Over on YouTube user Tysonpower has uploaded a video showing how he was (almost) able to receive the HRPT signal from NOAA18 with an ADALM-PLUTO, LNA4ALL and a WiFi grid antenna.
Most readers will be familiar with the low resolution 137 MHz APT weather satellite images transmitted by the NOAA weather satellites. But NOAA 15, 18, 19 and well as Metop-A and Feng Yun satellites also transmit an HRPT (High Resolution Picture Transmission) signal up in the 1.7 GHz region. These HRPT images are much nicer to look at with a high 1.1 km resolution. If you follow @usa_satcom on Twitter you can see some HRPT images that he uploads every now and then.
However HRPT is quite difficult to receive and decode because the bandwidth is about 3 MHz so something with more bandwidth than an RTL-SDR is required. The signal also needs a ~1 meter or larger dish antenna as it is very weak, and you also need a motorized pointing system to track the satellite with the dish as it passes over.
Despite the difficulty in his video Tysonpower showed that he was able to at least receive a weak signal using a non-optimal 2.4 GHz WiFi grid dish antenna, LNA4ALL and his ADALM-PLUTO. The signal is far too weak to actually decode, but it’s still pretty surprising to receive it at all. In the future Tysonpower hopes to be able to improve his system and actually get some image decodes going. Note that the video is in German, but there are English subtitles available.
[EN subs] Empfang von HRPT mit dem ADALM-PLUTO SDR – NOAA18
Over on his YouTube channel Adam 9A4QV has uploaded a video that shows him receiving the NOAA 19 HRPT signal at 1698 MHz with his HackRF, LNA4ALL and the simple circularly polarized cooking pot antenna that we saw in his last videos.
HRPT stands for High Resolution Picture Transmission and is a digital protocol that is used on some satellites to transmit much higher resolution weather images when compared to the APT signal that most people are familiar with receiving. The HRPT signal is available on NOAA19, which also transmits APT. However, unlike APT which is at 137 MHz, HRPT is at 1698 MHz, and is typically a much weaker signal requiring a higher gain motorized tracking antenna.
However in the video Adam shows that a simple cooking pot antenna used indoors is enough to receive the signal (weakly). The signal is probably not strong enough to achieve a decoded image, but perhaps some tweaks might improve the result.
Over on his Reddit thread about the video Adam mentions that a 90cm dish, with a proper feed and two LNA4ALLs should be able to receive the HRPT signal easily. User devnulling also gives some very useful comments on how the software side could be set up if you were able to achieve a high enough SNR.
GNU Radio has HRPT blocks in the main tree (gr-noaa) that work well for decoding and then David Taylor has HRPT reader which will generate an image from the decode GR output. http://www.satsignal.eu/software/hrpt.htm
http://usa-satcom.com has a paid HRPT decoder that runs on windows that has some improvements for lower SNR locking and works very well.
On a previous post we showed @uhf_satcom‘s HRPT results where he used a motorized tracking L-band antenna and HackRF to receive the signal. Some HRPT image examples can be found in that post.
NOAA-19 HRPT 1698MHz with HackRF + LNA4ALL + Pot antenna
On Twitter user @uhf_satcom has been using a HackRF software defined radio together with GNU Radio, a tracking L-Band antenna and this HRPT decoding software to receive and decode HRPT weather satellite images. He used GNU Radio to output to a .RAW16 file, which the HRPT decoding software was then able to use to produce an image.
HRPT is a picture transmission protocol which stands for High Resolution Picture Transmission. There are multiple satellites which broadcast weather images in this format including the NOAA, GOES, Metop-A and Feng Yun satellites. These satellites transmit HRPT at about 1.7 GHz.
@uhf_satcom also tried to receive these images with the RTL-SDR, but was unsuccessful. But you can still receive the lower resolution APT weather satellite images using the RTL-SDR.
Below are some examples of the images he was able to receive.
Update: This is an image of the L-band antenna he used.