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A crash course on hacking satellites (nyan-sat.com)
420 points by PatrolX 84 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 62 comments

I didn't know you could embed CSS animations in an SVG file.

It's a thing of beauty: https://nyan-sat.com/assets/licensed/orbital_comparison.svg

Be sure to view page source.

The guy who made this seems to have done a lot of these SVG/CSS amalgomations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Cmglee/Dynamic_SVG_for_Wi...

This subtraction game is particularly interesting: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/Subtract...

Interesting challenge! Solution:

fgnegre jvaf, nyjnlf pubbfr crapvy orybatvat gb gur yrsg bs n zhygvcyr bs sbhe (jvgu crapvyf ahzorerq sebz bar gb gjragl bar)

(Decipher with https://rot13.com/)

There was a recent story about free Vector Illustrations[1]. If I'm guessing it right, most of these SVGs are CSS animated, if not, it should be.

So, my business-partner, friend, and co-founder is like 10x better than me in design and front-end. Around 2012-13, he showed me how to animate some diagrammatic illustration with SVG and CSS. That was when I realized how brilliant it is to code animations and was thus highly scalable and responsive.

1. https://www.pixeltrue.com/free-illustrations

On a similar tangent, you might find this interesting


Cool CSS animations aside, that diagram is fantastic!

Edit: It also handles i18n for EN, FR and ES by displaying different titles and hyperlinks for different system languages. Jaw dropped.

How can you even do that?

SVG is insane

edit: like this:

    <title>Comparison of several satellite navigation system orbits</title>
  <desc systemLanguage="es">Comparación de las órbitas geoestacionaria, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo y BeiDou (satélites de órbita media), Estación Espacial Internacional, Telescopio Espacial Hubble, Constelación Iridium y órbita cementerio con los cinturones de radiación de Van Allen y el tamaño nominal de la tierra, ilustración de CMG Lee. Bitmap de la Tierra https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:North_pole_february_ice-pack_1978-2002.png by Geo Swan. La órbita de la Luna es cerca de 9 veces más grande (en radio y largo) que la órbita geoestacionaria. Esta animación se mueve a 1 hora por segundo. En el archivo SVG, se puede posicionar el mouse sobre una órbita o su nombre para resaltarla y hacer clic para ir a su respectivo articulo en la Wikipedia.</desc>

SVG is great, it's sort of a simplified iframe in an img element. It's great for implementing crispy animations that you don't want to have to fiddle with the DOM for.

This animation[1] is going to be the picture of the day on the English Wikipedia on August 21st, 2020.[2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Comparison_satellite_navi...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:POTD/2020-08-21

This seems noticeably snappier than canvas, too.

It works smoothly for a smallish diagram like this, but that's as far as it goes. I attempted to create a 100% SVG music score editor and only realized my mistake after having put way too much work into it: working with large scores was sluggish to the point of making the whole thing useless. If you want snappy, I believe the best approach currently is to use a library that emulates the canvas API on WebGL (for example Pixi.js).

Oh gosh, now I'm going to go see how hard it would be to replicate the canvas API with programatic SVGs.

Wow! Thanks for noticing this. It is brilliant! Now just gotta think of a project where I could use this ha!

You can even embed and run javascript from within an svg, http://nowhere.superkuh.com/js.svg

I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the hilarity of the domain name. For those who don't get it: it's a play on the name of the nyan-cat meme: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyan_Cat

I'm enjoying the section titles too:

> Satellites? Orbiting MY planet?

It's more likely than you think.

I remember hearing that Sum 41 (they're actually still around!) got sued for using Nyan Cat in a music video or something. Let's hope the author doesn't find this site haha

I never understood why it got popular. Dancing baby was worse though.

I think this should explain it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

I was hoping you would link to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkgTxQm9DWM

Mine is also a (cryptic) answer to the question -- they were popular for similar reasons, I think.

"Oh yeah, you want a seriously righteous hack, you score one of those orbiting satellites, man. You know, satellites they use to like, do cosmology, and look for oil and stuff?"

Hack the Gibson

US Air Force Space Security Challenge 2020: Hack-a-Sat


Yes. It sucks that they only took the top 10 teams. My team scored in the top 1.5%, but did not qualify.

Hacking for feds... Hmm, yeah, think I'll pass on that "offer".

