New sites

LEO Class 1 antenna

Could you host a LEO Class 1 ground station for the myGroundStations.com project?

We are looking for people who would be interested in hosting LEO Class 1 hardware. We are rolling out experimental hardware and software at the moment to verify that the system works and to test the longevity of the hardware in a variety of climates.

If you are interested in helping this effort, please register your interest by via this form, emailing new.sites@mygroundstations.com or visit our donation page here to directly sponsor a new ground station at a site of your own or at a location where we need coverage.

Thanks very much!

Frequently asked questions

What are you looking for?

We are looking for dozens of sites to host LEO Class 1 ground stations.

All you need to be able to provide is a roof top location to install an approximately 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm antenna with integrated soft radio with a clear view of the sky and within range of either an Internet connected WiFi signal or Ethernet port. Power can be delivered over an ethernet cable (either from a power over ethernet enabled system or from a power adapter we supply) or by using optional solar panels.

Where do you need ground stations?

Everywhere!

This map below shows where we would like to have ground stations. We particularly need ground stations in areas circled in red.

You can download the KML file for viewing in Google Earth by clicking here.

We need new sites all over the world to build a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Ground Stations (RAIGS), but we are particularly looking for new sites in the following locations:

  • Antarctica
  • Ascension Island
  • Australia (in particular Darwin and Perth)
  • Cook Islands (in particular Avarua)
  • Barbados
  • Brazil
  • Chatham island
  • Chile
  • China
  • East New Britain
  • Easter Island
  • Ecuador
  • Falkland Islands
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia (in particular Tahiti)
  • Galápagos Islands
  • Gran Canaria
  • India
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Mangareva
  • Mexico
  • Namibia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Port Louis
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • South Georgia
  • Svalbard
  • Tokelau
  • Vanuatu, Port Vila
  • Wake Island

What’s in it for me?

A warm glow from helping low-cost space missions send data back to their investigators!

Nano-satellite missions (including Thin Film Spacecraft/Landers, PocketQubs and CubeSats) are very low-cost space missions, sometimes undertaken for just a few hundred dollars by space enthusiasts, students and other researchers. One of the most expensive and difficult parts of running missions is establishing a network of ground stations to allow data to be downloaded from the satellite. By creating an open source network of ground stations we hope to eliminate this bottleneck and to enable very low-cost space missions.

You will also have access to a nice graphical interface (see below) which will let you see what your ground station is doing and which satellites it is downloading data from.

If you build a kit, you can get the satisfaction of building a sophisticated ground station from individual parts and get a great insight into how these systems work.

If you wish, we will give you public credit for your participation in the project and of course you have the grateful thanks of all the members of the myGroundStations.com team.

Finally, it is an indisputable fact that people who kindly contribute ground stations to the myGroundStations.com network are perhaps the kindest, most intelligent and best looking people on the planet…

What’s in it for myGroundStations.com?

We want to solve the ground station problem once and for all for the majority of nano-satellite projects if possible.

We’re not in this for the money – this is a non-profit volunteer effort.

We want to help enable low-cost rapid development nano-satellite projects. If we can help contribute to reducing the development time for new missions from several years to several weeks then we have succeeded.

How do I interact with the mission?

We are developing software which will allow you to run to view ‘Mission Control <YOURNAMEHERE>’ on your computer. You will see the tracks of satellites that your ground station is tracking and communicating with, see how much data your ground station is downloading from the satellite, have links to jump you to the satellites mission pages and more.

Can I directly see when there is a pass and what data is being down linked?

Yes!

We expect to be able to show you when there is a pass and to show you the raw data that is being downloaded from the passing satellite. We are working with satellite missions to develop a SDK to allow you to see interpreted data from the raw data stream so you can see exactly what data is being transferred. If you have a mission and would like to beta test this SDK, please contact sdk@mygroundstations.com

How much data will pass over my Internet connection?

As much or as little as you allow.

Typically, a satellite sending data to a LEO Class 1 ground station is overhead six times a day for approximately ten minutes at a time. The satellites are typically transferring data at just 1200bps which means that a single days worth of data from a typical satellite pass is just 432KB. To put that in context, you probably downloaded more data to view this single web page that you will need to transfer in a day for a single satellite! That is the most basic model.

If you are willing to allow data from several satellites to be transferred, the theoretical maximum amount of data that can be transferred at that data rate is a little over 10MB. That is a similar amount of data as a typical track on iTunes.

If you have bandwidth to spare, then we would be very grateful if you would be willing to send us the baseband data. This is essentially the raw data that the radio receives, shifted into audio frequencies, and sounds like the sort of noise you can hear from a fax machine. Having this data allows us to do all kinds of additional science. This data, for a single days worth of passes of a typical satellite, takes up about the same amount of data as a single CD-ROM – 650 MB.

What are the technical requirements for my ground station to be able to connect to my Internet connection or corporate network?

The LEO Class 1 ground station appears as a DHCP compatible device (static IP configuration is also available) that connects to your Internet connection or corporate network via wired Ethernet connection (compatible with Power Over Ethernet if available) or a WiFi connection.

No static IP address is required. The WiFi connection will be of an 802.11b type. If the WiFi hotspot is open, then the system will self configure, but it can also connect to WEP, WPA or WPA2 protected hotspots.

The device appears to the network as a web browser (using standard HTTP on port 80) which is only browsing web sites in the myGroundStations.com and myGroundStations.net domains.

