Back in December 2016, Shaun Whitehead of ThumbNet sent me of their new rtlsdr-based N3 Nongles but I was too busy to do anything serious with SDR. Now that I got a 137 MHz turnstile antenna up for testing I had an obvious opportunity to try it with the weather satellites.
Some time ago I got a 137 MHz turnstile antenna from Jørn OZ6TA. We decided to build an automated NOAA weather satellite image receiver using a modern SDR device. He also had an Airspy he wasn’t using and so it became the SDR radio we were going to use for this.
About a year ago I posted a step-by-step guide about how to receive NOAA APT weather satellite images using Gqrx SDR and the Funcube Dongle. Today, I tried to repeat the procedure using my ezcap eztv666 rtlsdr dongle with very good results.
One of the great advantages of software defined radio receivers is that tuning receiver settings is a matter of adjusting software parameters. Gqrx is no different here and has optimal settings built in for weather satellite reception. This tutorial describes how to receive automatic picture transmissions (APT) from NOAA weather satellites using Gqrx SDR, record them to a WAV file, and finally decode the images using the free and open source Atpdec decoder. If you follow this guide you can end up with very nice results such as the one shown at the end.
I have wanted to implement a simple APT decoder for the NOAA weather satellites in GNU Radio for quite some time now, in particular since the USRP equipped with a TVRX or WBX daughterboard and a GNU Radio FM receiver can be an extremely good receiver for this purpose. Today I have spent some time looking at the details of decoding APT and actually ended up with a working prototype implemented using the GNU Radio Companion.
A few APT images received from NOAA 18 and NOAA 19 yesterday. THe setup I used was the very same that I have described earlier. Click on images to see full resolution and image details.
Last weekend I wrote about my spontaneous experiments with receiving and decoding APT transmissions from NOAA polar orbiting weather satellites. This weekend I decided to extend the experiments by trying to receive at very low elevations and get images from far away.
This weekend I ended up receiving APT signals from NOAA polar orbiting weather satellites. I only wanted to explore IQ data recording and playback with GNU Radio but when I first used NOAA 15 as test signal and saw what I could receive I got slightly distracted from my original plan.
This video shows my first on-the-air tests with the WBX transceiver using the USRP (Universal Software Radio Peripheral) and GNU Radio.
The receiver was tested using wide band FM broadcast, APT signal from NOAA 17 satellite and Copenhagen VOLMET. I have also performed some tests using DVB-T signal and wireless sensor signals but I wanted to keep the video short so these were not included. I can post them in separate videos if there is interest.