Tagged: GOES

Saveitforparts: Building a Satellite Antenna from an Emergency Blanket and a Rotator from an old Security Camera Mount

Over on his YouTube channel, 'saveitforpaarts' has uploaded two new videos. The first shows how he was able to build a very cheap satellite antenna for GOES satellites out of an umbrella and a metallic emergency blanket. The blanket is simply spread over the inside of the umbrella, creating an RF reflective surface. Then a linear feed with LNA and amplifier is placed at the feed point. The makeshift dish works, though the SNR is marginal, and he is only able to receive slightly corrupted images from GOES satellites.

Satellite Antenna Made From Emergency Blanket

In his second video saveitforparts builds a satellite dish rotator out of an old thrown away security camera pan/tilt mount. The mount is hacked to be controllable via an Arduino microcontroller. 

I Built A Cheap Satellite Tracking System From Spare Parts

Crowd Supply Discovery Dish Teardown Session: Thursday 30 November Noon PST

Crowd Supply is hosting Teardown Session 38 on Thursday 3- November at Noon PST time which will feature the Discovery Dish. Join us for this livestream where I will be talking about and showing the Discovery Dish prototype.

Discovery Dish is currently being crowd funded over on Crowd Supply. It is designed to be an easy entry to the world of L-band weather satellites, hydrogen line radio astronomy, and Inmarsat reception. The Discovery Dish aims to be the start of an ecosystem of hardware designed to get users set up with satellite reception, including a planned companion light-duty antenna rotator.

Remember to click on the “Notify me” button on the YouTube link in order to be reminded about the stream!

Teardown Session 38: Discovery Dish

Modifying a 2.4 GHz WiFi Grid Antenna for Improved 1.7 GHz Reception + DIY Rotator Instructions

People have had much success in receiving L-band weather satellites like GOES and polar orbiting HRPT satellites using 2.4 GHz WiFi grid dishes, even though their 1.7 GHz signals are considered out of band for the WiFi grid dish feed. While this works most of the time, reception can be sometimes weak and borderline.

Over on Facebook and usradioguy.com, António Pereira has been sharing his mod which optimizes a 2.4 GHz feed for 1.7 GHz instead. The mod involves removing the enclosure of the feed which requires a heat gun to remove the glue, extending the feed's dipole by soldering on copper extension strips, tuning the dipole with a VNA, and finally tweaking the focal point. This results in an optimized L-band weather satellite antenna.

António Pereira has also shared instructions for creating an antenna rotator from an ESP32, Arduino Nano, two NEMA 23 stepper motors, two stepper controllers, two 50:1 worm gearboxes, and two optical homing switches, as well as power supplies for the motors and circuits. He also shares the Arduino code that he's written.

We also note that we currently are crowd funding for our Discovery Dish, which will be a ready to use satellite dish system for L-band weather satellites, as well as Inmarsat and hydrogen line radio astronomy. Check it out on Crowd Supply.

Modified dipole feed on a 2.4 GHz WiFi grid antenna feed
A DIY antenna rotator for the modified 1.7 GHz WiFi grid dish.
A DIY antenna rotator for the modified 1.7 GHz WiFi grid dish.

Saveitforparts: Building an L-Band Satellite Antenna out of an Umbrella

Over on his YouTube channel "saveitforparts" has uploaded a video where he uses an umbrella, pin tin and tin foil tape to create a simple dish antenna for receiving GOES, NOAA and METEOR HRPT satellites.

The full build consists of an umbrella covered in tin foil tape, a helical wire feed on a pie tin, a filtered LNA, an RTL-SDR and an Android phone running SDR++. While he did have initial success at receiving, he soon decided to swap out the helical wire feed for a PCB linear feed instead which worked much better as helical feeds can be very difficult to get right.

Through the video saveitforparts goes over the failures he had, in the end noting that it's not a great antenna, but it's something that can be used in a pinch.

We've also seen the umbrella satellite dish used a few times in the past, where here it was used for NOAA APT reception, and here for Hydrogen Line radio astronomy.

We also want to remind readers that we are currently Crowd Funding for our Discovery Dish, which will be a low cost way to get into L-band satellite reception.

Can I Get Satellite Data With An Umbrella?

Discovery Dish Now Available for Crowd Funding! A Lightweight Dish and Feed for L-Band Weather Satellites, Hydrogen Line and Inmarsat

Today our Crowd Funding campaign for the Discovery Dish has gone live! Thank you to anyone who supports this project and our goal of bringing affordable products that make getting into various radio projects easier.

