[gembud] GEMPAK question from an amateur weather geek

Hey Folks,
I was a long-time DA user until I switched all my computers to Linux a year ago. Since then I've gone without any weather programs, and the itch has been getting worse this whole time. I recently discovered GEMPAK and McIDAS-V, and got both up and running on my computer. McIDAS is useful but it doesn't seem to be as powerful or flexible as GEMPAK, however after hours of scouring the documentation I'm still unsure of how to get data into GEMPAK. I understand how it should work in principle with LDM, but since I'm an individual with limited means I don't have access to an LDM system. My question then is is it possible to use publicly available data such as METAR cycle reports and raw NEXRAD data, such as what I might get from NOAA's public servers, in GEMPAK, and if so how do I convert this data into a format GEMPAK can use? Thanks for any assistance you folks can provide!

--Josh Benson
Open Source Society