Radio Activities

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We've been slowing working on getting our antennas back up after the move in early 2018.

We have several antennas and radios available for several bands and projects. This page is here to help track these projects and let folks know what we are doing.


Contents

Infrastructure

Radio Room / Electronics Room

Since our move in early 2018 we combined the radio desk with the electronics room so that both can be expanded. We have a larger radio bench now which is much less crowded. It is along the back wall of our building for shorter feed line runs to our growing antenna farm and also provides much easier access to our surge suppression/grounding block.

FCC licenced individuals are welcome to use our Ham radio gear. If you want to connect your rig to our antennas on a temporary basis that is fine too. If you want to setup any long term gear that's great, just let someone know that you have an interest and we'll help you get hooked up.

Radio desk / image out of date as of 2018


Radios

  • Amateur Radio
    • Yaesu FT-7800R dual band transceiver
    • Yaesu FT-900 HF transceiver (pending hookup)
    • Radio Shack HTX-212, 2m transceiver (spare gear)
  • Other bands
    • CB - Cherokee CBS1000 base station
    • Radio Shack Sport CB (spare gear)
  • RX only
    • Uniden 996T Digital Scanner
    • Realistic Pro-136 Scanner (sub 1GHz)


Antennas

We are still building out our antennas at our new location as of 2018. This information will probably change quite a bit through 2019.

Masts and antennas on rear side of our building - current as of Jan 2019


  • Mast 1 - Right-most
    • RX-only / Discone for wide band receiving (< 1GHz), LMR-400 coax for low loss
    • LNA4ALL Low Noise Amplifier for improved high-frequency receiving
    • Wide-band 8-way power divider/splitter
    • Hook up your RX-only SDR to this for experimentation!
  • Mast 2
    • Dual band Diamond 2m/440 whip
  • Mast 3
    • ADS-B/MLAT airplane telemetry antenna
    • Weather Station - pending, needs work before being re-deployed
    • room for other small antennas
  • Mast 4 - Left-most
    • Solarcon A-99 CB/11m half-wave whip
  • Other masts/outdoor antennas being considered:
    • SatNOGS no-rotator station
    • Ham HF antenna (we have a Cushcraft R-6000 HF whip sitting idle)
    • WiFi dish (24DBi)

Grounding Block Demarco

This is now located above the radio desk on the side of the loft area. All of the antenna coax runs go through here and get lightning surge suppression at this spot. There is a grounding plate for all ground attachments and the grounding plate is directly grounded to an outdoor grounding rod. Multiple pieces of equipment hooked to our antennas connect to our network so we have an ethernet surge suppressor here as well.

Grounding demarco


Radio Projects

ADS-B receiving station

In April 2015 we were notified that our application to receive and host a free ADS-B receiving station for http://www.flightradar24.com/free-ads-b-equipment was approved. The hardware appears to be a Radarcape embedded system with some of the web features disabled. The real time data feeds still work for local data capturing if desired. The antenna is mounted about 30' high. Members can get our premium login to http://www.flightradar24.com, just email contact at bloominglabs dot org for details.

Contrary to popular belief, the most common way to locate aircraft is by using a process know as MLAT and NOT by decoding ADS-B telemetry. ADS-B still remains valid, but is still not widely deployed in the continental US. MLAT stands for Multilateration and is a process that uses multiple ground-based receivers watching aircraft telemetry signals (usually 1090 MHz Mode S transponders - but not decoding this telemetry) to triangulate a moving aircraft. However most people in the SDR and scanning communities know what ADS-B telemetry is though so it's still easier to refer to this as an ADS-B receiver.

ADS-B/MLAT receiver

Manual for FR24 streaming: https://feed.flightradar24.com/fr24feed-manual.pdf

For more information about getting data off our receiver, see Bloominglabs_ADS-B.

Scanner Icecast internet feed

In April 2015 we revieved a Uniden 996T Digital Scanner on long-term loan by a very generous member of the public (now a member). This is a top end scanner that can receive the P25 digital mode used by our local emergency services and elsewhere across our state. We have an Icecast server to stream a feed from this radio so members can listen in remotely.

There are a lot of moving parts to get the scanner feed available at the moment. There is a troubleshooting page here for reference: Scanner.

WiFi Mesh - pending

There have been a number of people/groups interested in setting up various types of wifi meshes in town over the years. As of late 2018 there is a renewed effort which we hope to be able to participate with. If/when we are able to link up to this Ham mesh we will list more details here.

Goals of a mesh

This is very open ended. Firstly, it's just a proof of concept to see if we/anyone can get a reliable link up to connect different parts of town off the grid. The hardest part about this is geography. Bloomington has a big "hump" that runs across the middle of town so it's hard to get the line-of-sight required for wifi. However we have a neighbor which should be linked up to this new mesh system soon... There are multiple ways to implement a mesh, as mentioned above the current lead contender is Ham focused. There is room for multiple mesh networks serving different purposes (ham and part15). However we are interested in working with anyone interested in pushing this project forward.

SatNOGS Ground Station - pending

We have a no-rotator ground station in the testing stage here. Our intent is to also get a rotator ground station running sometime this year too. See this page for further details on our SatNOGS progress: SatNOGS Ground Station v3

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The latest version of this document is always available online.
http://www.bloominglabs.org/index.php/Radio_Activities

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