How to Explore the Hidden World of Radio Waves All Around You using a $20 Software Defined Radio and GQRX Software
The installation at this year’s Radical Networks conference was part of an artwork called Holypager by Brannon Dorsey that used a programmable radio to listen into pager message traffic. While you might think that doing this would take the skills and resources of a spy agency, it’s actually fairly straightforward for even the modestly tech savvy.
While radio might seem like an antiquated technology, it’s actually a ubiquitous part of modern life. Radio signals from Wi-Fi routers, GPS satellites, Roku remotes, wireless water meters, Bluetooth keyboards, weather stations, and even echoes of the big bang all saturate the air around us.
In the early 2010s a group of hackers discovered that the chips that powered many cheap digital TV USB tuners could be repurposed to tune into an impressively wide range of frequencies, from as low as 24 MHz to well over 1000 MHz. Today, these software defined radios (SDRs) can be picked up for about $20 on Amazon and are supported by an active open source community.
Here’s just a selection of the kinds of things you can do:
- Download images from weather satellites as the fly over head
- Track all of the airplanes that are flying near you
- Discover ships that are close by
- Setup your own cell phone network with OpenBTS or YatesBTS as the startup Sopranica recently did
- And, in more sci-fi quarters, a recent talk at Def Con showed that it’s theoretically possible to reconstruct what’s on your computer screen just by listening to its unintentional radio emissions
Read more at http://bit.ly/2BQFk8y