Receiving up-to-date weather satellite data requires a receiving station complete with a receiver, antenna, computer and software properly assembled for the purpose of acquiring weather satellite information. Setting up a receiving system allows you to view displays of cloud images reliably and routinely and you can even configure automatic publishing of up-to-the-minute imagery onto the Internet through the satellite data you receive.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Radio receiver
- Weather satellite program
- Radio and computer cables
- GPS receiver
Choose a radio receiver for your system. Depending on your set-up, a regular broadcast FM receiver may work if it can be tuned at 137 megahertz (MHz). This allows receiving National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite signals as this is FM-modulated similar to typical broadcast FM radio signals.
Choosing a wide bandwidth FM radio or a dedicated weather satellite receiver that can be controlled by a computer is an ideal buy as this allows you to make a fully automatic station. Aside from being able to receive higher signals and higher-quality images with wide bandwidth, it is also beneficial for avoiding interference from other radio signals in the area.
Buy an antenna that can receive NOAA signals. Like the receiver, the satellite receiving antenna must be able to use at least 137MHz. The data from a NOAA satellite is weak enough that it is often disrupted by local radio noise generated by computers, TVs, VCRs and broadcast TV transmitters. Set up the antenna as far as possible from various sources of noise. Use a long coaxial (coax) feeder, coax connectors and a TV-grade masthead VHF (very high frequency) preamplifier in the set-up to help provide better reception.
Set up a computer with at least the following minimum specifications: Pentium I processor, regular sound card, at least 64 megabytes (MB) random access memory (RAM) and 2 gigabytes (GB) of disk space. Remember that it needs to run full time to get all available NOAA satellite passes. It generally requires nonstop operation of the computer.
Choose an applicable software that can run a NOAA Automatic Picture Transmission (APT) receiving station like WXtoImg, a comprehensive computer program that takes raw NOAA APT "tick-tock" sounds and converts them into a variety of satellite images.
Use the "line-in" or "microphone" port of the computer to put a cable between your receiver and the computer's sound card. Some receivers may overload the "line-in" input to the sound card especially for low-end sound card models. In such case, an attenuating cable readily available in many electronics stores is required.
Buy a global positioning system (GPS) receiver and connect it to a computer's universal serial bus (USB) port to get an accurate time in your system. A computer clock with a few seconds of time difference would result to the computer misplacing the overdrawn map by as much as 100 kilometres.
Check the interconnection of the entire system with the appropriate cables on each component. Ideally, the software guides you for the final assembly and set-up.
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