SetupSetting it up was relatively simple, just hook up the CHIP, battery, LNA, and panel antenna as we were good to go. After about a couple minutes of the board starting up you'll see an open Wifi network called "Outernet". Connect in, visit "10.0.0.1" and enter "outernet:outernet" for the login (case matters on the username).
The InterfaceYou'll then be presented with the main interface. Click the circle in the upper left corner to get a listing of the "apps" installed. It's pretty spartan, but then again that's what the project is. Click on the "Tuner" app, it should look like this:
In the drop down box on the Satellite tab, make sure the proper satellite/location is chosen, otherwise you simply won't ever get a lock. Once you chose the proper satellite, and double checked to make sure everything is hooked up properly, you can start pointing the panel at the satellite. I used the n2yo.com satellite tracking site to help me roughly aim the panel. It doesn't have to be exact. I used the "SNR" value on the Status tab to help me aim. Once I got a consistent reading above 3.0dB I knew it would be sufficient. Cloudy days give me about 5-7 and clear ones give me 7-10dB. If you are around 1-2dB or less, something is wrong.
I ended up mounting my panel to an old tripod so I wouldn't have to hold it. Not pretty or rugged, but works for the time being:
So everything is set up, now I have data downloading. That was fun. Probably not $99 fun, but I got some new hardware out of it and I got to say I did something with satellites. Personally, it was just barely worth the $99.
While the kit is received only, Outernet does allow people to submit files to be included (up to 10KB, and moderated) in the transmission.
Accurate Expectations:If you are interested in getting an Outernet setup, please make sure you have the proper expectations. Here is what you get practically from buying and setting one up yourself:
- Text only daily news from several sources
- 2-day old fancy weather data that looks really pretty
- APRS messages (mostly useless)
- Offline text-only Wikipedia
This is not a replacement for the Internet, no matter what ignorant media people tell you, this is really not a replacement for anything at all. The only possible use case I can really think of is for someone in the middle of nowhere wanting some news/Wikipedia articles to read. The Outernet project is definitely not solving any average person's problems.
It DOES however provide the following:
- CHIP board, Low Noise Amplifier, Panel Antenna, Battery pack, and aluminum cased RTLSDR
- Decent first introduction to microwave satellites
- A distraction
- A cute idea
Would I buy this again? Not likely
Would I recommend this? Meh