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Receive GOES-16 and GOES-17 Images with a Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR dongle

Receive GOES-16 and GOES-17 Images with a Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR dongle

Also see the original Pieter Noordhuis's guide

Hardware

You need:

  1. Raspberry Pi Model B (or B+) with a MicroSD Card $35-40
  2. An RTL-SDR dongle:
  3. LNA and SAW filter for around 1.69GHz
  4. A 1.6 - 1.9 GHz parabolic grid antenna
  5. Adapter (depending on the antenna terminal):
  6. Cable(s)

Total: ~$185

Assembly:

[Antenna] --- [Adapter] --- [(input) SAWBird+ (output)] --- RTL-SDR (with Bias Tee)] --- [Raspberry Pi]

Software

Prep your Raspberry Pi and install necessary drivers and software.

0. Get your Raspberry Pi ready

  • Download Raspbian Lite Image and Etcher
  • Use Etcher to write the image to the SD card.
  • Mount the SD card as a volume on your machine.
  • Follow this procedure to configure WiFi and SSH.
  • Plug the card into your Raspberry Pi and turn it on.
  • Find the IP address of the Raspberry Pi using your gateway/router administrative interface.

Now you can SSH into your Raspberry PI as pi with a default password raspberry.

1. Get everything up to date

From now on all commands should be run on the Raspberry Pi.

sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade

# reboot the device
sudo reboot

2. Install dependencies

# get the packages necessary to build and run goestools
sudo apt install git build-essential cmake libusb-1.0 libopencv-dev libproj-dev

3. Install librtlsdr

Grab the latest librtlsdr source, compile it, and install the shared libraries/includes.

# download, compile, and install librtlsdr
git clone https://github.com/steve-m/librtlsdr.git
cd librtlsdr
mkdir build
cd build
cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=/usr -DINSTALL_UDEV_RULES=ON ..
sudo make -j2 install

# load udev rules and blacklist the DVB driver shipped with the OS
sudo cp ../rtl-sdr.rules /etc/udev/rules.d/
sudo ldconfig
echo 'blacklist dvb_usb_rtl28xxu' | sudo tee --append /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-dvb_usb_rtl28xxu.conf

# reboot the device
sudo reboot

4. Test your the RTL-SDR dongle

rtl_test 

You should see something like this:

Found 1 device(s):
  0:  Realtek, RTL2838UHIDIR, SN: 00000001
...

If it hangs, just press crtl-c to exit. It doesn't have to finish.

If there are errors, or if the device is not recognized:

  • Reinstall the driver from Step 3
  • Ensure the dongle is secured in the USB port
  • Remove all USB hubs and plug in into the Pi directly
  • Make sure you power your Raspberry Pi with at least a 2.5A power supply
  • Check the device using lsusb command. You should see ID 0bda:2838 Realtek Semiconductor Corp. RTL2838 or something of the like listed there. If not, try the previous steps.
  • Run dmesg and check for errors such as error -71 related to the USB device. This may mean that your RTL-SDR receiver might be broken. This happened to me, so I ordered another one, which ran fine.

5. Install goestools

git clone https://github.com/pietern/goestools.git
cd goestools
git submodule init
git submodule update --recursive
mkdir build
cd build
cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=/usr ..

# this will take a while on a raspberry pi
sudo make -j2 install 

6. Create goesrecv.conf config

cat <<EOF > ~/goesrecv.conf
[demodulator]
mode = "hrit"
source = "rtlsdr"

[rtlsdr]
frequency = 1694100000
sample_rate = 2400000
gain = 5
bias_tee = false

[costas]
max_deviation = 200e3

[decoder.packet_publisher]
bind = "tcp://0.0.0.0:5004"
send_buffer = 1048576

[monitor]
statsd_address = "udp4://localhost:8125"
EOF

If you're using a NooElec SmarTee dongle with an always-on bias tee, or if you're powering your SAWBird through the micro USB port, set bias_tee = false under [rtlsdr].

If you're using RTL-SDR.com dongle, set bias_tee = true to power the SAWBird board.

7. Roughly point your antenna at the satellite

Find where the GOES-16 or GOES-17 satellites are in the sky at your location using agsattrack.com.

Note the azimuth and elevation.

Use an actual real compass to point your dish at the azimuth. I've been using the iPhone phone compass, which has a 20-30 degree error, rendering it practically useless.

You can also use https://www.dishpointer.com/ which will draw a line on the aerial map where to point your dish -- I found that to be more helpful than the compass.

Adjust your dish angle according to the elevation. Use your smartphone level app, or just eyeball it.

IMPORTANT: Polarization Skew

You should also adjust the skew of your dish roughly according to what https://www.dishpointer.com/ says under "LNB Skew". For GOES-17 I had to point the antenna's left long edge (if facing the same direction as the dish) up at 45 degree angle.

