Useful Links for Radio Astronomy
The document that triggered my excitement regarding this project was one produced by Dr David Morgan in 2011 based on experiments he did with a Software Defined Radio USB Stick called a 'Fun Cube Dongle' that uses parts designed to receive Digital TV and Radio or 'DVB' broadcasts. You can access that document here http://www.britastro.org/radio/projects/An_SDR_Radio_Telescope.pdf
The next thing I needed was a way to test if I could get a receiver like the 'Fun Cube' working. I had a Raspberry Pi computer. I bought a DVB Digital TV USB receiver and put them together. The article that got it working was Peter Goodhalls web page on setting up the Raspberry Pi. You can read his page here. http://m3php.com/2012/10/10/remote-sdr-using-raspberry-pi-rtl_tcp/
I went looking for information on how to control a Dish Antenna. I knew I'd be using the Radio Eyes software package as the main control system. There's a standard for controlling Astronomical devices based on the ASCOM system of control protocols. Fortunately there's a web site for ASCOM. http://www.ascom-standards.org/
I was having a tough time trying to get meaningful answers from the ASCOM site but after some more googling I found a site that has Optical Astronomy software and have kindly provided source code for implementing an ASCOM driver package. Skymap appear to have many different drivers for optical telescopes. There driver page is available here. http://www.skymap.com/writing_drivers.htm
I hope the above information is useful and gives you an idea of what is involved.
As promised, the next blog entry will have a block diagram of what we're making.