Tagged: GK-2A

Information about Receiving the GOES-13 Weather Satellite (Europe Coverage with 1.8m Dish)

For some time now many weather satellite enthusiasts have enjoyed the ability to relatively easily receive live high resolution images directly from the GOES-16, GOES-17 and GK-2A geostationary satellites (tutorial here). However, while much of the world can see at least one of these satellites, European's have been left out.

What may be of some interest to Europeans is that the older GOES-13 (aka EWS-G1) satellite was repositioned in February 2020, and it can now be received in Europe (as well as Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Russia and West Australia) until at least 2024 when it will be replaced.

The important catch however is that GOES-13 is not broadcasting the same easy to receive LRIT/HRIT signals that the other satellites use. The signal is still in the L-Band at 1685.7 MHz, however it is called "GVAR" and it is much weaker and uses 5 MHz of bandwidth. For GOES 16/17 and GK-2A a 1m WiFi grid dish, LNA and RTL-SDR was sufficient, but for GOES-13 you'll need a much larger 1.8m dish, and a wider band SDR like an Airspy. The big dish requirement significantly increases the reception challenge.

We also note that the decoder is being developed by @aang254 and u/Xerbot and it is not yet publicly released. However, they do intend to release it soon. Update:

Over on his blog Carl Reinemann has been collecting some useful information about GOES-13 reception. Over on Reddit u/derekcz has also created a post with some useful information. We've also been talking to @ZSztanga in Poland who has been testing this satellite out, he wrote:

My hardware is: 180cm prime focus dish, with a custom cantenna (120mm diameter). I'm using the SAWBIRD GOES LNA. I will be switching to the + version, because the setup is still lacking a few db SNR. The SDR is the one I use for HRPT: the airspy mini

I found that the USB connection on the airspy generates a lot of noise, so I removed the USB cable, by moving the airspy to the laptop. I use 2m of CNT-400 coax and it works much better now. I get about 2 db SNR more. Thought you might find it interesting.

@ZSztanga's GOES-13 Reception Setup, with 1.8m dish.

We note that there is some interesting differences with GOES-13 images. Since the image is less processed, it is higher resolution (a full resolution image can be found on this Reddit post), as well as not cropped, meaning that the Earth's atmosphere is visible. Please also follow @ZSztang on Twitter for more images.

New GOES Weather Satellite Bundle from NooElec

NooElec have recently released for sale a GOES geostationary weather satellite reception bundle which includes a parabolic grid dish, feed, GOES LNA and RTL-SDR dongle. The bundle should be usable for the GK-2A satellite, as well as HRIT from polar orbiting satellites, although for HRIT you'll need some way to motorize or hand track the satellites.

Typically to receive GOES a 2.4 GHz WiFi grid dish has been used in the past. While the mismatch between 2.4 GHz and the 1.7 GHz used by GOES doesn't cause too much trouble, the dish provided by NooElec has a feed optimized for the 1.7 GHz which should make receiving the signal easier. The bundle also comes with their SAWbird+ GOES LNA, one of their always ON bias tee E4000 tuner based RTL-SDR dongles and a roll of 10m LMR400 cable.

The bundle is currently available on Amazon USA priced at US$179.95. Canadian customers can also order from Amazon.ca for CDN$259.95. Amazon shipping is free within the USA, however shipping this overseas will cost at least US$100 extra due to the weight + additional import fees. That said, the coverage area of GOES is mostly only for the USA, Canada and South America.

If you're interested in GOES or GK-2A satellite reception we have a tutorial written here.

NooElec GOES DIsh
NooElec GOES Bundle Data

Sanchez Scripting Examples For Post-Processing GOES, GK2A, Himawari, Elektro Satellite Images

Recently we posted about new updates to the Sanchez software. The updates allow users to combine images received from multiple geostationary weather satellites such as GOES 16/17, Himawari-8, GK-2A and Electro. The images can also be reprojected into a flat equirectangular image, and then optionally reprojected back into a disk view at any location on earth. Sanchez's original function is also still there which allows users to add a false color underlay image to grayscale infrared images received from the satellites.

Sanchez is a command line tool, so scripts are required to do anything interesting. Over on his page Carl Reinemann has uploaded a page with a number of Sanchez command line examples available. The page shows examples like how to stitch together multiple images, and how to create a stitched time lapse animation. The YouTube video below shows an example of an animation Carl created with Sanchez and GOES 16 and 17 images stitched together.

