TIL : A little more about Software Defined Radio

Someone actually made something I thought about over 10 years ago

Sometimes the YouTube algorithms hit it out of the park. This morning I saw a video with a super click bait title "The Coolest Radio You've Probably Never Heard Of". Well, it worked on me, so I watched it.

In this video, he talks about Software Defined Radio (SDR). If you are unfamiliar with radios and frequency bands, then this will be way over your head.

Radio frequency (RF) refers to the rate of oscillation of electromagnetic radio waves in the range of 3 kHz to 300 GHz, as well as the alternating currents carrying the radio signals. This is the frequency band that is used for communications transmission and broadcasting. Although RF really stands for the rate of oscillation of the waves, it is synonymous to the term "radio," or simply wireless communication.
~ techopedia

In short, different wireless communication use different wave lengths (frequencies) . These frequencies are set by a governing board, so manufacturers know what to set their devices to in order not to broadcast over the entire spectrum of waves and block other communication out.

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It also means that you would need different devices in order to communicate on each of these frequency groups.

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But, if you only wanted to listen to these different radio waves, you can use a single device. Scanners have been around probably as long as police have been using radios to track criminals.

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But, even scanners are limited to what they can pick up and the more control you want over handing the frequencies, means more cost. Since a radio wave can be turned into an digital file, that means computers can help with decoding a radio wave. (see. Online Police Scanners) And that is wear Software Defined Radio steps in. It takes the digital or analog radio waves and converts them to a digital format that a software program (like AirSpy ) can use to parse out for the user to manipulate. In the video I posted, he was able to reduce static and then fine tune a frequency

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And this can be done with a small USB dongle and an antenna that we used to use on TVs back in the day. We call them rabbit ears. Only ours weren't screw in, so if you broke one side by messing with it too much, you would have to replace the entire thing, which wasn't too big of an issue, because they were cheap. I like these new ones better.

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As you can see, the kit comes with 2 sets of antenna to give you different lengths in order to tune into different bands. As the video creator mentions, you could just to a basic length, but it won't be as clear of a tune, so fine tuning is there if you want to make sure you get the best reception.

So, with a little bit of careful setup, you can turn your computer into a radio scanner.

On a side note, last year I was at All Things Open and someone demonstrated using a USB dongle to pick up the radio singles sent from airplane that lists the plane information. This is called Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS). This software should probably pick up this as well, as others have been able to do it.

Also, there is software to listen to HAM radio's online and some HAM radios already have SDR built-in.

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~ Expert Electronics

Now, as someone who thinks about Shit Hit The Fan (SHTF) and The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI). I ponder all sorts of things. I know that if the system were to crash, communication would be a priority thing. But, I also know, that if you are broadcasting out into the ether, you are also making yourself a target. For a good while, the best thing would be to listen and hear what is going on. And, I would also know that you probably would want something that wouldn't take up a ton of space or electricity to do your wave snooping. Since there are always people thinking the same things I am, that means someone probably also went through the work to do it first.

Which leads you to


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Let the positive energy sing!

More Power to the Minnows!!


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