I did some experimentation with building a no frills home weather station and deploying it to see how far I can go in bringing together what I’ve learned from remote sensing, meteorology and software engineering. The ideal outcome would be to download and decode satellite imagery, draw in local weather using an API and assimilate the data into WRF simulations on a Raspberry Pi. Here’s what I’ve managed to do so far.

Weather Satellite Antenna Build

I made a quadrifilar helix (QFH) weather satellite antenna tuned to 137.5 MHz to pick up APT transmission from @NOAASatellites passing over Gloucester where I was staying. I followed the excellent ‘how to’ by spacemanlabs at @instructables:


For the dimensions of the antenna, I used the QFH calculator: http://jcoppens.com/ant/qfh/calc.en.php. Here are some photos of the build and the copper wire-coax connections.

Initial Test

As an initial test of the weather satellite reception from NOAA-19, I used the tracking software WXtrack (https://www.satsignal.eu/software/wxtrack.htm) with updated Keplers from https://celestrak.com/NORAD/elements/:


I recorded the overpass signal by connecting the QFH coax to a RTL-SDR dongle (https://www.rtl-sdr.com/about-rtl-sdr/) using an SMA (male) to BNC (female) connector and then using SDR#:


The recorded audio wav file was then decoded with https://satsignal.eu/software/satsignal.htm from David Taylor (@gm8arv) to generate visible, infrared and false-colour imagery:

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I got hold of a Raspberry Pi3 and the process is automated following this instructable. I wrote a simple app to serve the imagery using Plotly dash running on Heroku and to draw in local weather and hydrological data from the UKMO and UKEA. So far, I have installed NCAR’s Weather Research and Forcasting (WRF) model on Linux to test the set up process: https://ral.ucar.edu/solutions/products/weather-research-and-forecasting-model-wrf and need to port this to the RPi.