8. Run goesrecv and perform fine antenna adjustments

goesrecv -v -i 1 -c ~/goesrecv.conf

This will show output every second that looks something like this:

...
2018-09-15T21:52:03Z [monitor] gain:  8.44, freq: -2121.4, omega: 2.589, vit(avg):  2400, rs(sum):  0, packets: 0, drops:  55

The vit(avg) stat shows the average viterbi error rate over 1 second interval (if running with -i 1).

If there's no signal, the vit value should be over 2000. When signal is stronger it should decrease.

This should help you point the antenna correctly. Slightly rotate the dish right or left and note whether the vit errors are increasing or decreasing.

Once you're at the local error minimum, perform the same process to find the minimum error rate while slightly adjusting the vertical angle.

When the vit errors are at their lowest, you've pointed the antenna. Double check the antenna position again with a compass to make sure you're pointed at the intended satellite.

If you can't pinpoint the signal even after precicely adjusting the antenna, flip the dish 90 degrees and try again.

9. Restart goesrecv and play around with the config parameters.

If your vit errors are under 400, and you're observing no packet drops, you're all set!

If the average errors are at around 1500-1800, try the following:

  • Terminate and restart goesrecv. This should allow it to readjust the gain and frequency offset to get a better read on the signal.

  • Cool the Raspberry Pi and the RTL-SDR dongle. I've noticed that temperature might significantly affect reception quality.

  • Play around with goesrecv.conf parameters. Try adjusting the gain and sample_rate. For the NooElec XTR or other E4000 tuners, you might need to set your gain to 10 or below.

Once you decreased the error rates, but your vit is still over 400, try making very slight adjustments to the antenna again.

10. Process packets into images

While goesrecv is running, in a separate session, run:

goesproc -c /usr/share/goestools/goesproc-goesr.conf -m packet  --subscribe tcp://127.0.0.1:5004

Once goesproc receives enough packets, it will start writing images and text to the locations described in /usr/share/goestools/goesproc-goesr.conf.

Writing: ./goes16/m2/ch13/2018-09-15/GOES16_M2_CH13_20180915T231750Z.jpg
Writing: ./goes16/m2/ch13_enhanced/2018-09-15/GOES16_M2_CH13_enhanced_20180915T231750Z.jpg
Writing: ./goes16/m2/ch02/2018-09-15/GOES16_M2_CH02_20180915T231750Z.jpg
Writing: ./goes16/m2/fc/2018-09-15/GOES16_M2_FC_20180915T231750Z.jpg
Writing: ./goes16/m1/ch07/2018-09-15/GOES16_M1_CH07_20180915T231820Z.jpg
...

11. TODO: Automatically restart goesrecv, store images on S3, send metrics to statsd and Grafana, and make videos!

Stay tuned!

@rtromeo
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rtromeo commented Apr 15, 2021

This has been Working Wonderfully with the Goes-16 Sat Kit from Amazon, I have been able to get the VIT's around 60, with no packet loss, I am using a headless Raspberry Pi setup. I have been getting Spectacular Pictures ... BIG THANK YOU for this Write UP !!!!!!!

Question, anyone know how to add SUVI (Sun / Solar images), as well as GLM (for lightning) ?, think that would be really cool !

@amdorj
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amdorj commented Apr 16, 2021

Question, anyone know how to add SUVI (Sun / Solar images), as well as GLM (for lightning) ?, think that would be really cool !

Those are unfortunately only included in the GRB (GOES ReBroadcast) downlink and are not present in the HRIT downlink.

@sativapie23
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sativapie23 commented May 15, 2021

Does anyone have any tips on setting GAIN? I cant get vit under 700. Every time I set GAIN, it just sticks to 5, no matter what I put. I can modify the goesrecv.conf and adjust the sampling rate by adding a few 0s. I do this and it instantly throws and error when starting goesrecv and it stops itself from running. So I know modify config file is working since the bad sample rate clearly was read by goesrecv. Leaving everything in working order and changing the GAIN setting, it does nothing. Ive tweaked and tuned my antenna placement as best I can for now and then started to mess with GAIN and sampling rate. But for whatever reason I cant get it to adjust. Thanks for any help.

@rtromeo
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rtromeo commented May 15, 2021

Does anyone have any tips on setting GAIN? I cant get vit under 700. Every time I set GAIN, it just sticks to 5, no matter what I put. I can modify the goesrecv.conf and adjust the sampling rate by adding a few 0s. I do this and it instantly throws and error when starting goesrecv and it stops itself from running. So I know modify config file is working since the bad sample rate clearly was read by goesrecv. Leaving everything in working order and changing the GAIN setting, it does nothing. Ive tweaked and tuned my antenna placement as best I can for now and then started to mess with GAIN and sampling rate. But for whatever reason I cant get it to adjust. Thanks for any help.

