Category: News

A Warning for R820T2 RTL-SDR Purchases on eBay/Aliexpress etc

Just a brief warning for those purchasing the generic dongles on eBay and Aliexpress. We’ve recently heard of a number of customers having ordered generic dongles advertised as having R820T or R820T2 chips, but receiving dongles with FC0012 chips inside instead.

The R820T2 is capable of tuning from around 24 MHz to 1766 MHz, whereas the FC0012 can only tune between 22 – 948 MHz. Compared, the R820T2 is definitely the better chip.

This scam is probably happening because the price of the FC0012 is less than the R820T/2. So these sellers may be trying to cut costs and simply hoping that no one will notice the chip change since both chips are RTL-SDR compatible in the drivers. You can check what tuner chip you have either with rtl_test, or simply by reading the markings on the chip itself.

In addition we have also recently seen several scammer bots on eBay pop up who are selling our own RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongles at very low prices. These sellers are typically automated bots that mass copy popular listings, and undercut their price hoping to grab a few fake sales before disappearing. They usually have zero feedback, or a small amount of feedback from purchases made from the account, and they price the product extremely low, typically even below the manufacturing cost. Most likely you will never see a product from them and they will simply disappear from eBay after a few days. This has already happened to one scam seller that we have been tracking, although before they disappeared they had already made 80+ fake sales.

FlightAware Prostick Plus Now Available in our Store

The FlightAware ProStick Plus is an modified RTL-SDR designed specifically for ADS-B reception. Its main defining feature is that it has a built in low noise figure LNA, and a 1090 MHz SAW filter. The LNA reduces the noise figure of the RTL-SDR, improving ADS-B reception and thus increasing the number of messages received and the receivable range of aircraft. The SAW filter helps remove out of band signals which can cause the RTL-SDR to overload if they are particularly strong. The Prostick Plus also comes with a TCXO, and SMA connector.

If you are mainly interested in ADS-B reception, or are looking to set up an ADS-B station then the Prostick Plus is one of the best choices you can make. See our previous review here.

We are now reselling some of FlightAware’s Prostick Plus dongles in our store now. They cost $24.95 USD including free shipping worldwide. We intend to sell them mainly to customers outside of the USA, as FlightAware already sell them officially on Amazon, but we offer free shipping anywhere in the world.

Click here to visit our store

The Pro Stick Plus RTL-SDR based ADS-B Receiver from FlightAware.
The Pro Stick Plus RTL-SDR based ADS-B Receiver from FlightAware.

The FreeSRP SDR is now Seeking Crowd Funding on CrowdSupply

Back in August of 2016 we posted about Lukas Lao Beyer’s work in creating a software defined radio from scratch. His goal was to design something that fit somewhere in between the $300 HackRF and the higher end and more pricey USRP radios. Back then he had completed the design and had a working prototype.

Now the Lukas has put the FreeSRP up on CrowdSupply, a crowd funding website. The FreeSRP is priced at $420 each and the goal is to raise $75,000 in order to begin a manufacturing run of the SDR.  At the time of writing this post, the campaign has been running for a day at is already 8% funded.

The FreeSRP has a tuning range from 70 MHz to 6 GHz, uses a 12-bit ADC with a sampling rate of up to 61.44 MSPS, and has a maximum analog filter bandwidth of 56 MHz. It is a full-duplex radio (can transmit & receive at the same time). The main chip in the unit is the fairly expensive (~$150 USD) AD9364 integrated RF transceiver chip and it also comes with a Xilinx Artix 7 FPGA. Furthermore the hardware and code is entirely open source.

The specs seem somewhat similar to the cheaper LimeSDR, although the main chipset is different as the FreeSRP uses the AD9364 chip and the LimeSDR uses their own LimeMicro LMS7002M chip. The AD9364 is the same chip used in the USRP B200 units. Below is an in-class comparison given on the FreeSRP CrowdSupply page.

FreeSRP Comparisons and PCB Image
FreeSRP Comparisons and PCB Image

Below is the FreeSRP promotional video.

KiwiSDR Massdrop: $50 Saving on the Retail Price

The KiwiSDR is a wideband HF software defined radio that is designed to receive the entire 10 kHz – 30 MHz spectrum all at once. It works together with a BeagleBone single board computer and uploads it’s wideband radio data to the internet via the OpenWebRX SDR web interface and control software. Examples of KiwiSDRs shared publicly on the web with OpenWebRX can be found at sdr.hu.

