Tagged: weather satellite

Multiple Comprehensive Tutorials on Weather Satellite Decoding

Over on his website "Jacopo's Lair" IU1QPR (@original_lego11) who is also a developer for SatDump has written up many tutorials about weather satellite decoding that involve the use of SatDump. SatDump is a popular piece of software often used with RTL-SDRs and other low cost SDRs for decoding weather satellite images.

With a small satellite dish, feed, RTL-SDR and LNA+filter and the SatDump software it's possible and download beautiful images of the earth from many geostationary and polar orbiting weather satellites. We note that we are currently taking pre-orders on Crowd Supply for our Discovery Dish system, which is low cost hardware designed to help users get started with weather satellite reception.

Over on Reddit IU1QPR has created a listed summary of all the tutorials he's written. These are currently the most up to date and comprehensive tutorials that we have found on this topic. The tutorials cover everything from what satellites are available, what dish sizes you need, what SDRs can be used, what LNA+filter and other hardware you need, and how to use the SatDump software.

Satellite reception and decoding

Automated stations

SatDump usage

All have been moved to SatDump's documentation page

Satellite data processing and usage

From the HRPT tutorial: What various HRPT signals look like on the spectrum.
From IU1QPR's HRPT tutorial: What various HRPT signals look like on the spectrum.

Downloading Stored Images and Data from the NOAA Weather Satellite GAC Broadcast

With polar orbiting weather satellite reception we as amateur ground station operators with SDR receivers typically download images via "Direct Broadcast", which provides imagery of what the satellite is currently seeing live. However, the main way satellites such as the NOAA POES (NOAA 15, 18 & 19) satellites downlink is via "Global Area Coverage" (GAC) broadcast which provides the full stored imagery data of the entire global pass. However, GAC is only broadcast in locations where the satellite operator operates ground stations.

Over on YouTube dereksgc has uploaded a video showing how to receive GAC data from the NOAA POES satellites. He notes that GAC is now broadcast at 2247.5 MHz in the S-band, and the ground station it now downlinks to is likely in Svalbard, rather than in the USA. This means that amateur satellite stations close to the North Pole can receive the GAC signal, including dereksgc's station which (we believe) is in the Czech Republic.

Dereksgc uses a large 250cm offset dish with S-band feed connecting to a HackRF. In the video he demonstrates him receiving the signal, and then decoding it using SatDump. Finally he shows all the images from various locations around the earth that he was able to receive from one satellite pass.

Downloading stored data from NOAA weather satellites (GAC revisited) || Satellite reception pt.12B

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

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?

Automating NOAA APT and Meteor M2 LRPT Reception with SatDump 1.1.2

SatDump is a popular program used to receive and decode various forms of weather satellites, and in recent updates they added support for NOAA APT and Meteor M2 LRPT weather satellite decoding. In the latest 1.1.2 release they have also now added support for automation, amongst many other improvements.

Before this update, to automate the reception and decoding of APT and LRPT satellites a Windows PC, and a huge stack of various decoding and tracking programs and SDR# plugins are required, some of which are now even abandonware.

For APT a typical chain was SDR# -> DDETracker -> Orbitron -> WXtoIMG and for LRPT a typical chain is SDR# -> DDETracker -> Orbitron -> LRPT Demodulator -> LRPT Decoder -> SmoothMeteor -> MeteorGIS. Setting this chain of programs up can obviously be a lot of hard work.

The latest version of SatDump adds automation features which means these two entire chains can be replaced with just one program - SatDump. SatDump is available for Windows, Linux and Mac, so it can even run on something like a Raspberry Pi 5 or Orange Pi 5. 

To help users set up automation, @original_lego11 has written up an excellent tutorial that shows how to set the automation up. Automation involves entering your ground station details and selecting and configuring what satellites you want to receive and decode with your RTL-SDR or other SDR hardware.

SatDump 1.1.2 with the new automation features

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

 

SatDump Projections Improved

SatDump is a popular program that is used with RTL-SDRs and other SDRs for decoding transmissions from a wide array of weather satellites and their various imagers and sensors. Recently SatDump's author @aang254 has been working on improving the way projections work. Projections are essentially when the weather satellite image is stretched and skewed to fit correctly over the curved earth.

This means now that city markings and border lines should show up in the correct placed in any images received from SatDump.

If you're interested @aang254 has uploaded blog post on the SatDump website explaining the math, algorithms and problems he found when trying to get projections done right.

SatDump now has accurate projections

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.

 

GOES HRIT
GOES HRIT
Meteor M2 HRPT
Meteor M2 HRPT
FengYun LRIT
FengYun LRIT