BigWhoop: Global Spectrum Monitoring Network with RTL-SDR Dongles

The American space agency NASA runs a yearly challenge called the “International Space Apps Challenge”. The challenge encourages global collaboration in solving several space and Earth related problems. This year one of the challengers is creating a system called the “BigWhoop” which will be a global networked system of radio receivers that will be used to continuously monitor the radio spectrum. They write:

[BigWhoop] is a full system for collecting data from small radio-receivers measuring everything within the radio spectrum around the world. BigWhoop schedules the monitoring, the collection of data via the internet, the database handling and the final analysis as well as visualization.

As well as being able to constantly track aircraft through ADS-B signals, they write that BigWhoop will have the following other applications:

We can detect places of high spectrum activities such as radio towers and tell you, when a new music channel starts its broadcast service. Or we can find sweet spots of radio silence where radio telescopes can be placed and listen to weak cosmic radio sources, that would have been drowned in man-made radio noise otherwise.

The BigWhoop code is still in “pre-alpha”, but they are currently asking for owners of RTL-SDR dongles to be volunteer testers.

Recently we also posted about some similar networked radio projects. One called ThumbNet which has a greater emphasis on education and promotion of the sciences, and another called SatNOGs which focuses on the receiving and global networking of satellite communications.

bigwhoop global spectrum monitoring spaceapps2015 stuttgart local winner airtraffic

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Andreas -horn- Hornig

The NASA Space Apps Stuttgart 2015 Hackathon winner BigWhoop is a finalist for the NASA Global People’s Choice Award!

The NASA Space Application Challenge 2015: one hackathon weekend, 133 cities around the world, 949 projects, and our BigWhoop project is among the final 15 for the global People’s Choice Award. Read on to learn what happened during the event at the Stuttgart hackerspace shackspace and then go on and vote for BigWhoop and make it win the award!

Just visit this page and vote for our #BigWhoop app (once a day).

NASA’s Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration/hackathon organized on a global scale and held in all major cities worldwide, with a focus on finding solutions to challenges faced in space exploration and also to life on Earth.

The Winner of the Stuttgart chapter of Global NASA Space Apps Challenge is BigWhoop. BigWhoop addresses the “Open Source Air Traffic Tracking” Challenge. This challenge required the building of a tool that allowed users to select a particular flight and see its out-the-window or other views of the aircraft, and airspace. We decided to extend the scope of the project a bit. Our app was designed as a global sensor grid to measure the whole radio spectrum -thus making air traffic monitoring a subset of the solution. This free and community driven approach based on small and low-cost software defined radio devices earned the local team a global nomination for NASA’s People’s Choice Awards and will be competing to be among the final 15 out of 949 projects for global People’s Choice awards. And now you can vote for the Stuttgart Team as of 27 April.

Watch the #BigWhoop Video

Find out more in blog and join the BigWhoop team >>