Back in April of last year the KiwiSDR was successfully crowd funded on Kickstarter, and was later released for general ordering in October from SeeedStudio. Normally the KiwiSDR kit including KiwiSDR, BeagleBone, enclsoure, GPS antenna and SD card costs $299 USD.

Currently a Massdrop is underway for KiwiSDR (it seems that the link only works for logged in users). If you didn’t already know, a Massdrop is an organized group buy effort. Buy grouping several individual orders together and making a bulk order, the manufacturer is likely to give a discount. Currently the price for the KiwiSDR kit on the Massdrop is $249.99 USD ($50 saving on the regular price), with only 2 days remaining to join in. Once finished, the estimated shipping date is April 24, 2017.

The KiwiSDR
The KiwiSDR

ColibriNANO: A New 10 kHz to 500 MHz Direct Sampling Receiver

The ColibriNANO is a new software defined radio that is currently available for pre-order and is expected to be ready for delivery by the end of April 2017. The specs show that it is a direct sampling receiver (no tuner), which can receive from 10 kHz to 500 MHz in oversampling mode, and from 10 kHz to 55 MHz in standard mode. It uses a 14 Bit ADC which provides up to 110 dB’s of blocking dynamic range, and can run with a sampling rate of up to 3 MHz. The press release given to us reads:

New ColibriNANO SDR USB Receiver with a 14-bit ADC .01-500MHz

Kirkland, WA, USA —March 27 th , 2017 –

Vasily Vasiliev, Chief Hardware Engineer of Expert Electronics is pleased to announce availability of new ColibriNANO 0.01-500 MHz receiver in late April, 2017.

Notable features include the blocking dynamic range (BDR) ~110dB, native .01-55 MHz coverage with up to 500 MHz in oversampling mode, low pass filter (LPF) <60 MHz, full compatibility with HDSDR, legacy SDR#, and ExpertSDR2 software.

Supported platforms are Windows® XP-10, Linux and Web-client for HTML5 browsers.

No existing USB SDR receivers combine high sensitivity and broad dynamic range. Remote operation (TCP/IP) interface is built-in and offers plug-and- play solutions for Amateur, Commercial and Government applications.

For further information call (800)977-0448 or email [email protected]

https://www.nsiradio.com

Currently we see that the ColibriNANO is selling for $249.95 USD on the nsiradio.com website. We’ve also seen the following description on the sunsdr.eu website:

With the new ColibriNANO you will be able to enjoy LF, MW and Shortwave listening in many different ways. For example you can record the entire medium wave band using 1.5 MHz sampling rate, decode CW using CW skimmer, remote control the ColibriNANO by plugging it into our RPI server. There are an endless range of applications for this small SDR. All this in a tiny USB stick!

The ColibriNANO features a Texas Instruments ADS4145 14 bit direct sampling ADC and a built in low 55 MHz pass filter that can be bypassed to receive signals up to 500 MHz (external filters  like the our 2m filtered preamp recommended).

CW skimmer and Skimmer With the external ExtIO library the ColibriNANO can be used with third party software like HDSDR etc.

This is not a cheap USB dongle found on Ebay, this high quality SDR receiver is developed by Expert Electronics and features a sturdy aluminium chassis, ESD protection, USB 2.0 interface and a quality SMA antenna connector.

Best of all, the ColibriNANO travels in your pocket and only needs your computer and an antenna! Its the ultimate portable SDR receiver!

Software support

  • ExpertSDR2
  • CW Skimmer
  • Skimmer Server
  • Third party software using ExtIO library

Specifications

  • Receiving bandwidth: 0.1 – 55 MHz
  • Oversampling receiving: 0.1 – 500 MHz
  • Blocking Dynamic Range (BDR): 110 dB
  • Sensitivity: 0.05 uV at 20M band, preamp = 0
  • IMD3 Dynamic Range: 95 dB
  • ADC resolution: 14-bit @ 122.88 MHz
  • Sample rate: 48, 96, 192, 384, 768 kHz and 1.5, 3.0 MHz
  • IQ resolution: 24 bit (16 bit at 1.5 and 3 MHz sample rates)
  • RF Input: (SMA connector, up to 15kV ESD protection)
  • Preamp range: from 31.5 up to +6 dB with 0.5 dB steps
  • Operating temperature: -10°C to 60°C
  • Dimensions: 90х25х17mm
  • Weight: 0.043kg

It looks like that this receiver may compete somewhat with the also upcoming Airspy HF+. The Airspy HF+ claims similar specs including a frequency range of 0 – 270 MHz, 14 Bit ADC and 108 dB blocking dynamic range. But the target price for the HF+ is below $200 USD.

