Category: Applications

SigintOS: A Linux Distro for Signal Intelligence

Recently we've heard of a new Linux distribution called SigintOS becoming available for download. SigintOS is an Ubuntu based distribution with a number of built in signal intelligence applications for software defined radios such as RTL-SDRs and other TX capable SDRs like the HackRF, bladeRF and USRP radios.

The distro appears to be very well executed, with a built in GUI that grants easy access to the some common sigint tools like an FM and GPS transmitter, a jammer, a GSM base station search tool and an IMSI catcher. SigintOS also has various other preinstalled programs such as GNU Radio, gr-gsm, YatesBTS, wireshark and GQRX.

The OS also teases an LTE search and LTE decoder which to access requires that you get in contact with the creators, presumably for a licencing fee. Regarding an LTE IMSI catcher they write:

LTE IMSI Catcher is not myth!

Due to the nature of LTE base stations, the capture of IMSI numbers seems impossible. LTE stations use GUTI to communicate with users instead of IMSI. The GUTI contains the temporary IMSI number called T-IMSI. This allows the operator to find out who is at the corresponding LTE station who is authorized to query T-IMSI information.

Can the GUTI number be found?
Answer Yes!

How to find GUTI and T-IMSI numbers?
Can be found with the help of SigintOS …

For detailed information [email protected]

The image comes as a 2GB ISO file, and it's possible to run it in WMWare or VirtualBox.

SIGINTOS IMSI Catcher
SigintOS IMSI Catcher

QIRX SDR Beta 2.0.1.0 Released: Improvements to DAB Scanner, Recorder and Spectra Display

QIRX SDR is a multimode SDR program compatible with the RTL-SDR. One of its defining features is that it has a built in DAB+ decoder. Recently beta version 2.01 of QIRX SDR was released which has some scanner, recording and spectra display improvements. We note that the beta version appears to be a DAB decoder only, with no multi-mode features. The new features and improvements include:

Scanner:

  • Configurable w/r to the Muxes to be scanned and/or included in the usual set of Muxes being used.
  • New algo, considerably faster
  • "Scan forever" feature, interesting for DX-ers wishing to observe Muxes over a longer time, particularly together with TII logging.
  • Selectable waiting time after recognition of a Mux, for TII logging.

Recorders:

  • TII Recorder: File structure improved, now directly importable into Excel, with TAB as separator.
  • Audio Recorder (DAB+ only): Format selectable between WAV (as usual) and pure AAC (with ADTS headers). The latter allows for high-quality recordings compressed by at least a factor of 10 compared to WAV. The popular Foobar2000 app is able to play these files. Not seekable yet though, because embedding in a suitable container is not yet implemented.

Spectra:

  • CIR with different scales (Samples, Distance, Time)
  • Indication of the correlation peaks used for the "FFT Window" determination in the CIR spectrum.
QIRX SDR Beta 2.0.1.0
QIRX SDR Beta 2.0.1.0
 

Receiving Voice Communications From the Soyuz MS-12 Expedition to the ISS

On March 14 the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft mission was launched and this carried three astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Back on the ground, YouTube creator Tysonpower was able to receive the voice communications of Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin while the Soyuz spacecraft was approaching the ISS. To do this he used an Airspy SDR and home made QFH antenna, and he notes that reception could just have easily been achieved with an RTL-SDR.

Tysonpower has uploaded a video explaining what he received along with a subtitled and translated recording of the communication. More information also available on his blog post.

[EN subs] Empfang von Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin im Soyuz MS-12

Conference Talk: Linux, Raspberry Pi, RTLSDR, LAME and Open Source (A Recipe For Responding to Natural Disasters)

The SCaLE conference on open source and free software was recently held on March 10 in Pasadena, California. One of the talks by Ben Kuo AI6YR was titled "Linux, Raspberry Pi, RTLSDR, LAME and Open Source (A Recipe For Responding to Natural Disasters)". This talk was streamed live, and is archived on YouTube.

In the talk Ben discusses how RTL-SDR's can be useful in disaster response by putting radio communications onto online audio streaming sites like Broadcastify. He notes how difficult it was for residents affected by the California wildfires to get up to date information on how close the fire was to their house from news stations and authorities. In contrast information on the internet came in much faster and more accurately. He notes in particular how listening in to firefighter radio communications via online streams uploaded by RTL-SDR users can give the fastest and most up to date information to concerned residents.

