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PVR-like Software for Audio Streams?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the manipulating-a-10-minute-buffer dept.

Media 46

JonToycrafter asks: "I'm a dispatcher for a volunteer ambulance corps. We often get our calls by listening to the police scanner. Unfortunately, it's sometimes difficult to understand the street address that the police dispatcher is saying, or sometimes s/he mentions the address before giving an indication that EMS is needed. Does anyone know of a (preferably Free) Windows (or Linux) program that would allow me to connect my scanner to the mic jack on my PC and be able to pause/rewind the stream, a la Tivo?"

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Ha Ha (-1)

scumbucket (680352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116044)

FP to the mostest!

Only pause/rewind? (2, Funny)

fredrikj (629833) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116062)

It's useless if you can't fast forward.

OT,but someone needs to make the [NO CARRIER] joke (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8116084)

Why don't you use a tape recor=20 ]} } } }&..}=3Dr}'}"}NO CARRIER ]

Re:OT,but someone needs to make the [NO CARRIER] j (1)

R0 (40549) | more than 10 years ago | (#8119123)

because a tape recorder doesn't carry on recording when you play stuff back.

Another approach here, simpler (1)

dacarr (562277) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116127)

Is there a reason the VAC couldn't get two-way radios or somesuch from the municipality you dispatch for?

Re:Another approach here, simpler (2, Interesting)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116421)

Could it be that he is an ambulance chaser instead of an ambulance dispatcher?
I volunteer as an ambulance driver, and apparently the hardest skill known to 911 dispatchers is that they don't need to eat the microphone when sending a call out. Some are worse than others, but many times we do need to call in for address verification.

Re:Another approach here, simpler (1)

DarkAce911 (245282) | more than 10 years ago | (#8131040)

I would say he is one of the unoffical and unapproved NYC ems units, kind of like Neighborhood watch type setups. I could be wrong, but with his website NYPD does not like him at all. However, he could hook his scanner in the line or mike input and use shoutcast from Nullsoft. People were doing scanner streaming in the mid 90's, so it's not hard.

Other solutions (4, Informative)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116186)

Don't limit yourself to computer-based solutions. There are devices like this [] for the aviation industry that allow you to replay clearances and instructions. One failing of this particular one is that it stops recording when you are replaying but it's only one of many similar products. Check Google.

I suspect a clever bit of scripting along with the "record" and "play" programs on linux would do what you want as well.

other tivo like features (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8116315)

This isn't an answer to the pausing live audio question, but other people might be interested in other tivo like features.

I have a friend who makes mp3 files out of real audio streams using scripts, so he can listen to them later.

It's sort of tivo-ish, and that's what I thought the question was about when I saw the title.

You can do this by using trplayer (a command line real player) to play the streams, and vsound to capture the audio from the sound card.

run the audio into a pvr... (4, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116390)

When push comes to shove, you could use a TiVo or any of the PVR software for linux or windows. Just run your audio into the PVR and ignore the video.

You'll probably still need a video display for control purposes, but since you won't need a lot of processing power the whole setup shouldn't cost much.

If they want you there, they'll call you... (3, Interesting)

ivi (126837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116438)

I find it odd that you guys have to "intercept"
police radio calls to get your taskings...

It's standard procedure - in most places - for
emergency services to ring (a.k.a. "respond")
EMS or ambulance(s) as required.

They wouldn't, as a rule, expect the EMS or ambo's
to spend all their time monitoring other services'
radio frequencies.

For one thing, it can increase your levels of
fatigue (although - admit - it can feel exciting
to follow incident progress along by radio...
a bit like armchair quarterbacking, eh? ;-)

If your service is well & truly needed & respected
you should be able to get call-outs, just like
police & firefighters.

If not, well... raise your game. ;-)

Re:If they want you there, they'll call you... (1)

CyBlue (701644) | more than 10 years ago | (#8117978)

Personally, if I'd just been shot and was bleeding all over the place I'd love for someone to intercept the call to the dispatcher and already be on the way by the time the dispatcher noted all the information and called the ambulance. They have to be on alert and they may as well be heading in the direction of a possible call (shots fired, riot, armed robbery in progress) even if emergency services aren't needed.

Re:If they want you there, they'll call you... (1)

Bingo Foo (179380) | more than 10 years ago | (#8119662)

No, no, no. You see:
  1. This is driven by profit motive
  2. It's not fair
So therefore, we must make it illegal.

Re:If they want you there, they'll call you... (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8126040)

This guy, judging from his homepage, is one of those people that help those that attacks starbucks during riots.

He appears to be about as antiprofit as you can get.

Still support him?

Re:If they want you there, they'll call you... (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 10 years ago | (#8120547)

No you wouldn't, because the guys that should have been in your neighborhood just beat someone else to something in their neighborhood, and are now taking care of that emergency. Not only do you have the crew that should respond to your problem busy elsewhere, but the crew that now comes in doesn't know your local streets as well.