A Warning for R820T2 RTL-SDR Purchases on eBay/Aliexpress etc

Just a brief warning for those purchasing the generic dongles on eBay and Aliexpress. We’ve recently heard of a number of customers having ordered generic dongles advertised as having R820T or R820T2 chips, but receiving dongles with FC0012 chips inside instead.

The R820T2 is capable of tuning from around 24 MHz to 1766 MHz, whereas the FC0012 can only tune between 22 – 948 MHz. Compared, the R820T2 is definitely the better chip.

This scam is probably happening because the price of the FC0012 is less than the R820T/2. So these sellers may be trying to cut costs and simply hoping that no one will notice the chip change since both chips are RTL-SDR compatible in the drivers. You can check what tuner chip you have either with rtl_test, or simply by reading the markings on the chip itself.

In addition we have also recently seen several scammer bots on eBay pop up who are selling our own RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongles at very low prices. These sellers are typically automated bots that mass copy popular listings, and undercut their price hoping to grab a few fake sales before disappearing. They usually have zero feedback, or a small amount of feedback from purchases made from the account, and they price the product extremely low, typically even below the manufacturing cost. Most likely you will never see a product from them and they will simply disappear from eBay after a few days. This has already happened to one scam seller that we have been tracking, although before they disappeared they had already made 80+ fake sales.

FlightAware Prostick Plus Now Available in our Store

The FlightAware ProStick Plus is an modified RTL-SDR designed specifically for ADS-B reception. Its main defining feature is that it has a built in low noise figure LNA, and a 1090 MHz SAW filter. The LNA reduces the noise figure of the RTL-SDR, improving ADS-B reception and thus increasing the number of messages received and the receivable range of aircraft. The SAW filter helps remove out of band signals which can cause the RTL-SDR to overload if they are particularly strong. The Prostick Plus also comes with a TCXO, and SMA connector.

If you are mainly interested in ADS-B reception, or are looking to set up an ADS-B station then the Prostick Plus is one of the best choices you can make. See our previous review here.

We are now reselling some of FlightAware’s Prostick Plus dongles in our store now. They cost $24.95 USD including free shipping worldwide. We intend to sell them mainly to customers outside of the USA, as FlightAware already sell them officially on Amazon, but we offer free shipping anywhere in the world.

Click here to visit our store

The Pro Stick Plus RTL-SDR based ADS-B Receiver from FlightAware.
The Pro Stick Plus RTL-SDR based ADS-B Receiver from FlightAware.

The FreeSRP SDR is now Seeking Crowd Funding on CrowdSupply

Back in August of 2016 we posted about Lukas Lao Beyer’s work in creating a software defined radio from scratch. His goal was to design something that fit somewhere in between the $300 HackRF and the higher end and more pricey USRP radios. Back then he had completed the design and had a working prototype.

Now the Lukas has put the FreeSRP up on CrowdSupply, a crowd funding website. The FreeSRP is priced at $420 each and the goal is to raise $75,000 in order to begin a manufacturing run of the SDR.  At the time of writing this post, the campaign has been running for a day at is already 8% funded.

The FreeSRP has a tuning range from 70 MHz to 6 GHz, uses a 12-bit ADC with a sampling rate of up to 61.44 MSPS, and has a maximum analog filter bandwidth of 56 MHz. It is a full-duplex radio (can transmit & receive at the same time). The main chip in the unit is the fairly expensive (~$150 USD) AD9364 integrated RF transceiver chip and it also comes with a Xilinx Artix 7 FPGA. Furthermore the hardware and code is entirely open source.

The specs seem somewhat similar to the cheaper LimeSDR, although the main chipset is different as the FreeSRP uses the AD9364 chip and the LimeSDR uses their own LimeMicro LMS7002M chip. The AD9364 is the same chip used in the USRP B200 units. Below is an in-class comparison given on the FreeSRP CrowdSupply page.

FreeSRP Comparisons and PCB Image
FreeSRP Comparisons and PCB Image

Below is the FreeSRP promotional video.

KiwiSDR Massdrop: $50 Saving on the Retail Price

The KiwiSDR is a wideband HF software defined radio that is designed to receive the entire 10 kHz – 30 MHz spectrum all at once. It works together with a BeagleBone single board computer and uploads it’s wideband radio data to the internet via the OpenWebRX SDR web interface and control software. Examples of KiwiSDRs shared publicly on the web with OpenWebRX can be found at sdr.hu.

