Satellite Ground Station Upcycles Trash

While the term “upcycle” is relatively recent, we feel like [saveitforparts] has been doing it for a long time. He’d previously built gear to pick up low-Earth orbit satellites, but now wants to pick up geosynchronous birds which requires a better antenna. While his setup won’t win a beauty contest, it does seem to work, and saved some trash from a landfill, too. (Video, embedded below.)

Small dishes are cheap on the surplus market. A can makes a nice feedhorn using a classic cantenna design, although that required aluminum tape since the only can in the trash was a cardboard oatmeal carton. The tape came in handy when the dish turned out to be about 25% too small, as well.

The dish isn’t just ugly, it probably won’t stand up to everyday use. The bit error rate was a bit high, but he did manage to pull down images from GOES-16. It sounds like he has plans to weatherize it and mount the dish permanently. The Raspberry Pi scripts would not work properly on his laptop, so he finally switched to a Pi. The images looked great

It seems to be a rite of passage to build a ground station out of junk. You might have better luck with some of the other software that is available.

30 thoughts on “Satellite Ground Station Upcycles Trash

  1. I just started working on a collapsible umbrella reflector for GOES after giving up on a dish like that last summer. Right when you move on, someone else suddenly solves your problem hahahaha!

    1. Not totally true. My HOA here in Missouri doesn’t care. The town I used to live in central Illinois (twin cities) didn’t have any zoning laws considering an antenna like this either. So not totally true. It is always best to check first for zoning laws and neighbor approval. As for the ghetto comment that could be considered racist.
      Hats off to the “Ozark” style of engineering. Great project !

      1. I’m merely from Europa, but I’m glad that there are some neighborhoods which have a relaxed attitude towards antennas or other kinds of creative works. 👍

        As for the “ghetto” word, I for one didn’t know that it is frowned. Still use the word “Ghetto Blaster” for example, to refer to these classic and cool 80s era radio/cassette combinations with their boxy shapes and big handles. The other word, “Boom Box” is new to me. And it always makes me think of cheap, super deformed plastic radio/cassette wannabes from the late 90s and 2000s. Anyway, I do know little about politics or gender speak, also. I’m just puzzled that humanity nolonger calls things by their names.

        I mean, in the US, in the 80s, ghettos existed. And they were called so by their own inhabitants. Just replacing names by otger names doesn’t change anything. Or even worse, giving bad things new, pretty, fashionable descriptions might be hypocritical, even and an insult to the affected people. In case of the ghetto blaster, it might be even offensive, because that device was a big part of a sub culture.
        And as such, it could be considered a cultural item.

        That being said, this is no critique at all. I’m just thinking out loud. 😅

    2. I don’t know the details but I do there are FCC regulations that mean HOAs can’t restrict the install of satellite dishes under certain circumstances (something about dishes less than 39″ in diameter being allowed I think)

      1. Clearly you haven’t experienced the collective and anonymous wrath of Karens (of all sexes) set loose on whatever project you thought you were going to build, on property you supposedly own.

    3. I definitely do not live in either the middle of nowhere or a ghetto area but I do not have a HOA. I even told my realtor when we bought this house that any place with an HOA was not an option.

      Not that I would permanently mount anything that looked like this. I do believe in being a good neighbor and don’t need to start a war with the homeowners next door. There’s nothing wrong with this for the prototype stage though.

      Really, HOAs wouldn’t be such a powerful thing if people started asking beforehand and not buying houses where they cannot practice their hobbies. Vote those people out with your home purchase choices.

  2. i really feel that struggle to decide whether or not to go to the store and buy a can of beans and dump out the beans just to get the metal part. even when it’s cheap, i always feel kind of stupid buying something new just to use it like that.

  3. Ummm. Where to start?
    First off, I really encourage experimentation and it’s really cool effort.
    But. Sometimes a little math before the build can improve the performance. I’m showing about a 3 dB loss below an open air dipole with the size of the “dish” and assuming a proper focal point and 1/16 reflected wavelength match (eff around 70%) at the feedhorn which doesn’t look like the case with the construction. Just because a dish works at Ku band…… etc. (doesn’t imply anything at L band). You could probably wind a helix on a dowel and get 100 times more signal.

    I’d love to see that build.

    1. Actually Ka band and in reviewing the build, estimated size, reflector shape and guessed distance to the focal point it’s probably better than I initially guessed. But….
      Most L band uses yagi and helices because a proper dish at that frequency is so darned big.

      1. From my use in KA band its just awful. Maybe it’s the equipment I’ve been given to work with or the fact that the band is smaller than a rain drop but I always have issues shooting my shot. Typically it’s distant ends fault though lmao

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