Tag Archives: KiwiSDR

HF Monitoring in Ukraine?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Al Hearn, who writes:

Given the emerging situation in the Ukraine, I would appreciate any tips and suggestions that you might offer directly or on your blog as to what we might find interesting in terms of SWL — related broadcast stations, pirate stations, unencrypted government stations, ham nets, or numbers stations that might be monitored for increased activity. KiwiSDR could be an important tool in such monitoring.

Thank you for any information you can provide.

Al Hearn

You are not alone in asking this, Al. Indeed, I’ve gotten a numerous inquiries as of late and as tensions continue to rise along the border.

There are numerous KiwiSDRs in the region and throughout Europe that should be positioned well for monitoring pirates, hams, etc. (see map at top of post).

A reminder that the RTL-SDR blog did share a note of caution recently for SDR users in the Ukraine.

Of course, the limiting factor to me is that I don’t speak the language, so I would appreciate any comments from and SWLing Post community members in the region. Have you noticed any new HF activity? What stations are you turning to for information?

Please comment.

I do hope for a peaceful outcome to all of this.

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KiwiSDR: Root access through project developer’s backdoor

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Franco (K4VZ) , who writes:

Just a quick note to let you and the SWLing post readers know about the news of a backdoor in the KiwiSDR software that for years “gave root to project developer”.


For years, a backdoor in popular KiwiSDR product gave root to project developer

Users are rattled after learning their devices and networks were exposed.

KiwiSDR is hardware that uses a software-defined radio to monitor transmissions in a local area and stream them over the Internet. A largely hobbyist base of users does all kinds of cool things with the playing-card-sized devices. For instance, a user in Manhattan could connect one to the Internet so that people in Madrid, Spain, or Sydney, Australia, could listen to AM radio broadcasts, CB radio conversations, or even watch lightning storms in Manhattan.

On Wednesday, users learned that for years, their devices had been equipped with a backdoor that allowed the KiwiSDR creator—and possibly others—to log in to the devices with administrative system rights. The remote admin could then make configuration changes and access data not just for the KiwiSDR but in many cases to the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, or other computing devices the SDR hardware is connected to.

A big trust problem

Signs of the backdoor in the KiwiSDR date back to at least 2017. The backdoor was recently removed with no mention of the removal under unclear circumstances. But despite the removal, users remain rattled since the devices run as root on whatever computing device they’re connected to and can often access other devices on the same network.

“It’s a big trust problem,” a user with the handle xssfox told me. “I was completely unaware that there was a backdoor, and it’s hugely disappointing to see the developer adding backdoors in and actively using them without consent.” [Click here to continue reading the full article…]

Thank you for sharing this, Franco (and many other readers who’ve recently shared this article.

I’ve always been a big fan of the KiwiSDR network and the receiver so, of course, this is disappointing news. It sounds as if there’s no evidence the developer did anything nefarious through this root access backdoor, but they were also well aware it existed. That is, without question, a huge security issue.

The KiwiSDR developer comments here on the SWLing Post so my hope is that, perhaps, they can shed some light on this story in our comments section.

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Should web-based SDR loggings be included and shared in regular logging columns?

Operating a KiwiSDR in Iceland from my vacation spot in Québec (circa 2018).

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, who writes:

Radyo Pilipinas is one of those English language stations that are not very likely to make to my Pennsylvania location, even under excellent conditions, simply because propagation of their frequencies wouldn’t reach eastern North America when they’re on the air.

Web tunable SDRs change all that…I caught them today from 0315 to their 0330 signoff on 15640 and 17620, in English, with a chatty travelogue program.

I was listening via an Indonesian Kiwi SDR located in Jakarta.

I’m left wondering — is there interest in reporting logs like this? We wouldn’t normally include them in the regular Loggings column in the NASWA Journal, because I’m not tuning my radio, I’m in front of a computer screen tuning half a world away.

FWIW, Radyo PIlipinas broadcasts in English daily from 0200 to 0330 on 15640, 17700 (announced but not heard) and 17620 kHz.

73 – Richard Cuff / Allentown, PA (virtually in Jakarta, Indonesia…)

Wow–what a great question, Rich.

I suspect some DXers have very strong feelings about WebSDR loggings, both for and against.

In terms of loggings columns with various radio clubs and organizations, I suppose it’s up to the governing body to decide. As you say, I suspect it will come down to whether or not remote radio operation counts. With a KiwiSDR, for example, you’re controlling a remote receiver–one that is physically located in a known geographic spot–and the audio is being piped over the Internet. I know it wouldn’t be in the spirit of the thing if you submitted logs implying you’d logged Radyo Pilipinas from your home receiver and antenna. If, however, you disclose that you were using a remote RX station in Jakarta, the logging would be accurate. Whether or not it’s allowed is a separate issue.

Anyone care to share their constructive comments? What do you think about WebSDR loggings? Please comment.

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CATSync: Control web SDR tuning from your rig

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rob (PE9PE), who writes:

This is an interesting tool for those hams suffering from lots of local QRM.


Thanks, Rob! CATSync seems to allow control of a web-based SDR from any OMNI Rig-supported radio via CAT control (which is the majority of transceivers). It appears CATSync allows control of tuning and mode changes via your radio and from the web SDR interface back to your rig.

One interesting use of this would be to use a remote SDR for receiving while using your home antenna for transmitting. This could help those inundated with RFI at home. While this might not be an allowed practice for contesting (having your receiver and transmitter in two different locations) it’s certainly permitted if you want to check in with a net or chat with friends. You don’t need CATSync to do this–you can always manually tune a web SDR separately–it would simply facilitate keeping both your RX and TX on the same frequency.

CATSync has a free trial with limited control–you can purchase the full version for 9.95 EUR.

Click here to check out CATSync.

Thanks for the tip, Rob!

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KiwiSDR.com’s simple urls for popular KiwiSDR portals

Many thanks to the crew at KiwiSDR.com who have made simple subdomain style forwarding links to open and explore popular KiwiSDR portals:

Thank you–this makes it so much easier to remember KiwiSDR portal addresses!

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KiwiSDRs are back on Amazon

The KiwiSDR (Photo by Mark Fahey)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike, who writes:

Hi Thomas, I just noticed that Amazon has an inventory of KiwiSDRs for sale. I’m planning to snag one even though I don’t plan to put it online (because my IPDSL connection is just too slow). I’ve always wanted one and let’s just say I’ll be ready to join the community if I ever get a bandwidth upgrade! Price on Amazon is $299 for the full kit.

Thanks for the tip, Mike! You and I are in similar situations–my KiwiSDR (a gift from Mark Fahey–thanks!) would be online right now if I had the bandwidth and enough monthly data to support it. Like you, when I get an Internet pipeline upgrade, one of the first things I’ll do is put my KiwiSDR online!

Click here to view on Amazon (this affiliate link supports the SWLing Post at no cost to you)

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