Great job, citizen! Here are your celebratory linked steel bracelets. Enjoy your vacation!

Read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.

Be sure to check out https://www.hackasat.com/ this weekend as part of DEF CON!

Hack-a-sat is going to be a fun time this weekend. Far enough outside most of our domain knowledge that you have to learn quick and on the fly.

Are you competing this weekend? I put together a small team for qualifiers and had a blast with the CTF problems. We did well enough to get challenge coins but not to move on to finals.

Yep! My original team wasn’t quite high enough to be top 9. We merged with another team a member was friends with.

I saw one of the teams that is competing this weekend had like 57 people from 13 countries. Makes me feel better about my team not qualifying.

Interested in watching the contest this weekend go down though. Tons of smart people doing interesting stuff.

I have always wanted to do something with satellites. Especially with SpaceX and global satellite internet coming. What can I do/learn? What will be valid in the next 5-10 years? I'm not sure where to start.

Cube sats are probably the most accessible way to get involved, other than getting a job where you get paid to work with satellites. "most accessible" is relative, high altitude balloons check a lot of the same boxes and don't require a sponsor to put you on-orbit

I've seen tutorial and projects that consume data from satellites, but I imagine there's not much for the hobbyist outside that.

You mean like the website in the post?


I think the true hacker would learn by doing. Good luck!

Buy a rtlsdr and start by getting some images from weather satellites

I'm surprised (but maybe I shouldn't be) that there's no mention at all of antennas. I guess it's a lot easier to get a signal from something in line of sight above you.

The shame here is that the PCB isn't easily available. I can supply pan/tilt kits and SDRs, but I can't even get a CAD of their PCB to order a batch.

The PCB isn't really needed. It's just the ESP32 module and servo driver board (the one you can buy from Adafruit) combined on one PCB, the instructions show how to wire those up separately (I stared at the PCB for a few minutes trying to figure out what it had to do with hacking sats... It's just a motor driver/servo interface PCB).

Looking closely at the PCB I suspect he's really worried that he's going to fuck it up

Oh interesting, this guide was made in partnership with the Air Force?? (see footer)

Yes, this is part of the Hack-a-Sat competition from Defcon.. the wired article[0] posted here two days ago[1] goes into more detail

[0]: https://www.wired.com/story/nyansat-open-source-satellite-tr... [1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24049836

I hope they leave this up after DEFCON. It looks really easy to follow and I would like to get back into hacking on hardware when I got a bit more time.

All the kits are sold out - has anyone found a quick way to get all the parts?

What is the hacking part here? This looks like how to set up a ground station.

To get started hacking satellites, you've got to communicate with them first

You're not going to do much outward communication with a receive-only SDR though. Not really hacking as much as listening.

Take the red pill, and find your way there.

Small typo at the beginning, seems the microcontroller is ESP32, not EPS32.

Will there be another run of kits made?

They're easy and cheap to buy from arduino stores (or similar). The only part of their shopping list that I don't have in my general "unfinished projects" bin is the pan/tilt gimbal. I've built one manually before but it was a bit crappy.

I wish there were a simple and easy way to connect to a satellite, at the same kind of level of effort as .. say .. connecting to a BBS in the 80's .. and access it, just like an 80's BBS - i.e. upload a message, wait for a response while the thing flies overhead/across the globe, etc.

I guess this project kind of achieves that in a way. If you can build the hardware you can access a very elite messaging system.

It just seems to me to be a great place to put a BBS. I wonder if there are satellites up there that have that kind of interface ..

As a matter of fact, there are several! FalconSat-3 is the one most people connect to in the USA. I think there might also be one aboard the ISS, but most people use the ISS for forwarding APRS packets.

You need an amateur radio license to connect to these, but once you have one you can get into all sorts of other radio projects around the world too :)

Edit: The downside, of course, is that you usually only have (at most) a 20-minute connection window before you lose line-of-sight, since these satellites are in LEO.


That is really nice to know, thanks for the info .. I'll have to find someone in my scene who can log onto falconsat, I'm sure I know a HAM or two who might at least pick up the flag and demo it one of these days ..

Others have wished for BBS on satellite, as far back as 1988: http://phrack.org/issues/21/5.html

Hey, maybe I read it there and am only just imagining it again, you never know .. ;)

There are a couple nation states that would love to take over starlink once it is activated.

Why do you think that? Are you just guessing?

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