Learn how to get live pictures from NOAA weather satellites
Part 1 shows how to get basic pictures for free. if you want to get high quality + all data go to part 2
   There are also many other weather satellites besides NOAA but we will learn with NOAA as the rest are done using the same radios and techniques. we will start with simple basics using standard Uniden scanners for getting started with low resolution pictures and not full telemetry data and then give full details using the worlds best brand of radio EMGO for getting full features from satellite data. Their website is EMGO. The funny thing is most radios made for this are big bucks and they have only a few limited crystals for receiving as little as 3 satellites only ? Where as the EMGO is PLL scanning technology and covers ALL weather satellites in 137mhz band and yet it is the LOWEST price of them all.
   First we will need to track the satellites so we know where they are at any time. You do not need to use a radio for this. There are many programs on the net you can get. One of the best ones is FREE Satscape Their website is Satscape after downloading and installing it, go to "settings" "locations" enter your location. if you do not know it ask any am radio person or call your city hall or police station they will tell you. Then in settings update your computers clock to match u.s. government standard. Finally update the Keplier elements. not go to "groups" choose NOAA 15, 17, 18 they are the only ones still active.  Run the program (best to use 2D, 3D does not work good with many older video cards). you will see map like at NASA of earth and satellites with tracks on it. in settings you can make tracks double, triple etc so you can watch satellites path. Click the small white spot on satellite you want and on right it will give data, uplink/downlink radio frequencies. NOTE in settings you can chose many other satellites to track like ham, space station etc etc check it out, you can also set up voice announce if you want it.  Use this program a little to get used to it. remember there are many others on internet you can download demo's or buy.
   Now that we are able to track satellites for free the next step is setting up a scanner. I used a Uniden Bearcat BC600xlt made in 1982 and it picks up good. It has a IF bandwidth of +/-7-5khz total 15khz which is very narrow (for perfect pictures in color and ALL telemetry you will need +/-30kz like EMGO any scanner that scans 135mhz > 174mhz  will work for stating tests. I also tried a YASUE 2800M ham that also picks up 135>174mhz it is supper good on pick up nice pictures but bandwidth only 10khz so not perfect of inferred or other telemetry data.
   We will use the new NOAA 18 because it has the strongest transmitters 330 watt total in VF it uses 137.1mhz downlink it can also (and sometimes has) used 137.925khz modulation methods for 137.1 mhz they are  AM, FM, PM, PCM, FSK there are other types on its other frequency ranges up to 1.695 GHZ but to start we will monitor 137.1 AM/FM this satellite does A LOT rescue, temperatures, inferred, vegetation water temperature  humidly, space status, communications etc etc here is government link to full details Spacecraft Status Summary 
   The antenna is important ALL satellites use not horizontal or vertical they use polarization, however to start with you can use a ham radio 5/8 ground plane, i tried a firestik and got great (but not perfect results) you may even get luck and use a scanner antenna to start with. best is a helix type expensive and rare, most common is a turnstile the u.s. government gives a free book on how to make your own using a radioshack  tv antenna. I built one and got the old NOAA 15/16/17 at a distance down to tip of south America and i am in the new England states. that is about 2500 miles. At this point i cannot find the web address to get it from SORRY.    
   So to recap first download Satscape to track satellites after it is running and you are used to it setup a scanner and antenna to 137.1 (for NOAA 18). Using the speaker output from scanner connect it to microphone input on your sound card. It is recommended to use a 600/600 ohm modem transformer or a 10 uF capacitor for safety isolation. If you know about radio output and sound card input you can do it without them if you want to. Here is a real broadcast from NOAA satellite you can hear how it sounds it will even give small sample picture in the decoding programs (next) remember this is prefect one using a EMGO receiver using a scanner it sounds about 90% the same like 2 birds chirping and a clock going tic toc. Size is 1.8 meg wav file.

Here is a picture received using a ham radio and also a scanner. Note only 1/2 as good a a weather receiver like EMGO etc.

Picture received using EMGO
   Now that we can get a fairly usable signal we will need a program to decode and display the images. There are many free and shareware programs available but one of the best is FREE so we will start with that one. WXtoImg.  After installing the program the first thing thing to do is enter "ground station location" then chose what satellites you want. NOTE using a simple scanner it will not audio track. You must first save the signal from scanner as a wave file, then using windows "recorder" play it and o to properties, resave it as a "mono file using a sampling rate of 11.025 now using decoder programs "open" run it. check out the any tings program can do if you are having trouble decoding it. when using a good antenna and weather receiver it will auto scan for use. just leave program on in auto recode mode when it's internal satellite tracker knows the satellite of chose is in range it will start recording it for you.

Picture using WXtoImg and EMGO

NOTE: The EMGO website now has detailed information on it's line of receivers and they answer questions within 24 ours. so just go there for full details here is link EMGO.
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