Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi

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!

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!

Raspberry Pi image with preloaded SDRplay RSP software

The $35 Raspberry Pi 3

SDRplay support have just posted the following news on their community forum:

We have released a Raspberry Pi 3 image that has a number of SDR applications pre-built and tested that support the RSP. Periodically, we will update the image with software updates and new software.

The current list of software included on the image is:

SoapySDR/SoapySDRPlay, SoapyRemote, ADS-B (dump1090), CubicSDR and SDR-J DAB receiver

Please note: This is a complete OS with software image. Writing the image to a micro SD card will wipe the micro SD card of any other data that is on there, so we recommend you make sure you have backed up any data on your existing micro SD card or you use a new micro SD card.

Instructions:

1. Download image. There are two downloads provided, the 7zip version is just a smaller download but not everyone has 7zip which is why we also provide a zip download. The links are here:

http://www.sdrplay.com/software/SDRplay_RPi3_V0.1.zip (2.7 GB)

http://www.sdrplay.com/software/SDRplay … 0.1.img.7z (2.0 GB)

2. Extract the contents of the compressed file. This will extract to a .img file which will be about 7.2 GB

3. Use an image writer such as Win32DiskImager (https://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager) to put the image onto the micro SD card.
WARNING: Please make sure that you use the correct drive letter for the micro SD card. The image writing software will completely remove any data that is on the destination media.

That’s it – put the micro SD card into the Raspberry Pi 3 micro SD card slot and boot the system. Allow the system to fully boot and you will see a GUI that will allow you to run each of the applications or read further information.

We also recommend that you use an active cooling system on your Raspberry Pi 3 to avoid any issues with over heating. In our tests, we have used heatsinks and a fan in a case. The CPU speed will be throttled if the temperature gets too hot, so for optimum use this is really recommended. These cases are available at reasonable prices from many Raspberry Pi stores.

If you are a developer of software that supports the RSP and you would like to be included on the image that we will release periodically, please contact us at software@sdrplay.com – currently we’re aiming to update the image every quarter, this will largely depend on software availability and what the demand is.

We are aware of other software that we are looking to get onto the next release such as Pothos and more SDR-J software. We will work with developers on any issues we’ve seen during this process so that we can get them onto future images.

Best regards,

SDRplay Support

This is great news in my book, because a fully-loaded and configured disk image makes it much easier to get started with an RSP/Pi combo.

Note that the message above is merely the announcement on SDRplay’s community forum. I would strongly encourage you to follow this thread, and the forum in general, if you’re interested in updates and announcements.

Raspberry Pi systems are very affordable and available in a number of configurations (from $35US – $80US depending on accessories) and from a number of retailers including:

Dan’s take on ADS-B with the Raspberry Pi B model

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Srebnick (K2DLS), who recently posted a detailed overview of his ADS-B installation on his blog:

Monitoring NextGen ATC (on the cheap!)

A key component of next generation air traffic control is Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B). The current FAA mandate is for all included aircraft to output ADB-B transmissions no later than January 1, 2020. But you don’t have to wait to receive and map ADS-B. There is a lot of air traffic to be seen.

[…]I decided to use a spare older RTL-SDR stick based on the RTL2832U and R820T chips. This USB device comes with a small antenna that I hoped would be good enough to get me started. It is not in any way optimized for the 1090 MHz signals that are used by ADS-B and is roughly 19 parts per million (ppm) off frequency. It cost a bit over $10 at a hamfest a couple of years ago. The designs have improved since the early models were offered. Newer models include a TCXO (thermally compensated crystal oscillator) for stability and accuracy.

I needed software to take signals from the RTL-SDR stick and plot them on a map. That software is “dump1090”, originally written by Salvatore Sanfilippo. I added an install stanza to the Makefile, along with a systemd service file, for a smooth system install. I also needed to install the RTL-SDR USB drivers. The complete installation runs “headless”, meaning no monitor, keyboard or mouse need be connected. Remote management can be done via ssh.[…]

Continue reading on Dan’s blog…

This is fantastic, Dan! Thank you for taking the time to share all of the code snippets you needed to do the installation on the Raspberry Pi B as well. Post Readers: if you have an older Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR sitting on a shelf, use Dan’s guidance to turn them into an ADS-B feeder!

Click here to read my ADS-B feeder tutorial based on the Raspberry Pi 3.

Raspberry Pi WiFi Radio with touch screen

For those of us who like to tinker with the Raspberry Pi, this looks like a fun weekend project.

It’s multi-step, but I believe this project could be completed by almost anyone–you wouldn’t have to be a Raspberry Pi or Python guru (code snippets can be downloaded, for example).

Here’s a short video demonstration of the finished Raspberry Pi Touchscreen WiFi Radio:

Click here to view on YouTube.

The whole project is documented on the superb AdaFruit website.