Bits of SDR

The hackspace is a bit quiet at the moment, we’re waiting for some room to set up our laser cutter.  NSME are kindly giving us some space and have even provided some fire extinguishers, optimistic that they are.  Hopefully by the beginning of April we will have space for it.

In the meantime, I did some tooling around with the RTL SDR dongle, the software support for which has come on marvellously, and after some fun following some guides on the ‘net, we were able to pick up the ADS-B location broadcasts of airplanes overhead – albeit in a very small range, due to the antenna in use that isn’t designed for 1.09GHz.
For the curious, I originally started with the rtl_adsb library that comes with rtlsdr these days (also worth investigating the rtl_tcp server if you want to leave your dongle in an RPi…).  This puts out the decoded broadcasts to an almost human-readable level.  I then installed the VirtualRadar software (which is cross platform) . . . which didn’t decode the messages at all (linked together via netcat).  It confirmed it received messages, and that they were not badly formatted, but couldn’t decode them either.
I then tried using this guide and used the gr-air-modes application instead.  The uhd_modes.py script it recommends has been replaced with rx_modes instead but the syntax is the same.  This wasn’t too painful for me as I already had gnuradio installed.  For those that don’t though, the latest in Ubuntu 12.10 is compatible with the osmocom extra sources.

Site refresh

Those not following this site by RSS will have noticed the website has become a bit more stripped back recently. The latest version of WordPress doesn’t work so well with the old theme, so it’s had to leave us.

Any opinions on the new one? Too plain? Just the facts? Put them in the comments.

Regular pub meets

We’re going to start having regular pub meets to chat outside the clubhouse, where food and alcoholic drink are both available.  They will be every other month, starting Wednesday 13th February, at the Charles Bradlaugh pub.  See our Calendar or Facebook for details.  

Invite your friends!

Workshop: Marble Madness – 21st Jan

The next workshop to run at NortHACKton will be another session run by Martin Raynsford, based on his previous success with his useless machine workshop last year.  This time you can build your own marble machine!  Turn a crank to run marbles down a con

e, again and again and again.  The workshop costs £12, which includes the complete kit.  Ball bearings included.

This is a slightly more simple build than the useless machine – no soldering required.  Here’s my own attempt at building one of Martin’s prototypes.  This will run on Monday 21st January.  The space will be open from 7pm as usual and we’ll aim to start at 8pm, although if enough people arrive earlier we’ll start, and then start people as they arrive, as this worked well last time so that not everyone needs the same tool at the same time.
If you wish to bring your own tools, the following may be useful:
  • Wood glue
  • Small pliers
  • Craft knife
  • Needle file
They will however all be provided if you don’t have them.  If you’re coming, feel free to comment on here, or on the mailing list, or via our Facebook page, so we’re expecting you.