Surfing the Outernet- a Different Kind of Wireless Network

An excellent fellow named Luke put me on this path. He mentioned this thing called “Outernet”, not realizing I have a mania for all manner of goofy signals receiving activities. From shortwave to non-directional beacons to emergency communications and Over the Air TV, I like to find what’s out there. So when he casually mentioned Outernet, I was hooked right away.

In my own words, Outernet looks to provide news and weather to areas of the earth where there is no easy access to the Internet, and where maybe all you’ll get on local  news radio is propaganda.  The idea that huge areas have essentially no access may come as a surprise to many, but others are also taking up the challenge, as I covered here– this one set in the massive Australian outback. There are plenty more examples if you search around.

Let’s get right to it. Take some very portable, easily powered components:parts

Then, connect them up and aim that square antenna at the right satellite. For us in the Americas, it’s the Immarsat 4 bird at 98 degrees west, off the coast of Mexico a ways. Feel free to chuckle at this cobbed together temp setup.setup

The CHIP computer used in the rig has it’s own Wi-Fi. Find the SSID “Outernet”, and then connect to, enter the credentials, and you’re in. You’ll see the front door of the UI once you toggle itscreenshot_2017-01-29-16-21-22

If you have satellite lock (you aimed the antenna right), you should have lock indication and the flow of data, as viewed in the tuner window.tuner

Transfer speeds won’t be blistering fast, and you get the content that is fed through the satellite from “the carousel” – you can read about all of that at the Outernet web site. As news and weather data download, your onboard library will start filling up. The file system looks like thisfilesys

After you get files automatically downloaded, you can see current events and weather information (maybe you’re out on the high seas)- without any sort of Internet connection at all- from a variety of news sources

Pretty cool, right? You may not think so, actually. I get that.

It’s easy to say “Big Deal”, given that most of us are spoiled silly by an abundance of connectivity options in our day to day lives. But in far off places, this sort of kit can be had for well under $100, easily powered “off the grid” and can bring a sense of connectedness to the greater where there are simply no other options.

Oh- and it’s fun for the geeky radio hobby types.

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