Ben also mentions how it can also useful to track the movement of fires via the ADS-B flight tracking data transmitted by fire fighting aircraft. By watching the aircraft movements the spread of the fire can be determined.

In the YouTube video stream, Ben's talk starts at about 3:31:00 and the video below should start at that time. The three other talks recorded in this stream are all ham radio related and may also be of interest to you.

Room 212 Sunday Mar. 10 - SCaLE 17x

Demonstration of Two SatNOGS Rotators

Thank you to IZ5RZR for writing in and sharing his two SatNOGS rotator builds with usSatNOGS is an open source project that aims to make it easy for volunteers to build and run RTL-SDR or other SDR based RF ground stations that automatically monitor satellites, and upload that data to the internet for public access.

IZ5RZR writes that he's now made two rotators and one was modified to use a 5:18 stepper motor (which is upgradable to 50:1) to give more torque so that heavier antennas can be turned smoothly. His rotators are powered by a 12V battery charged by solar, and they can be controlled over WiFi with a PC/tablet/phone. He's also tested the rotators with a 24 dB parabolic grid antenna and found that the rotator could handle it even without a counterweight. He also notes that together with IK5XWA they've fixed a "Meridian Flip" bug in the firmware.

The video below shows the two rotators in action.

IZ5RZR Two SatNOGS Satellite Rotators

A Worldwide Map for HRPT Weather Satellite Receive Stations

Recently Manuel (DO5TY aka Tysonpower from YouTube) wrote in and wanted to share his website that shows HRPT weather satellite receive stations from around the world on a map, and links to their Twitter pages where you can see the latest images that have been uploaded. The database also describes the SDR and antenna equipment used by each station. Currently there are 10 stations on the map, and Manuel encourages other people to submit their stations to the map database too. If you are interested in contributing your station to the map, please see Manuel's blog post for more information.

Since the satellite broadcasts a live image of what is currently being seen by the weather camera, each receiver location receives a live view of their part of the earth only. The end goal of Manuel's HRPT station map is to crowd source and collect multiple images of different parts of the earth to create a large HRPT composite image. In a previous post, Manuel who is based in Germany was able to create a beautiful composite image covering Germany, the Atlantic Ocean and Canada with the help of a station in Canada. With more contributors larger and more complete composite images of the Earth could be created.

HRPT is a high resolution weather satellite image signal that is broadcast from the same NOAA satellites that provide the more commonly received low resolution APT images at 137 MHz. HRPT is also broadcast from the Feng Yun and Metop-A satellites. However, HRPT transmits at 1.7 GHz, so a high gain dish antenna with motorized tracking mount, LNA and high bandwidth SDR like an Airspy is required to receive it.

HRPT Station Map
HRPT Station Map

Using Two PlutoSDR’s for Full Duplex Packet Radio Communications

Over on his channel SignalsEverywhere, Corrosive has uploaded a video showing us how we can create a full duplex packet radio communications system using two PlutoSDRs. Full duplex is the ability to transmit and receive at the same time. A single PlutoSDR is only half-duplex/simplex because it can only either receive or transmit at any one time. The PlutoSDR is a low cost (typically $99 - $149) RX/TX capable SDR with up to 56 MHz of bandwidth and 70 MHz to 6 GHz frequency range. 

On his video Corrosive explains how full duplex operation is desirable for amateur packet radio communications as it allows for faster and more continuous exchanges.  Demonstrations are performed with his PlutoSDR, SoundModem, EasyTerm, and SDRAngel. Later in the video he also speculates how it might be possible to do things like IP networks via the amateur radio bands with full duplex SDRs.

Full Duplex Radio Communication with PlutoSDR Tutorial

YouTube Tutorial: Decoding POCSAG and FLEX Pager Messages on Windows with PDW

Pager systems are famously known to be insecure, and due to the lack of encryption and high transmit power anyone with an RTL-SDR or other SDR can receive and decode pager messages. The users of pagers are mostly hospitals and doctors, and IT infrastructure professionals who need to be notified of server warnings and errors quickly. We have a text tutorial on decoding these messages with an RTL-SDR available here, and there are several previous posts discussing how insecure they are. 

If you prefer a video tutorial, M6LME on YouTube has recently uploaded one where he explains the PDW pager decoding software, the VB-Audio 'banana' audio mixing software, and how to use SDR-Console with an RTL-SDR and the aforementioned software to receive and decode the signal.

How to Decode POCSAG & FLEX using an RTL-SDR Dongle