I’m new around here but t’other day I was reading through the thread in weather
information offshore Obtaining Accurate Offshore/Hi-Seas Weather data/forecasts, while at sea
and I saw that Skyeye and the NOAA sats got a bit of a mention but then the thread wandered off somewhere else.
A bit of background, I have had my boat in the ‘southern cone’ – south of Buenos Aires/Pto Montt - for just shy of 10 years. I have a ham ticket and a reasonable number of radio
toys on board.
options down here are fairly limited.
I have Navtex and the Chileans put out Navtex but I have never received any weather on it…. just navigation
warnings. Pretty much the same with Argentina… however they do put out weather forecasts for the ‘mythical Malvinas’ several times a day but not much else.
Likewise with wefax….. the Chileans operate quite a reasonable system although it does have its moments …. On the Argentine coast …nada.
Voice is the same … the Armada de Chile
puts out good stuff for the fishing
boats on HF but you need reasonable Spanish.
I can get gribs via the Sailmail station in Los Lagos, Chile
but gribs are gribs…. Computer generated predictions with no human input …. Amazing how many people think ‘is electronic…is good ‘ and have never read and inwardly digested the warning that sailmail sends out quite frequently.
Some six or so years ago I met up with a chap who had just finished fitting a home made (boat made?) Quadrafiliar Helix which he was using in conjunction with a $50 secondhand Bearcat/Uniden scanner.
So having done a bit of research
and having tried to build my own QFH I ended up buying
a turnstile Weather Satellite Station - Wettersatelliten NOAA Receiver and Antenna, WRAASE electronic GmbH - Hardware - MX-137
which is every bit as good as a QFH. This also needed a Bias-T to feed it with 12v. The next bit of kit was an Icom
R-1500 which I already owned… more on radios later. To complete the system I use WXtoIMG WXtoImg: software to decode APT and WEFAX signals from weather satellites
which is free… however it is worth springing for the $69.95 upgrade. That software
is available for PC or Mac.
Is it worth doing? Definitely …. There are only 3 working sats at the moment but that means 6 passes a day and what you see is what is happening in real time… not a wefax analysis or a grib prediction but right now.
It takes a little time to learn how the picture relates to what is happening on the ground … heavy cloud in a frontal system often means a steady but moderate breeze while what looks like fair weather cumulus can mean violent squalls.
Back to the receivers… I have never used a Bearcat/Uniden but believe they work well. There are also dedicated receivers which I have no experience with. My R-1500 would probably be overkill for most people but works a treat.
I do have some dongles including a Funcube and a Funcube Pro + FUNcube Dongle | A radio that's out of this world!
. Both work well with the satellites but are a bit fussy when it comes to tuning… apart from that they are fine.
I also have a couple of RTL dongles, go to ebay and look for ‘RTL-SDR RTL2832U R820’ .. not as good as the FCD but they do work… at only $10 they are a cheap introduction
and you can us them for other stuff as well including AIS
RX . There is some interesting stuff here. Software Defined Radio for Mariners
Antennas? My turnstile on the boat works just as well as the professionally made second hand QRF I have at home (99c plus $20 postage on ebay……
If you are really keen it is possible to build your own QRF or Turnstile .
Pics in order.... 1/ my turnstile, 2 and 3/ at sea in the mouth of the Rio de la Plata , second one is enhanced to show precipitation - black is nasty with lightning
, 4/ steady winds NE of the Falklands, squalls to the SW. 5 and 6/ Hove to off Puerto Deseado in late April... SW gale with snow...oh joy oh happiness....