Outernet in L-Band no longer available?


#1

I‘m new to the Outernet community and I wanted to buy the L-Band Patch antenna with the kit but it is not available anymore… So can you give me some informations because I can not find nothing on the website. Outhernet is so cool but imagine someone bought the whole receiver kit for the L-Band and now he‘s not getting any data anymore :confused:


#2

My Dreamcatcher has no more signal lock.
So yes, it does look like the broadcast has stopped on L-Band.
Would be nice to have a big obvious warning on https://store.outernet.is/ . I have to admit I have not spent too much time looking, but I couldn’t find an official announcement about the service termination anywhere on this forum or on Twitter.


#3

Yes L-band stopped in early December in North America (and earlier in Europe/Africa/Asia).

A new Ku-band system should become operational soon according to Outernet Corporate. Suggest you watch this forum for announcements. Ken


#4

Hi @gilemon We have always tried our best to clearly state on the product pages that the broadcast is a free service and that we are not able to guarantee that it will always be available. Starting this past summer we even stated that customers should not buy receivers exclusively for the Outernet broadcast. I’m sorry for any confusion this may have caused, but I know this doesn’t solve your problem at all.


#5

Thank you all for the quick response! I will stay tuned and thank all outernet members who invest time and money to awesome technology! It‘s all worth it! :slight_smile:

Julius


#6

Thanks for the answer @Syed, I understand and sorry if I made you feel I was complaining. You must be super busy at the moment.
You’re working on an amazing project and I’m so impatient to get my hands on your next release.


#7

@gilemon No reason to be sorry at all. The communication of service-levels/availability is something we definitely need to get better at. I appreciate your understanding and kind words. Our production validation arrives on Wednesday, which is when we will be making the announcement of the new system. They won’t ship right away, as we still need to test each unit. We’re also waiting on the SMA/F adapters to arrive.


#8

I am a novice at this…but now what do I do with this kit that I have for less than a year now?


#9

Why my DreamCatcher 2.03 is a wall decoration.

I built a Tuna Tin 2 in the late 70’s to learn about QRP.

Tuna Tin 2. (not mine) Photo Credit W0CH
tt2_1b

What does Tuna Tin 2 have to do with Outernet?
When I was a kid in college, I wanted to learn more than all of the endless book work they offered – Calculus, Statics, Dynamics, Chemistry, Physics, English I, English II, etc. The most satisfying thing was my home project where I learned how to make my own circuit board, etched and drilled it myself. I went to RadioShack and hunted-down all the parts. Raided the garbage can for a tuna can, etc. The point is that I learned stuff from this project that I never really got from even Electrical Engineering labs at the University.

My Outernet education
Fast forward 40 years and a whole career in the cellular industry. I joined Outernet in November of last year and bought a DreamCatcher 2.03 and an SDRX. I played with them and experimented. But even more importantly, I learned a lot. Some things I did not know, so I asked here. Sometimes there was no answer, so I had to research it.

So why is my DC 2.03 hanging on the wall?
So why is my DreamCatcher hanging on my hamshack wall next to my BS, MS and various course certificates? I bought some education. A continuing education certificate in C# costs $5,925 at the local community college. A $100 kit to open your world on something new is a really good price. You really get out of it what you put into it. OK DC 2.03 and SRDX are behind me now. I graduated from the DC 2.03 project.

I’m going to learn more things with the next project – DreamCatcher 3.0 It’s going to be all about solving more problems and challenges in practical datacasting. Buy the next one and get active in the board here. To me the important thing is to share and learn.

–Konrad, WA4OSH


#10

Yes and then in less than 12 months time you can hang you v3 right next to your v2.03 and then pony up more dollars for v4, rinse and repeat adnauseum until the Outernet is no more.


#11

Why don’t people say the same thing with Apple iPhones? They’re up to iPhone 8.

There’s improvement with each round. The DC3.0 is much faster than the DC2.0.
How do I know? http://status.outernet.is Mine works. I’m the green flag near Seattle, WA.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that another DreamCatcher will come along and
DC3.0 will also hang on my wall due to the amount that I’ve learned from the project.

There are many other gadgets that I’ve owned that have long since been thrown away. I had a reel-to-reel tape recorder at one time. Then I replaced it with a cassette Sony Walkman. It got replaced by a Rio 500 that could play three or four MP3s. It got replaced by an iPad with a hard drive. It got replaced by a solid state one. It got integrated into my cell phone. The point is technology evolves and older versions of the same idea become obsolete as new ways of doing the same thing are invented.

I still have the Rio 500 because it was so revolutionary. I still have the first Z80 computer I wire-wrapped. I wish I would have kept my Intel 4004 project I built in High School 40 years ago. Many, many projects I’ve experimented with are long gone.

What will happen to Outernet? Hopefully, Outernet will be a fun, inexpensive gadget that many people the world over can enjoy. You can watch it evolve and you can be part of that evolution. You can shape it with your participation and feedback.

Or, you can go off and do something else with your time. Of course, the choice is yours.

