Back in March we posted about The Thought Emporium’s YouTube video that explained weather satellites and demonstrated that images could be downloaded from them using an SDR like a HackRF or RTL-SDR. Now The Thought Emporium have uploaded part two of the video series, which is a tutorial that shows exactly how to use the free software to receive, demodulate and decode NOAA and Meteor satellites.
The first part of the video shows how to use SDR#, Audacity and WXtoIMG to receive NOAA APT weather images. The second part of the video shows how to use SDR#, Audacity, LRPTrx, LRPTofflinedecoder, SmoothMeteor and LRPT processor to receive Meteor M2 LRPT images.
Over on YouTube Adam 9A4QV has uploaded a video showing how to build a DIY bandpass filter for 137 MHz. This can help improve the reception of NOAA and Meteor M weather satellites, by blocking strong out of band signals. Adams design is a 132 MHz – 142 MHz Butterworth bandpass filter which gives about 35 dB attenuation outside of the pass band. He’s also posted a write up documenting the filter design on his website.
Lucas Teske recently went ahead and built the 137 MHz filter suggested by Adam. Lucas didn’t have the correct capacitor values so he ended up cascading several in series. His results showed that the filter did improve his reception significantly.
Over on Reddit user merg_flerg has uploaded an imgur post that carefully details a step by step guide for building a double cross antenna. A double cross antenna is great for reception of satellites like NOAA and Meteor since it has a sky oriented radiation pattern with very few nulls. This means that it can receive satellite signals coming from the sky well. Alternative antennas for NOAA/Meteor include turnstiles and QFH antennas, although the double cross antenna seems to have the least nulls, meaning that the signal is less likely to fade in and out as the satellite moves across the sky.
merg_flerg’s design is also modified from the standard design slightly, allowing it to become easily disassembled and carried within a backpack. At the end of his tutorial he writes that he gets much better reception with his double cross antenna than he does with his QFH.
In the post he demonstrates the final constructed antenna decoding a NOAA APT weather satellite image with an RTL-SDR and the WXtoIMG software. See our tutorial for information on decoding NOAA weather satellite images.
According to various reports the Russian Meteor M-N2 satellite appears to be active again once more. The Meteor M N-2 is a polar orbiting Russian weather satellite that was launched in July 2014. It transmits with the LRPT protocol which allows us to receive weather satellite images with an RTL-SDR that are of a much higher resolution than the NOAA APT satellites.
Unfortunately late last year Meteor M N-2 had some problems and LRPT transmissions were turned off for the time being. During this downtime the Russian space agency switched the LRPT transmitter on the older Meteor M N-1 satellite back on, even though the satellite was tumbling in orbit. Currently people are not reporting any signal from Meteor M N-1, so this may have been turned off, perhaps temporarily.
Now however, it seems that Meteor M N-2 has been switched back on again and various people have already successfully received its signal. If you want to receive these Meteor M N-2 weather images with an RTL-SDR dongle or other SDR then you can view the tutorial written by Happysat here.
The Meteor M N-2 is a polar orbiting Russian weather satellite that was launched in July 2014. It transmits with the LRPT protocol which allows us to receive weather satellite images that are of a much higher resolution than the NOAA APT satellites. For a while since the launch RTL-SDR users had a good time receiving beautiful images from Meteor M-N2, but unfortunately since late last year the N2 LRPT transmitter has been turned off, due to technical problems with the IR sensors as cited by Russian meteorologists.
Fortunately for Meteor N2 enthusiasts the old Meteor M N1 satellite which was thought to be dead sprung back into life around November 2015. Recently Matthew A., a reader of our blog wrote in to let us know that while N2 is still not transmitting, N1 is still transmitting, albeit with somewhat distorted images. Matthew also mentions this link: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/phqfh1/status.htm, which contains up to date info on the status of all weather satellites. He also writes:
While transmissions are readily detectable and decodable at night, it seems that M N-1’s infrared sensors are not functioning. Yielding only black, with the typical noise bars of Red, Green, or Blue
As has been previously mentioned, Meteor MN-1’s stabilization system has obviously failed, and the horizon is clearly visible. Perhaps not of scientific value, but certainly beautiful.
Back in September last year we posted a tutorial written by RTL-SDR.com reader Happysat which showed how to receive and decode high resolution Meteor-M2 LRPT satellite images. The tutorial required several offline manual processing steps to be performed and therefore could not decode the image in real time.
At the same time Vasili has also released another plugin called DDE Tracker which allows a satellite tracking program such as Orbitron to interface with and control SDR#. The plugin can be downloaded on the same page as the QPSK plugin. This is similar to the already existing DDE plugins, but now also comes with a scheduler which allows users to automatically schedule recordings of Meteor-M2 and NOAA satellite passings.
NOTE:Meteor M1 has come alive again, so the frequency of Meteor M2 was changed from 137.1 MHz to 137.9 MHz. Meteor M1 is now at 137.1 MHz and can be received using the same steps as in this tutorial, though please note that images from Meteor M1 are not perfect since the satellite is tumbling.
To help users get set up with this new method, Happysat has again come forth with another tutorial which can be downloaded here (.pdf) (.docx) (.txt w/ images in .rar). At first glance the tutorial may seem more complicated than the old method, but in the end it is a much faster and more efficient way at decoding LRPT images. The basic steps involve setting up Orbitron and the DDE plugin to automatically track the Meteor-M2 LRPT satellite and signal, and then setting up the QPSK plugin and the new version of Lrptdecoder to talk to one another in real time via a local TCP connection.
One more Meteor-M2 related thing to look forward to in the future is the AMIGOS project which stands for Amateur Meteor Images Global Observation System. This will be a system where users around the world can contribute LRPT images through the internet to create a worldwide LRPT receiver. Oleg of LrptDecoder writes:
There is an idea to merge LRPT receive amateur radio stations in a network through the Internet and create a super LRPT receiver.
I see the benefit of professionals from the control center in the operational monitoring of the condition of the equipment MSU-MR, and for fans of the fullest reception of images from Meteor-M.
All is in testing phase and need some setup for the servers, data is beeing shared thru a VPN connection to a central server which will have a continous flow of images from all over the world.
If you don’t understand what all this is about: The Meteor-M N2 is a polar orbiting Russian weather satellite that was launched on July 8, 2014. Its main missions are weather forecasting, climate change monitoring, sea water monitoring/forecasting and space weather analysis/prediction.
The satellite is currently active with a Low Resolution Picture Transmission (LRPT) signal which broadcasts live weather satellite images, similar to the APT images produced by the NOAA satellites. LRPT images are however much better as they are transmitted as a digital signal with an image resolution 12 times greater than the aging analog NOAA APT signals. Some example Meteor weather images can be found on this page and the satellite can be tracked in Orbitron or online.
A software defined radio such as the low cost RTL-SDR, or the higher end Airspy and Funcube dongles can be used to receive these signals.
The DDE plugin can also be used for tracking NOAA satellites. Some people have been having trouble with set up. Happysat writes a solution:
Over on YouTube user max30max31 aka IZ5RZR has uploaded a video that shows a faster method for decoding Meteor M2 weather satellite images on a Windows system. The Meteor-M N2 is a Russian weather satellite that transmits images using the LRPT protocol at around 137.1 MHz with can be received with an RTL-SDR. Compared to NOAA satellite APT images, LRPT images are much higher in resolution.