Our launch announcement reads:

We decided to develop Discovery Dish because we were disappointed by the lack of ready-to-use, low-cost, lightweight dish antennas on the market that are suitable for software-defined radio projects like receiving L-Band geostationary and polar-orbiting weather satellites, as well as for 1.5 GHz Inmarsat reception and 1.42 GHz hydrogen line radio astronomy. With excellent open source weather satellite decoding software, like SatDump, now available, it’s time for a complementary, easy-to-use hardware solution.

Through testing over several years, we chose 65 cm as the diameter, as we found that 60 cm is close to the minimum diameter required for perfect GOES weather satellite reception at 24° elevation, so this size should be suitable for most of the world that has GOES reception available. For LRPT satellites like GK-2A, and HRPT polar-orbiting satellites, it is more than large enough. We combined the dish with a carefully tuned feed that has a built-in low-noise amplifier (LNA) and dual filtering, which means there is no loss from feed to LNA. This also means we can use thinner and less stiff coax cable, which is a lot easier to handle and route. Finally we ensured that the entire dish and feed system is waterproof.

The only other ready-to-use dish offering we found is based on a modified 2.4 GHz grid Wi-Fi dish, which is still in our opinion too big and heavy. Size and weight is especially the important if you want to be able to use a low-cost, light-duty antenna rotator, which typically can only handle less than 1 kg in weight. We found that the grid Wi-Fi dish offering also has no solution for waterproofing the LNA, so the LNA needs to be placed indoors and very thick and unwieldy coax is used to avoid feed to LNA losses.

Other ways to receive these weather satellites and carry out hydrogen line experiments typically involve modifying a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi grid antenna, or an old satellite TV dish. But these modifications can be time-consuming and difficult to get right, and even 60 cm satellite TV dishes are too heavy for light-duty antenna rotators.

Finally, we developed Discovery Dish with an eye toward it being used with a low-cost antenna rotator, and we are in the process of prototyping our own rotator design. Our antenna rotator is not ready for crowdfunding yet, as there are still some things to work out and long-term stress testing to be done, but please keep an eye out for it in 2024! An antenna rotator is a great addition if you want to use a dish antenna to decode images from the polar-orbiting HRPT weather satellites.

Note that you don’t need an antenna rotator to receive geostationary satellites like GOES, or to do drift hydrogen line observations. For polar-orbiting HRPT satellites, the lightweight nature of Discovery Dish also makes tracking the satellites by hand a much easier prospect.

Learn more about Discovery Dish on our main campaign page. Thank you to everyone who supports the Discovery Dish project in any way!

Discovery Dish: Simplified system for weather satellite reception and hydrogen line radio astronomy


Discovery Dish Pre-Launch: A Lightweight Dish and Feed for L-Band Weather Satellites and Hydrogen Line Reception

For the past few years we have been working on finding the best way to help beginners get started with L-band weather satellite reception and basic radio astronomy. We have now come up with a solution that we're calling the 'Discovery Dish' - a lightweight 65 cm diameter dish and active filtered feed set.

Discovery Dish: Simplified system for weather satellite reception and hydrogen line radio astronomy

The Discovery Dish will be crowd funded, and we currently have a pre-launch page set up on Crowd Supply. So if you are interested, please visit the pre-launch page and click on the Subscribe button for updates.

Discovery Dish is a 65-cm diameter aluminum satellite dish and active filtered feed designed for receiving GOES HRIT, GK-2A LRIT, FengYun LRIT, NOAA HRPT, Metop HRPT, Meteor M2 HRPT and other weather satellites that operate around 1.69 GHz. The dish is designed to weigh under one kilogram, and it splits into three petals, making it easier to ship worldwide. The 1.69 GHz feed contains a built-in LNA right at the feed point, as well as filtering, which means that there is almost no noise figure loss from cables or connectors.

Note that the prototype images show an early non-petalized prototype with rough laser cut wind holes. The production version will obviously be a lot neater looking! 

In testing the 65 cm diameter Discovery Dish with it's highly optimized feed has proven effective at receiving the GOES HRIT satellite signal with SatDump. We typically achieve SNR values of 3-4 dB to GOES-18 at 24 deg elevation, and with SatDump an SNR of 1 dB is about the minimum required to receive images so there is plenty of margin. It can also easily receive LRIT from GK-2A and Fengyun, and also when combined with an antenna rotator (or manual hand rotating) can receive HRPT weather satellites too.