Experiment and share what you learn.

–Konrad, WA4OSH


#12

The difference is everyone of your examples you can still use those products today, DC v2.03 to DC v3 is forced obsolescence which even scummy Apple does not do as even my daughters iphone 4 is still effectively functional as a phone and media player. And as far as Outernet being an inexpensive gadget used the world over, give me a break. Why would anyone invest in buying one of these devices, come and have a look at these forums and see the attitude of " It’s cheap device , just get over it when we decide to brick what you have paid for" People in the places where these devices are “targeted” have more to worry about than weather they can get news or music piped to them. With regards to shaping the evolution of Outernet, it seems they are only interested in listening to Pom Pom waving cheerleaders like you.


#13

Whatever. You have not read the forum. If you had, you would have understood the situation. It was completely explained many times over. In short, L-band coverage through Inmarsat was very, very expensive. And without funds, the move to Ku-band was necessary.

But since you are too busy whining and not reading the forum, you think there’s some forced obsolescence conspiracy going on. You get over it.

–Konrad, WA4OSH


#14

And yet again you cannot read what you are responding to because you have not answered even one of my points. With regards to Inmarsat being expensive, this would have been a known factor from the outset, so why start with L Band and then do a bait and switch to Ku and blame it all on the expense of Inmarsat. The DC v2 was not the only hardware that was tied to L Band so there was a progression of the project knowing in the unaffordable nature of Inmarsat.


#15

FYI. The project STARTED on the Ku-Band and moved to the L-Band and has gone back due to issues on the L-Band.

L-band has a monopoly on the band - Inmarsat.
Ku-band has many providers. There’s competition. Perhaps it costs less.

FYI. I don’t work for Outernet. I’m an experimenter. I don’t have to do anything for you.
You need to do the research. You need to decide if you need your own $$$$$ L-Band receiver, or contribute to this project. You haven’t lifted a finger in more than six months.

–Konrad, WA4OSH


#16

With regards to starting on Ku and switching to L Band is irrelevant, if Ku was a good idea why switch to L Band and now back to Ku. L Band may have had high data cost component but is technically superior. Ku while it may work out cheaper on the data cost the issues of a technical nature are numerous. Can you please., in your opinion try to answer just a couple of my concerns, one experimenter to another, keeping in mind the eventual target audience for Outernet:

Ku satellite footprints are very tightly focused so would preclude a lot of smaller island countries and any communities who are outside the Ku footprint, to whom this device would benefit the most. Unlike C, S & L Band which have larger or even hemispherical footprints.

Most of the target users would live in tropical or sub-tropical areas, Ku is notorious for rain fade reception dropouts even with a dish feeding the LNB let alone a bare lnb pointing up in the air. What technical solution can you envisage overcoming this in a monsoon season lasting 3 to 4 months of the year.

As can be seen on these forums it seems as though the original goal, and the reason why I backed this project, is a long way away or, if ever of coming to fruition


#17

Starting on Ku and switching to L-Band is irrelevant? Well you were not paying attention.

The first attempt at Ku-Band required a satellite dish. The Ku-band was not a good antenna due to the required dish installation or a folding dish antenna.

Moving to the L-Band offered a much smaller antenna. The L-Band antennas are about 4 inches squared. So they went with it. They might have gotten a nice starter deal on Inmarsat to move; I don’t know. But they did. Then they were locked into a monopoly. Monopolies come with monopoly pricing: Charge what the market will bear.

Then, there was innovation. They changed the modulation from a traditional FSK to a brand new technology called Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS). If you want to find out more about the specific kind of CSS, used refer to this wikipedia article: LoRa LoRa has a huge advantage over FSK: Process Gain

I think @Syed gets this. He is the one that will find additional satellite transponders. There are many trade-offs between the various satellite bands - coverage, suceptibility to weather, antenna size, availability of inexpensive components, foliage penetration etc. I personally think eventually, there will be solutions on several bands. It would be nice if an idea worked the first time off of a drawing board. I have more than a dozen patents to my name in the area of telecommunications. I know it often takes several iterations to get it right.

I live in Seattle. I’m well aware of monsoon season from October through May.
Ku. The Link Budget is enough in most of the continental US to be able to reliably be able to receive on an LNB without a dish. This is due to the process gain and the narrow bandwidth.

I live near the edge of coverage, in a climate well known for its rain. Except for snow storms, it’s been raining solid for the last several months. I’ve been in the cold rain working on slight improvements to the antenna. Mine works. Why? Experimentation. I built a small cone for mine out of a martini mixer.

I live at 47.5 degrees north. Not only do I get lots and lots of rain, but my antenna is only 20 degrees up and pointed almost southeast. The signal has lots more moist air to go through than someone living directly below the Clarke belt.

I’m there. If it works for me, it will work for the world.

It’s actually not far off from this original vision.

Have you really read the forum? You would have known all of this.

