Public Lab Wiki documentation



Open Weather

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About

Open Weather is a project by @sophied and @sashae probing the noisy relationships between bodies, atmospheres and weather systems through experiments in amateur radio, open data and feminist approaches to environmental sensing.

Open Weather encompasses a series of how-to guides, critical frameworks and public workshops on the reception of satellite images using free or inexpensive amateur radio technologies. When possible, we work with open source software and hardware. Beyond Public Lab, the Open Weather web platform will host an archive of amateur radio-generated weather images as well as detailed information on @sophied and @sashae 's collaborative practice [link coming soon!].

What do we mean by feminist approaches to environmental sensing? In Open Weather, we think critically about our 'politics of location' - our different social, economic, historical, geographical and political positions. In doing so we examine how we participate in relationships of power, especially those of white supremacy, in order to better identify and challenge structures of oppression. Through workshops and performances, we bring attention to alternative histories of sensing atmosphere, weather and Earth. We explicitly focus on access to technology and we strive for equity. We ask: who or what gains power from satellite imagery, radio technology, meteorological and climatic data? Finally, we seek forms of sensitivity and responsiveness to the interconnected earth processes that sustain us.

Location

London and low Earth orbit.

Project history

@sophied and @sashae have been working on amateur radio-related projects since early 2017. In 2018 and 2019, @sophied and @sashae collaborated on several public workshops, artworks and writings including the performative script Lore of the Radio Fossil. They designed, coordinated and delivered amateur-radio workshops at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University; the Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University; and the Royal College of Art, London. In April 2020, they launched Open Weather. From April to September 2020, Open Weather is supported by a residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart. In Summer 2020 @sophied and @sashae will launch the Open Weather web platform, a central node for the project that will also host a public archive of amateur radio-generated images and sounds.

Satellite-1-1024x768.png NOAA Satellite Workshop at the Royal College of Art, London, in January 2020. @sophied holds the turnstile antenna during the pre-pass talk with @sashae. Photo: Marco Ferrari

Goals and motivations

After @sashae and @sophied got their amateur radio Foundation Licences from the Radio Society of Great Britain it took months of poking around on the web to realise that it was possible to receive weather satellite images, then, more time, searching and hanging out in Ham forums (@sashae is great at this) before they got the right hardware and software setups. Now they’ve done the research and have seen what's possible with inexpensive kit, and they want to share their experience by creating accessible, visually rich how-to guides with everything you need to know to get started, all in one place – without assuming any prior knowledge of radio, science or engineering.

Goals On Public Lab:

  • To produce accessible, visually rich and well-documented guides for setting up satellite ground stations for reception of NOAA images. These will be targeted at non-experts (and non-hams). Our hope is that the guides will be useful to curious individuals and practitioners.
  • To co-author guides that are useful resources for experimental and interdisciplinary teaching and learning at various educational levels.
  • Discover mutual interests and synchronicities between amateur radio-generated satellite imagery and other kinds of environmental data or projects on Public Lab.

On the Open Weather platform:

  • To build and maintain a public, amateur radio-generated archive of images and sounds decoded from different satellites, starting from the NOAA fleet, progressing to the Russian Meteor fleet and eventually EU and US-operated geostationary satellites.

People who are involved

Open Weather is a project by UK-based designer @sophied and creative geographer @sashae .

The project has been shaped and informed by many others, including:

What are we currently working on

  • We are working on the Open Weather web platform and archive with developer Piper Haywood.
  • With the help of the Public Lab community, we are testing our 'DIY Satellite Ground Station' guide (posted in Activities below).
  • We are developing a series of other guides that extend from the 'DIY Satellite Ground Station' and will enable others to further customise and optimise their ground stations.
  • We are exploring how to make the software ecosystem of NOAA weather image reception more resilient and open source.
  • We are developing a new 1-day public workshop in which participants will each create their own NOAA satellite reception equipment that will take place in venues in Germany and the UK in summer and fall 2020.

Updates

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Activities we've done in our project

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Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Data

A link to the Open Weather archive is coming soon.

NOAA_18_S_49_W_2020-05-17_11-34_BST_hvc_horizontal.png An image decoded from a NOAA 18 Southbound pass at 49 degrees West on 17th May 2020 at 11-34 BST. Satellite ground station: Burgess Park, South London.