The feed on the Discovery Dish consists of a tuned dipole feed with two 5V bias tee powered low noise figure LNAs, and two SAW filters (centered at 1680 MHz with 69 MHz Bandwidth). The feeds are also easily swapped out, and we will also be selling a 1.42 GHz Hydrogen Line feed for those who want to use the dish to get started with radio astronomy. Because the LNA's are right by the feed there is are no losses from feed to LNA, so we can use thinner and easier to handle cabling like RG58 without any loss issues.

In the past we've recommended and relied on 60 x 100 cm WiFi dish antennas for L-Band geosynchronous satellites and Hydrogen Line reception, but at 1.6kg these are too heavy, wide and exert too much torque for light duty antenna rotators to handle. At about half the weight of an equivalent WiFi Dish, the Discovery Dish is much easier to handle.

In the future we hope to be able to provide a low cost light duty antenna rotator that compliments the Discovery Dish. Currently we have tested the Discovery Dish with the AntRunner antenna rotator and found it to be light enough for that rotator to handle, versus a WiFi dish which is far too heavy for it.

Also when compared to a WiFi dish, the Discovery Dish is much easier to optimally set the offset skew as you can simply rotate the feed, versus having to rotate the entire dish at 45 degree increments.

We will also be offering an outdoor electronics enclosure that can be used to house a Raspberry Pi, RTL-SDR and other components like POE splitters. In our tests we have been running an RTL-SDR Blog V4, Orange Pi 5 and POE splitter in the enclosure, and running the SatDump GUI directly on the Orange Pi 5. This results in a neat contained system where only one Ethernet cable needs to be run out to the enclosure. 

As we are in pre-launch, pricing is not yet confirmed, but we expect the Discovery Dish to sell for less than US$200 with reasonable worldwide shipping costs. It will be a similar cost to what you would pay if you purchased a WiFi dish, filtered LNA and cabling yourself. Obviously please check what satellites can be seen in your region.


Meteor M2 HRPT
Meteor M2 HRPT
FengYun LRIT
FengYun LRIT

SatDump Version 1.1.0 Released – Feature Overview

SatDump is a popular program that can be used with RTL-SDRs and other software defined radios for decoding images from a wide array of weather imaging (and other) satellites including GOES, GK-2A, NOAA APT, NOAA HRPT, FengYun, Electro-L and Meteor M2 LRPT + HRPT, and many many others. It is multiplatform, running on Windows, MacOS, Linux and even Android. Because of it's good decoding performance, wide satellite and OS compatibility, it is the most recommended software for satellite decoding.

Recently SatDump was updated to version 1.1.0 and the new version brings many enhancements and new features. In summary, Lua scripting support has been added, calibrated products are now possible, composites can be made via Lua scripting, nightly builds are now available on GitHub, Mac .dmg builds are now available, decimation has been added, an SDR Server is available, and a Windows installer was added.

Support for various satellites and their instruments have also been added for NOAA APT, CCSDS LDPC decoding for Orion, LandSat-9, TUBIN X-Band, FengYun-3G/3F, Meteor M2-3, Geonetcast (soon), GOES RAW X-Band,  STEREO-A, DSCOVR EPIC, ELEKTRO-L N°4, Inmarsat STD-C, UmKA-1 (soon), PROBA-V GPS .

SatDump also now includes rotor tracking control which works together with it's satellite pass predictor and scheduler. There is no more need to use programs like Orbitron or Gpredict as everything can be handled by SatDump.

An insane amount of work has gone into SatDump, so if you like the software please remember to support the developer @aang23 by donating on Ko-Fi.

SatDump Rotator controller, Tracker and Scheduler

Goestools Now Ported to Run on Windows

Thank you to Carl Reinemann (aka USRadioGuy) for letting us know through his blog post that goestools has recently been ported to Windows. Goestools is a software package that is used to receive and decode images from GOES weather satellites. In the past it was only available for Linux systems, however recently thanks to the work of Jamie Vital, goestools has now been ported and can run on Windows. Carl Reinemann has confirmed that the software runs perfectly on Windows. Our GOES tutorial should also be easily modified to work with the Windows port.

The Windows port can be downloaded from goestools-win on GitHub. If you are interested, Jamie Vital is also the author of Vitality GOES, which is a program that can display the received weather images in a nice GUI.

Alternatively we note that another cross platform GOES decoder is SatDump which is currently the most popular choice for GOES.

Goestools on Windows