SatNOGS GNU Radio Out-Of-Tree Module
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gr-satnogs: SatNOGS GNU Radio Out-Of-Tree Module


gr-satnogs is an out-of-tree GNU Radio module that provides all the necessary tools for decoding signals from various scientific and academic satellites. It also provides blocks for debugging and experimenting with known satellite telecommunication schemes.



  • GNU Radio ( > 3.8.0 )
  • CMake ( > 3.8)
  • G++ (> 4.8)
  • Boost
  • VOLK
  • libogg
  • libvorbis
  • libpng
  • libpng++
  • libjsoncpp
  • git
  • swig
  • gr-soapy (>= 2.0.0)


  • iqzip (for compresses IQ storage)

Debian / Ubuntu

sudo apt install -y 
      libboost-dev \
      libboost-date-time-dev \
      libboost-filesystem-dev \
      libboost-program-options-dev \
      libboost-system-dev \
      libboost-thread-dev \
      libboost-regex-dev \
      libboost-test-dev \
      swig \
      cmake \
      build-essential \
      pkg-config \
      gnuradio-dev \
      libconfig++-dev \
      libgmp-dev \
      liborc-0.4-0 \
      liborc-0.4-dev \
      liborc-0.4-dev-bin \
      libjsoncpp-dev \
      libpng++-dev \
      libvorbis-dev \


sudo zypper in -y \
      boost-devel \
      libboost_filesystem-devel \
      libboost_system-devel \
      libboost_thread-devel \
      libboost_program_options-devel \
      libboost_regex-devel \
      libboost_test-devel \
      python3 \
      python3-devel \
      swig \
      cmake \
      gcc-c++ \
      gcc \
      soapy-sdr \
      soapy-sdr-devel \
      gnuradio \
      gnuradio-devel \
      gmp-devel \
      libmpir-devel \
      liborc-0_4-0 \
      orc \
      log4cpp-devel \

Installation from source

git clone
cd gr-satnogs
mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
make -j $(nproc --all)
sudo make install

If this is the first time you are building the gr-satnogs module run

sudo ldconfig


By default, the SatNOGS module will use the default installation prefix. This highly depends on the Linux distribution. You can use the CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX variable to alter the default installation path. E.g:


Also, by default the build system enables a set of blocks used for debugging during the development. The enable/disable switch is controlled through the INCLUDE_DEBUG_BLOCKS boolean variable. If for example, you want to disable the debugging blocks, the CMake command would be:


Another common control option is the library suffix of the Linux distribution. There are distributions like Fedora, openSUSE, e.t.c that the their 64-bit version use the lib64 folder to store the 64-bit versions of their dynamic libraries. On the other hand, distributions like Ubuntu do the exact opposite. They use lib directory for the libraries of the native architecture and place the 32-bit versions on the lib32 directory. In any case the correct library directory suffix can be specified with the LIB_SUFFIX variable. For example:


will install the libraries at the /usr/lib64 directory.

Development Guide

The development is performed on the master branch. For special cases where a team of developers should work an a common feature, maintainers may add a special branch on the repository. However, it will be removed at the time it will be merged on the master branch. All developers should derive the master branch for their feature branches and merge requests should also issued at this branch. Developers should ensure that do not alter the CMake version tags in any way. It is a responsibility of the maintainers team.

Before submitting a new merge request, rebase the master branch and confirm that the automated CI tests have successfully completed for all platforms mandated by the .gitlab-ci.yml recipe.

Coding style

For the C++ code, gr-satnogs uses a slightly modified version of the Stroustrup style, which is a nicer adaptation of the well known K&R style. In addition, we decided to decrease the indentation from 4 to 2 spaces. This choice was made mainly to avoid braking statements with long namespaces. We also found ourselves, that with smaller indentation we use more descriptive variable names, avoiding frustrating abbreviations without phoenixes etc.

At the root directory of the project there is the astyle options file .astylerc containing the proper configuration. Developers can import this configuration to their favorite editor. In addition the hooks/pre-commit file contains a Git hook, that can be used to perform before every commit, code style formatting with astyle and the .astylerc parameters. To enable this hook developers should copy the hook at their .git/hooks directory. Failing to comply with the coding style described by the .astylerc will result to failure of the automated tests running on our CI services. So make sure that you either import on your editor the coding style rules or use the pre-commit Git hook.

Regarding the naming of files and variables, we use the underscore naming convention (do_this) instead of camel cases (DoNotDoThis). Exception to this rule is the CMake module filenames. In addition, all private variables of a C++ class, should start with the prefix d_ allowing the developers to spot easily private members of the object.

Adding a new Satellite Demodulator

Demodulators are responsible for filtering, resampling and demodulating an analog signal and converting it into suitable form, for a decoder to be able to extract the frame and its data. In most cases this is a simple bit stream.

