organizing it better, but I would like to hear feedback from people following the instructions in the wiki. What is confusing, what has changed and it is not updated in the wiki, how it can be better. As every wiki, it is open to anyone to contribute by adding, removing, updating information and in the past several people have contributed but maybe needs more people to get involved.

Again just to be fair, ADS-B needs are less than what SatNOGS needs, especially on memory and cpu power. For example, with ADS-B you don’t have many different modulations to tackle, you don’t generate IQ, audio, waterfall artifacts, you don’t need organize locally the scheduled observations, you don’t need the ability to transmit (in the future) etc.

That said, it would be nice to run SatNOGS in different platforms but developer resources are limited, so any help/contribution on installing SatNOGS and its dependencies on other platforms, create images that can be flashed in these platforms and document this process step by step would be more than welcome.

By the way these days we investigate (still in an early stage) another platform for building a less expensive but also less effective station.

Indeed some of the suggested components could be expensive in some markets, I remember there was an issue like that in US, but as any DIY project you can/should find alternatives. Sharing those would be great and beneficial for the community. One note here just to give a perspective, when SatNOGS rotator started as project, similar commercial rotators were sold for a couple of thousands of dollars, SatNOGS rotator depending on the components it could, probably it does it also today, decrease that cost 3 to 5 times. However as @jebba noted, rotator is not needed for a SatNOGS station. Not sure why people assume it is needed when it is clear even in the image in this wiki page that is the introduction for building a station. It may need something more visible.

I’m not aware of the FlightAware forum, but my guess is that it has involved more people in a less, correct me if I’m wrong, complex project. So, more people to participate in the forum, more people to answer questions and support, more people to try alternative technical and software solutions.

That’s interesting… this is exactly the simplest and the suggested setup for someone new to build a SatNOGS station. More or less described here, in the no rotator setup wiki page.

LSTN Handbook is for a specific purpose, so this is probably why it isn’t linked from the wiki. However I think it can be used as an example for writing documentation for the no rotator setup I linked above.

I guess the no rotator setup could be this “kit” bom, of course it needs some care and maybe some advertisement/highlighting on the wiki. :slight_smile:

In general I agree with @rumlin, simpler setup with better instructions will make adoption easier, we have seen that in the past when we moved from manual installation of all the SatNOGS components that run in the Client to just flashing an image. The difficult part is to find people that will experiment with new setups/ideas or improve the current and reach the goal.


There are other problems as well, but they are on a different layer of questions. Some radio amateurs are professionally engaged in receiving satellite signals. But they are not interested in Satnogs. For example user R4UAB. As he writes about his hobby:

Capturing and decoding signals from satellites is my hobby. I am compiling my lists of working satellites in orbit. I publish all frequencies on my website. On several occasions, my lists have helped locate lost spacecraft. Regarding decoding, for 10 years, as I am fond of this, I have analyzed many signals and it was not difficult for me to determine the signal modulation and protocol and this satellite by the signal parameters.

His equipment. He could…, but he doesn’t want to.

I believe that satnogs can expand the network at the expense of beginners who do not know anything, but really want to. Therefore, the station must be cheap. And the instruction should tell the user step by step how to assemble a station at the level of the student’s capabilities. Weekend design. And a mandatory point in the instructions is a demonstration of work on receiving images of weather satellites.

a station without rotator

Somewhat surprising. According to my observations, rotators are not used to receive images of meteorological satellites. IMHO rotators are typical for radio communication via radioamateur satellites and the Moon.
No rotator setup does a good job - I have seen this since 2006 on the example of a project for automatic reception of weather images. It uses a homemade QFH antenna.

I would like to hear feedback from people following the instructions in the wiki

Initially, the user is on this page - SatNOGS Wiki There are several links in the text, but none of them leads to instructions for creating and working with the station. After a while, the user sees a menu with the word Build.
Probably you need to select the first menu item in the order from the top. But one cannot be sure that this is so. There are many incomprehensible words. It’s like falling down the Rabbit-hole. There are many links behind which there are even more links. Especially if you find yourself (in two clicks) on the page Software Defined Radio - SatNOGS Wiki
Nevertheless, we stayed on the page “Build” and read to the end, where we found a phrase and a link " More info can be found on the Operation wiki page.".
And the user clicks on that link instead of going back to the Build menu and selecting the second item “Install RPi”.
And such confusing navigation is everywhere. Links lead to nowhere and everywhere at the same time. This user is not a professional - this is a student. He must be guided carefully by the hand, showing and explaining simple things, so that he goes all the way from simple to complex. Now wiki is like a leap into the abyss and no one knows where to swim.

