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Tropospheric effects relevant to satellite communication at frequencies above 10 GHz can be investigated with passive radiometers, radars, and by monitoring transmissions from geostationary satellites. By using satellite beacons, it is possible to measure phase coherence over large bandwidths and crosspolarisation discrimination, as well as single-site and space-diversity attenuation characteristics. In designing a receiver for a propagation experiment, the satellite/earth-station system must be investigated as a whole to optimise the characteristics of the receiver. The paper sets out a design approach for a low-cost earth-station receiver for automatic operation and then details the receivers built at the Appleton Laboratory for the SIRIO and ATS-6 satellite-to-ground radio-propagation experiments.