Tag Archives: Raspberry PI 3

The new Raspberry Pi 3 B+ and a number of RPi projects

Last month, on “Pi Day” (March 14, 2018) an upgraded Raspberry Pi 3 B was announced on the Raspberry Pi website. The new $35 B+ sports a few performance enhancements over the original–most notably:

  • A 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU
  • Dual-band 802.11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2
  • Faster Ethernet (Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0)
  • Power-over-Ethernet support (with separate PoE HAT)
  • Improved PXE network and USB mass-storage booting
  • Improved thermal management

Here’s a short promo video posted with the announcement:

Click here view on YouTube.

I immediately navigated to my favorite Raspberry Pi source–AdaFruit–and requested a notification when the new units were available to purchase. A few weeks later, I got the notification and placed an order within minutes (you see, when the Pi 3 B was first released, I hesitated a day and had to wait a few weeks for the second shipment!).

I received my RPi 3 B+ a few days ago:

I immediately attempted to put this unit into service but learned that it requires the latest firmware which was only released a week or so ago. If you have have an RPi 3 B+, here’s where to fetch the latest firmware:

NOOBS:
https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/noobs/
or if you want Raspbian:
https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/
and install on SD per instructions here:
https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentati … /README.md

After receiving this latest Pi, I quickly realized I’ve bought a number of Raspberry Pi models over the years and currently have them in service for a variety ofc projects.  Here’s a list of all of my current Pi-powered applications:

That’s a total of seven RPi projects that are in service at time of posting!

As I mentioned earlier, I try to buy most of my Pi equipment from the amazing AdaFruit retailer–I like supporting what they do even if I pay a small premium.

But AdaFruit seems to rarely have stock in some of my favorite Pi bundle packages. If I’m buying a Raspberry Pi for a new application, I look for a package with at least a case, a 2.5 amp power supply, a 32 or 64GB MicroSD card, and two heat sinks (though I’m not certain the B+ needs a heatsink). I tend to grab this one or this one from Amazon (affiliate links).

Post readers: Have you ever used a Raspberry Pi? If so, in what sort of applications? How many do you own?  Please comment!

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Tudor demos his portable Raspberry Pi-powered AirSpy HF+

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tudor Vedeanu, who has kindly shared details about his portable Raspberry Pi system which now can run the AirSpy HF+ SDR.

Tudor writes:

I bought the RPi to use it as a Spyserver for my Airspy HF+ SDR.

My main radio listening location is a small house located on a hill outside the city and there is no power grid there (it’s a radio heaven!), so everything has to run on batteries and consume as little power as possible.

My first tests showed that the Raspberry Pi works very well as a Spyserver: the CPU usage stays below 40% and the power consumption is low enough to allow it to run for several hours on a regular USB power bank. If I add a 4G internet connection there I could leave the Spyserver running and connect to it remotely from home.

Then I wondered if the Raspberry Pi would be powerful enough to run a SDR client app. All I needed was a portable screen so I bought the official 7” touchscreen for the RPi.

I installed Gqrx, which offers support for the Airspy HF+. I’m happy to say it works better than I expected, even though Gqrx wasn’t designed to work on such a small screen. The CPU usage is higher than in Spyserver mode (70-80%) but the performance is good. Using a 13000 mAh power bank I get about 3.5 hours of radio listening.

I made a video showing how it works:

Click here to view on YouTube.

This is fantastic, Tudor. Thanks for taking the time to put together a video for us. I’ve just ordered the latest Raspberry Pi 3 (Model B+). It has slightly more horsepower than the previous Pi3. Tudor, you’ve inspired me to grab the 7″ touch display as well and try my hand at running the AirSpy HF+ portable.

I’m not sure if the Raspberry Pi 3 will be able to record spectrum without hiccups, but it’s certainly worth a try.

As you tweak your system, please keep us in the loop!

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ADS-B for SDRplay RSP1 and RSP2 now available

I was very happy to see the following message from Jon Hudson at SDRplay this morning:

“ADS-B for both RSP1 and RSP2 is now available for the Raspberry Pi 2 & 3 – you can get the software from downloads – http://www.sdrplay.com/downloads

If you are an RSP2 user, make sure you use Antenna Port B when running ADS-B.”

This is great news as I’ve had a number of readers ask if the RSP series SDR was compatible with the DUMP1090 ADS-B system.

The SDRplay RSP2

If you have an RSP1 or RSP2 and either a Raspberry Pi 2 or Pi 3, this will be an easy, accessible way to experiment with ADS-B.

In the long run, however, I’d never devote an RSP as a dedicated ADS-B feeder. Why? The RSP is a very versatile, full-featured SDR and I wouldn’t want to tie it up with such a relatively routine, simple task.

Instead, I’d give ADS-B a try with the RSP, and if I liked it, I’d purchase this inexpensive FlightAware RTL-SDR dongle with a built-in 1090 MHz bandpass filter for $18.95.

Click here to read my recent article about setting up a FlightAware ADS-B feeder.

I’m always so happy to see such active application development from “Mom and Pop” companies like SDRplay and AirSpy. Just more ways to put your SDR to work for you!

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Making a FlightAware ADS-B feeder with a Raspberry Pi 3 and RTL-SDR dongle

It’s been nearly a year since I acquired both the RTL-SDR (above) and Rasperry Pi 3 (below)r.

Remember when I made a plea for Pi 3 projects just last year––?

