Introduction: Cheapest Way to Receive Weather Satellite Images

Picture of Cheapest Way to Receive Weather Satellite Images

Some time ago I heared about the possibility to receive weather satellite images. So I informed myself about this topic, and learned that I would need a SDR and an Antenna to receive the given frequencies. I didn't have these items ready, but still wanted to give it a try.

I remebered some time ago I learned about WEBSDR, which are Software defined Radios, which are made public in the Internet. So I gave it a try, it worked out, and I decided to write my first Instructable.

Step 1: Everything You Need

At first you need a computer or laptop to use all the needed software. The operating system does not matter, because they will work on nearly every, but I will describe it for Windows, which won't be much different to the other.

Software:

Step 2: Setup WXtoIMG

Picture of Setup WXtoIMG

At first I recommend to enable the expert mode. You can find this setting under Options->GUI Options. After this you have to close and reopen the software.

Next you set the location of your antenna, which is located in Noordwijk, Netherlands. For this you go to Options->Ground Station Location and set it to:

Latitude: 52.239989

Longitude: 4.450009

as shown in the first picture.

Next make sure that the Options on the top of the Options bar are as in the second Image, except the Crop Telemetry setting does not have to be selected, it just removes the border of the images later.

Then you update the Keplers, which is located under File. When it is finished you open the Satellite Pass List. This will show you, when satellites will be in the zone to be received. There is a UTC Time given, with wich you can calculate, which time it is at your place. Also the frequency on which the signal will be sent is given.

Step 3: Receiving the Signal

Picture of Receiving the Signal

Open your Browser a few Minutes before a satellite passes. Go to the site: http://erc-websdr.esa.int/

The frequency you read from the Satellite Pass List is given in MHz, and on this site you have to set the frequency in kHz. So just multiply the given Frequency with 1000. Enter this into the Frequency field, shown in the second picture.

Select FM, and widen the Bandwith to 30.09kHz, as in picture 3. You can just stretch the barriers out with your mouse.

The optimum would be 34kHz, but the used hardware doesn't allow this. You may also enable Autonotch.

You may add 2-5kHz to the frequency because of the Doppler effect.

About 1-2 minutes before the start, beginn the recording. Stop it when the signal isn't visible any more for about a minute, since you can later crop the picture, but can't add anything you haven't recorded.

During the recording you can adjust the frequency to counteract the Doppler effect. This will increase the quality slightly, but mostly not very significant.

Then click the now visible "Download" button next to the "Audio recording: Start/Stop" button, if it doesn't download automatically.

Step 4: Make the Signal Ready for Processing

Picture of Make the Signal Ready for Processing

Open up Audacity and open the recorded file.

Change the Project Rate to 11025Hz, as in the first picture.

Then resample the audio to 11025Hz, as in the second picture.

Then just save the new audio as WAV, and make sure, that the name of the file ends with .wav

Step 5: Creating the Image

Picture of Creating the Image

Back in WXtoIMG go to File->Open Audio File, and open the edited audio file. Make sure to select the right Satellite.

The software will do everything else for you.

There will just be two black and white pictures, which you now can edit with the enhancements, options, projections, and images. To get a coloured Image try the HVCT or HVC false colour. Also click Image->Histogram Equalise Image once, and it will be a really good picture if everything worked out.

Don't be sad if it doesn't work out the first time, just try some times, and you will get better and better.

Comments

Michal Choma made it! (author)2017-08-19

I have 2 question:

first: it is neccesary to download whole signal, I mean I check at satellite pass list duration e.g. 9 minutes, so I must wait 9 minutes on website?

second: it is possible to change position in WX of my home (slovakia), and then check frequency on satellite pass list. Then I write this frequency to field on website with signal, and get picture around my state, slovakia?

NagelmaierP (author)Michal Choma2017-08-19

To question one: No you don't have to download the whole signal, the duration just shows the time, to receive the maximum of the image. If you start later, you won't receive the bottom of the picture, if you stop early, the top will be cut off.

To question two: Unfortunatly not, because the location of the antenna is set there. But there are also some Instructables that tell you how to make your own antenna and receiver, but it will cost you about 50$, from which I have read

Michal Choma (author)NagelmaierP2017-08-20

thanks, probably quality of signal (and image then )depend on internet of my home.

Michal Choma made it! (author)Michal Choma2017-08-19

Second photo, really sometimes record before sattelite pass maybe 3 - 4 minutes. I start later.

cmarques1 (author)2017-09-27

Thanks for the tutorial!
I have one problem: sometimes my pictures don't have the countries frontiers and I don't know where to find that option/filter. Can you help me with that?

MarcR45 made it! (author)2017-08-25

My first attempt:

Satellite Dir MEL Long Local Time UTC Time Duration Freq

NOAA 15 S 72W 1E 08-25 08:55:02 06:55:02 11:22 137.6200

jduf made it! (author)2017-08-21

Thanks for posting this.

I've made several tests and for now, this is the best picture I've got.

This was made realtime on MacOS (never got good results on windows). I use SoundFlower to redirect audio. The counterpoint is that you don't hear the signal anymore.

Still have problem of signal quality.

By the way, do you know a way to make the same with meteosat ?

NagelmaierP (author)jduf2017-08-21

The picture looks great!

I also started to redirect the audio directly some days ago, but haven't gotten any good results from it until now.

It's great to hear, that there are differences in the operating system, because I would've never thought about this.

For Meteosat you would have to make your own antenna and receiver(old satellite TV dish, and LNA) to start this project. It is not that easy to make, since these satellites transmit at about 11GHz, which is to high for cheap electronics to receive.

Thanks for bringing this up, I think I will try to make this, and publish another Instructable, if I am able to make it.

SebastianB2 made it! (author)2017-08-18

Today I made my first pictures, I will never came to the idea or done this, but because of your Instructable I done it and it is fun to do it. I tried it twice times before I got this picture from the NOAA 18.

But maybe the step 3 has to be more clear as the pictures are small and difficult to se. But I am happy and I will tried it now more frequently in the dark winter month.

With greetings from Denmark

NagelmaierP (author)SebastianB22017-08-19

Thanks for your reply.
I will try to update this step in the next time.

jwzumwalt (author)2017-08-14

This is Soooo neat! I will never do it, but it is very gratifing to know it can be done, and how it is done. Thanks!

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-08-12

Awesome. Now I just need to wait for a cloudless day and I am going to try this.

You could also try it when there are clouds, and check with a rain radar, if it really only rains, where there are clouds.

Also you could make your own weather forecasts with checking, if a cloud moves to your place.

About This Instructable

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Bio: I am currently a student from Austria and work on engineering and science related projects in my freetime.
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