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How to easily pick up a NOAA weather satellite.


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This guide is not meant to be advanced or technical in anyway. It is for beginners, I write it with the mindset that anyone can pick up a radio* and pick up these signals.  This is a guide specifically for NOAA APT weather satellites. (NOAA-15, NOAA-18, NOAA-19) This method can be expanded on to pickup other types of satellites too. But that is for another time. 


*The radio in question will have to be one that can receive 136mhz-140mhz roughly. (Most APT weather satellites transmit on 137.xxxmhz usually)


First things first! We have to figure out the satellite orbit, and be able to track the satellite. Thankfully there are plenty of resources to do this. 


N2YO.com is arguably one of the best satellite tracking websites.


From the homepage click the three little lines and click sign in. Create an account for yourself. Then we can set your location. 


Click 'Add a new location' to add your location. 


Once you've done that. Click the three lines again and click on Most tracked satellites. 


We are going to track NOAA-15. 


NOAA-15 transmits on the frequency 137.620mhz. 


Scrolling down shows a map and the information on the next pass over our location. From here we can (optional) choose to track the satellite for future purposes. 


Again you don't have to though. This information is good for the next pass, but what about future passes? Well the website has a 10-day prediction. 



So as you can see I circled some numbers. Long story short: the closer to 100 the better. Basically it's how directly over you the satellite will pass. At 87 it will be pretty much on top of our location. 

So all you have to do now is grab your radio, put in the frequency and wait...


Well there's a few more things. 

You should be able to pick up a signal using just a regular HT(so long as it can receive in those frequencies) and a whip antenna. 

Even something like a UV5R can be used. 


Experiment with antennas. As you can see below I was using the normal rubber ducky antenna that came with the radio, sometimes signals also come in better when the radio is on it's side. 

That is it for the guide for now. I won't go into decoding at the moment. I plan to make a guide about decoding. But using an HT is NOT recommended if you want to actually receive decent pictures, you'd want to probably use a SDR(Software defined radio). This guide was purely to show you how you can pick up the signals. 


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Another way to see satellite information is a nifty ($4.99) app called Orbitrack. 


It's a fairly straight forward app, a bit more intuitive than N2YO.


The bottom bar scrolls left and right. Showing more options. 



Just like on N2YO you want to look at the culmination. That +53 is decent. 


 This app also has a time change option to fully see the passes prediction. 


For $4.99 I think the app is very good. 



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