–Konrad, WA4OSH


#18

I think that Outernet was betting that having a smaller antenna and lower set-up costs (no dishes to mount, etc) would be a game changer. It really didn’t seem to be, and despite working well enough for a fixed receive station – pointing the L-band antenna and keeping it fixed didn’t really seem to be much easier than mounting a satellite dish. I am skeptical that this current iteration of antennas and hardware will be easier to use than the previous ones, and we’re seeing that users are mostly not able to just point an LNB to the sky and get a signal anywhere. The previous iterations of Outernet had benefited from many man-hours of community work, only to see their efforts scrapped without notice and focus completely changed from one system to another. The way the project is run currently is like a research project (which is great), but we are not privy to its findings – which might be the frustrations you are experiencing. It seems like the can’t-lose, romantic quest for knowledge-type of attitude that @Konrad_Roeder advocates is really the only way to approach this.


#19

We did get the results. We got early notice. To those that don’t follow what’s going on, it seems like a scrapped effort without notice. Let me explain.

I’m also a member of the Amsat Phase 4B ground project. I don’t contribute there because the project is not getting a ride up on a satellite in the near future. Meanwhile Outernet is already doing the receive part, albeit not at the same data rates promised by the so nick-named “nickel-and-dime” (for 5 GHz up, 10 GHz down) project, where volunteers are doing all of the ground station work. The satellite side of that project is ITAR.

I joined Outernet end of summer, heading into fall. I was warned by the Outernet team that the version would be obsolete soon. I went ahead, fully knowing this, and built both a DC2 and a SDRx system. My purpose was not to deploy an appliance, but to learn something. A two or three month time horizon helped me get it up and running and then investigate.

It was really s l o w. It was like downloading a picture on the early internet, having to wait all afternoon. The L-Band solution was dead. There was not enough link margin to really drastically improve the link margin. The real game changer needed is a increas in the data rate. If you can keep the small antenna (size) that DC2.0 worked with, all the better.

Having worked with spread spectrum in my past cellular career (including the IS-661 standard that went no where) and having experimented with LoRa, I had an idea as to what it would take. @Syed and his Outernet team arrived at the same conclusion I had about a year before, but had to work this as a skunkworks project because of the number of other companies wanting to solve the same problem. In conversation, I had hinted to @Syed about what I thought. He leaked nothing, until the Christmas holidays.

I’m a Test Engineer. By profession, I’m someone who finds flaws in things and finds solutions to correct the product to meet the customer’s needs. I have to find ways of turning lemons into lemonade. Lives depend on what I work on for a living.

Crowdsourcing is definitely a way that a small company can make effective use of a very small amount of seed money they have. I prefer being told a product has not been tested up front and that the company has 50 boards that need to be alpha-tested versus being sold a pile of (fill in the blank) So my enthusiasm comes from seeing an idea evolve into something better rather than some elaborate conspiracy theory.

So far, I’m quite satisfied with the preliminary results of the Alpha trial of the DC3.0 project. We’ve hit a few challenges, but all in all, I’m quite confident that this will be a much better platform to expand on. The current antenna (although I’ve had to modify mine) is not any more difficult to aim than a conventional satellite dish. With a compass and a protractor I can get Outernet DC3.0 setup in less two-three minutes, without a complex robot arm to do it for me.

The next project I’m considering is a portable version of Outernet. I’ve already bought the “Pelican” case for it. I’m working on the mechanics on how the antenna will nest inside of the case, how the battery will fit next to the DC3.0 circuit board. Will I use WiFi dongle that has a better antenna on it, or will I have an Ehternet connection? Where does the tablet fit inside?
How the whole thing will be weather proofed?

On the note of being called a

I take that as a compliment. I haven’t really seen myself as much of a leader. Thanks.

The most effective leaders I’ve ever encountered were optimistic. They’re entrepreneurs. They see opportunities where others only see failures. They are able to put several life experiences together to find a solution. They inspire people. And, like pom-pom wiving cheerleaders, they rally people to move beyond the failures.

–Konrad, WA4OSH


#20

Yes, we have made mistakes along the way. We initially chose DVB-S/Ku to showcase our relatively low-cost satellite caching system. Others like KenCast were doing something virtually identical, but only at an enterprise-plan price.

The feedback we received from users in Kenya, Nepal, and Mexico was that the dish was an impediment to wide scale adoption and utility.

We had been working on a strategic relationship with Inmarsat for our portable receiver. We also had a large customer absorbing most of the bandwidth costs, initially. Unfortunately corporate strategies change with the wind and the customer saw its budget disappear. Because we knew there was always a chance that L-band would be deprecated, we made sure our receivers could support non-Outernet use cases. We also explicitly stated that reception of the broadcast wad in no way guaranteed.

Dreamcatcher 3, for example, is basically a frequency agile packet radio. I’ve seen people completely control the radio and mixer without an ounce of Outernet code, so the device does function even without the broadcast.

L-band was started at a time before the SX1280 was commercially available.

Rain fade can easily be accommodated by better link margin.

Yes, we are working on an antenna that can accommodate a variety of link situations. We are also trying to cost and power reduce the receiver design.

That’s pretty much the gist of it.