In this thesis, we present the architecture and implementation of a low-cost, small, mobile and easily deployable ground station to track and receive signals from satellites that operate on the VHF-band (144 MHz to 147 MHz). The ground station uses a handheld 5-dB gain Yagi-Uda antenna, a low noise amplifier with 23 dB gain and a software defined radio (FUNcube Dongle) to receive the signals. The analog front end’s software-defined nature gives it the flexibility to target satellites with diverse power, modulation and error-correcting schemes. Software for satellite tracking, signal decoding and processing is freely-available.

The low cost of the ground station makes its affordable for classroom and laboratory activities in a research or educational institution that involve satellite signal processing in wireless communication courses. The small size and portability of the proposed ground station means it can be adopted in locations with limited access to fixed outdoor antennas, whether because of financial, regulatory or other restrictions. Examples of ground station-tracked and received signals include satellites such as FUNcube (AO-73), International Space Station (ISS) and NOAA satellites. Specifically, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) series of satellites (NOAA 15, 18, 19) were tracked. The signals received were processed to recover images of the earth using various software. This thesis also presents the details of decoding the image using MATLAB.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Earth stations (Satellite telecommunication)--Design and construction; Artificial satellites in telecommunication; Shortwave radio

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Telecommunications Engineering Technology (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering Technology (CAST)


Miguel Bazdresch

Advisor/Committee Member

William P Johnson

Advisor/Committee Member

David Orlicki


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes