My own virtual scanner

In February of this year, using a leftover Lenovo ThinkCentre M73 Tiny, that was original intended to be used a home theater PC, I made a "scanner" using it and 3 RTL-SDR USB dongles.

All thanks to Luke Berndt's Trunk Recorder project.

Trunk Recorder

Trunk Recorder is open source software written by Luke, that using various SDRs such as the HackRF, RTL-SDR-based USB dongles and Ettus USRPs among others, allows the capture and recording of Project 25 (P25) and Motorola SmartNet trunked radio systems plus conventional systems that are P25 or analog too.

It runs on Linux, macOS and even on a Raspberry Pi (although it's recommended to be a Pi 3 because the rest probably won't be able to keep up). You can either build it yourself from the source code or use Docker like I did to get it up and running.

After configuring a JSON file that sets all the parameters for the instance you plan on running, a CSV file that defines the talkgroups you want to record, you should be good to go.


Luke also runs OpenMHz, a website that hosts the recordings you make if you so desire. It's not like Broadcastify where it's a continuous stream, it's more of an on-demand style although it autoplays the next recording when it comes online, making it almost stream-like. There is a script that can be executed also using Liquidsoap to allow you to stream to Broadcastify and other providers.

My setup

I setup an instance of Trunk Recorder to record the Massport P25 system, which is part of the greater Commonwealth of Massachusetts Interoperability Radio System (CoMIRS). Specifically, the airport side of Massport's operations, specifically the public safety and aviation operations, which consists of Massport Aviation Operations, Massport Fire Rescue and Massachusetts State Police's Troop F which covers Logan Airport.

Using the ThinkCentre and the three RTL-SDR USB dongles and mag-mount antennas, I am to capture what I want. 

It's taken some tweaking but I think I finally found the right configuration because if the audio doesn't decode, it results in 44 byte, 0 second files that are unplayable, although it will take time.

If you want to give a listen to my system, just go to


  1. Would you happen to have an email address where I could contact you at? We have a project we're working on and I'm really intrigued by what you've done and I would like to discuss further with you. Please email me at the address listed in this post. Thanks!

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