Back in April of last year the KiwiSDR was successfully crowd funded on Kickstarter, and was later released for general ordering in October from SeeedStudio. Normally the KiwiSDR kit including KiwiSDR, BeagleBone, enclsoure, GPS antenna and SD card costs $299 USD.

Currently a Massdrop is underway for KiwiSDR (it seems that the link only works for logged in users). If you didn’t already know, a Massdrop is an organized group buy effort. Buy grouping several individual orders together and making a bulk order, the manufacturer is likely to give a discount. Currently the price for the KiwiSDR kit on the Massdrop is $249.99 USD ($50 saving on the regular price), with only 2 days remaining to join in. Once finished, the estimated shipping date is April 24, 2017.

The KiwiSDR
The KiwiSDR

ColibriNANO: A New 10 kHz to 500 MHz Direct Sampling Receiver

The ColibriNANO is a new software defined radio that is currently available for pre-order and is expected to be ready for delivery by the end of April 2017. The specs show that it is a direct sampling receiver (no tuner), which can receive from 10 kHz to 500 MHz in oversampling mode, and from 10 kHz to 55 MHz in standard mode. It uses a 14 Bit ADC which provides up to 110 dB’s of blocking dynamic range, and can run with a sampling rate of up to 3 MHz. The press release given to us reads:

New ColibriNANO SDR USB Receiver with a 14-bit ADC .01-500MHz

Kirkland, WA, USA —March 27 th , 2017 –

Vasily Vasiliev, Chief Hardware Engineer of Expert Electronics is pleased to announce availability of new ColibriNANO 0.01-500 MHz receiver in late April, 2017.

Notable features include the blocking dynamic range (BDR) ~110dB, native .01-55 MHz coverage with up to 500 MHz in oversampling mode, low pass filter (LPF) <60 MHz, full compatibility with HDSDR, legacy SDR#, and ExpertSDR2 software.

Supported platforms are Windows® XP-10, Linux and Web-client for HTML5 browsers.

No existing USB SDR receivers combine high sensitivity and broad dynamic range. Remote operation (TCP/IP) interface is built-in and offers plug-and- play solutions for Amateur, Commercial and Government applications.

For further information call (800)977-0448 or email [email protected]

https://www.nsiradio.com

Currently we see that the ColibriNANO is selling for $249.95 USD on the nsiradio.com website. We’ve also seen the following description on the sunsdr.eu website:

With the new ColibriNANO you will be able to enjoy LF, MW and Shortwave listening in many different ways. For example you can record the entire medium wave band using 1.5 MHz sampling rate, decode CW using CW skimmer, remote control the ColibriNANO by plugging it into our RPI server. There are an endless range of applications for this small SDR. All this in a tiny USB stick!

The ColibriNANO features a Texas Instruments ADS4145 14 bit direct sampling ADC and a built in low 55 MHz pass filter that can be bypassed to receive signals up to 500 MHz (external filters  like the our 2m filtered preamp recommended).

CW skimmer and Skimmer With the external ExtIO library the ColibriNANO can be used with third party software like HDSDR etc.

This is not a cheap USB dongle found on Ebay, this high quality SDR receiver is developed by Expert Electronics and features a sturdy aluminium chassis, ESD protection, USB 2.0 interface and a quality SMA antenna connector.

Best of all, the ColibriNANO travels in your pocket and only needs your computer and an antenna! Its the ultimate portable SDR receiver!

Software support

  • ExpertSDR2
  • CW Skimmer
  • Skimmer Server
  • Third party software using ExtIO library

Specifications

  • Receiving bandwidth: 0.1 – 55 MHz
  • Oversampling receiving: 0.1 – 500 MHz
  • Blocking Dynamic Range (BDR): 110 dB
  • Sensitivity: 0.05 uV at 20M band, preamp = 0
  • IMD3 Dynamic Range: 95 dB
  • ADC resolution: 14-bit @ 122.88 MHz
  • Sample rate: 48, 96, 192, 384, 768 kHz and 1.5, 3.0 MHz
  • IQ resolution: 24 bit (16 bit at 1.5 and 3 MHz sample rates)
  • RF Input: (SMA connector, up to 15kV ESD protection)
  • Preamp range: from 31.5 up to +6 dB with 0.5 dB steps
  • Operating temperature: -10°C to 60°C
  • Dimensions: 90х25х17mm
  • Weight: 0.043kg

It looks like that this receiver may compete somewhat with the also upcoming Airspy HF+. The Airspy HF+ claims similar specs including a frequency range of 0 – 270 MHz, 14 Bit ADC and 108 dB blocking dynamic range. But the target price for the HF+ is below $200 USD.

