Building Your Own Bitcoin Satellite Node: Part 2 — Software Installation

Note: While there is a Part 1 — Hardware Assembly, it is not required for Part 2 — Software Installation. You can skip over Part 1 if you are waiting for your parts to arrive.

Note 2: Now Blockstream provides pre-built binaries of all the software you need. So now building from source code is optional.

Software requirements:

  • Fedora 26 .iso image
  • GNURadio version 3.7.10+ (Fedora 26 has 3.7.11 in its software repository)
  • gr-osmosdr (available in Fedora repo)
  • Bitcoin FIBRE (we will build this ourselves)
  • Miscellaneous dependencies (available in Fedora repo)

Other requirements:

  • Ability to follow instructions / will to learn
  • Moderate Linux command line utility knowledge

Installing Fedora 26:

Since the Fedora Project already has very nice installation documentation, I will link to that versus recreating it here:

Note: Make sure to mark yourself as “Administrator” during the install.

You will need the .iso in order to install Fedora. It is located here:

https://getfedora.org/en/workstation/download/

To transfer the .iso to a USB drive, you can use Unetbootin if you are using Windows:

http://unetbootin.github.io/


Updating Fedora:

Since we will be using the terminal to run commands, now is a good time to find and open the terminal application. Click on “Activities” located on the top left of your screen, type “terminal”, and click on the terminal icon:

Using dnf to update your install:

Once you have a terminal open, type in sudo dnf update and input the password you provided during the Fedora installation. You will be presented with a list of packages to update and a Is this ok [y/N]: prompt. Type in y . Note: This step should take a few minutes.

Once the update is finished, go ahead and reboot.

Installing GNUradio, gr-osmosdr, and their dependencies:

Thankfully, gr-osmosdr and a version of gnuradio that we can use (3.7.11) are easily installed with Fedora’s package manager dnf .

In your terminal, type:

$ sudo dnf install gnuradio gnuradio-devel gr-osmosdr

And input y when prompted with Is this ok [y/N]:

Once that is finished, we can move on to cloning the Blockstream Satellite Github repository onto our local machine and building the project.


Building Blockstream Satellite Receiver:

At this point, we want to start installing the software we need to build Blockstream Satellite Receiver:

$ sudo dnf groupinstall "C Development Tools and Libraries"

$ sudo dnf install cppunit-devel swig

Once you’ve installed those packages, you can clone the Github repository:

$ git clone https://github.com/Blockstream/satellite

Move to the cloned repo:

$ cd satellite/

Now we should have all the dependencies we need to successfully build the gr-framers GNUradio modules. Start the build by executing the install script:

$ ./install_gr_framers.sh

Input your password when prompted:

Building gr-framers

Congrats. You’ve built the gr-framers GNUradio modules!

Now, execute the Blockstream GNUradio module install script:

$ ./install_mods.sh

Building Blockstream modules

Once that is finished, you have built the Blockstream modules successfully.

We need to now set our PYTHONPATH and LD_LIBRARY_PATH in order for the Receiver to work properly:

$ echo "export PYTHONPATH=/usr/local/lib64/python2.7/site-packages" >> ~/.profile

$ echo "export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib64" >> ~/.profile

$ source ~/.profile

Ok, great! Everything for GNUradio should be properly setup at this point.


Building Bitcoin FIBRE:

Let’s install the dependencies for building FIBRE:

$ sudo dnf install openssl-devel libevent-devel libdb4-devel libdb4-cxx-devel

Installing remaining dependencies for building FIBRE

Now, clone the FIBRE repo:

$ git clone https://github.com/bitcoinfibre/bitcoinfibre

Move into the repo’s directory:

$ cd bitcoinfibre/

Begin the build process:

$ ./autogen.sh

$ ./configure

Now, build FIBRE:

$ make

(you can add -jn here to speed up compilation. n being the number of cores your processor has. For example, if you have a quad-core processor the command would be make -j4)

Hurray! It built.

Once that is finished (it should take a few minutes), you can install it:

$ sudo make install

FIBRE is now installed!

FIBRE is now installed! You can now fire up bitcoind and start syncing, or copy over the blockchain from a node that is already synced.


At this point we should have everything we need to start aligning our dish to the satellite appropriate for our geolocation. If you skipped over Part 1 — Hardware Assembly because your parts have not arrived, you should take a moment to read it.

This concludes Part 2 — Software Installation. Part 3 consists of using Gnuradio to align your dish and start receiving blocks from a Blockstream Satellite!

A special thanks to Chris Cook at Blockstream for walking me through setting my sat node up, and also to Greg Maxwell for informing me of such a cool and exciting application of technology.

For a more in-depth guide visit: https://github.com/Blockstream/satellite

Thanks for reading!

-grubles