I am using the Nooelec Satellite Bundle from Amazon, with the always on NESDR SMArt Tee Bias-T and the SAWbird GOES filter LNA .
So my Config is exactly as listed above. and works Well, I set up my antenna in the Spring and as the tress bloomed I gradually lost signal as best VIT went up to 1200 (No good), found a new spot, for year round, I now have noticed my VIT varies from 80 to 120, depending (I believe on temperature), but my GAIN, also fluctuates as well, anywhere from 3.9 to 5.9 I have seen. I am assuming the issue you might have could be with your SDR.... but not certain. of course what your full set up is......

@sativapie23
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sativapie23 commented May 15, 2021

@autotunafish
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autotunafish commented Jul 28, 2021

Was unable to build on latest Ubuntu 20, problems with libusb-1.0 and libopencv-dev. Changed to libusb-1.0-0 and seemed to work but couldn't work out opencv.

Changed to Ubuntu 18 and no problemo.

Edit: opencv error may have been a fluke, libusb-1.0-0-dev

@halifax57
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halifax57 commented Jan 16, 2022

Might lxe or some other kind soul update the whole script? Been chasing down issues like autotunafish but cannot get it to run to the end.
Any help most appreciated. TIA.

@jchisholm59
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jchisholm59 commented Feb 27, 2022

Hey Halifax57 judging my the "Old Bridge" and Dockyards on your profile pic you are indeed also in Halifax.. Have you had any luck with hitting Goes-16 ?
I'm just going by what I see as the visibilty "cone" on https://agsattrack.com/ and unless I'm wrong (which I hope I am) Goes-16 probably can't be seen from here.
Just ordered an antenna and SAW filter so again, hope I'm wrong!

Cheers

Jim

@pumatrax
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pumatrax commented Apr 9, 2022

I get an error when running goesproc -c /usr/share/goestools/goesproc-goesr.conf -m packet --subscribe tcp://127.0.0.1:5004

VC 8: M_SDU continuation failed; 34931 byte(s) needed to complete M_SDU, 188 byte(s) available

Has anyone overcome this issue?

@matirko
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matirko commented Apr 11, 2022

@pumatrax
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pumatrax commented Apr 11, 2022

@pumatrax I'm gonna give this a shot when I get a chance https://www.reddit.com/r/amateursatellites/comments/sf2yod/goestools_updated_now_maintained_with_binary/

Oh thanks, I will try as well.

@matirko
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matirko commented Apr 12, 2022

@pumatrax
Same issue :( I'll reach out to the owner of that forked repo

@pumatrax
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pumatrax commented Apr 12, 2022

@matirko same here. been at it all day. Had a weird issue with the sdr not receive the signal properly but once I got that fixed by redoing rtl-sdr libs I received the same M_SDU. Surprised the dev hasnt chimed in yet. :(

@pumatrax
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pumatrax commented Apr 12, 2022

@matirko

When hunting for the error in the sorce code files of goestools and found it located in virtual_channel.cc. I am not a programmer but it seems to me this M_SDU function is not being told it has enough memory. Looks like its getting bytes available from this first line of code.

// Extract "first header pointer" field from M_PDU header
firstHeader = ((data[0] & 0x7) << 8) | data[1];

// Skip over M_PDU header
data += 2;
len -= 2;

// Resume extracting a packet if we still have a pointer
pos = 0;
if (tpdu_) {
// Double check that the number of bytes left to read correspond
// with the first header pointer. The latter takes precedence.
if (tpdu_->headerComplete()) {
auto bytesNeeded = tpdu_->length() - tpdu_->data.size();
// If the first header pointer is 2047, there is no additional
// header in the VCDU and we can read the entire thing.
auto bytesAvailable = (firstHeader == 2047) ? len : firstHeader;
if (firstHeader != 2047 && bytesAvailable < bytesNeeded) {
// Don't log error message for fill packets.
// On the GOES-16 HRIT feed these can expect 6 more bytes
// if they are aligned on the VCDU boundary. I suspect this
// number comes from the the 6 header bytes in a VCDU and
// that this is a mistake in the HRIT feed assembly code.
if (!(bytesAvailable == 0 && bytesNeeded == 6 && tpdu_->apid() == 2047)) {
std::cerr
<< "VC " << id_
<< ": M_SDU continuation failed; "
<< bytesNeeded << " byte(s) needed to complete M_SDU, "
<< bytesAvailable << " byte(s) available"
<< std::endl;
}
tpdu_.reset();
} else {
pos += tpdu_->read(&data[pos], len - pos);
if (tpdu_->dataComplete()) {
process(std::move(tpdu_), out);
}
}

@marquitosweather
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marquitosweather commented Apr 13, 2022

Hi everyone, I'm selling my antenna. Moved to an apartment so I have nowhere to install it. :(

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NLDTDM7/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i_VSVGRNSEQ1KZEWW94K15

I have it in storage and it's in pretty good condition.

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