KB9IQX RTL-SDR Shenanigans for Linux/Raspberry Pi

RTL-SDR shenanigans on Linux. Here you will find a number of projects what for to do cool stuff with your cheap SDR dongles. There are installation and setup instructions. Also, since I have been experimenting, I've had to reinstall things and completely reinstall OS images and start from scratch more times than I want to count. With that in mind, I've written a number of scripts to automate those tedious tasks. And I bring the fruits of these bitter lessons to you. :) Also, in the interest of thoroughness and clarity, I've tried to document everything profusely... because this is something that geeks and hams alike are really really really (really!) awful at doing.

I've worked mostly, though not exclusively, with SDR on Raspberry Pi boards. Mostly I use the full size B and B+ boards like everyone does. However, I'm also interested in using the lowest power/lowest resource computer that gets the job done: sort of the ham QRP idea applied to computing. So for some experiments I have used the Pi Zero with some success depending on what signals I was chasing. For others, I believe the Zero is just not powerful enough. Don't forget the Model 3A+ which is a great board of equal processing and memory power of the B/B+ but without the added overhead of several USB ports and Ethernet if you don't need them.

That said, any of these instructions should work with almost any Linux machine, though the tl;dr automation scripts are somewhat built with Debian systems using apt-get in mind. So caveat haxxor.

Software Installations:

  1. Basic Setup - basic RTL-SDR drivers for Pi boards and/or Linux machines. Includes SoapySDR remote receiver setup.

What? No ADS-B? For aircraftery and flight tracking, I usually start from the FlightAware PiAware image. It's good enough and sets everything up and even has a nice local web page, SkyAware, to look at pretty maps. It's essentially a standard Raspbian image with the FlightAware packages added. So you can always build on top of that.

Also, I've defaulted to preferring the FlightAware version of dump1090 since it has a well-defined and well-documented way of spitting out JSON files of the aircraft data. This is useful for a variety of home-rolled scripts such as what is mentioned in the following section. I mean Say what you like about the junk-ass formatting of JSON... at least it's an ethos, Dude. I hate JSON, personally, but it's easy enough to work with using python and is lightweight enough for some fast data processing.

Sooooo, it is possible to do the Basic Setup above and then install the FlightAware dump1090 from their github. And you can use that dump1090 without actually feeding data to their site if you don't want to.

Auxillary Softwares:

Hardward Installations: