BIS KickSat personal ground stations

Laurence and Andy (G0SFJ) with some of the antennae BIS members will use to track KickSat Sprites

Laurence and Andy (G0SFJ) with some of the antennae BIS members will use to track KickSat Sprites

Since completing the Sprite programming the BIS KickSat team have been testing hardware that our team has been purchased and borrowed, with the aim of receiving Sprite signals on a minimal budget. Obviously, we are not endorsing any particular equipment because KickSat Sprites will pose some unique challenges and we cannot know what will work or work well. However, for the many people that have asked the BIS what we are doing for personal ground stations, listed below are what our team have purchased and borrowed.

Software defined radio dongles

The BIS team members are using both RTL dongles and Funcube dongle pro’s (FCD’s). Both are easy to use and we have had no driver issues:

Funcube dongle pro+:
SMA connector
Price: £149.99

RTL dongles:
Micro-coax (MCX) connector
Usually around £10.


Below are a list of some antennae that the team are using, and that should be easy to source in time for the launch in Europe. We also have a few other antennae that might be harder to source, or that are easier to source in the US, such as a 70cm Arrow.

Tonna 220909
Very light and easy to erect, requiring one small flat head screwdriver (not provided). Some spare parts included.
Standard N socket connection.
Takes a 6cm pole.
Price: £74.95

Diamond A430S10R 70CM 10 ELEMENT YAGI
Requires no tools to erect or collapse. Very light.
SO239 UHF connector.
Takes a 4cm pole.
Price: £52.96

WiMo X-Quad 70cm
Requires two spanners or pliers to erect. Relatively heavy. Can be split into two halves for easier carrying (depending on which version you purchase).
Standard N socket connection.
Takes a 6cm pole.
Price €139
Also requires a phasing Harness  – X-Quad 70cm €49.00

Filters and pre-amps

To boost the performance of the dongles, particularly the RTL dongles as tests have shown these struggle to hear some satellites, our team have ordered two 70cm pre-amps.

70cm RX Preamplifier
Arrived very quickly from Australia.
Not yet assembled and tested.
$25 (Australian dollars)

VECTRONICS VEC-1444K 70cm Pre-amp Kit [VEC-1444K]
Not yet arrived, even though it was ordered before the one from Australia.

Whilst we have not yet tested either of these options, one of our team has designed and constructed his own device with positive results.

Other items

The BIS is also lucky to have members and partners with a range of specialized equipment, and more importantly, the knowledge and skills to use it. As a great example check out EAARO’s website at



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