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SDR radios... pretty cool.

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I use an sdr dongle to monitor my electric meter. (Most meters transmit current reading continuously)

Dongle is on a PC running a program that writes it to a database. I can pull up usage from whenever and see the spike where someone ran the hot water for too long

And this will be my next electronics project :)

Right after I install a vibration sensor and piezo that activates upon my wife's highly kinetic door closing style. Gotta train them somehow.
 

namedpipes

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And this will be my next electronics project :)

Right after I install a vibration sensor and piezo that activates upon my wife's highly kinetic door closing style. Gotta train them somehow.

Add a door closer (the piston variety). The door will always close and you CANNOT slam it. Daughter variously slammed doors or left them wide open
 

John380

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Interesting - I’ve been looking at SDR and RaspberryPi recently. Subscribing to this thread.


I recently bought a SDRplay RSP1A SDR ($110) receiver and hooked it to a Raspberry Pi 4 running the CubicSDR application on Linux. If you use a windows PC you can use their SDRuno application. Set up works well for 2M and 70cm so far.


Next step once the snow melts a little more is to put up a loop antenna outside to listen to HF stations.
 

timbo

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This is probably a wierd question. Is there a software defined radio that can attach directly to an antenna to minimize cable losses? Or is a Long run of ethernet not doable either? Particularly interested in vhf/uhf.
I don't see why it couldn't be done. If the antenna is outside you'd have to figure out a way to weatherproof the SDR.

The only problem I see is that all the SDR's I've seen are powered and connected to the computer with a USB cable, not an ethernet cable. USB would limit you to about 5 meters unless you have a USB cable with an active extension cable like this:


This may or may not work...YMMV
 

Mesatchornug

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I don't see why it couldn't be done. If the antenna is outside you'd have to figure out a way to weatherproof the SDR.

The only problem I see is that all the SDR's I've seen are powered and connected to the computer with a USB cable, not an ethernet cable. USB would limit you to about 5 meters unless you have a USB cable with an active extension cable like this:


This may or may not work...YMMV
If we're already hacking and experimenting, maybe stick a Raspberry Pi in a box with your SDR (or get a cape for it...) and use the Pi as your ethernet to USB adapter? Hell, if you've got strong wifi, you could rely on that.
 

MrOrdinary

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This website publishes a number of different stations that make their SDR's accessible over the interwebz.

websdr.org

Use the "filter by location" feature, coupled with a quick visit to view the current grey line map to aid in selecting a station, and listen away!
 

AHM

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And this will be my next electronics project :)

Right after I install a vibration sensor and piezo that activates upon my wife's highly kinetic door closing style. Gotta train them somehow.
(My father used to say that my mother could make a mercury wall-switch click).
 

MaduroBU

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I want to get into HAM radio, but I have plenty of expensive hobbies already so I've been putting it off. Then I figured out that with an SDR, USB or PCI-E, I can leverage a computer or cell phone and make a system that integrates far easier with tech that I 1) own and 2) understand vs new single purpose boxes. I bought an RTL-SDR, which is listening only, and I'm working on studying for my licenses. Lime SDR looks really cool, as they make both PCI card and USB versions. I'd love to have a highly configurable version based upon a cell phone as well as a more powerful base station PC. The big question is amplifiers, which I hope to get some insight into during my studies but also from old timers. I'm not sure which band would work best (and honestly still defining my use case, so can't really tell yet) but having a portable antenna would be really nice as well as a big mast.
 
