The image above represents everything nerdy Geoff wanted growing up. Alas, it hadn’t been invented yet. I waited.
The display shows the output from a small radio plugged into my computer. I was listening to FM radio.
I have a few SDR dongles hidden away among my techie booty. SDR stands for software defined radio, itself a crazy concept.
The radios we all listened to into the last decade were filled with physical components like coils and mesh capacitors. No more. That stuff’s now done in software. No moving parts.
My SDR dongles are plugged into the USB port of my laptop then connected to an antenna. I’m doing this from the couch on the patio. It’s all very simple.
The dongle is ready to be a radio. All it needs is instructions on what exactly to listen to. That’s accomplished with software like SDR# (pictured above). As with most hobby software, SDR# is free and open source.
Since it’s just data being manipulated amazing things are possible. It’s possible to record a wide band of frequencies containing many stations all at once. As far as I can tell it can record around ⅓ the FM band at once. Play back a slice of time and hear anything that was going on. Then rerun that same time and listen to something else.
The dongle I have is supposed to receive AM broadcasts, but I’ve had zero luck. Same goes for shortwave. Work in progress.
Did I mention the whole shooting match was under $25? I love the future!