Barcode challenge for radio operators

[Scott Harden] came across a few posts about QR code matrix barcodes coming through on the 40m baud radio band. A few operators had captured the signals and assembled them into the code block seen above but they weren’t able to get a clear enough shot for a smartphone to decode the image. [Scott] took on the challenge and decoded the mysterious message himself. He tried some graphic editing to separate and enhance the color channels in order to up the contrasts of the image. This helped, but still couldn’t be read automatically. In a move similar to those seen in Hackaday’s own barcode challenges he dropped the image into Inkscape so that he could manually clean it up. Once it was overlaid on a grid the job was pretty simple. the left side did require some more image manipulation and precision”squinting” to eliminate interference from the vertical banding, but he managed to get the message. We won’t spoil it here in case you want to take on the challenge yourself. Good luck!

32 thoughts on “Barcode challenge for radio operators

  1. Pro tip: When your eyes start hurting from all the squinting, use wax paper or tracing paper. Works for seeing faces and reading words in blurry photos as well.

  2. @ o
    if you mean the barcode, it’s just for fun.
    if you mean the waterfall type output, here’s a basic explanation for the curious:
    the waterfall is a view of the the different data streams at different operating tones – it allows multiple “channels” on the same frequency by using a different audio modulation.
    The view shown allows the operator to graphically see all possible data signals on a frequency, then select it to open a Comm. From there it is real-time text based communication, as well as basic file sharing.

  3. @ Owen: Any form of ‘on the air marketing’ done from the UK would be a breach of the UK amateur license conditions, as would responding to it from the UK regardless of where it came from… although of course there’s nothing to stop you receiving it.

  4. I DID IT! i took the image above, loaded it in photoshop, established a grid, and made a per-pixel remake by hand. i then read it from my phone… i’m rather proud of myself!

  5. Does anyone know of a *working* linux application that can decode QR codes? I’ve found many libraries (both c and python) but nothing that can be just “run” on either an image or with the webcam. The only compiled decoders I can find are for phones :(

  6. @ewan. if coagula only converts image to sound, what converts sound to images? i want the program that is in the youtube video, but it isn’t named.

  7. This is a neat and useless trick, bravo. One slight bitch though: If you’re going to be using obfuscating your messages with experimental encoding, please put a station ID in some kind of plaintext in your transmission somewhere. Having to go through all that just to find out the originating station is kind of bullshit, though fine with me for a one-time stunt. If this becomes a popular activity, then please put your call letters in plaintext so those of us who don’t want to solve a puzzle can know who is making the transmission.

  8. @DarwinSurvivor: Look at the ZXing project. It’s a Java implementation mainly intended for mobile phones, but with a few lines of extra code I was able to load and decode images on my pc.

  9. How is this not detected? My iPhone read this in an instant!

    The last to numbers are 73 for all the haters out there :p

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