Tagged: spectrum painter

RPiTX v2 Released: Easily Record and Replay with RTL-SDR and a Raspberry Pi

RPiTX is software for the Raspberry Pi which can turn it into a 5 kHz to 1500 MHz transmitter which can transmit any arbitrary signal. In order to transmit the software does not require any additional hardware apart from a wire plugged into a GPIO pin on the expansion header. It works by modulating the GPIO pin with square waves in such a way that the desired signal is generated. However, although additional hardware isn't required, if RPiTX is to be used in any actual application a band-pass filter is highly recommended in order to remove any harmonics which could interfere and jam other radio systems.

Earlier this month RPiTX was upgraded to version 2. One of the changes is a new GUI for testing the various transmission modes. Currently it is possible to transmit a chirp, FM with RDS, USB, SSTV, Opera, Pocsag, SSTV, Freedv. There is also a spectrum painter which allows you to display an image on a SDR's waterfall.

The RPiTX V2 GUI
The RPiTX V2 GUI
Painting an Image on a SDR Waterfall Display with RPiTX v2
Painting an Image on a SDR Waterfall Display with RPiTX v2

The RPiTX v2 update also makes recording a signal with an RTL-SDR, and replaying that signal with RPiTX significantly easier. Previously it was necessary to go through a bunch of preprocessing steps (as described in our previous tutorial) in order to get a transmittable file, but now RPiTX is capable of transmitting a recorded IQ file directly. This makes copying things like 433 MHz ISM band remotes significantly easier. One application might be to use RPiTX as an internet connected home automation tool which could control all your wireless devices.

Finally, another application of the RPiTX and RTL-SDR combination is a live RF relay. The software is able to receive a signal at one frequency from the RTL-SDR, and then re-transmit it at another frequency in real time. Additionally, it is also capable of live transmodulation, where it receives an FM radio station, demodulates and then remodulates it as SSB to transmit on another frequency.

The RPiTX V2 RTL-SDR Menu
The RPiTX V2 RTL-SDR Menu
RPiTX v2 re-transmitting a broadcast FM signal live at 434 MHz.
RPiTX v2 re-transmitting a broadcast FM signal live at 434 MHz.

Painting on the RF Spectrum with a HackRF

Last week several people from the Chaos Communication Camp conference and others on the #hackrf IRC channel were playing around with the idea of painting pictures on the RF spectrum with the HackRF – a low cost transmit capable software defined radio. This idea works simply by modulating a signal so that it produces a desired image pattern on a frequency domain waterfall display.

To make this easier to do, GitHub user polygon has authored a Python program called Spectrum Painter which easily converts an image into an IQ file which can be transmitted with a HackRF. In addition as described in the Reddit thread linked above, a Windows program called Coagula can also be used to convert images into .wav files, which can then be transmitted on any capable radio. The RF painted images can then be received on another SDR radio like the RTL-SDR.

As always remember to only transmit at a frequency you are licensed on, or at low power in a RF controlled environment.

Below is an example image and video showing images being painted on the RF waterfall.

Spectrum painter transmitted output image
Spectrum painter transmitted output image
hackrf transmitting images in the frequency domain