Electrosense: RTL-SDR based crowd sourced spectrum monitoring DC to 6GHz

Happy to see this. Greater appreciation and interest in distributed SDR applications is needed. So much that can be done..


  • looks interesting, will try to install on a raspberry 3B when I arrive home again
  • Have everything bar the discone, oh one just fell into the basket, that's lucky.
    Really like the idea of the wider downconverter too, just need to get it up to about 100GHz to be really useful to those near masts.

    Currently I combine Solarham, WSPR results (weird today), and the UK seismic monitors to get a feel for the general energy levels passing through this island, will be nice to have some other RF logging.
  • edited September 2019
    Hi All,

    I saw the article yesterday and was going to post on the subject, but John beat me to it :-)

    It's a very interesting concept and it got me wondering if the KiWi network could be used in a similar way by taking advantage of KiWi's when they are not being fully occupied.

    My thoughts were that, if say a four channel only had two users, an automated process could connect to the KiWi and make use of one of the spare receivers until the last receiver came into use, at which point it would drop the connection and wait until there was spare capacity once again. This would mean that the KiWi would still remain fully available to other users, and the whole process would be unobtrusive.

    Another option maybe to somehow make the waterfall / spectrum plot downloadable as numeric values. This would allow a very quick capture of the overall spectral distribution, but may be a bit less detailed than tuning though the spectrum in finite steps.

    What could be done with the collected data ?

    Here are a few ideas off the top of my head.
    • Spectrum occupancy heat maps

    • Propagation predictions based on signal levels from SW BC stations

    • Direction finding based on signal levels or automatic selection of the best KiWi's for a TDoA run

    • 'Real time' propagation correction for TDoA runs

    • S/N comparisons between KiWi's in similar locations

    • Finding the best on-line KiWi for reception of a given signal e.g. it consults the master database and brings up the best available KiWi in a new browser window.
    Lots of potential I think.......


    Martin - G8JNJ
  • I have a Raspberry 3B up running with RTL-SDR v2 and a wideband disc cone antenna. It is registered as 'Bjertrup_Denmark'.
    Working, yes. But what it can be used to, is another question...

    Bjarne - OZ1AEF
  • edited September 2019
    "But what it can be used to, is another question..." it seems the answer is "As a simple user not much" unless you use the API commands.
    I've got an internal one running just to see how it works and what I could learn from it, will stick a discone outside later.

    Searching some project history I saw some exchange being considered for making the listening nodes available, seems that payback idea has been lost over time.

    The feature on rtl-sdr got a few negative comments regarding just "feeding frequency domain occupancy to corporations" and I have looked at the terms and conditions together with parties involved and that use is possible.

    I'm a sceptical sort but I'll give this a shot.

    Some things that occur to me.
    They (anyone with access to the live device) could get quite a lot from it, as the default image is fairly locked down and they don't want you running anything else on the Pi it could be (with the right converter) quietly uploading your wifi keys, logging clients, bluetooth idents, detecting house occupancy, looking at your energy use, extrapolating when your are home, get up and go to bed.
    Hell with the right EMI from some screens they could be watching your display in a very rough form.
    Big brother would love it.

  • I did think my local noise and RF was dense but Electrosense has me down at about 99.2% channel occupancy (20-1700MHz).
    Comparing others (even those inside and city sensors) that's pretty high.
    I've been thinking about sleeping in a Faraday cage for a while.

    My neighbour (about 30 years younger) has been struggling with a persistent cough for many, many months, high local RF add about seven access points in his house, rarely seen in sunlight, don't have to be Joe Imbriano to question that.

    Electrosense has already been of some use to me as I wasn't aware how strong some signals were were I sit in the evening.
    I doubt they'll send me the downconverter having expressed doubts about the "Positive benefits of (latest)G" .
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