My Outernet receiver has been collecting dust since late last year.
Not that I didn’t find it interesting, but I had only set it up in temporary fashion. I powered it eight hours at a stretch from a small battery pack intended for charging a cell phone. When I couldn’t get a decent downlink signal in the house I transported the whole shooting match into the backyard where it sat collecting data on a lawn chair.
That worked perfectly well for days on end and I was easily able to receive the Wifi signal from it inside the house where it was accessible via any Web browser. I carried it all back into the shack and dropped it on a shelf when bad weather arrived and haven’t thought about it since.
Today, I thought about it again.
I revisited the project site to see what might be new. Turns out, there’s new hardware available and the software has been updated.
The project now offers the Dreamcatcher, a Linux based ARM single board computer with built-in RTL SDR. An Armbian image is available for the board but this hardware comes with this important ominous interesting warning:
“Although some assistance can be found on our forums, Outernet provides no direct support for this product. If you are not a tinkerer, hobbyist, or hardware hacker, you may be disappointed with your purchase”.
If you’re interested, there’s a review available on the RTL-SDR web site.
The software update (Skylark Release 4.4) is available for download. It includes a handful of bug fixes and other improvements. The version was incremented to 4.4 from 1.2 with this update to “align with the build versions”.
There seem more users now than when I first got involved. The forums are busier with more questions and answers – I think that’s a good sign.
I remain enamored with the concept of data being broadcast globally from space, but that’s purely geek love. The Outernet is primarily intended for the third world, places where the Internet isn’t readily accessible and low-bandwidth is acceptable.
While scanning the forums, I saw this screed from one unenlightened first-world bonehead who decided to READ about the service only AFTER purchasing the hardware:
"I'm really shocked to know that I have payed 99$ to receive text files about: 1. News, that can be sent to my Mobile phone for free. I hate news anyway. 2. Wikipedia: very poor Wikipedia that is received after 24 hours and contains silly subjects. 3. Weather: that appears on my phone for 24 hours and can find the weather anywhere by one click on my phone. Is this a joke or an official fraud?"
Life must be particularly onerous for those this stupid.
Setting it up again in some sort of permanent fashion is now on my list of ‘things to do’ before the snow flies.