Grape 1 Personal Space Weather Station

The Grape 1 Low IF radio receiver is a key component of the HamSCI Personal Space Weather Station (PSWS).  The Grape 1 was designed with specific purposes in mind:  Receiving, analyzing and recording of signals from frequency standard stations such as WWV/H and CHU. The PSWS project involves monitoring changes in the Earth's ionosphere through measurements of Doppler frequency shifts on a 24/7 basis.

Ham radio operators and shortwave enthusiasts are encouraged to host Grape 1 receiving systems at their stations from now until well after the total North American solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.  Hosting involves providing reliable power, space for an antenna and an Internet connection.  Other factors come into play, such as the need for visibility to the constellation of GPS satellites.

News Flash #1:  ​During September, 2023, Grape 1 'systems' were built and deployed across North America.  The systems generate data in the Digital RF Format.  System Documentation is available here.

News Flash #2:  As of early October, 2023, over 50 Grape 1 systems are in operation, uploading data for use in future research. Grape project contributors are recognized on the Grape 1 Recognition and Acknowledgement page.

A complete description of the PSWS, including an explanation of the science questions driving the need for the Grape 1 (and its big brother, the Grape 2) is available here.

Anatomy of the Grape 1 PSWS

The Grape 1 is designed for the DIY enthusiast.  The single-frequency receiver portion is built by the user on a PC board using surface mount components.  It is designed for use on 2.5, 5.0, 10.0 or 15.0 MHz.  (Operation on CHU frequencies of 3.33, 7.58 or 14.36 MHz are possible with reduced performance.) It is one of a half-dozen system components:  A GPS disciplined oscillator, a Raspberry Pi with a USB sound card, power supply and antenna.  All components are readily available and thoroughly documented below.  This video (courtesy of the American Radio Relay League) provides an excellent overview of the current version, known as the Grape 1.12.  (Archival information for the previous version, Grape 1.11 {no longer available} is here).

Please note that the Grape 1 Low IF radios are not general purpose receivers. They are designed to receive signals only on frequencies pertinent to the research goals.

Building the Grape 1 PSWS

Building the a Grape 1 PSWS is not as easy as the old HealthKits used to be.  For starters, there is no kit of components.  The instructions are fairly complete, but they are not 'cookbook style'.  It will take some digging and planning on the part of the builder.  Fortunately, help is not far away:  Join the hamsci-grape Google group and you'll find many others who've 'been there, done that' and who can help you if you get stuck.  You can also navigate over to the Google group and 'search' on any topic or question you might have.  It's possible that the answer you are looking for will appear in the search results!

Note:  The Grape 1, like many open source projects, is a work in progress.  The Grape documentation was begun in 2022 and has been updated many times (for new hardware, new software) right up to today.  Here it is separated into the most current (Grape 1.12) and older documentation, which, while not correct in every detail, is still quite useful.  See note above on hamsci-grape Google group - the group members are a wonderful resource.

​Grape V1.11 Block Diagram: PSWS_GrapeLowCostBlockDiagram.pdf

Grape V1.12 Schematic:  WWV_Radio_V1_12_sch.pdf

Grape V1.12: Bare PC Board Ordering Link from OSHPark.com:  oshpark.com/shared_projects/9Z2fhMYW

Grape V1.12: PC Board Bill of Material (BOM):  WWV_Radio_V1_12_bom.txt

Grape V1.12: PC Board BOM Components Order Link from DigiKey.com:  www.digikey.com/short/cqdvrhjf

Grape V1.12: How to Request a Node Number: See Step #65 in this document:  MakeGrape1OSImageV1_05.pdf

Grape V1.12: One Ham's Perspective on Building a Grape from scratch. This paper contains good explanations of the fldigi waterfall and the daily graph of Doppler shift and received signal strengthK4BSE_Grape 1.12 Document v1-2.pdf

Grape PSWS Fldigi System Component List(GPSDO, Audio interface, Raspberry Pi, cabling, etc.): GrapeGen1_SuppliesList.pdf

Obtaining the Grape PSWS Raspberry Pi Image File:  Navigate to Zenodo, www.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.8305995   You will find a very large file called Grape1_OSGen1E.img. Download the file and follow Installing the Gen1E Grape Image instructions (see below) to burn the image onto an SD Card.

Installing the Gen1E Grape 1 Image and Configuring the Raspberry Pi: A step by step procedure that covers everything from burning the image onto an SD card to setting up your Raspberry Pi on a wifi network to uploading data to the Grape1 fldigi data repository: MakeGrape1OSImageV1_05.pdf

Grape Build Instructions, Testing, System Assembly and Operation:   Hardware X Paper on Grape 1 (2022). NOTE:  This document was written for a previous hardware version, so the PC board component lists, schematics and file names are not accurate for the V1.12 PCB.  However, the majority of the instructions in Sections 5, 6 and 7 do apply to version 1.12. (An on-line version of the paper is available at doi.org/10.1016/j.ohx.2022.e00289 )

Detailed Design Documentation:  Additional design details on this Mendeley site:  data.mendeley.com/datasets/nbbhy2yxmz.  It holds mostly 'low level' documentation, such as PC board manufacturing files (top, bottom traces, solder mask, lettering), PSWS File Name Requirements, Fldigi source code, the Python routines which make the Grape 1 PSWS 'run' on a daily basis, and more.   Some of the details are for earlier versions of hardware and software, so read carefully if you visit this site.

 

Data from the Grape Network

Peer-reviewed journal paper in Earth System Science Data describing the living dataset collected with the Grape network: doi.org/10.5194/essd-15-1403-2023

Official FAIR repository for data collected by the Grape network, manually updated every few months: doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6622111

Software for plotting data from the Grape network: github.com/HamSCI/hamsci_psws

Credits

The Grape Version 1 was designed by John Gibbons, N8OBJ, Lab Director of the Sears Undergraduate Electrical Design Lab, Case Western Reserve University, Department of Electrical Engineering. Please see the Grape 1 Contributors page for acknowledgement of the entire Grape 1 team.

The HamSCI Personal Space Weather Station project is led The University of Scranton Department of Physics and Engineering W3USR, in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University W8EDU, the University of Alabama, the New Jersey Institute of Technology Center for Solar Terrestrial Physics K2MFF, the MIT Haystack ObservatoryTAPR, additional collaborating universities and institutions, and volunteer members of the amateur radio and citizen science communities. HamSCI wishes to acknowledge National Science Foundation grants AGS-2002278, AGS-2230345, AGS-1932997, AGS-2230346, AGS-1932972 for support of the PSWS project.

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