Turn your Mac into a radio scanner for $15.

Turn your Mac into a radio scanner for $15.


Hello and welcome to another episode of the
iBookGuy. It is my job to show you cool things that you can do with your Mac. And I have
something really unusual and interesting for you today. I want to show you this little
guy. Its a USB dongle that you can buy on ebay for about $15. Comes with this little
antenna here. So, the purpose of these is for watching television. But these aren’t
designed for American television standards, they’re actually designed for European, I
believe. But we’re not going to use them for watching television, there is something else
you can do with them, which I’m going to show you. OK, so just plug in this thing and go
online and download a program called GQRX. This is a software defined radio. You can
type in any frequency you want to listen to. Lets try listening to FM radio. A popular
station in the Dallas area is Mix 102.9. It comes in quite clearly. “exclusively at Kroger.
1 0 2 9 NOW one station” But what about some less obvious things. How about C.B. radio
on channel 19? I can tune my scanner to 27.185 Mhz and hit the transmit button. “testing,
testing, 1, 2, 3.” What about using a GMRS or amateur radio? I can key in a frequency
on my radio and put in the same frequency on my scanner and talk away. “this is a test
of iBookGuy broadcasting system. Thank you for listening.” What if I want to listen to
NOAA weather radio? “highs in the mid 70’s. South winds 5 to 10 miles an hour becoming
North” I can also listen to the Arlington Police Dispatch. “OK FD squad 2 just drove
off. 10-4” Here’s one you might not have thought of. What does my chevy keyfob sound like?
What about my Nissan keyfob? Notice that it transmits on two frequencies at the same time.
Here are some other thoughts of things to listen to. Fire Department, Airplanes, Marine
VHF, and business radios. So yeah, there are an endless number of things that you can listen
to with this. One of the things that you’ll find out when you start just kind of randomly
looking through the radio spectrum is you will be amazed at how many frequencies are
actually in use all of the time, all around you. I mean, you can’t see it, you can’t hear
it, you don’t even typically have devices that can receive it, but the airwaves are
actually quite crowded. Most of the signals are digital signals so you’re just going to
hear weird noises and stuff. Um, but there’s a lot of analog stuff out there you can listen
to. So anyway, I hope that you might find some kind of useful entertainment out of this
device. I mean it’s $15, about the cost of getting a pizza. So it’s not a whole lot to
spend. I would point out when you go to buy one of these, just look on ebay and type in
something like S.D.R. for software defined radio. You’re most likely going to find some
of these things already being advertised for that purpose so you’ll know you’re getting
the right one. And of course, it goes without saying, these things work on Windows computers
as well. In fact, it was hard for me to find some software to show you that works on the
Macs. So if you have a windows machine you actually have even a wider selection of different
software that you can use for your software defined radio. And if you liked the episode,
please go ahead and click like, that’s how I know I’m doing a good job. And consider
subscribing if you haven’t already. And until, next time. See you later!

100 thoughts on “Turn your Mac into a radio scanner for $15.

  1. nice vid. how could one trace the source of a radio wave, say from a covert organization at an undisclosed location somewhere on the planet?

  2. Not that it matters anymore, but does it let you access the cellular frequencies? Police scanners have those locked out under FCC rules.

  3. It even works under Linux. GQRX is even in the Ubuntu & Linux Mint respositories so installation is super easy. You can use any USB DVBT Stick that has the RTL 920T2 chip inside. However you can't listen to AM radio with it since AM brodcasts at lower frequencies and the USB stick only starts receiving at 24,869 megahertz. When you add a better antenna (an active one with amplifier) your reception quality will be even better.

  4. If we're all buying these sdr dongles in the U.S. that are originally made to pick up European digital TV signals (& yes, I know like you said there's a bunch of stuff to listen to like U.S. FM radio, etc.(I have gqrx on my Mac & an RTL-SDR & it works great!)), but is there no dongle for sale that will pick up U.S. digital TV signals?

  5. Does the software detect the frequency of a nearby signal, such as your key fobs? Or did you already know that?

    I wonder if there is similar software for Linux. I'm dual boot Mac-Linux, but transitioning to all-Linux.

    Does the software also scan within 2 freq. limits?

  6. Hi 8-bit guy, do you have any videos or advise on getting started, set up to the point you're at, displaying the rf?

  7. Enjoy watching some of your old stuff. Nice to see where you've come from 😛 Back then you were offering folks a chance to join you in creating and now you're living off it. At least, as much as one can off ad rev these days I'm sure.

  8. Even better run from a ras pi and you can even setup portable stratux box if you're a pilot an other uses include tracking planes and Satellites in real time. These sdr modules and accessories like boxes to lower the frequency further and pas pi software mean anyone can control the radio waves preset easily. That's for into vid to the sdr dongle I'm sure lots of ppl will be interested. Cheers : )

  9. 1:45 NOAA doesn't use this voice anymore, especially on Channel 4. They use something similar to IVONA or something like that.

  10. I think you have to have a ham license a very expensive one because there are three types of ham license so you're literally tapping into a ham radio and I have a handheld CB and I am thinking of getting a ham radio but not going to use it until I get my license

  11. It works with old pci tv card as well if you want a fun afternoon retro hack project. I discovered this by accident, I was playing around with the settings of my card and heard some Police chatter (without any antenna and ultra clearly). I went to the window and there was indeed a cop car. I'd say the range is 15-20m without antenna. Btw guys, you can listen but be sure you don't transmit anything even by accident on non civilian frequencies. You'll get a pretty bad scold…never pushed it further and never will ^^

  12. 8 Bit Guy – I used to be able to SEE peoples CRT screens with my Radio. I would drive around in my Scooby Van and with my TV antenna mounted on the Roof , I could see ANYONES PC or Mac screen, provided they were Still using a CRT screen. when we all swiched to LCD monitors that all Stopped. but, it did not deter me as many Company refuse to upgrade to LCD for a long time.

  13. Thanks for all the cool video's. Anyone know if there a USB tuner that can be used as an SDR radio that can also pick up ATSC?

  14. Perfect device and presentation …. it offers a completely new world for those who can not yet buy an expensive scanner, and can now experience it on the PC at home.
    However, it can not replace a radio scanner yet, because the dongle software does not (yet) succeed in actually 'scanning' through the frequencies, like a radio scanner is able to do.

  15. SDR are a Dumb Receiver , until a PC with Software is used to Refine the RF Signal the Dongle can pick up, also the Antenna that come with SDR are cheap Antennas than don't offer Full Coverage. and even With Software a SDR is NO Replacement for a Communications Receiver or a Digital SDR Scanner. you really cant take a SDR with you or While Walking. a Digital SDR Scanner can do more.

  16. SDR has made significant advances since this video was made. In 2013 it was a fairly new concept, now there are software interfaces that are starting to emulate the front panels of expensive HAM radio receivers at a fraction of the cost of the hardware.

  17. he SAY WHAT ABOUT GMRS or ham radio. Types in gmrs frequency. I don't know if he has a ham licence. I would recommend you buy a $30 SDR from amazon you can listen to hf ham radio traffic

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