Saturday, January 8, 2022

SigPi 5.0: What is it and what does it do?


HVDN is happy to announce the release of SigPi 5.0, after lots of hard work by Joe Cupano NE2Z as the chief architect and Steve Bossert K2GOG as laboratory hamster.

SIGpi 5.0 is the root software of a much larger project which is focused on field based signal intelligence gathering and transmission toolset. 

The need for SIGpi comes from a lack of easy to upgrade and easy to use software defined radio applications that is not dependent on ready made images being up to date with current software versions.

SIGpi is not targeted at amateur radio enthusiasts, but any hobbyist (or professional) involved in RF spectrum related interests.

For secure environments built on a stock linux image such as Ubuntu 20.04 or Raspberry OS, the approach of the SIGpi based script based menu driven installation decreases frustration by the end user.

Yes, lets begin! 

As illustrated in pre release 5.0 and older versions, just navigate through the menus to install what you want. 

Newly added into SIGpi is support for the Ettus USRP lab grade SDR platform and also support for the LoRa bonnet which is the original cornerstone of the HASviolet project.

Right away we are showing why SIGpi is different because to explore the RF around you, it is important to support hardware tools with unique capabilities that also allow you to interact with those signals. More about this later.....

General and Extra SDR Applications

Six programs were chosen for basic utility, general and extra value added benefit as the core applications. You can install all, some or none of them but all were chosen for a purpose.

As you can see below, running RTL_433 can expose many signals around you, such as weather station transmitters or the tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) found on every car made after 2007.

The inexpensive RTL-SDR V3 when connected will automatically connect and start streaming data as shown, in this case every time a car passes by the SIGpi.

Also connected to the Raspberry Pi 4 is a HackRF which is shown using SDRangel to visualize the 315 MHz spectrum the TPMS sensors are using.

Being able to support multiple SDR devices for different or related tasks is important for signal gathering work.

If there is interest in connecting multiple RTL-SDR V3 or other related USB SDR units, you will need to serialize them so they are all treated as unique devices by the Raspberry Pi. More about RTL_EEPROM can be found here.

Another use case could be watching ADS-B traffic as it flows in as pure data via one RTL-SDR V3 at 1090 MHz and monitor multiple VHF AIR audio channels at the same time along with spectrum scope.

There are many command line based tools that can do similar things which are included in SIGpi such as rtl_adsb, dump1090, rtl_fm and many many more.  Simply, we want to show the core visual applications here first though.

Use Cases for SIGpi

It will be hard to define every use case possible via all the included software with SIGpi, but the benefits are that it is something modular and easy to expand to include new software at any time.

The SIGpi approach also offers the guarantee that the latest version of all included software is installed the first time you install SIGpi.

When you wish to upgrade SIGpi,  you can do this via just one application at a time or all of them.

Here are some select use cases to inspire imagination for SIGpi to be part of your signal intelligence efforts.

Receive Only Use Case Examples

  • Explore analog or digital audio communications.
  • Use more than one SDR tuned to 3rd harmonics of one signal to assist with direction finding.
  • Analyze digital on off key (OOK) and many other signals to determine characteristics.
  • Perform situational awareness of  airplanes and boats which transmit GPS data.
  • Provide ethical use cases for multi-signal observations.
  •  Receive non encrypted video based signals of analog or digital formats.
  • Track and monitor high altitude objects such as balloons, rockets and satellites.
  • Evaluate all forms of license free communications dependent on your hardware.

Transmit Only Use Case Examples

  • Create different non-location based beacon transmitters for different test scenarios.
  • Broadcast low power informational material for special events.
  • Experiment with location based positioning with or without GPS.
 Combined Transmit/Receive Use Case Examples
  • Experiment with re-broadcast capability of radio to radio or internet to radio signals.
  • Share bidirectional  internet to radio based signals to fill in short range communications gaps.
  • Provide training for "man in middle" type of threat vectors or ethical honey pot deployments.
  • Create software defined transcievers for amateur radio via hardware like Lime SDR, RadioBerry, HackRF, QDX, etc

Summary & Support

The community of developers of all the included software makes SIGpi possible.  The HASviolet and Kismet programs are made right here in the Hudson Valley, so please consider supporting them if you live locally which also helps SIGpi grow.  All other programs we encourage the same appreciation.

The scripting and architecture behind SIGpi is well documented and commented on if you wish to explore how things are being connected by looking at SIGpi Git repository or by simply using your favorite text editor after you have installed SIGpi

Who SIGpi is NOT targeted to

The developers of SIGpi encourage ethical use of SIGpi and its suite of community software. 

We do not encourage malicious use of any of the included programs nor will we be providing assistance in implementing non-ethical use of any of the programs which can be used with appropriate hardware to do interesting things.

Thank you to our growing SIGpi community

We hope you enjoy the convenience of SIGpi.  Please join our growing list of stargazers for  SIGpi on Git to show your support.

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