Category Archives: Software

Software

GOES satellites

Above you working silently are Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES).  They are operated by NOAA and are essentially weather satellites.

Now here’s the current configuration above.  Seeing as how I live on the East Coast of the US I aim at GOES-16 or GOES East.   Getting the signal is a bit of a challenge and requires some special hardware.

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RTL-SDR Fun

One of my favorite hobbies of course is radio.  I own a few.

I think the most interesting “radios” are RTL-SDR devices.  The RTL stands for Realtek (which is the chipset) and SDR stands for Software Defined Radio.

They only cost a few bucks for a “generic” one and there are more sensitive and selective ones that cost bigger bucks.

Essentially if it is a radio signal of some kind, with a $20 USB Software Defined Radio you can listen to or decode a multitude of radio traffic/chatter.  In fact it seems darn near illegal, and sometimes it is.  I have other blog pages with this information but I’m just going to re-hash what I’ve been up to this week.

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Chuwi HI10 Air Windows Tablet Review For RTL-SDR

Batten down the hatches and store food.   The end is near.  I bought a Windows Device and I am going to review it.

Let’s be clear.  I F’n-ing hate Windows.  I have been using Linux and Mac way before it was cool to do so.  Windows is an abomination.  That being said I have long since owned a Vinyl Sign Cutting machine.  The very best software for it runs on Windows.  Also recently I bought an SDRPlay RSPDuo and the only real software to exploit it properly is called SDRUno and it is Windows only.

This is a review for a Chuwi HI10 Air Tablet .  I bought it EXCLUSIVELY for using RTL-SDR radios on.  If you are looking for a review of how well this tablet does ANYTHING besides RTL-SDR, then by golly you are in the wrong place.

I travel a lot and I love listening to radio signals and like it or not I just need to carry around a Windows device.

Sure I can run Windows in a Virtual environment but I’m kind of king of the low power devices (read:  CHEAP) and the things I try to do require more power and speed than what I typically carry around.

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How Do You Like To Listen To Shortwave?

Probably not a lot of us shortwave junkies out there.  That being said there are several ways to listen.

  • Portable shortwave
  • Tabletop shortwave with external antenna
  • RTL-SDR
  • Internet based SDR

Probably missing something but those are the ways I can do it at Castle Hagensieker.  And while I own many, many portable shortwave radios……………

I have pretty much two preferred ways to listen.

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Using the SDRPlay RSPDuo – A few weeks in

I’ve had my SDRPlay RSPDuo for a few weeks now and I’m prepared to talk about it a little bit.

First let me preface this by saying I also own an RSP1 and an RSP2 and while I think they are both fine radios I’ve always had a tiny beef with the SDRPlay devices.

Beef #1 is that to really pack a punch with an RSP device you need SDRUno which is a Windows program.   With every fiber of my being I despise Windows.  Don’t like it don’t trust it.

And while you most certainly can use an SDRPlay on Linux weird shit happens.  Let me also preface this by saying that if you install the Non-Windows Workflow as they say in that Lego movie………..”Everything is Awesome”.  Yeah, well, I’m not that guy.  I have every SDR known to God and Man and I build the gr-osmosdr stuff by hand to try to use other devices such as PlutoSDR and LimeMiniSDR.

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Making Your Refrigerator SMART

I have an old refrigerator in my garage which I suspected was a power hog.  I bought a Sonoff S31 Power Monitoring outlet and flashed it with custom firmware (Tasmota) and blogged about that here.

I’ve since figured out you can do a WHOLE LOT MORE with a Tasmota flashed Sonoff S31. I figure there are two important things you’d want to know about an old refrigerator.

  1. Is it running?
  2. Has the door been left open?

Both answers can be tackled with home automation.  I use the EXCELLENT program HomeAssistant.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

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Using A Laptop As A TV – Old School Stuff

So sometimes a really good technology just never really takes off.  A USB TV Tuner is just one such technology.

It should have taken off.  Just about everyone who has a laptop should have one of these.  I have three.

So what would you use it for?  In my case I live in a Hurricane zone and in fact got blasted by Hurricane Florence last year and had no power for several days.  (Actually I had power because I have a full house generator). Anyway, due to a concern for the amount of fuel I had on hand I shut down at times and THIS is how I got my news during those times.

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Reading Other People’s Pager Traffic And Shit

Did you know a lot of people still used pagers? I had no clue. Did you know that all that pager traffic and all those messages are sent unencrypted and can be easily decoded? All you need for hardware is a $10 USB SDR radio stick with a cheap indoor whip antenna.

NOTE: Reading pager traffic is NOT against the law, however retransmitting it or acting on any information you learn from it is. Decode for good. Not evil.

And much like any other Linux techie project I’ve ever done following the directions somewhere else DIDN’T WORK. Oh, it mostly worked but something is always missing. This page is for the first timer trying to figure this out. And for me to recreate this once I screw it up or my computer dies.

Doing this on Windows is easiest and the directions I found here DID WORK. This will be a tutorial on Ubuntu (Or LinuxMint) Again most everything worked but the actual decoding process didn’t until I changed a thing or two. Also one major step was left out that almost caused this to epic fail for me. YMMV. Depends on the Decoder your system is using.

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How To Keep RTL_433 Alive For Your Home Automation Using Supervisor

I run RTL_433 to push data from several sensors and a motion detector to an MQTT server for home automation.  For some reason as of late it is just not that stable. Could even be a hardware failure with the dongle….I dunno.  I generally just run the program command inside a terminal on the raspberry pi it is installed on and just walk away.  When it crashes I have to log back in the Pi and re-run the command.   Un-cool.

The command I use specifically is this:

rtl_433 -F json -M utc | mosquitto_pub -t home/rtl_433 -l

Again, that pushes data found on 433.920 MHz devices to publish a topic on my MQTT server called “home/rtl_433”.

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Flash Outlets with LED Ring With Tasmota

Found these cool little outlets on Amazon and verified they can be flashed with Tasmota Over The Air (OTA).  They are technically called “Home Awesome Breathing Light Smart Light.

They are also sold under the name TMRLife Plug

They are another made in China device that is controlled via phone app and I generally don’t trust such things.  Flashing the device with Open Source firmware is MUCH better for securities sake.

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