Low cost DIY ground station for weather satellite image reception

The HobbySpace Space Radio section has lots of information and web resources about home reception of satellite signals, especially for obtaining images from low earth orbit weather satellites. The price for such DIY systems was modest and now has gotten even cheaper.

Previously, one needed a wide-band radio tuner, which might cost a couple of hundred dollars, a simple antenna, a PC with a sound card, and some free software for turning the satellite data into images. Now with the arrival of Software Defined Radio programs, one can obtain a cheap “dongle”, i.e. a small device with a built-in tuner that plugs into a PC’s USB port for interfacing satellites signals to the PC.

Jason Davis of the Planetary Society gives a nice tutorial on building a system with about $50 in components (not counting a PC) that can be used for receiving weather sat images as well as data from a future LightSail mission: How to Download Weather Satellite Images from Space – The Planetary Society.

For additional info, Davis points to Receiving Weather Satellite Images for £8 – Matt Gray.

See also the RTL-SDR, a  very cheap software defined radio that uses a DVB-T TV tuner dongle”.

20150918_earth-noaa19_f537[1]A sample image from Jason Davis showing much of N. America
as received by his home ground station from the NOAA 19 satellite.