1.0.2 • Public • Published


The node-red-contrib-pcap adds support to Node-RED for capture and decoding network packets using libpcap.



You need to have libpcap installed on your system before you can install this module.

On Debian and Ubuntu:

apt-get install libpcap-dev

On MacOS X, using Homebrew:

brew install libpcap

Then change to your node-red installation directory and then run:

npm install node-red-contrib-pcap

You will then be able to see the new pcap node type added to Node-RED's pallet on the left, in the network category.


A single Interface can be chosen for each node instance. The list shows the network interfaces and MAC address of the interfaces on the Node-RED host system.

There are three different Output options:

  • Raw Network packet - outputs a Buffer object containing the binary packet.
  • Decoded pcap objects - the pcap npm package contains a set of packet decoder objects.
  • String - converts the decoded packet objects to string representation. Use the path setting below to choose specific fields.

The Filter setting can be used to filter the network packets received before they get to Node-RED. The syntax is the same as tcpdump/libpcap/wireshark. See the pcap-filter(7) man page for details of this syntax.

The Path setting is only used for the String/Decoded packet outputs. It allows you you choose a sub-property of packet, rather than outputting the whole packet. The structure is based on the decode objects within the pcap package. This can be slightly tricky to work out, the documentation recommends exploring the structure using sys.inspect - in Node-RED this can be done using the debug node. Call .payload repeatedly to get to higher level protocol headers.

Path Examples

  • pcap_header.tv_sec the time the packet was recieved
  • payload.shost the Layer 2 MAC address of the source of the packet
  • payload.dhost the Layer 2 MAC address of the destination of the packet
  • payload.ethertype the Layer 2 Ethernet packet type identifier
  • payload.payload.saddr the source IP address of the packet
  • payload.payload.daddr the destination IP address of the packet

If you have any other configuration tips for other users, please submit a Pull Request for this README.

Capturing ARP packets

I originally wrote this Node-RED node in order to receive notifications when I press my Amazon Dash wifi button. These buttons, intended for ordering things from Amazon, send out ARP and DHCP packets to the whole network when they are pressed.

These are the settings I use on my Raspberry Pi to detect devices appearing on the network:

  • Interface: eth0
  • Output: String
  • Filter: arp
  • Path: payload.shost
  • Name: Capture ARP on eth0

These are the same as the screenshot shown above.

Copyright and license

Copyright 2016 Nicholas Humfrey under the Apache 2.0 license.

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