Utilities often use “smart meters” to optimize their residential meter reading infrastructure. Smart meters transmit consumption information in the various ISM bands allowing utilities to simply send readers driving through neighborhoods to collect commodity consumption information. One protocol in particular: Encoder Receiver Transmitter by Itron is fairly straight forward to decode and operates in the 900MHz ISM band, well within the tunable range of inexpensive rtl-sdr dongles.
This project is a software defined radio receiver for these messages. We make use of an inexpensive rtl-sdr dongle to allow users to non-invasively record and analyze the commodity consumption of their household.
This project requires the package
github.com/bemasher/rtltcp, which provides a means of controlling and sampling from rtl-sdr dongles via the
rtl_tcp tool. This package will be automatically downloaded and installed when getting rtlamr. The following command should be all that is required to install rtlamr.
go get github.com/bemasher/rtlamr
This will produce the binary
$GOPATH/bin/rtlamr. For convenience it’s common to add
$GOPATH/bin to the path.
Available command-line flags are as follows:
Usage of rtlamr: -decimation=1: integer decimation factor, keep every nth sample -duration=0s: time to run for, 0 for infinite, ex. 1h5m10s -filterid=: display only messages matching an id in a comma-separated list of ids. -filtertype=: display only messages matching a type in a comma-separated list of types. -format=plain: format to write log messages in: plain, csv, json, or xml -msgtype=scm: message type to receive: scm, scm+, idm, r900 and r900bcd -samplefile=/dev/null: raw signal dump file -single=false: one shot execution, if used with -filterid, will wait for exactly one packet from each meter id -symbollength=72: symbol length in samples -unique=false: suppress duplicate messages from each meter -version=false: display build date and commit hash rtltcp specific: -agcmode=false: enable/disable rtl agc -centerfreq=0: center frequency to receive on -directsampling=false: enable/disable direct sampling -freqcorrection=0: frequency correction in ppm -gainbyindex=0: set gain by index -offsettuning=false: enable/disable offset tuning -rtlxtalfreq=0: set rtl xtal frequency -samplerate=0: sample rate -server=127.0.0.1:1234: address or hostname of rtl_tcp instance -testmode=false: enable/disable test mode -tunergain=0: set tuner gain in dB -tunergainmode=false: enable/disable tuner gain -tunerxtalfreq=0: set tuner xtal frequency
Flag default values may be overridden via environment variables which are a flag’s name in all-caps prefixed by
RTLAMR_. Flags passed at time of execution will override any values set by environment variable.
rtlamr -h ... -msgtype=scm: message type to receive: scm, scm+, idm, r900 and r900bcd ...
RTLAMR_MSGTYPE=idm rtlamr -h ... -msgtype=idm: message type to receive: scm, scm+, idm, r900 and r900bcd ...
Running the receiver is as simple as starting an
rtl_tcp instance and then starting the receiver:
# Terminal A $ rtl_tcp # Terminal B $ rtlamr
If you want to run the spectrum server on a different machine than the receiver you’ll want to specify an address to listen on that is accessible from the machine
rtlamr will run on with the
-a option for
rtl_tcp with an address accessible by the system running the receiver.
Currently both SCM (Standard Consumption Message) and IDM (Interval Data Message) packets can be decoded but are mutually exclusive, you cannot receive both simultaneously. See RTLAMR: Protocol for more details on packet structure.
There’s now experimental support for meters with R900 transmitters!
Using a NooElec NESDR Nano R820T with the provided antenna, I can reliably receive standard consumption messages from ~300 different meters and intermittently from another ~600 meters. These figures are calculated from the number of messages received during a 25 minute window. Reliably in this case means receiving at least 10 of the expected 12 messages and intermittently means 3-9 messages.
Currently the only tested meter is the Itron C1SR. However, the protocol is designed to be useful for several different commodities and should be capable of receiving messages from any ERT capable smart meter.
Check out the table of meters I’ve been compiling from various internet sources: ERT Compatible Meters
If you’ve got a meter not on the list that you’ve successfully received messages from, you can submit this info via a form available at the link above.
Do not use this for nefarious purposes. If you do, I don’t want to know about it, I am not and will not be responsible for your lack of common decency and/or foresight. However, if you find a clever non-evil use for this, by all means, share.
These are a few examples of ways this tool could be used:
Ethical * Track down stray appliances. * Track power generated vs. power consumed. * Find a water leak with rtlamr rather than from your bill. * Optimize your thermostat to reduce energy consumption. * Mass collection for research purposes. (Please anonymize your data.)
Unethical * Using data collected to determine living patterns of specific persons with the intent to act on this data, particularly without express permission to do so.
The source of this project is licensed under Affero GPL v3.0. According to http://choosealicense.com/licenses/agpl-3.0/ you may:
If you have any general questions or feedback leave a comment below. For bugs, feature suggestions and anything directly relating to the program itself, submit an issue in github.