Most computing platforms are capable of interfacing to input sensors which cover the audio spectrum (microphones) and the visible light spectrum (cameras) and whatever someone else has thought to capture and made available via intranets and the internet. But until recently the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum has not been catered for in this ubiquitous way.
The radio end of that electromagnetic spectrum includes a good deal of broadcast entertainment and various forms of analogue and digital communications - and in a world where internet censorship is increasing, access to raw transmitted radio traffic, accessible across borders by means of a simple antenna, has growing appeal.
Meanwhile, "Big Data" is happening and discussed widely as we observe mushrooming numbers of sensors and ever more complex databases. But if you have an interest in collecting data which no-one else has thought to collect, and if that data can be collected from radio reception at an antenna, then smart receivers are what you may need. I say 'smart' meaning 'smart' in their location (demanding remote access and or portability) and 'smart' in terms of controlling signal selection, recording techniques and in the way they enable post processing of, and access to, the resulting information. This is where the modern Software Defined Radio connected to a versatile computing platform, ticks most of the 'smart' boxes.
Popular with Radio Amateurs, the SDRplay family of Radio Spectrum Processors provide Software Defined Radio functionality and a level of radio receiver performance which a few years ago would have cost 1000s of Dollars. Their frequency range has been extended to cover from 1 kHz up to 2 GHz.
SDRplay have now made available a Raspberry Pi3 SD Card image which can be downloaded to give full local and remote receiver functionality on Linux, building on the work done by others (e.g. SoapySDR, SoapyRemote and Cubic SDR developers. )
Whether it's radio astronomy, meteorology, broadcast media analysis, surveillance, environmental studies, IoT infrastructure development or whacky new inventions around 'context-driven' tuning or spectrum analysis - there's a good chance you can do something new when you give your RPi a new set of eyes!
This video talks through the EasyPlay process which combines the power of Raspberry Pi with the versatility and performance of the SDRplay RSP.
The RSP1, RSP2 and RSP2pro are all available from RS Components.