Emergency crews need to be sure to stay in their assigned areas unless they are really needed elsewhere. (though it wouldn't be a bad idea to be in position if you are in the next zone to be closer to the second zone because that zone is uncovered and a second emergency could occure there.

Re:If they want you there, they'll call you... (1)

CyBlue (701644) | more than 10 years ago | (#8121603)

I'm sure ambulance *zones* are fairly big and any head start is a good one. However, I don't think either one of is is qualified by occupation to argue that point any further.

Re:If they want you there, they'll call you... (4, Informative)

niko9 (315647) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118920)

In some states it's called ambulance chasing, even if you are really an ambulance. Medics and EMT's call it "buffing jobs".

There are many people in (here in NYC) this service that carry their own portable radios that have select frequencies programmed in.

They listen to both --the EMS dispatcher because they have to-- and NYPD citywide for all the "hot jobs".

They take it upon themselves to rush to these hot jobs without being dispatched (usually there is another ambulance dispacthed, the closest one as per the EMS dispatch computer), and then tell the dispatcher they were "flagged down" by a bystander. Then they have to cancel the other ambulance, because technically you made patitent contact at that point.

It's happens daily here in NYC, and you can get into alot of trouble. If your flying lights and sirens to that "hot job" lights and sirens, without being officialy on that assignment --and say-- you hit a bystander, or god forbid a child crossing the street, you can pretty much count on never ever touching another patient in any healthcare field ever again. That doesn't include criminal charges as well.

You realy should be dispatched by M.A.R.S, mutal aid radio system. The municipal agency overseeing EMS in your county will give your volunteer squad a radio, or maybe just give your dispatcher a ring on the landline phone when they need you. This way everything is documented and copasetic.

Can your crew still listen to the police frequencies? Sure, if you know how to go about it without anybody getting screwed:

If you hear some call that you might think is "hot", you can always drive over in non emergency mode and get flagged for the job.

If you think you have a better ETA than the unit that was assingned, then tell the dispatcher that you are closer. They usually have to give you the call for the benefit of the patient.

In the end though, you need to change they way your unit(s) get dispatched. Get the chief of the vollie squad to negotiate a M.A.R.S. arrangement. Some vollied even sign out a police radio for the precinct. You'll have to speak to the captain about that arrangement.

Good Luck, and for God's sake, be careful.

NYC EMS Paramedic since 1996

Re:If they want you there, they'll call you... (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8120584)

Wow, what a spectacular way to not answer the question.

Volunteer EMS and VFDs save people's lives. Pure and simple. It's no time to get into a dick measuring contest. If you can't help answer the question, leave them alone.


Re:If they want you there, they'll call you... (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8125974)

Volunteer EMS and VFD can transmit on the emergency freqs and could ask for a retransmit. This is a guy that helps idiots who attack starbucks at riots.

Re:If they want you there, they'll call you... (4, Funny)

The Munger (695154) | more than 10 years ago | (#8120644)

So the story underwent a bit of editing. Here's the original: I'm a seller for a group of drug dealers. We often get our tip-offs by listening to the police scanner. Unfortunately, it's sometimes difficult to understand the street address that the police dispatcher is saying, or sometimes s/he mentions the address before giving an indication that a bust is going to happen. Does anyone know of an alternative early warning system (cheaper than bribing cops) that will help?

There may be a reason... (2, Insightful)

_LORAX_ (4790) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116519)

Have you toug about the possible rammifications of a computer crash, or worse yet say it starts looping on dead air. Would you want to be responsable for the possible loss of life that cound be incured?

Why compllicate the system when a simple "Could you repeat that address" would probably suffice.

Re:There may be a reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8116674)

"Volunteer ambulance corps" sounds like a euphemism for "we show up on site whether we're called for or not". The solution probably cannot involve cooperation from the police dispatchers.

Re:There may be a reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8116817)

They're not transmitting, you dill hole. Pausing and rewinding playback has nothing to do with blocking the emergency frequencies.

Re:There may be a reason... (1)

madstork2000 (143169) | more than 10 years ago | (#8117342)

Aren't police scanners just one-way radios? Isn't that what the original question was refering to?

My take was the EMS is simply passively monitoring the police frequencies and responding when needed. I was under the impression that they could not respond. It does sound like a fairly strange setup to me, but I admittedly know jack about EMS / POLICE protocols.

LoopRecorder (3, Informative)

Figaro (20471) | more than 10 years ago | (#8117244)

Check out

I haven't used it in a while, but it should allow what you're looking for.

Re:LoopRecorder (0, Offtopic)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8120455)

Oh. So he helps stupid people who attack starbucks.

I say this because those incharge of the protests HURT their cause by allowing idiots to run riot.

