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For what it's worth, you can get very good reception from NOAA satellites using a much simpler antenna: http://www.rtl-sdr.com/simple-noaameteor-weather-satellite-a...

Said from experience of having built something more complicated and having it perform worse than two pieces of copper tubing stuck in a piece of scrap plastic.

I've been dabbling with RF, but I don't quite understanding the appeal of downloading NOAA sat images. It is simply 'hello world' for receiving sat downlinks?

For me it's a "hello world" for experimenting with building VHF antennas. It's nice, because they are on a schedule that you can plan around and more interesting than listening to the local dispatch systems.

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