I thought I would share this link that was delivered to my mailbox yesterday. https://www.rtl-sdr.com/using-an-rtl-sdr-dongle-to-receive-pictures-from-the-iss/
Using the knowledge from the post, I watched the International Space Station (ISS) pass over my home last night around 12:00am. After watching the video, I switched the task I was working on and setup Gpredict software (ubuntu apt install gpredict) to determine the satellites position. The software works out of the box but it did take a whole lot of hunting and pecking to have a user configuration I understood. The manual is a whopping size and of course who reads the manual when you are trying to do something.
Low and behold with the software setup, the track suggested ISS would be over my home in 15 minutes. I went into the back yard to close down the light noise and waited. https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/tracking_map.cfm I found very useful for understanding what I am actually looking for. I saw the moon off to the west and looking in the direction as suggest I saw what I would have called a star move. Wait stars don't move. There it was, ISS moving across the night sky! HOLY CRAP! I wanted to drag my grandkids out of bed to show them. Unfortunately, it lasted for all of 7 minutes. If I wanted to wait another few hours according to GPredict, it would pass over again just in a different location.
I have the dongle the author of the post suggests. I would add one caveat to his description. Not all RTL-SDR dongles are the same. The author suggests purchase them at Amazon or EBay. I have been following purchase reviews on some electronics sights and have noted numerous complaints about the knock of dongles. I purchased the dongle I own from https://www.rtl-sdr.com/ . The cost with the antenna kits was less than $50. I see you can get the kits at half that cost on some other sites but they appear to include problems. They might look the same but I beg to differ.
I have dabbled in RTL-SDR and know from personal experience the cheap hardware can really suck the fun out of getting the equipment to work reliably. The problem is only compounded by the scenario of being a novice and not knowing exactly what you are doing. Most of the tutorial content I have found is made by amateur radio people. They have a lot of experience in the RF domain so they make it look easy. I have 17 years of RF experience and still it took some knowledge to receive signals. I worked the aviation band frequencies where there is lots of traffic.
I read the reviews of the participants in this RoadTest.Digilent 1x1 USB Software-Defined Radio Platform I especially liked Digilent 1x1 USB Software-Defined Radio Platform - Review the review done by nathandumont . People with the knowledge and software skills make the subject matter look like hey I can do that.
If RTL-SDR is a subject you are thinking of exploring, I strongly recommend you spend some time at the webiste https://www.rtl-sdr.com/ . I would go as far as recommending you purchase the book if you are serious. It is packed full of practical knowledge of working solutions using RTL-SDR. The link I shared I watching ISS, is complements of the sites once a week mailing list.