Updated March 2021

Weather Satellites transmit High Resolution Pictures (HRPT) at 1.7 GHz. The transmission is not encrypted and all needed is a low noise antenna and LNA , an SDR  and suitable software for demodulation, decoding and visualization.

The minimal, portable setup regularly in use here is an Airspy Mini USB SDR ,  a 40cm diameter helicone on a tripod tracking sats by hand,  a 0.2 dB NF  LNA.

Details below:


SDR Airspy Mini  and USRP1 (modified clock 48 MHz, streaming 6 MSPS)

Antenna and Tracking :

a) Hand tracking using a small low noise helicone antenna (see dimensions below)

b) Automated tracking either with USA_SATCOM’s UltraTrack software or my own  EME FUN software  and the EME FUN antenna controller

Low Noise Amplifier:

Modified G4DDK VLNA NF 0.2dB – important when the low noise helicone is used.

For demodulation and decoding one could use one of the following:

a)  XHRPT software

b) Free GNU Radio scripts

c)  Aang254’s excellent free demodulators and decoders for L, S, X band weather satellite : https://github.com/altillimity !!!

For visualization / false color images :

a) David Taylor’s  HRPT reader  and

b) Fred Jansen’s weathersat 

Some pictures showing this small portable setup and what it can do , can be found below.

1.7 GHz helicone design:

The helicone antenna below has been simulated and optimized in CST Microwave Studio.

The goal was minimum dimensions for acceptable G/T performance.





  1. Very good article. I see that the USRP is using sample rate of 2 MSPS. Would that be means RTL SDR also can be used?

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