Researchers from Microsoft have proposed a new way to monitor spectrum usage, by connecting up idle analysers and providing an API allowing anyone to make use of them. The concept of SpecNet, as the researchers term their creation, is to link up spectrum analysers around the world and allow them to be accessed through a standard …
Simply never going to happen
For all the reasons mentioned in the article.
Spectrum Analysers spend their lives in places where outside interference is minimal - otherwise, they're useless to the owner!
The ones I know of are in the following places:
Middle of nowhere for outdoor radiated emissions testing.
Inside a Faraday cage for indoor radiated emissions testing.
Inside a Faraday cage for conducted emissions testing.
These things cost a *fortune* and they're not 'hobbyist' devices. They are carefully stored when not actively making money for their owners.
Well, I could probably identify at least half a dozen spectrum analysers in London alone, most of which are idle for over 80% of their lives. They are not placed to avoid local signals they are just not connected to anything useful in they way of antennas. The issue would be finding antennae of sufficient bandwidth and gain to meet the needs of such a survey. But more significantly there is no standard protocol for controlling spec analysers, downloading over serial or going us stunningly slow on most kit I have used. That is if even the output can capture the spectrum or if it is only practical for control. The most consistent output us, oddly enough, video (cvbs).
There's a quite good cheap 1200 Euro spectrum analyzer based on a Palm out there. With the right software, you just pop them on mail vans and make them log. Add a GPS logger and at the end of the day you can just upload the data somewhere else.
I've just suggested to my team that we might contribute
Thanks Bill for finding this, we do have a few SpecAnals lying around, they're nearer €75k and are unused between lab tests. I'm a bit concerned about plugging & leaving them into a real antenna (I have a 25MHz to 2GHz discone outside the lab), as summer is thunder & lightning season!
I used to use an atomic clock controlled HP spectrum analyser attached to a long wire antenna to listen to international shortwave radio during the 1980's when I worked in a faraway desert where shortwave receivers were forbidden, HZ. I wrote to Swiss Radio International with a screen-shot informing them that their 17MHz transmitter was a whole 100Hz away from their published frequencies.
Always buy a spectrum analyser with (now digital waveform) demodulator and loudspeaker!
You don't need "spectrum analyzers"
This can be done very cheaply with direct conversion DSP receivers for way less than $10k each. WinRadio, ICOM, Ten-Tec, and others all offer black box digital receivers, already equipped to network (verb). These provide real time full spectrum radio surveillance to intel communities. Most spies work for taxpayers (or Microsoft) so shouldn't the public have access to it?
Mister Softee is again trying to reinvent the wheel.