Mythtv.... (1)

RedPhoenix (124662) | more than 10 years ago | (#8117472)

The mythtv crew are looking at tivo-like functionality for radio.. Not sure it's exactly what you're after, and I suspect it won't be around for a while.. but it might be a useful starting point for your research:

Google for 'mythradio'. Here's a starter-link: dev/2002-Octobe r/000753.html

Total Recorder (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8118216) There program, Total Recorder, isn't free, but it's not expensive either. I do believe there are some free audio recorders out there now too.

Super. (2, Interesting)

_aa_ (63092) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118237)

Since there seems to be little interest in solving what appears to be a life threatening problem, I will issue a challenge to all developers to make one. This would not be a complex application. In fact the pausing could be done with a simple shell script. I'll start working on a perl one tonight. Please reply with code.

Whoever replies with the best software Personal Audio Recorder gets a grand slam breakfast at Denny's on me.

Re:Super. (1)

MarkLinux (748974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8177937)

I solved this problem for my wife a few months ago. She is an avid police scanner listener. She listens every night and sometimes during the day. She calls them her "bed time 'tories" (that's "stories" pronounced like a little kid).

I split the problem into several pieces.
  1. A standard audio recorder with VOX capability that creates a new file for each sound bite and puts it in a temp folder.
  2. I created a python script called that takes the each file in the temp directory and parses the filename and the timestamp and puts the information about the file in a MySQL database (although any database would probably work) and move the file to the active directory. It was easier to keep the actual mpeg file on a SAMBA drive than put them in the database
  3. I created a second python script called that is the user client. I used the pygame package to give me mpeg playing and some UI options. I included the standard pause, rewind, volume, mute, skip, etc. controls. It keeps track of which tracks each user has heard or tagged. I have several play modes:
    • "live"
    • play everything I haven't heard yet
    • play starting from a certain timestamp
The code is not in a state that I could post it (personal logins and passwords in the code, etc) but I could clean it up if people are interested.


Explaining the need (4, Informative)

Doco (53938) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118432)

If you follow the link to this guys homepage and do a little digging you come across:

Which state "... active street medic, meaning that during major protests I travel in a squad of medics providing support in the "hot zone", where EMS will not go"

So - no the cops will probably not help these guys out and they are most definetly not authorized to talk on the police bands.

Re:Explaining the need (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8121322)

Oh. So he helps stupid people who attack starbucks because they think it will help their cause.

I say this because those incharge of the protests HURT their cause by allowing idiots to run riot.

recording from the mic input jack.. (0)

maximus21 (594825) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118455)

let me get this right you want to just plug the scanner into the mic jac of your sound card and hit record... this doesnt sound difficult..

well if that is all you are doing you can use the standard "sound recorder" in windows or the standard one in linux... you have to make sure the program is using the mic as the source..

please elaborate..

Wait... (1)

xgamer04 (248962) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118505)

I know most of the people on the local ambulance team, and all their beepers have a button to replay the last call, and they certainly aren't "cutting edge", if you know what I mean...

Denon PVR server (3, Informative)

mallocme (740799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118550)

The denon PVR server will do that
Denon PVR server []

ATI's Multimedia Center does... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8118604)

But only for FM, and only so far on the ATI AIW 9600 (their only card at this point with an FM tuner.) Does timeshifting great, though.

tape... (1)

tadheckaman (578425) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118638)

Remember those never ending 15 second tapes used for answering machines? maybe you could use that... 15/30 seconds is alot of time for you to hit play, and listen to the transmission again.

A Half-assed but effective solution (1)

Jorkapp (684095) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118969)

Step 1: Connect the headphone/speaker jack from the scanner to the sound card's Microphone port using a standard patch cable.
Step 2: Plug a set of speakers into the sound card's speaker port
Step 3: Open Volume Control, and set the Microphone volume (under Playback) to FULL.
Step 4: Open Sound Recorder, and press record.

Re:A Half-assed but effective solution (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8120434)

What is the deal with your sig?
"void main()
printf "Jorkapp is a Programmer";

1. Main should return something, not be void. (still functions in most compilers however)
2. Main should take the amount of arguements, and the arguements themselves. ie: int main ( int argc, char *argv[]). Still functions in a lot of compilers, but incorrect technically.
3. You got the brackets correct!
4. Your printf line doesn't compile. It should be printf("jorkapp is obviously *NOT* a programmer";
5. Recalling main to loop. Legal, but WHY? Why not just a while(1) loop? This is purely a style question. Legal.
6. Another correct bracket.

So, to sum it up, you managed to take the worlds easiest program, and screw it up. You aren't really a programmer are you?
Admit it and we'll go easy on you.

Re:A Half-assed but effective criticism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8121954)

Your (3) and (6) refer to brackets ("[" and "]") when you mean braces ("{" and "}").
Your (4) is missing the terminating parenthesis (")").