GOES 16-17 Composite imagery

And the image below is an example of an image of Himawari 8, GOES 16 and 17 he stitched together with Sanchez.

GOES 16 and 17 composite created by Carl Reinemann via Sanchez

Sanchez Updates: Combine Weather Images from GK-2A, Himawari-8, GOES 16/17 Satellites into one Composite Image

Back in August we posted about the release of Sanchez, a tool originally designed to apply a color underlay image to grayscale infrared images received from geostationary weather satellites such as GOES 16/17, Himawari-8 and GK-2K. The tool has recently been updated with some very nice new features.

One of the new features is the ability to composite together images obtained from multiple satellites in order to form a full equirectangular image of the earth with live cloud cover. Another feature is the ability to use two or more images from different satellites to reproject back to geostationary projection at a specified longitude, essentially creating an image from a virtual satellite.

Image composed of GK-2A, Himawari-8, GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellites (full resolution images available at https://github.com/nullpainter/sanchez/wiki/Sample-images

Sanchez: Create False Colour Images from GOES/Himawari/GK-2A Infrared

With an RTL-SDR, an appropriate satellite antenna and LNA it is possible to receive visible light images from geostationary satellites such as GOES/Himawari and GK-2A. However, in a 24 hour cycle there will only be one or two images that show the Earth fully illuminated by the sun. The rest of the day parts or all of the Earth will be dark with not even clouds visible. To get around this the satellites also use an Infrared (IR) camera which can see clouds at all times. However, these images are greyscale and not very visually appealing.

To fix this aesthetic issue there is now a recently released multiplatform tool called "Sanchez" which will combine a high resolution underlay image with the greyscale IR image in order to create a more beautiful image. The software is command line based and can run on a batch of collected images.

False colour satellite images made by Sanchez

Tutorial on Using xrit-rx to Receive Weather Images from Geostationary Satellite GK-2A

Over on his website VKSDR has recently released a tutorial about his Linux based xirt-rx software which allows RTL-SDR and other SDR owners receive weather images from the geostationary satellite known as GEO-KOMPSAT-2A (GK-2A). GK-2A is a Korean satellite, hence it is positioned over the Asia-Pacific region, covering Asia, Eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand. 

To receive images from GK-2A you'll need an RTL-SDR, 2.4 GHz WiFi grid antenna and an L-band LNA. We have an earlier tutorial about receiving GK-2A and GOES geostationary L-band satellites that goes into more detail about the hardware required. 

VKSDR's xrit-rx software decodes the Low Rate Information Transmission (LRIT) signal from GK-2A which provides a 64kbps data stream and full disk images of the earth every 10 minutes. His tutorial explains the various image types that are transmitted, shows a few example images, and shows that some smooth animations can be created with the 144 images received over a day. The rest of the tutorial goes into the software setup, and explains the installation and configuration procedure.

We note that the latest version of xrit-rx now also comes with a nice web based dashboard that allows you to view the latest image, as well as the upcoming image schedule.

Full Disk Images Received from GK-2A via XRIT-RX
Full Disk Images Received from GK-2A via xrit-rxThe new web based dashboard for xrit-rx

The new web based dashboard for xrit-rx

RTL-SDR.COM GOES 16/17 and GK-2A Weather Satellite Reception Comprehensive Tutorial

GOES 16/17 and GK-2A are geosynchronous weather satellites that transmit high resolution weather images and data. In particular they are far enough away from the earth to be able to take beautiful 'full disk' images which show the entirety of one side of the Earth. As these satellites are in a geosynchronous orbit, they can be counted on to be in the same position in the sky at all times, so no tracking hardware is required and images can be pulled down constantly throughout the day without having to wait for a polar orbiting satellite to pass over like you would with the NOAA APT or Russian Meteor satellites.

With a low cost WiFi grid dish antenna, LNA and RTL-SDR dongle, any home user within the footprint of one of these weather satellites can receive and decode live images directly from the sky. Setting up a station is overall not too difficult, but it can be a bit fiddly with a number of steps to complete. Below is our comprehensive guide. We'll show how to set up a self contained Raspberry Pi based system with goestools (free), as well as a guide for the Windows PC software XRIT decoder (US$125).

