Josh Nass Demonstrates Weather Satellite Reception, Decoding on Low-Cost Software-Defined Radios

With a low-cost SDR, semi-3D-printed antenna, and some free software, Nass shows how to receive and decode NOAA weather data.

Ham radio enthusiast Josh Nass has published a video guide to receiving and decoding weather imagery from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites using low-cost software-defined radio (SDR) devices and a 3D-printed antenna design.

"A great demonstration as to how we can use radio in interesting ways is to receive the audio downlinked from the NOAA satellites and convert it into images," writes Nass of his tutorial. "Today I'll demonstration how to setup your computer to receive this audio and then process it with free computer software, an inexpensive SDR receiver and simple radio antennas."

There are a few steps to receiving weather data from satellites, and Nass covers each in turn — including the key step of turning the data, which is transmitted as an audio signal, into a visible image. Like many radio amateurs, Nass turns to WXToImg for this — and details how to download the latest version, following the closure of the official website.

Another key to Nass' approach to the project is the use of a 3D-printed antenna design, published mid-2019 on Thingiverse, tuned for the 137.5MHz downlink of NOAA satellites as well as the METEOR M2 satellite. Published under a Creative Commons-Attribution license, the 3D-printed portion holds metal waveguides in place at precisely the right angle for reception.

Nass' video is now available on his Ham Radio Crash Course YouTube channel;, meanwhile, has a more detailed written guide covering additional antenna types.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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