Amateur radio enthusiast Adrian Totu, from Bucharest, explains how his comprehensive system includes weather monitoring via EUMETCast.
05, November 2020
My radio-amateur call sign is YO3HOT and my radio system is divided into two operating positions. One is located at my home in Bucharest, and the other is in Baicoi, Prahova County, an hour's drive from the first one.
I started many years ago, with a home shack and later developed the Baicoi radio system because of several reasons, such as a lack of space for antennas and electrical interference in the city. Both places are linked via a VPN (Virtual Private Network). In this way I may work the Baicoi equipment remotely via my home in Bucharest.
As well as the radio systems I am using, at both locations, an advance weather monitoring system using data files downloaded from EUMETSAT satellites thanks to the privilege offered by EUMETSAT to be a user of their data.
Figure 1 shows the radio desk with some of the equipment. There are four systems: HF Radio system, Satellite Radio System, VHF/UHF Radio System and a system for Weather Monitoring.
Based on the license from EUMETSAT I am able to download meteorological data files from the satellites. In order to process the files I am using the UKW software which selects, splits and animates pictures according to the area of land selected. The system consists of one 1.25 m parabolic dish antenna, LNB, low-noise preamplifier, data modem NOVRA S 300 DVB, computer and software. The set-up of the software system is quite complicated (Figure 2) and needs, first of all, very precise and stable antenna pointing.
There are a numbers of requests to be reached as long as the computer is continuously working day and night. With this system I am able to see almost in real time weather data from all over the world.
My interest is focused on two directions. First for local weather conditions and second to understand DX conditions when I am interested in long distance radio communications.
I am using this system together with ACE-HF software analysis. For convenient display of the information I installed a third display in the most high-traffic area of the house (the kitchen). Additionally, I installed one Ultimeter 2100 weather station and one earthquake warning system that offer me 25 seconds in order to evacuate the building if one big earthquake is coming.
Because all the electronics equipment works with electricity it is important to have a second way to supply energy, so that the system can be used in emergencies when commercial power lines are affected.
Currently I've developed a photo-voltaic solar panel system in Bucharest, but in the future I am planning to make a similar one, including a wind turbine, in Baicoi as well.
In Bucharest I am using UPSs and a dedicated photo-voltaic system using 20 solar panels of 100w each. For solar panels connections I produced three different boxes, located on the roof and in the basement of the building. The 24 V continuous voltage is inverted to 220 V alternative using Steca Xtender 5000-24.
The energy is charged in 10 batteries, 200 VA each, by a Steca Power Tarcom controller. The power system sends data to a data logger and I may access it through the internet. If the energy from the batteries drops down, the inverter switches automatically to a gasoline generator.
Baicoi is located near Ploiesti, and has the advantage that there are no buildings surrounding and the level of unpleasant noise is much lower than in Bucharest. Considering the large place I had at my disposal I built special rooms only for amateur radio activity which include: radio room, guest bedrooms, dining room and canteen. The idea was to set up a facility that can be used by a team, continuously, having all necessary amenities in case of natural emergencies or amateur radio contests.
There are currently four subsystems: HF Radio system, VHF/UHF Radio System, VHF/UHF Repeaters and a system for Weather Monitoring.
The weather monitoring system is similar with the one I'm using in Bucharest. It uses a Gibertini satellite offset antenna dish (size 125 cm, see Figure 4), low-noise preamplifier, Novra S 300 DVB-S2 data receiver, computer with software and two 27 inch displays. Downloaded data are only for personal use.
It is important to mention that I am using eight IP 220 volt sockets that I may power on and off through the Internet. In this way I may start and stop different equipment by remote.
I use roughly 2 km of different types of cables. The antenna cable model is Belden H 10000 with low loss. All antenna connectors are silver plated. The desk table has 1.20 m depth and is fixed on rollers for easy movement. On the back side of the desk I considered 50 cm space from the back wall for easy everyday access to the back side of every piece of equipment. All cables are marked and fixed. To avoid RF interferences I used tens of RF chokes. The table is illuminated from the top and also I installed illuminated system under the table as it is very useful when I have to set up different cables.