New Product in Our Store: SDRplay RSP-1 Aluminum Case Upgrade

We’re happy to announce that in conjunction with Mike, one of the leaders in the SDRplay users community, we have manufactured and released a high quality aluminum enclosure upgrade for the SDRplay RSP-1 software defined radio. The SDRplay RSP-1 is a $129 USD 12 bit SDR that can tune between 10 kHz – 2 GHz. It comes by default in a simple plastic enclosure. Upgrading to a metal case enclosure not only looks sleeker, but also shields the RSP-1 from strong RF interference directly entering the PCB.

The enclosure also comes with a bonus RTL-SDR Blog broadcast FM (BCFM) filter to help reduce overloading and images from extremely strong broadcast FM stations. This filter can be installed either inside or outside the metal enclosure.

Also included is a semi-hardshell travel case which is perfect for protecting the RSP-1 while on the move. Finally, some accessories such as a thermal pad for mounting, grounding lug with nuts, 3M rubber feet and of course the enclosure screws are also included.

The cost of the enclosure including all extras is $39.95 USD with worldwide shipping included. The case is available from our Chinese warehouse for customers anywhere in the world, and in a few days it will also be able on Amazon USA for faster local US shipments. Shipping on Amazon should also be free as the free shipping threshold on Amazon was recently reduced back down to $35 USD.

Visit our store to purchase

See some images below for an overview of what you get in the package:

 

ADALM-PLUTO: A New $149 TX Capable SDR with 325 – 3800 MHz Range, 12-Bit ADC and 20 MHz Bandwidth

Recently we’ve heard about the ADALM-PLUTO (a.k.a PlutoSDR) which is an up and coming RX/TX capable SDR that covers 325 – 3800 MHz, has a 12-bit ADC and a 61.44 MSPS sampling rate. All this and it is currently priced at only $149 USD on Digikey (but note that it is not shipping yet). This makes it the lowest price general purpose TX capable SDR that we’ve seen so far.

Regarding the features and specs they write:

ADI’s ADALM-PLUTO is the ideal learning tool/module for radio frequency (RF), software defined radio (SDR), and wireless communications. Each ADALM-PLUTO comes with two antennas, one for frequencies of 824 HMz to 894 HMz and the other for 1710 MHz to 2.170 GHz. Each unit comes with one 15 cm SMA cable with both transmitter and receiver capabilities and is powered via USB. The self-contained RF learning module supports both half and full duplex communications and uses MATBAB and GNU Radio sink source blocks, Libiio, A C, C++, C#, and Python API.

The internal components of ADALM-PLUTO include, AD936x RF Agile Transceiver™ and Power, Micron DDR3L and QSPI Flash, Xilinx® Zqynq® programmable SoC and USB 2.0 PHY. The firmware PlutoSDR is open source and comprises technology from Das U-Boat, the Linux Kernal and Buildroot. The ADALM-PLUTO is the ideal wireless, SDR learning tool for students, hobbyists, and educators.

Features

  • Portable self-contained RF learning module
  • Cost-effective experimentation platform
  • RF coverage from 325 MHz to 3.8 GHz
  • Flexible rate, 12-bit ADC and DAC
  • One transmitter and one receiver (female SMA, 50 Ω)
  • Half or full duplex
  • MATLAB, Simulink support
  • GNU radio sink and source blocks
  • Libiio, a C, C++, C#, and Python API
  • USB 2.0 interface
  • Plastic enclosure
  • USB powered
  • Up to 20 MHz of instantaneous bandwidth (complex I/Q)

The PlutoSDR appears to be mainly advertised as a learning module for electrical engineering students (see the promotional PDF pamphlet here), but it there seems to be no reason why it could not be used as a general purpose SDR. In fact it seems that @csete the author of GQRX has already made his PlutoSDR work in GQRX

The PlutoSDR is also more than just an SDR. On board is a full SoC (‘System on Chip’) which includes an FPGA and ARM processor that allows Linux to run directly on the device. The processor and Linux can access the SDR and run applications on the device itself. Over on the PlutoSDR wiki there are already a few tutorials that show how to use the SDR with MATLAB, Simulink and GNU Radio.

From the specs of this SDR the main limitation seems to be the tuning range with the lowest frequency tunable being only 325 MHz. But a simple upconverter could easily solve this limitation. As it is designed to be a learning tool for University students we also expect that there will be a lot of documentation and applications eventually built for it.

