–legacy post: this content was originally written in high school–

Another amazing thing you can do with a 2m radio is receive weather satellite images directly from the satellites.  There is a group of satellites called NOAA, which orbit the earth constantly sending down an image of the earth just below them.  Although my Jingtong radio can be tuned to the correct frequency, around 137MHz, a special circularly polarized antenna is required. Fortunately, its fairly easy to build one yourself, so thats what I did.

Setting up my homemade QFH antenna in the garden

Setting up my homemade QFH antenna in the garden

This is how it works.  I make sure my laptop is charged and download the latest satellite pass predictions in a program called WxToImg.  Then I carry my laptop, radio, antenna, interfacing wires and earphones into the garden for a clear view of the sky.  After setting it all up I do a quick soundcheck to make sure the radio volume is correct.  Then the waiting begins. WxToImg knows exactly when the next weather satellite is going to pass over you and automatically begins recording the sound coming from your radio.  Its pretty exciting when you begin hearing this sound above the static.

WxToImg decodes the sound in realtime.  Line by line an image appears on your computer screen.  The longer the satellite stays above the horizon and unblocked by trees, the larger your picture gets.

The gallery contains some images I successfully received from NOAA weather satellites.  The small yellow cross shows my position in Cape Town, South Africa.  Unfortunately I can never receive images of other parts of the world, as the satellite gives you a ‘live’ view of what it sees below.