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Sunday, February 11, 2024

Prime DNG Builds a $600 Digital Radio Scanner on the Low-cost — with a Raspberry Pi 5 and RTL-SDR

Pseudonymous YouTuber “Prime DNG” has demonstrated how a Raspberry Pi 5 and an RTL-SDR software-defined radio dongle could be become a radio scanner for digital radio transmissions, together with these utilized by emergency companies — duplicating the performance of $600 off-the-shelf {hardware} at a far decrease price.

“The digital P25 radio from Uniden is perhaps 600 bucks,” Prime DNG explains, “and I do not actually care to pay that a lot for that. So, to choose up these sort of alerts on a budget you get one in every of these dongles: the RTL-SDR. These are, like, 30 bucks, however in fact the issue with these is that they want one thing to plug into, and you must run some software program — it isn’t all contained in right here, that is simply the dongle.”

If you happen to’re questioning what the sirens are all about, this pocket-friendly Raspberry Pi-powered radio scanner can clue you in. (📹: Prime DNG)

The answer, to be used on-the-go at the very least, is to attach the RTL-SDR dongle — a low-cost receive-only software program outlined radio — to a single-board laptop. In Prime DNG’s case that is the brand new Raspberry Pi 5, launched late final 12 months as essentially the most highly effective Raspberry Pi by far and simply as much as the duty of driving the RTL-SDR dongle and decoding the transmissions it receives.

“I do know some individuals have tried to do that earlier than with Raspberry Pi 4s,” Prime DNG explains, “they usually simply weren’t highly effective sufficient. So with the [Raspberry Pi] 5 we’re unlocking this [type of] moveable scanner [functionality] on a budget.”

The Raspberry Pi 5 connects to the RTL-SDR over USB, whereas an HDMI touchscreen show offers a consumer interface. Audio system constructed into the monitor imply the decoded transmissions could be heard — a trickier activity on the Raspberry Pi 5 than earlier fashions, because it’s the primary to drop the analog audio/video (AV) jack — and a USB Sort-C energy provide will get every thing up and operating.

“We’re operating the [Raspberry] Pi in headless mode and solely launching the SDR software program, so there is not any different desktop stuff happening,” Prime DNG notes of the the consumer expertise. “I’ve configured this factor with the LAPD [Los Angeles Police Department] channels, and I recommend doing that in your laptop and simply loading within the XML file which defines, principally, how this entire software program operates by way of what you are recording.”

The complete video is out there embedded above and on Prime DNG’s YouTube channel.

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