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Friday, September 7, 2012

RTL-SDR

Heard about RTL-SDR? Well, I didn't either until some months ago. You can start here.
Basically you can use a regular USB DVB-T dongle, the ones you use to receive TV, as a software defined radio, a.k.a, frequency scanner. Well, kind of.
The concept in itself is pretty cool, so I decided to grab one of those and start to play around. You can do lots and lots of stuff with these, but I always wanted to see if I could pick some satellite transmissions.
You know, the crazy guy in a barn picking up radio signals from outer space, listening to ET phone home. So after some work compiling and hacking code I came up with my desktop having:
  •  GNOME predict, awesome app for satellite tracking.
  •  gqrx, IMHO the best app to monitor the √¶ther, connected to wxtoimg
  •  wxtoimg, to decode NOAA satellite info
  •  an homemade dipole antenna
End result? mind = blow. Not really, no, but I managed to get some pretty cool pics. And watching it appear realtime on my screen gave me the butterflies.


 NOAA 19 Weather Satellite data as it passed over Europe, filtered with wxtoimg.

2 comments:

  1. what type of antenna did you use?

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  2. It was a dipole antenna. There are lot of resources on the net available, for example:
    http://nathan.chantrell.net/old-stuff/radio/radio-scanning/how-to-make-a-simple-dipole-antenna/

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