Obtaining weather info in the bush

Submitted: Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 07:06
ThreadID: 30943 Views:2070 Replies:5 FollowUps:5
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This is a follow on from the "Outback radio thread"

Andy wrote:
>thanks for reply. Most of the time we are in the bush where day
>time reception of even local medium wave stations becomes difficult.
>I guess that the local stations you mentioned are at medium waves
>and not at short waves. We are members of VKS and have to their
>weather reports - but very often miss out because communications
>become difficult in the evening.

This is a problem I face too and there is another solution I am looking into at the moment although it's a bit more complicated and high tech.

Easy one: Synoptic charts and other weather information are broadcast as Weather faxes every 15 minutes on about 5 HF frequencies in Australia by the BOM. These can be received with a normal HF antenna and the audio fed into the sound card input of a notebook computer, suitable (free or low cost) software will produce an image from this data.

Hard one: A number of satellites send infra red and/or visible images to earth on a regular basis which can be received and displayed as above - these are great and really let you see what individual weather systems are doing. The main problem with receiving them is that they use a circularly polarised transmission which means the receiver requires a special antenna also they transmit outside the range of most "normal" radios - one is on 137.1MHz iirc. There may also be a problem with Doppler shift – don’t know yet?

The weather faxes are good but I really want the sat pics - I'm working on an antenna at the moment, I'll let you know how it goes.


Mike Harding
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Reply By: Alan H (Narangba QLD) - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 08:10

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 08:10
I don't use it so this not from experience but research seems to indcate that some satellite phones Eg globalstar are capable of receiving data over the satellite equivelent to a dial up connection to the web. Then you would have whatever is on the web anywhere in Australia.

The down side would be cost. It looks really expensive to have such a setup.
I agree with your sentiments however that if you out there for a while, it would be an added safety factor to know about major weather influences about to hit your area.

I must keep researching.
AnswerID: 155922

Reply By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 11:42

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 11:42
The bandwidth of most scanners is too narrow Mike and clipping will occur, it will be severe if you don't track the doppler. Remembering from years ago there are documented mods around for various old scanners but it been years since I last received NOAA pics and the memory is a bit rusty.
AnswerID: 155959

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 12:17

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 12:17
> The bandwidth of most scanners is too narrow Mike and clipping will
> occur

If the radio supports wide FM (ie commercial broadcast) at the required frequency then it will receive sat data OK, but you are quite correct narrow FM will kill it. However my nice new Amateur set will receive (and Tx since I did the mod :) DC to Daylight in all modes :)

> it will be severe if you don't track the doppler.

I had a feeling some of weather sats. were geo-stationary but I haven't checked in detail yet. I can handle the Doppler issue OK though.

On the whole I suspect it's a bit much for the non-technical 4WD driver though and they would probably need to spend a fair bit on additional equipment too. HF fax is quite do-able though if they can receive those frequencies on their VKS737 sets.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 409934

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 12:37

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 12:37
I'm not aware of any geostationary weather sats but that doesn't mean they don't exist...probably do but a geostatinary sat has to be located around 35,000 k out from earth and require a dish or high gain arrays unless they are bluddy high powered like the phone sats transmitters.

The owners of any weather geosat probably opted for low power and high gain antennnas for fixed location use.
FollowupID: 409940

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 12:41

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 12:41
>geostatinary sat has to be located around 35,000 k out from
>earth and require a dish or high gain arrays

Good point.

They probably are low earth orbit then in which case Mr Doppler does complicate things a bit. I'll do some further checking over the next few days and report back.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 409944

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 16:14

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 16:14
Where are these places you cant tune into a radio station and get the weather. Coz I would like to see them. Sure daytime reception can be problematical at times but so what? all they do is repeat the info from the previos evening. Weathetr is updated around 5.30 - 6.00 and if you can find me a place in Australia you cantrt pick up the ABC from your state in the evening I will go jump or at the least tell you to try an ariel on the radio. Heck I can sit there at work and tune Into 5CC 765 and find the price of a Pie at the wudinna bakery all the way from Western Australia - and that isnt even a powerfull transmitter. Or listen to the footy at Mitchel falls and that is during the day. Still makes it easy getting Tony Delroys questions right when listening to him on delay and you have all the answers from some dandenong radio station
AnswerID: 156020

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 18:37

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 18:37
One problem I find Davoe is that unless you can get the major weather broadcast (the one when they talk with the met. guy which is normally only once per day) and get it on the regional radio stations, not the capital ones, the weather forecasts are pretty limited and generally centred on the major towns. Last year I spent two full days in the High Country sitting under a tarp shelter out of the almost continuous rain listening to regional ABC telling me how nice the weather was - not in my little bit of the world it wasn't! :)

It's circumstances such as these when, if I had a sat pic, I would know that moving 50km north (or whatever) would put me in good weather.

Ray: some sats are in geostationary but most are in polar orbit and the discone antenna is looking like a good way to go - GS would, as you mentioned, need a dish - so are out.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 410065

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 20:18

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 20:18
Must get different forcasts to us. in the evenings we get the full statewide weather forcasts as wel as all the coastal waters forcasts from Wallal to Eucla. and it is repeated a few times throughout the night/evening
FollowupID: 410117

Reply By: Utemad - Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 18:29

Monday, Feb 20, 2006 at 18:29
Try using my method for determining the weather. LOOK UP.

Not the most long range forecast you can get but fairly effective for short term forecasting LOL.

Seriously though I just check before I go and I have never been far enough to not get ABC radio AFAIK. Although if the weather is crap when I am there then it is too late to check the weather report anyway.
AnswerID: 156059

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Feb 23, 2006 at 10:29

Thursday, Feb 23, 2006 at 10:29
Some guys I've been away with lately on desert trips have had different solutions.

One mate used to do what you suggest and gets the satellite image thru HF. Now he's set up a server at home and has the server set up to email him any info he wants off the BOM site. He has a modem hooked up to his HF and downloads the email, which does take a while to come thru.

Another mate accesses the net thru his sat phone.

Another mate has a mate who is a forecaster at the BOM - and just phones him up.

Another mate does what Davoe does and listens to ABC radio on the AM band.

And me ... I'm a dinosaur and ask the VKS sked person whats happening with the weather.

Must say its pretty interesting hearing all the reports, but its all just a bit of fun, and we do it because we can, rather than we need to.

And BTW, the same guys enjoy putting their feet up around the fire at beer o'clock :-)))


AnswerID: 156631

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