Icom PCR-1500 Sensitivity and NOAA Satellites

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KG9NZ

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A bit of history here. Years ago (late 1990s), I used to receive NOAA-12 and NOAA-14 with good results (i.e. almost completely clear picture from northern Mexico up to southern Canada) using just a Yaesu FT-50 handheld transceiver and an ordinary 2m/440 quarter wave antenna mounted on the roof of my car. I would record the passes using an ordinary tape recorder, then play the recording back into the sound card of my PC. Apparently, the FT-50 had a "bug" that its FM bandwidth was too high on NFM, so it received the NOAA satellites well. Unfortunately, my FT-50 quit a couple of years ago. I replaced it with a VX-6R, but this receiver does not have sufficient bandwidth to receive the NOAA satellites.

So recently, I tried receiving the NOAA satellites (NOAA-15,17,18) using my Icom PCR-1500 in my car with the exact same antenna setup. Results were very poor. The signal never reached full quieting and faded out frequently. Only when the satellite is over 60 degrees are the pictures usable, and barely at that. So I decided to build a helix antenna, as described here:
http://jcoppens.com/ant/qfh/index.en.php

Unfortunately, I do not have a place to mount this antenna outdoors. However, indoors I get full quieting for a good portion of the pass on my VX-6R (but can't use it due to low bandwidth). However, the PCR-1500 again never attains full quieting with this antenna (using NFM 50kHz), and picture quality is very poor except when the satellite is right overhead.

Specs for the FT-50 show a sensitivity of 0.18uV. The listed sensitivity for the PCR-1500 is 0.5uV for NFM, but 1.5uV for WFM. I wonder if 50kHz bandwidth is considered WFM? I presume that the new NOAA satellites have the same output power as NOAA-12 and NOAA-14 had.

I do have a GRE 100-1000 MHz scanner preamp, which I have used with good results on UHF before. However, when I connect it between my QFH satellite antenna and my PCR-1500, it is little help. I find it increases my band noise level to S2 or S3, and the satellite signals copy only slightly better than before. I also tested the preamp on a nearby band by receiving distant weatherradio signals. It didn't help with these either. I think the preamp is either being overloaded by strong local signals or else has little gain at VHF.

So I have a couple questions. First, does anyone successfully receive the NOAA satellites using a PCR-1500 without a preamp? Second, would a preamp designed specifically for the weather satellite band (for example http://www.hamtronics.com/lnk.htm) likely give me decent results (using either the QFH antenna inside or the old 2m/440 antenna on my car's roof)?

Thanks,
Frank
 

key2_altfire

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Nov 5, 2007
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Apparently, the FT-50 had a "bug" that its FM bandwidth was too high on NFM, so it received the NOAA satellites well.
Have you tried changing the IF bandwidth on your R1500? (If you have... sorry... I know it's simple, but from your post I thought perhaps you weren't exploring the full IF of your 1500.)
 
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