Spyserver on Raspberry Pi

What’s a Spyserver?  And why would you want one?  Spyserver is a program for a Software Defined Radio (SDR) that allows you to access that radio from anywhere.  It also allows you to share your radio from anywhere and you can likewise share other people’s SDR radios.  Why would you want to do that?

First when the word “radio” comes to mind we tend to think of AM or FM radio only.  An SDR device is so much more than that.  It can literally listen to things from 0 kHz to 2 GHz or so.  That’s EVERYTHING that you can think of that uses a radio signal.   Short Wave, CB, Ham, pagers (yep they still use pagers), Police, Fire, EMS, the Space Shuttle flying overhead (not kidding), the tire pressure monitor sensors on your car, tracking aircraft, tracking ships, tracking weather balloons…………the list is almost endless.

Maybe local radio has a program you love that isn’t streamed.  Maybe you’re a police scanner junkie and love listening to your local PD even when you are on travel.  Maybe you want to listen to your NOAA weather channel before you begin that Holiday trip back home.

To simplify things though……you can listen to whatever you listen to at home from anywhere.

There are a couple different ways to set this up.  One way is to set up a program called rtl_tcp or of course, Spyserver.  Spyserver was originally made for AirSpy SDR radios initially although now you can use generic RTL-SDR devices now.

Setting Spyserver up on Windows is a breeze.  Follow the directions here.  Setting it up on a Raspberry Pi may be the best way to go so you don’t tie up a whole computer.  Good directions for setting it up are on the page I just linked and also here are great directions.  Once you get it running on the Pi it will look like this (also don’t forget to plug your SDR device into the Pi):

It is sitting waiting for a connection to be made.  One of the limitations of Spyserver though is that you typically have to connect to it through a Windows program called SDR#.  They have just recently come up with a branch of a Linux program called GQRX that has a Spyserver Client. You can read about it and download it from here.  It isn’t very stable in my belief so just be aware you’re going to be tied to using a Windows client.  SDR# is free, free, free.  Heck, all this stuff is free.

Here’s SDR# with the connection window showing I am connected to my Spyserver at 192.168.20.45 (local IP address).

Now here’s what the server end looks like:

Now you can tune in to any frequency from SDR# that the Airspy device can handle.  I set my center frequency to 162.400 MHz which is the local NOAA Weather Radio Station.  However just for fun I made a video of me connecting to my Spyserver from the special build of GQRX.

 

Works like a champ but again I think the GQRX client is kind of unstable.  If you do experience instability make sure your Pi has an adequate power supply.  Feed it at LEAST 2 Amps, more if you can.  Don’t just plug it into a USB outlet with a crap cable or it will crash.

Now I can access this Spyserver from anywhere if I do one of two things.

  1.  Access my local network via a VPN connection (preferred)
  2. Open and forward port 5555 on your router to your Raspberry Pi computer.   This will allow you must then know your IP address and navigate to it by typing that address and port into SDR# or GQRX.

One thing they don’t tell you in the tutorials linked above it how to simply start the program at boot.  Type the following in a terminal on the pi:

 crontab -e

Now cut and paste in this:

@reboot /home/pi/spyserver/spyserver /home/pi/spyserver/spyserver.config

Now hit CTL +X key, then Y to save and reboot! It will now start at every boot.

Good luck or as they say in Japan……Gombatte!

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