At the moment the PlutoSDR does not appear to be for sale. It only seems that several early model units have been sent out to developers. But it looks like the PlutoSDR will be available on Digikey for $149 USD. We’re not sure if this is the exact pricing, as a few days earlier a lower price was shown, but even at $149 USD it seems to be a good deal.

The PlutoSDR
The PlutoSDR

Scanning the Spectrum at 8GHz per Second with the new HackRF Update

Recently Mike Ossmann, creator of the HackRF released version 2017.02.1 of the libhackrf, hackrf-tools and firmware on the HackRF Git. The update was developed together with the help of Dominic Spill. The full release text is pasted below:

To upgrade to this release, you must update libhackrf and hackrf-tools on your host computer. You must also update firmware on your HackRF. It is important to update both the host code and firmware for this release to work properly. If you only update one or the other, you may experience unpredictable behavior.

Major changes in this release include:

Sweep mode: A new firmware function enables wideband spectrum monitoring by rapidly retuning the radio without requiring individual tuning requests from the host computer. The new hackrf_sweep utility demonstrates this function, allowing you to collect spectrum measurements at a sweep rate of 8 GHz per second. Thanks to Mike Walters, author of inspectrum, for getting this feature working!

Hardware synchronization: It is now possible to wire the expansion headers of two or more HackRF Ones together so that they start sampling at the same time. This is advantageous during phase coherent operation with clock synchronized HackRFs. See the -H option of hackrf_transfer. Thank you, Mike Davis!

A new utility, hackrf_debug, replaces three older debug utilities, hackrf_si5351c, hackrf_max2837, and hackrf_rffc5071.

Power consumption has been reduced by turning off some microcontroller features we weren’t using.

There have been many more enhancements and bug fixes. For a full list of changes, see the git log.

Special thanks to Dominic Spill who has taken over much of the software development effort and has helped with nearly every improvement since the previous release!

One of the most interesting updates is the upgrade to hackrf_sweep. The new firmware allows you to make huge wideband scans of the entire 0 – 6 GHz range of the HackRF in under one second (8 GHz/s). In comparison the Airspy is currently capable of scanning at about 1 GHz/s (although the Airspy author has mentioned that a sweep mode could also easily be added on the Airspy).

To update the drivers and flash the new firmware in Linux:

  1. Download the new release tar at https://github.com/mossmann/hackrf/releases/tag/v2017.02.1
     
  2. Extract the tar.xz file into a folder.
     
  3. Build and install the host tools using the instructions
    at https://github.com/mossmann/hackrf/tree/master/host
     
  4. Flash the new firmware with hackrf_spiflash -w firmware-bin/hackrf_one_usb.bin (or the bin file for the Jawbreaker if you have that version of the HackRF)
     
  5. Disconnect then reconnect the HackRF.

To install Mike Ossmanns fork of QSpectrumAnalyzer which supports the new hackrf_sweep:

  1. sudo apt-get install python3-pip python3-pyqt4 python3-numpy
     
  2. git clone https://github.com/mossmann/qspectrumanalyzer
     
  3. sudo pip3 install ./qspectrumanalyzer
     
  4. This gets installed to ~/.local/bin

To generate a wideband waterfall image sweep with hackrf_sweep and Kyle Keen’s heatmap.py software:

  1. git clone https://github.com/keenerd/rtl-sdr-misc. Take note of heatmap.py inside rtl-sdr-misc/heatmap.
     
  2. Scan from 1 MHz – 3 GHz, with a bin size of 100k, LNA gain of 32 and VGA gain of 8: ./hackrf_sweep -f1:3000 -w100000 -l32 -g8 > output_data.csv
     
  3. Generate the heatmap (can take some time to complete if you have a large data file from a long scan): python heatmap.py output_data.csv heatmap_image.png

We’ve uploaded an 0-6 GHz example waterfall scan image over about 30 minutes which is available at filedropper.com/op4. The png file is 90 MB. A sample of the sweep from 400 – 600 MHz is shown below. Trunking, various telemetry and DVB-T signals are visible.

hackrf_sweep 400 - 620 MHz sample
hackrf_sweep 400 – 620 MHz sample

Some GIF examples of QSpectrumAnalyzer running the new hackrf_sweep in order from 1) 0 – 6 GHz scan, 2) 0 – 3 GHz scan, 3) 0 – 1 GHz scan, 4) 500 – 640 MHz scan, 5) 2.4 GHz WiFi Band are shown below.

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