What sort of retentive are you?

Get the right equipment: Minitor IV (4, Informative)

neilsly (106751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8119031)

Why on earth they wouldn't (or wont) give you an actual radio or a pager - is beyond me. There was some mention of an underground sort of medic service earlier, but I can't find mention of that on the homepage he has listed so I won't comment on that.

You need to get a pager, a Montorola Minitor IV to be exact. These have a dynamic solid state 2 minute memory to replay calls. I would venture to say that nearly every ambulance service and fire department service that is dispatched (or toned, as we say) via radio uses these type of tone pagers.

Information on the motorola site at

'tried WiNRADIO's Squelch Controlled Recorder ??? (1)

ivi (126837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8120769)

Have a look at:

WiNRADiO Advanced Digital Suite's
Squelch Controlled Recorder:

"The recording is conditional on the signal level
and the receiver squelch setting. The playback
function also includes the following additional

Pitch shifting, which provides audio spectrum
shifting by the specified frequency shift size.

Variable playback speed, capable of changing the
speech rate while preserving the pitch.

Speech inversion, useful for descrambling of
speech spectrum inverted signals.

Note: Speech spectrum inversion is not available
in Advanced Digital Suite sold in the United
States due to legislative restrictions (1986
Electronic Communications Privacy Act).
Exceptions may apply to authorized purchasers."


It may require prior installation of
"WiNRADiO Advanced Digital Suite"

(It might -also- need a WiNRADIO installed... ;-)

jeez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8121306)

I'm sorry but the idea of this is scary.

Let's say I'm listening to the police bands, when suddenly that chili isn't sitting right. You have to make a quick potty run

"oh great, i'll jsut pause it"

thirty minutes later you stumble out of hte bathroom and press play.

Meanwhile, I die.

Digital Radio (1)

Artichoke (34549) | more than 10 years ago | (#8121913)

We have a decent Digital Audio Broadcasting radio network in the UK and I'd love to have it hooked up to my Linux box and a PVR (PRR?) system for:

replaying snippets

recording shows to schedule

keeping the last four hours for when I miss a show.

V. cool. Now will someone please sell me a DAB PCI card that runs under Linux? All I can find is the following from Modular Technology [] :

Q. Can I use the card under LINUX ?

A. Modular Technology's stance has to be that in order to maximise the effectiveness of our customer support, we will only support the use of the DAB PCI card in PCs running Windows-98, Me, 2000 or XP.

Q. Can I write my own LINUX driver for the card ?

A. We are occasionally asked about drivers for non-Windows platforms, eg. LINUX or MAC. The reality is that to write such drivers would be a huge software undertaking which we are not in a position to support effectively. Here are two considerations for any person or company thinking of embarking on such a development:-

i) The card has a TI PCI2040 PCI Bus bridge chip as a PCI interface, it is not thought that drivers (other than Windows) exist for this chip.

ii) The software makes extensive use of the Audio facilities in Direct-X, there's no equivalent outside the Windows environment.

Arggghhh! "We dont' know how to do it, and don't have the resources to spare to help someone else do it either. Even though we'd likely corner the (niche) market". Ho-de-flippin-hum.

joined dispatching? (1)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 10 years ago | (#8122119)

Here in Prague we have a managed by city joined dispatching for all services: police, fire and medical rescue both road and air. All dispatchers sit in one room. All called by same number, 112 on mobile services. I can't understand why you cannot have at least a permanent voice line to a police dispatching. Such a facility was available here even in WW2, under the german occupation, 60 years ago. Police dispatcher should be talking with you what's needed. Or, are you a bunch on illegal kidney stealers?

clueless in slashdottle (1)

RomulusNR (29439) | more than 10 years ago | (#8128270)

First of all, a solution.

RecAll [] from Sagebrush can do nearly everything you need. It is a small, free, and easy to use VOX line-in recorder for Windows, and is popular for scanner monitoring.

It includes a feature where it can start a brand new wave file after a set number of seconds of silence. So basically it would create a separate audio file for each individual radio transmission (more or less).

You could then play that wav file in any audio player (like soundrec or winamp), while RecAll keeps happily recording from line-in or mic. There is an option to automatically name and date-stamp (though not time-stamp) the saved files in a particular directory.

The only caveat is that you will probably want to turn line-in volume down while you are playing back a saved file, then turn it back up when done (to hear new incoming transmissions). This shouldn't affect your recording, though.

And second, a rant. I don't know why so many people decided to attack the poster instead of solving the problem. People spend too much time trying to find the problem with the poster and not enough time trying to answer the poster's specific question. As a result, almost everyone missed the mark horribly. Sadly, so many of those self-assured, un-informed and un-helpful posts have been modded up quite highly. Ah, the ease of rating comments without context...
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