It does not need to be able to accept connections on any port from the Internet or your local area network unless you wish to administer it directly via a web browser. Normally, however, it will either be shipped preconfigured with the configuration information you supply, or will automatically update its configuration over the web.

Do I get an advantage running my ground station if I am launching a satellite?

If you want, but we hope you won’t need to.

The myGroundStations.com scheduler is designed to allow specific missions to be assigned certain priorities. So, for example, if your university, your home and a friend in another country all had ground stations and wanted to support your mission, you can set up your ground stations so that if there are a number of satellites in range at the same time, those ground stations will prioritize downloads from your spacecraft.

However, we hope that many more ground stations than the minimum thirty that we need for basic coverage will be installed and will be assigned random missions so that all missions will have comprehensive coverage. In addition, we are working on drivers to make the system GENSO compatible so that GENSO compatible missions will be able to use data from myGroundStations.com with minimal effort.

What are my responsibilities?

None.

Our concept is that you can join the network for as long or as short a time as you like, although we obviously hope you will help be part of the network indefinitely! Part of the RAIGS concept is that it can survive people joining and leaving the network without effecting coverage but that relies on having several times more than the basic number of ground stations that we need.

The system relies on receiving amateur radio signals and forwarding them over the internet to our central servers and possibly the mission servers and your own computer if you wish. You should check that your local laws permit this, but this is normally not a problem. You normally do not need an amateur radio license to receive amateur radio signals, only to transmit them.

Will I have to assemble a kit?

Not unless you want to.

Many people taking part are doing so because they are interested in hands on electronics, radio or space projects. However, if you just want to help out by putting a ready to use system on your roof, we will have assembled units that you will be able to just unwrap and start using.

Do I have to pay for the hardware and software?

Not unless you want to.

This is an open source project run by volunteers who just want to establish an open access, open source ground station network. All the hardware designs and software will be made available for free download for you to use for free. We will have a few hardware kits that we will give away free of charge to try to establish a minimum level of coverage. However, we would be very very grateful if as many sites as possible that are in a position to buy their own hardware would do so, so that we can give the limited number of kits that we can afford to give away to parts of the world who can not afford to buy their own hardware.

We have deliberately designed the hardware to be as low-cost as possible (if you have a PC you can get started with a kit for less than GBP 30 / EUR 36 / USD 45, an assembled stand alone system is less than GBP 120 / EUR 150 / USD 180) and it can often be built from materials you might happen to have lying around. If you were buying commercial hardware with the same functionality, you could easily spend many thousands of pounds, Euros or dollars doing so.

Although the hardware costs are small, the costs of supporting the installation of ground stations is surprisingly expensive as we help sites debug internet connections, chase lost packages, fix parts damaged in transit and solve other problems. For that reason, if you are interested in hosting a site or supporting a site in a needed location, we ask you donate an amount suggested on this page which reflects all the costs of designing, building, shipping, installing and supporting a ground station.

If there is any functionality we can add to make it easier for you or your employer to justify purchasing the hardware (e.g. support for specific projects, integration into a specific teaching curriculum, etc.) please let us know by emailing new.sites@mygroundstations.com and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

Does someone need to constantly watch over my ground station?

No.

We have designed the hardware to be ‘setup and forget’ and to survive some pretty inhospitable environments such as on ships and mountain tops without requiring constant care and attention. As long as it remains within range of an Internet connection (even if it is intermittent), then the hardware is self configuring and will either be automatically managed by the myGroundStations.com network or, if you wish to be hands on, by you via a web browser.

If the ground station stops communicating with the main network for a while, we will automatically run some tests to try to work out what the problem is and only if it looks as if there is a problem that requires manual intervention (e.g. it has blown away or been stolen) will we contact you by email and ask you to have a look to see what might be wrong.

Part of the philosophy of the RAIGS concept is that individual ground stations will come and go on a regular basis, so the network is designed to handle individual ground stations disappearing for weeks at a time – for example, if relying on a network connection at a holiday cottage that is only active when the premises are occupied.

How do I sign up?

Please sign up via this form or email us and we’ll be in touch: new.sites@mygroundstations.com

The form captures all the information that we need, but if you have to email us, please provide us with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your email address
  • Your amateur radio call sign if you have one
  • The public name you would like your ground station to known by
  • Your ground stations’ latitude and longitude
  • Whether you would like your ground stations’ latitude and longitude to be anonymised
  • Whether your ground station is operated by a private individual or by an institution or company
  • Whether your ground station is subject to extreme weather
  • A street address where we can ship hardware and other items
  • Whether you are more likely to prefer a kit or an assembled ground station

You can donate towards the cost of your ground station here. If you would like to support a ground station but can not host one yourself, please feel free to donate anyway and we will use your donation to send a free ground station to a school or other location that either you nominate or where we need coverage (your choice).

Thanks very much!

Contribute

Do you have a story, information, brochure, manual, link or other relevant content that should be on this page? If so, we would be very grateful if you would leave it as a comment or email support@myGroundStations.com so we can post it here – thanks!

One Response to “New sites”

  1. Sue Moorhen Says:

    Love the idea. I’m trying to pass it on to a few people I know. One thing missing on the site is the ‘why is the project being run and who will benefit’. I think I can work it out but it might be helpful to have it spelt out a bit further.
    Good luck
    Sue

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