ADS-B needs are less than what SatNOGS needs, especially on memory and cpu power.

I can run RTL_TCP on the old router for WiFi Streaming of radio data. And then process this data on a more powerful device in my LAN or . This flexibility of the system can be useful. The router consumes very little power, it can be placed near the antenna and use a solar panel and batteries for power. At the same time, there are powerful and much cheaper OrangePi, which make it possible to make the stations cheaper than on the RPi.

Sharing those would be great and beneficial for the community.

In my opinion, the main problem is not the mechanics, but a rotator controller. It may even be possible to use old satellite TV antenna positioners. These positioners are no longer needed by anyone. The only question is in the controller for controlling the positioner and its angle of inclination to the horizon.

my guess is that it has involved more people in a less, correct me if I’m wrong

Most questions about working with linux and RPI maintenance. For example
Cloning Booted RPi’s microSD card on Windows PC through Network
This is without a doubt a very useful instruction.

The difficult part is to find people that will experiment with new setups / ideas or improve the current and reach the goal.

The problem is in the software.


Could you elaborate a little more on this?

What software should be changed, what will be the alternatives and how they are able to offer the same or more features that current software offers?

I’ll add some more comments later on the rest of your post.

I know this is in an early stage, but it is a good example how hard it is to find info. The link here goes to a repository (which I found before), it has a, but it says only “SatNOGS Tiny”. Don’t know what that is. I see now that this is a link, leading to the page I am on. I go to the files and find the src folder most appealing. I find main.cpp which has two functions. With only the comments: “put your code here”. I am lost…

No offence, it is probably a great project, with someone working hard on it! I really appreciate that kind of work! I am being positive about it. But it needs a bit of documentation, to attract interest of other people.

Oh, and in general there might be more people interested in planes than in satellites?


As you said the project is in an early stage, and as far as I know still under development for a simple proof of concept. So, I wouldn’t expect an extended documentation on it at this stage, maybe a better README, describing a little better the project would be useful.

By the way, if anyone wants to get involved in any of the LSF projects the best/right way to do it is to go to the issues at the project, for example for SatNOGS Tiny here and check what are the tasks needed for this project and also use the communications channels to get in contact with the developers if needs to ask about the project or the issues.


I think @rumlin raises some valid points. I opened another thread Wiki documentation improvements to discuss the documentation issues, so this one can be back to “reasons for little to no stations in Russia”.

1 Like

In my opinion, the main problem is that the satnogs-client distributed as a Raspbian SatNOGS Image.

And apparently as a Docker container, but I have not tried this method. GitHub - kng/satnogs-client-docker: Run satnogs-client inside one or more docker containers

This forces user to use the dedicated RPi for this purpose only. Obviously, this is not the optimal budget expenditure if the user already has a RPi that is used for some low-load services.

On the example of ADSB stations.
A typical receiver consists of a RPi, one RTLSDR dongle, power supply, microsd card.

Next, the user has the option to install step by step required software. Raspbian Linux, dump1090 application, application for combining and rebroadcasting feeds. For example Get eyes in the sky with your Raspberry Pi [an unusual way using Docker].

Or use SD card image as PiAware with preinstalled software.

In this case, it can be an already existing RPi performing a function, for example, NAS (file server), DNS (Pi-Hole), weather station, surveillance system. Services that may not fully utilize the capabilities of RPi.

If the user wants to organize receives analog Air band radio voice channels and produces audio streams to LAN/WAN, then he just connects another RTLSDR-dongle with a corresponding band antenna.

Or he needs to use an omnidirectional and narrow-beam antennas, he will also connect another RTLSDR-dongle. Then it will launch another instance of dump1090 and with application for combining data will collect data in one stream.

These examples demonstrate how flexible radarspotting software is.

If satnogs client could be installed on an existing RPi something like this PiAware - dump1090 ADS-B integration with FlightAware - FlightAware
then I think this project would interest those who are interested in airplanes. In this case, building the station will only require one more RTLSDR dongle and an antenna.

1 Like

I’ve this setup here since november 2019 with old netbook and Debian Buster.


But this is not a permanent receiver. I suspect that two or more SDR-dongles cannot be connected to the Satnogs station. In the case of ADSB receiver, you can specify a specific receiver for a specific service.