We've attempted to make the tutorial as newbie friendly as possible, but we do need to assume basic RF knowledge (know what antennas, SDRs, coaxial, adapters etc are), basic Linux competency for the goestools tutorial (using the terminal, using nano text editor), and basic Windows competency for the XRIT decoder tutorial (unzipping, editing text files, running programs).

Click for the full size image (14MB)
A full disk false color image received directly from the GOES-17 satellite with an RTL-SDR. Click for the full size image (14MB).

There are two fourth generation NOAA GOES satellites that are currently active, GOES-16 and GOES-17. These transmit HRIT signals, and also transmit shared data from the older third generation GOES 15, and Japanese Himiwari8 satellites. At the moment GOES-16 and GOES-17 are producing full disk images every 30 minutes, and close up "mesoscale" shots of the USA every ~15 minutes. GOES-16 (aka GOES-R) and GOES-17 (aka GOES-S) are also known as GOES-EAST and GOES-WEST respectively. At least one of these satellites can be received from North/South America, Canada, Alaska/Hawaii, New Zealand, Eastern Australia and some pacific islands.

There is also the older generation GOES-15 and GOES-14 which have been placed in standby orbits. These transmit LRIT signals which provide images at a slower rate. 

GOES 16/East and GOES 17/West Signal Footprint
GOES 16/East and GOES 17/West Signal Footprint

There is also the Korean GK-2A (GEO-KOMPSAT-2A) satellite which is very similar to the GOES satellites. GK-2A covers countries like India, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Russia. Note that you may have previously heard of the COMS-1 satellite which used to cover this area. Since July 2019 COMS-1 was replaced by GK-2A. Unlike GOES, GK-2A images are encrypted. However it has been found that "sample" encryption keys found online in demo code work just fine.

GK-2A contains both LRIT and HRIT channels, but at the moment only the LRIT channel can be decoded with the currently available software. The LRIT channel sends full disk IR images every 10 minutes in 2200 x 2200 resolution. Compared to the 5424 x 5424 resolution GOES full disk images, this is smaller, but still large enough to be interesting.

Note that even if HRIT decoding is added by the current software, you would require an Airspy or other wideband SDR as the GK-2A HRIT signal bandwidth is 5 MHz. Also since the HRIT bandwidth is so wide, the signal strength is reduced, meaning that you'll need a larger dish. People who have received the HRIT signal note that a 3M+ sized dish seems to be required.

GK-21 (GEO-KOMPSAT-2A) Foorprint
GK-21 (GEO-KOMPSAT-2A) Footprint

You might ask why bother receiving these satellite images directly, when you can get the exact same images from NOAA at https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/index.php. Well, you might want to set up your own station to be independent from the internet, or you live in a remote location without internet, or maybe just for the fun and learning of it.

To set up a receiver for GOES 16/17 HRIT or GK-2A LRIT you'll need to purchase a dish antenna such as a cheap 2.4 GHz WiFi antenna, an RTL-SDR, GOES LNA, and a Raspberry Pi if using goestools, otherwise a Windows PC can be used. The total cost could be anywhere from $150 - $200 depending on what pieces you already have available.

Before we start the tutorial, you might want to use an augmented reality Android app like "Satellite-AR" to get a rough idea of where either GOES 16/17 or GK-2A (GEO-KOMPSAT-2A) is in your sky, and if receiving them is even feasible for your location. You'll need to find an area on your land where you can mount a small satellite dish with an unobstructed line of sight view to the satellite (no trees or buildings can be blocking the signal path). If the satellite is low on the horizon (below 25 deg elevation), then things get a little more difficult as you have more obstructions and a weaker signal. But it can still be done, and we're able to routinely get good results at 24.5 deg elevation.

Note that for Europe and Africa, unfortunately there are no satellites that can be received easily with an SDR and LNA. But you might instead be interested in the EUMETCAST service, which can be received from EUTELSAT 10A (Ku band), Eutelsat 5 WEST A (C Band) and SES-6 (C Band) . To receive this service you'll need a DVB-S2 receiver and a satellite dish with appropriate band LNB. You also need a license keys and software which all together cost €100. EUMETCAST reception is not covered in this tutorial, instead see this video.

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