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I want to get into HAM radio, but I have plenty of expensive hobbies already so I've been putting it off. Then I figured out that with an SDR, USB or PCI-E, I can leverage a computer or cell phone and make a system that integrates far easier with tech that I 1) own and 2) understand vs new single purpose boxes. I bought an RTL-SDR, which is listening only, and I'm working on studying for my licenses. Lime SDR looks really cool, as they make both PCI card and USB versions. I'd love to have a highly configurable version based upon a cell phone as well as a more powerful base station PC. The big question is amplifiers, which I hope to get some insight into during my studies but also from old timers. I'm not sure which band would work best (and honestly still defining my use case, so can't really tell yet) but having a portable antenna would be really nice as well as a big mast.
They say there's something for everyone in Ham radio. Your just going to have to try it first. I'm a little old fashion I like plenty of knobs but one radio I've been looking at is the YAESU FTDX-10, the price is right but to justify it over my Icom IDK.
 

cockpitbob

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I want to get into HAM radio, but I have plenty of expensive hobbies already so I've been putting it off. Then I figured out that with an SDR, USB or PCI-E, I can leverage a computer or cell phone and make a system that integrates far easier with tech that I 1) own and 2) understand vs new single purpose boxes. I bought an RTL-SDR, which is listening only, and I'm working on studying for my licenses. Lime SDR looks really cool, as they make both PCI card and USB versions. I'd love to have a highly configurable version based upon a cell phone as well as a more powerful base station PC. The big question is amplifiers, which I hope to get some insight into during my studies but also from old timers. I'm not sure which band would work best (and honestly still defining my use case, so can't really tell yet) but having a portable antenna would be really nice as well as a big mast.
To echo @Silverado, ham radio isn't a hobby, it's 100 hobbies in one, and the learning never stops.

WRT which bands, the longer the wavelength the less line of sight, and the larger a good antenna needs to be. Until we get out of the trough of the current solar cycle, wavelengths shorter than 20 meters aren't going to be very dependable for Dx.

For antennas, good luck there[laugh]. There's no real rocket science in them but there's a thousand choices to wade through.
 

AHM

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(My father used to say that my mother could make a mercury wall-switch click).
This sort: ... Or this sort: ...
This sort:
SilentLightSwitch.jpg
 

citoriguy

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Alrighty....it turns out I need a new laptop and am interested in doing it right the first time for SDR. What specs should I be looking out for? Mac? PC?

Would a desktop be better than a laptop? I don’t mind buying a cheaper desktop and have it be dedicated to this, depending on what I can find. I could see myself adding another transceiver down the line because my FT-991a is lonely. If I did, it would be a dedicated HF rig or something like it.

Thanks!

CG/KC1MRN
 

UJay

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I use an i5 small form desktop with a bunch of RAM and a solid state drive/ win 10 pro. Refurbished from newegg.

It handles 2 SDRs well.
 

AHM

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Alrighty....it turns out I need a new laptop and am interested in doing it right the first time for SDR. What specs should I be looking out for? Mac? PC?

Would a desktop be better than a laptop? I don’t mind buying a cheaper desktop and have it be dedicated to this, depending on what I can find. ...
I can't tell you about system specs,
but @drgrant has an award-winning rant about how laptops are a bad general investment -
not expandable, short-lived, easily breakable, not repairable, yadda³...

Well, you're the one that needs a new laptop -
maybe you just found all that out the hard way. [shocked]


OTOH while I don't know about minimum system specs to support SDR,
don't overspend because you think you need the horsepower
unless reliable sources say you need the horsepower.
 

Kevin_NH

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I use an sdr dongle to monitor my electric meter. (Most meters transmit current reading continuously)
Dongle is on a PC running a program that writes it to a database. I can pull up usage from whenever and see the spike where someone ran the hot water for too long
Nearly all modern meters transmit unencrypted, not just electric, but in many areas, water and gas meters also.

I tried having the SDR and the meter listening software running together on a rPi2 but the CPU couldn't keep up with both the USB and the CPU-intensive decoding task, but maybe a newer, faster Pi would be able to do it all on one machine?


Is there a software defined radio that can attach directly to an antenna to minimize cable losses? Or is a Long run of ethernet not doable either? Particularly interested in vhf/uhf.
One option is to have an SDR connected to the antenna and then USB into a Raspberry Pi running sdr_tcp or SpyServer -- this makes your SDR available on the network (via WiFi or Ethernet); this his how those public SDR servers work:

I suppose if you don't feel up to building the rPi and software yourself, somebody somewhere is selling these pre-packaged at a markup.
 
