West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group, Inc.
a Florida Non-Profit Corporation

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Satellite Weather Reception Exhibit

As part of a new interactive display for “The Sights and Sounds of Radio” exhibit, the Suncoast High School Amateur Radio Club is moving their homebrew QFH antenna to the science center. Visitors will be able to see live images from space, along with precipitation and temperature data received from NOAA weather satellites passing over Florida.

The Suncoast High School Amateur Radio Club, now known as the SHS Makers Club (SHSMC), was founded in 2015 by three students with Technician Class licenses at Suncoast Community High School in Riviera Beach, Florida. The purpose of the club is to teach students how to get creative with hardware and software by experimenting and making to solve problems through a hands-on approach. The club has focused on radio-related technology, completing several antenna builds. In addition, the SHSMC has worked closely with the West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group to help the local community and educate students about amateur radio and the maker movement.

Listening to International Space Station packet radio signals and other amateur radio satellite communications on their homebrew Yagi antenna inspired the club to build their own QFH antenna. Several build days were organized where members helped assemble the antenna from scratch. After deciding to mount it at the science center, the club waterproofed the antenna with marine sealant and painted it with the Suncoast colors.

Outside the Radio Room, a television displays the most recently received images and automatically updates each time a satellite passes overhead. A Raspberry Pi is programmed to receive and decode weather images during each pass with a software-defined radio connected to the QFH antenna. The SHSMC coded their own software that displays these images, which the club is still improving to catch the attention of visitors at the science center. They hope to have their exhibit up and running by the end of June 2017.
NOAA precipitation image from satellite.
Colorized NOAA precipitation image received from weather satellite.
Replica of the Titanic radio room.
Soldering copper radial elements to the steel vertical elements of the circularly polarized satellite antenna.
Replica of the radio room of the fateful ship, the Titanic
Mounting the finished antenna to the roof of the science center.