Do you want to listen to your Shortwave receiver at work? Do you camp? Do you travel and can’t carry a lot of gear with you? If you did travel you can’t carry the gear with you to get the performance you get at home. Here’s a way to access your short wave antenna via an RTL-SDR device. You can’t really access your shortwave RADIO but you can get at your antenna.
You need an RTL-SDR device.
$30 gets you basically every radio frequency that you can imagine and there is no shortage of geeks out there to write software to listen to or decode or make use of all those radio signals. One really cool thing you can do is to set up a server which you can connect to from anywhere.
I just took a little inventory of my short wave radios. It shakes out like this:
- Tecsun PL-660
- Tecsun PL-880
- Sangean ATS-909X
- Kaito KA1103
- Majestic El Cheapo Italian Radio
- Tivdio V-115
- C Crane SSB
- Tecsun PL-365
- Tecsun PL-380
- Tecsun S2000
- Tecsun PL-310ET
- XHDATA D-808
- Grundig Eton Satellit
Okay, you’re probably not reading this unless you are a Ham or an ShortWave Listener (SWL). I probably seem like a rank amateur compared to many guys you’ve seen who have possibly dozens of more radios than I have.
An RTL_TCP server first of all is a taking a USB Software Defined Radio and setting it up as a server for receiving radio signals within the frequency parameters of the SDR device which can them be connected to from anywhere. For example an RTL-SDR Version 3 operates from about 500 kHz (with direct sampling enabled) to about 1.7 GHz.
So if you set up the server you can be anywhere provided your server allows incoming connections to the internet or you can access your network via VPN, as I do, and connect back to it and hear all the local radio stations or radio signals that interest you.
What good is that? Maybe there is a radio program you like but the station doesn’t stream. Maybe you want to hear your kid playing his high school football game broadcast on local radio. Maybe you set a microphone and transmitter up in your home as a security device (such as a baby monitor). Maybe you want to listen to the local weather broadcast or maybe you are a scanner junkie and like hearing your local police scanner. Whatever. There are lots of reasons.
This is one of my favorite subjects. Repurposing an older computer and using it when there is no available internet connection. If you have internet that is a big plus and you can and should use it but computers are still pretty useful with no network with the addition of a couple of pieces of inexpensive hardware.
What can a computer do that isn’t hooked to the internet? Quite a lot actually. Here’s a few things you can do:
- Watch digital over the air television
- Listen to FM or AM radio
- Listen to Shortwave Radio
- Listen to Amateur Radio
- Listen to emergency service transmissions such as police, fire, weather, etc.
- Decode NOAA Weather Satellite Images
- Detect Aircraft Overhead
- Decode Digital Transmissions that are unencrypted
DSD+ is a popular Windows digital decoding program that handles various digital protocols. I’m going to install and use it with WINE on Ununtu 18.04. The example I’ll show here today is a digital trunking control channel that the local Emergency Services uses. Without DSD+ the signal will sound like this: