A project developed in partnership with the American Air Force and the Pantágono aims to popularize and facilitate the use of satellite communication. NyanSat is a project by Red Balloon Security, a company specialized in security and focused on the telecom sector, uses equipment available in the consumer market, worth a few hundred dollars, and open code to replace, to some extent, the large base stations used in such initiatives.
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The idea, according to Ang Cui, was to create a system that anyone could have at home, using the most accessible and inexpensive low-orbit satellite communication technology. Of course, the initiative is no substitute for large telecommunications operations, which still require highly specialized equipment and antennas that are difficult to operate – for the rest of the market and, especially, enthusiasts, NyanSat can be a possible solution.
The system works from a small base station with GPS sensors to recognize its location and IMUs for guidance. The system of inertial units of measurement is the same used by drones to navigate through the air, and here, it is used to direct the antenna to the satellite, in order to establish communication. A software allows the configuration of the entire process and, also, of subsequent follow-ups, so that the device continues to follow the orbit of the satellite being used.
The complete system is sold for a symbolic and limited amount of US $ 1 – with about US $ 100 of its actual cost financed by the expenses that would be involved in a face-to-face visit to the Defcon conference, which will happen digitally and where the device would be launched. In addition, the Red Ballon team released the motherboard schematics and the list of equipment needed to build NyanSat on the internet, along with the software involved, so that anyone can build the device at home.
In addition to projects aimed at communication and transmission of data and images, Red Ballon imagines the popularization of NyanSat as a low orbit mapping system, allowing the location of debris and unknown objects that are still in the air. The idea is that the units not only function individually, but also among themselves, receiving reflections and helping in the correlation between data received that, in the case of unitary equipment, would not be captured.
Communication satellites are among the main focuses of Defcon, which starts on Thursday (06). Recognized as one of the world's leading digital security and defense conferences, the event takes place this year in digital format, due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Hack-a-Sat, a marathon in which hackers are invited to compromise security and obstruct the communication by this means, being one of the highlights.