Streaming a Scanner

A while back, I purchased a Uniden Bearcat BCD356HP. As I understand it, the original concept for this scanner was that it would be able to stream to a remote client over the Internet letting you listen even when you weren’t home. Unfortunately that capability has never been realized.

Some of you may be familiar with RadioReference.com and the relationship they have with broadcastify.com. There are hundreds of scanners across the country that are being streamed. I use an Android app called Scanner Radio Pro on my phone and tablet. One of the really cool features is that it can alert you when a lot of people begin listening to a particular scanner feed. More than once I have been listening to breaking news live from a police scanner feed before the story hit any of the news sites.

I stream the local police and sheriff channels off the regional P25 system and it has been an interesting experience.

I started with Ubuntu Linux and have now migrated to VectorLinux 7.1. Even though the box set an ran for over a year, something cause the Ubuntu installation to begin dropping the stream.

Streaming has two components. I use darkice to stream from my local computer to broadcastify.com. I’m not sure what they use, but there is a different piece of software on their servers to handle connecting and streaming to the end listener.

Trust me, I enjoy being able to listen to the traffic from back home when I travel. When I was having problems getting a stable feed, it seemed like some people felt like I was going out of my way to interrupt their listening. It is a hobby and I only have so much free time to work on issues and resolving this last batch of problems required trying to install several different distributions of Linux before I found one that would both run on the computer I have free to use and allow me to run the darkice software.

I also have certain features that are important to me that are part of the configuration. I do local recording (in 30 minute chunks) so I have my own archives. (By streaming, you get a premium membership to broadcastify.com which also allows access to archives. I would rather just have my own that I capture locally.)

A few people have sent me harsh emails saying I am putting officers lives in danger by streaming the traffic. I once talked to a sheriff in another county about his feelings about streaming feeds and he made a good point: the suspect setting in the back of a cruiser can hear the radio just fine. His point was that most critical traffic is carried on “tactical” channels which are separate from those normally used or sensitive information is typically handled by cell phone these days.

But overall it has been educational as I worked on the Linux scripts that allow me to stream and capture the audio. In addition to the public safety feed, I am considering using the second channel (it is a stereo connection) for either the small regional airport near me or one of the local ham radio repeaters.

If there’s a feed for you local public safety channels, give it a listen. If there isn’t consider taking an older PC and putting it into service with your own feed. If you need some help with getting a Linux box streaming, drop me a message and I’ll see if I can help you.

73 de
Jim W4JBM

“With a soldering iron in one hand, a schematic in the other, and a puzzled look on his face…”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s