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GNU Radio Opens an Unseen World

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Software

Matt Ettus has the sly smile of someone who sees the invisible. His hands fly over the boards of his Universal Software Radio Peripheral, or USRP, snapping them together with an antenna like Lego bricks. Then he plugs in the naked boards to a USB 2 cable snaking to his Linux laptop.

After few minutes of normal Linux messing around ("Takes forever to boot.... Haven't got the sound driver working yet....") he turns the laptop around to reveal a set of vibrating lines in humps and dips across the screen, like a wildly shaking wireframe mountain range. "Here," he explains, "I'm grabbing FM."

"All of it?" I ask.

"All of it," he says. I'm suddenly glad the soundcard isn't working.

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