Some thoughts on SSTV and the Raspberry Pi…

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 9.55.29 PMToday I found an interesting Instructable on running SSTV on the Raspberry Pi. It uses an interesting bit of software which uses the Pi to directly generate an FM signal. Strictly speaking, I doubt this is a great idea without some outboard harmonic filtering, but it’s cool that it could be done.

I recalled that a while ago I wrote an encoder for the Robot36 SSTV mode. I wondered how efficient it was: could it be used to construct a nice Raspberry Pi SSTV beacon? I transferred it over, installed the necessary dependencies (the jpeg library and libsndfile1) and timed it. Eek. 18 seconds to encode image. That seemed excessive, so I set about figuring out why it was slow.

It didn’t take me to long to discover that the vast majority of time was spent in the libsndfile library. That was in no small part because I used it to write individual floating point samples, one at a time. I hypothesized that if I buffered up a bunch of samples, it would be better. So, I coded it up quickly, and voila: it now can decode a jpeg and create the resulting wav file in just 1.878 seconds. Awesome. Playing the wav file back into Multiscan (an OS-X SSTV program) resulted in just the image I wanted.

It should be pretty easy to modify this script to read directly from the Raspberry Pi camera and send it directly to the sound card. A little bit of interfacing to an HT, and I should have an SSTV beacon ready to go. Stay tuned.