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I use an sdr dongle to monitor my electric meter. (Most meters transmit current reading continuously)

Dongle is on a PC running a program that writes it to a database. I can pull up usage from whenever and see the spike where someone ran the hot water for too long
This pretty nifty, but how do you determine that it is your meter that you are tuning in? Trial and error? Is there some way to match the data to something that I can see on the meter?
 

Kevin_NH

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This pretty nifty, but how do you determine that it is your meter that you are tuning in? Trial and error? Is there some way to match the data to something that I can see on the meter?
Every transmission includes an "ERT ID" which is all or part of the serial number of the meter, you can check it against the # printed on the face of the meter. So it's easy to tell which meter is yours, but you'd have to go climbing fences to figure out which neighbor is which!
687474703a2f2f692e696d6775722e636f6d2f31596b735762642e706e67
 

AHM

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Every transmission includes an "ERT ID" which is all or part of the serial number of the meter, you can check it against the # printed on the face of the meter. So it's easy to tell which meter is yours, but you'd have to go climbing fences to figure out which neighbor is which!
Monitor their nighttime power usage with binoculars.
When the consumption goes down just as the lights go out...
 

AHM

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Monitor their nighttime power usage with binoculars.
...
😲 Kevin_NH
When my best friend's father retired from Oak Ridge,
they gave him a pair of binoculars as a retirement gift.

A few days pass, and then my friend or his sister spot him
perched out on the second floor balcony, glassing the neighbor's house.
"Boy, these binoculars are great! You can see everything!"
"Dad! You're not supposed to look in peoples' houses with binoculars!"
[rofl2]
 

Mesatchornug

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When my best friend's father retired from Oak Ridge,
they gave him a pair of binoculars as a retirement gift.

A few days pass, and then my friend or his sister spot him
perched out on the second floor balcony, glassing the neighbor's house.
"Boy, these binoculars are great! You can see everything!"
"Dad! You're not supposed to look in peoples' houses with binoculars!"
[rofl2]
In college, there was a pair of binos on the bar in my dorm room, next to our lawn apartment gnome.
"Why do you have binoculars by a window that only looks into another dorm?"
"We don't."
"What are these?"
"Those are the gnome's."
"...why does the gnome have binoculars?"
"Because he's a creep."
 

namedpipes

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This pretty nifty, but how do you determine that it is your meter that you are tuning in? Trial and error? Is there some way to match the data to something that I can see on the meter?
The id is labeled on the meter face and is in the radio data packet.

If you have good neighbors your could go snap a pic of their ids and track their usage too. Then casually mention, "Wow, Carl! How'd you use 1219kwh last month? You growing marijuana or something in the basement?!"

If you go mobile, you can drive around town and read everyone else's meters too. This is exactly how your electric, gas and water meters are read by the utilities nowadays.
 

namedpipes

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Monitor their nighttime power usage with binoculars.
When the consumption goes down just as the lights go out...
So the data packets have the current reading, not the current load. I relay the readings into a database and run a report that identifies those patterns. It's pretty easy to tell when someone takes a shower, etc...
 

AHM

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The id is labeled on the meter face and is in the radio data packet.

If you have good neighbors your could go snap a pic of their ids and track their usage too. Then casually mention, "Wow, Carl! How'd you use 1219kwh last month? You growing marijuana or something in the basement?!"

If you go mobile, you can drive around town and read everyone else's meters too. This is exactly how your electric, gas and water meters are read by the utilities nowadays.
Cross-match it with the Democrat donation database,
and a fella could make a pretty good living selling indulgences carbon credits.
 
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The id is labeled on the meter face and is in the radio data packet.

If you have good neighbors your could go snap a pic of their ids and track their usage too. Then casually mention, "Wow, Carl! How'd you use 1219kwh last month? You growing marijuana or something in the basement?!"

If you go mobile, you can drive around town and read everyone else's meters too. This is exactly how your electric, gas and water meters are read by the utilities nowadays.
I constantly kick my neighbors butts in electricity usage, according to my bill. It's like they don't even know it's a competition 🤣
 
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