Is there any piece of hardware or software I can use that will allow me to transmit and/or receive radio signals from my laptop? I'd prefer to do it using my existing hardware, like my wifi card, but I'd be okay with buying a special piece of hardware too.

To be clear, I'm not simply looking to pick up and transmit radio or tv signals on my computer. I'm planning on building something a bit more complicated and a lot more flexible which will work over a wider frequency range. For example I would like to be able to monitor two-way radio channels, or perhaps transmit audio to baby monitors or on unused fm radio frequencies.

Oh, and in case you're wondering I don't really have a particular reason for wanting to do this. I just think it would be a really fun project.

  • Can you explain "a bit more complicated" so someone might suggest an answer? – Dave M May 30 '11 at 20:28
  • Yes there are. However, the answer depends very much on the frequency range and power required. – Chris Nava May 30 '11 at 20:51
  • Okay, I'll edit a few details into the question. – Ajedi32 May 30 '11 at 22:01
  • Existing wireless hardware is tuned to particular frequencies, which are a bit removed from the frequencies for CB, Ham, or commercial radio. While you may be able to hack some hardware to work on these frequencies, there is the issue of propagation. The antenna for WiFi will simply not work very well for receiving these other frequencies. – music2myear May 31 '11 at 15:13
  • I suggest you get a ham license and learn something about radio first. – Jamie Hanrahan Feb 20 '17 at 18:57

Check out GNU Radio. Sounds like you'd be interested in the USRP hardware. There is also the GNU Radio Archive Network. Somebody may have already built the application you're looking for or at least you'll have some non-trivial working examples to learn from.

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  • Yes, that looks almost exactly like what I'm looking for. Seems kind of complicated though, I don't have a lot of experience coding in python. – Ajedi32 May 30 '11 at 23:40

Make sure to check out RTL-SDRs also. They cost significantly less (around $10-$100) than USRP (but are RX only). Another thing is the HackRF (which wasn't around when this was first posted but I figure this may help someone in the future searching for the same thing). Also, there are command line utilities to control frequency, gain, bandwidth, etc in the rtl-sdr software package.

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