Although many of you suggested some great projects, I never actually got around to doing any of them. Now, don’t get me wrong––I wanted to, of course, but simply got involved with reviews, NPOTA, two months of travel…and, well, life.

Then, last week at the Winter SWL Fest, a common theme emerged in both presentations and discussions:  the numerous applications of the super-cheap, and thus super-ubiquitous, RTL-SDR dongle. In their engaging presentations, both Dan Srebnick and Mark Fahey––SWLing Post contributors and good friends––focused on the power of the RTL-SDR, expounding upon some simple, inexpensive applications in their forums. It was inspiring. Also, buddy Eddie Muro showed me just how easily an ADS-B receiver could be set up using an Android phone.

Back to the Pi. Though I was already aware the Pi 3 and RTL-SDR could be united to make an ADS-B receiver, watching Mark Fahey talk about how simply one could feed the FlightAware network with ADS-B data finally hooked me.  Why not, indeed? Here was fun to be had!

Mark preparing to woo his captive audience at the Winter SWL Fest!

I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, so Tuesday, the day following my return, I set the afternoon aside.  I rolled up my sleeves, and with my long-neglected Pi 3 and RTL-SDR, got ready to cook up a flight sensor.

I figured I was probably missing a component or two, and fully expected the process to be complicated, but decided I wouldn’t let this deter me. And guess what? I was wrong on both counts!

FlightAware ADS-B feeder recipe

Ingredients:

If you only plan to use this SDR and antenna as an ADS-B feeder, you might go for the FlightAware Dongle and 1090 MHz antenna combo.

Directions:

Note: I used this excellent PiAware ADS-B feeder tutorial to build my system–it’s detailed and doesn’t make the lofty assumption that you actually understand formatting cards, building disk images, and/or editing config text files.

Directions below are a highly distilled version of that tutorial. If you’re new to all of this, as I was, follow these directions instead of the above tutorial. Be aware that the directions assume you’re using the Pi 3 and a Windows PC to burn the image file.

  1. Download PiAware image7-zipSD card formatter, and the Win32 Disk Imager. Decompress all compressed files, install and note the folder locations.
  2. Register your username at FlightAware–presuming you don’t already have an account, of course.
  3. Use SD Card Formatter to format your MicroSD card.  Just make sure you’re formatting the correct drive, else you could easily wipe the wrong disk/card!
  4. Use Win32 Disk imager to write the PiAware image to your MicroSD card.
  5. If using WiFi, open Windows Explorer.  Locate text document called piaware-config on the MicroSD card, open it with a text editor, and locate the WiFi ssid and password locations. Per the config comments, edit them to match your WiFi system. Note that any special characters in both the name and password will require the use of quotation marks (again, noted in the config file comments). Save the file in the same location on the disc image.
  6. Remove the microSD card containing the PiAware image; insert it into the Pi 3.
  7. Connect the RTL-SDR or FlightAware dongle to the Raspberry Pi. Attach an appropriate antenna to the RTL-SDR. Note:  You’ll get the best results if you place the antenna outdoors with line of sight to the skies.
  8. Plug the Raspberry Pi 3 into a power source…and cross your fingers!
  9. Grab a cup of coffee, walk the dog, or listen to this 12 minute version of the BBC countdown; it could take at least this long for FlightAware to start receiving data from your ADS-B feeder.
  10. When you see this My ADS-B button in the header of FlightAware (see below), you’ll know you’re in business. Congratulations!  You can now watch the skies.

Feeding FlightAware

After my ADS-B receiver had been in operation for a while, I was very impressed with the data FlightAware was able to pull from my ADS-B feed. I was equally impressed with the number of distant aircraft I could receive with such a modest antenna––a number of them up to 135 miles from my location. Once I find a suitable outdoor location for the mag mount antenna, currently indoors, I expect the reception distance will increase significantly.

You can also connect to the live feed from your ADS-B receiver through your local network. Here’s a screenshot of my live data:

Future plans

At the moment, my ADS-B receiver is located indoors, in a south-facing window.

It works, but clearly isn’t ideal. Since the Pi 3 connects to my network via WiFi, I intend to install the full ADS-B receiver system into a small weatherproof case and mount it outside. My Pi 3 has no case, so I purchased an inexpensive one yesterday. I should be able to feed it power with an outdoor outlet…but I’m very tempted to experiment with making it solar powered.  To find out if this is a logical move, I need to observe and measure the power requirements first, and will be doing that in the next few weeks.

Meantime, I’m thoroughly enjoying watching the (amazingly busy) traffic in the skies…and the kid in me relishes it!

Thanks, Mark, for the great idea!

Have any SWLing Post readers attempted to build a solar-powered or outdoor ADS-B receiver? Please comment!

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Let’s talk Raspberry Pi 3 radio projects…

RaspberryPi3-Box

I just received the recently released Raspberry Pi 3 that I ordered from MCM a couple weeks ago.

RaspberryPi3

Now I’m plotting a few potential radio projects!

Recommendations anyone?

I’d love some input from SWLing Post readers as I’d like to feature a few Raspberry Pi projects here (and I’d certainly welcome your guest posts!).

RTL-SDR

I’d love to run my RTL-SDR or (better yet)  SDRplay RSP with the Pi 3, but I’m sure there are a number of other projects I’ve never considered. I also have the original Raspberry Pi, but what I love about the Pi 3 is built-in wireless connectivity–of course, it’s faster than the original Pi, so I’m sure that’ll help with many radio applications.

Please comment with your suggestions and Raspberry Pi experience! I’m all ears!

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