If the existing demodulators (FSK, AFSK, BPSK, DUV) do not meet the requirements of a satellite, you may submit your custom demodulator. Please make sure that you put the GNU Radio Companion files in the apps/flowgraphs directory.

Adding a new Satellite Decoder

With the new architecture, adding a new satellite has become an easy and straight forward task. The decoders are implemented using the following approach.

There is a generic block called frame_decoder. This block should not be altered at any case. If you find yourself in a situation that you need to apply modifications on this block, raise an issue on the issue tracker The frame_decoder block accepts two parameters. A satnogs::decoder object and the item size of the input stream. Internally, the frame_decoder invokes the decode() method of the satnogs::decoder class.

The satnogs::decoder class, is a virtual class providing a generic API that every derived decoder class should implement. The core of this class is the

decode(const void *in, int len)

method. This method accepts an input buffer in. The type of the items depends on the implementation. It also takes the len argument specifying the number of items available in the in buffer. The method returns a decoder_status_t class object.

class decoder_status
  int                   consumed;       
  bool                  decode_success; 
  pmt::pmt_t            data;

  decoder_status () :

typedef class decoder_status decoder_status_t;

The class contains three fields that allow the frame_decoder block to operate continuously, without any further assistance. It is responsibility of the derived decoder class to properly set the values to these fields.

  • The consumed class should contain the number of items consumed during the decode() method invocation. It is ok to consume 0, less than len or len items but not more.
  • decode_success should be set to true only if a frame was successfully decoded and its data are available on the data field.
  • data field is a pmt::pmt_t dictionary containing the decoded data and other information regarding it, using the gr-satnogs metadata format. More about them in the Metadata section


Each decoder generates a pmt::pmt_t dictionary containing the decoded data and other information regarding the decoded frame. The gr::satnogs::metadata class provides a set of commonly used metadata keys. The table below describes some of them:

Key Description
pdu This string field contains the decoded data in base64 form
time The time at which the frame was received. Time is represented in an ISO 8601 string with microsecond accuracy
crc_valid Boolean indicating if the CRC check has been successfully passed
freq_offset Float value indicating the frequency offset observed
corrected_bits uint64_t with the number of corrected bits
symbol_erasures uint64_t with the number of erased symbols
sample_start uint64_t with the sample index at which the decoder identified the start of the frame
sample_cnt uint64_t with the number of samples of a valid frame. sample_start + sample_cnt specify the sample index at the end of the frame

The method Json::Value metadata::to_json(const pmt::pmt_t& m) is converts the dictionary m into a valid JSON object. There is also the std::string metadata::keys() static method which returns a list with the available metadata keys. This method is also available in Python through the Swig interface. For example:

$ python
>>> import satnogs
>>> satnogs.metadata.keys()
'[pdu, crc_valid, freq_offset, corrected_bits, time, sample_start, sample_cnt, symbol_erasures]'

Using the json_converter block, developers can convert a pmt::pmt_t dictionary of a decoder into a pmt::pmt_t blob, containing the raw bytes of the JSON string, which then can be passed to a UDP sink targeting the satnogs-client. The json_converter block accepts also a string that may be used to inject an arbitrary number of additional information under the extra JSON field. Of course, this string should be in a JSON valid format.

For example, such a JSON string with information on the extra field could be like

    "corrected_bits" : 0,
    "extra" : 
        "x" : 3,
        "y" : "test"
    "symbol_erasures" : 0,
    "time" : "2019-09-11T15:39:13.514138Z"

Release Policy

The gr-satnogs OOT module uses the major.api-compatibility.minor versioning scheme. is used by the satnogs-client, so the release and versioning policy is based on how the satnogs-client is affected by the changes on the gr-satnogs software.

  • Minor changes, bug fixes or improvements that do not affect in anyway the satnogs-client advance the minor version.
  • The api-compatibility indicates changes that require modifications on satnogs-client but do not brake the backwards compatibility (e.g a new satellite decoder). In other words, the satnogs-client should continue to operate normally without any modifications. Changes on satnogs-client should be performed only to integrate the new features.
  • major version advances when the changes break backwards compatibility with the satnogs-client.

For every release change a tag with the corresponding version is created. Releases can be retrieved by the tags page.

Website and Contact

For more information about SatNOGS please visit our site and our community forums. You can also chat with the SatNOGS community at, or on IRC at #satnogs on Freenode. For chatting around the development and for watching the changes in project's gitlab repositories, join in or the IRC channel #satnogs-dev on Freenode.


SatNOGS Libre Space Foundation © 2016-2019 Libre Space Foundation.

Licensed under the GPLv3.