Category: News

Outernet “Lighthouse” Receiver now for sale

Although this isn’t directly SDR related, this story may still be of interest to some readers. The Outernet project have just put on sale their first receiver which is called the Lighthouse. The standard Lighthouse consists of custom hardware, but there is also a DIY option in the store which consists of a HDStar DVB-S2 receiver board and a Raspberry Pi with custom software. You also need a satellite dish antenna and LNB which can be bought from their store, or found locally.

The Outernet project aims to be a “library in the sky” satellite based service that will provide free one-way access to daily downloads of data such as books, news, videos and other information. Its goal is to provide people who may not have easy physical or uncensored access to the internet an easy way to access daily information.

The currently available Outernet services cover almost the entire globe and use Ku-band (12 – 18 GHz) and C-band (4 – 8 GHz) geostationary satellite links, which is what the Lighthouse is capable of receiving when used with an appropriate dish antenna (the Ku-band service requires a 90cm dish, while the C-band service requires a much larger dish). The Lighthouse receives data from the satellites and then allows users to view the downloaded data by connecting to it via a WiFi enabled device such as a PC or smartphone. They currently broadcast 1 GB of data per day to most of the world, and 100 GB per day to sub-saharan African countries.

In the future Outernet is hoping to release their “Lantern” receiver, of which one prototype is based on a modified RTL-SDR design. The Lantern will receive their upcoming L-band (1-2 GHz) transmissions which will only require a small patch antenna and LNA’s to receive. A standard RTL-SDR with appropriate antenna and LNA’s should also be capable of receiving this service when it is released.

New Outernet Receiver: Lighthouse
New Outernet Receiver: Lighthouse

SATNOGS Satellite Database Open for Contributions

The SatNOGS project aims to provide low cost satellite ground stations (where one critical component is currently an RTL-SDR dongle) along with free networking software in order to create a crowd sourced satellite coverage network. The SatNOGS project was also the grand prize winner of the 2014 Hackaday prize which saw them take away almost $200k US dollars of prize money.

Recently the SatNOGS team announced the release of their new satellite database which can be used to look up satellite transmitter information such as downlink frequencies. It is described as “an effort to create an hollistic, unified, global transmitter database for all satellite transmitters”. The database is open to everyone and requires contributions in order to grow.

The database can be found at

The SatNOGS Database
The SatNOGS Database

Trunking with the Latest DSD+ 1.08t Fast Lane Version

DSD+ stands for Digital Speech Decoder Plus and is a software program that can allow you to decode digital voice signals such as P25 and MotoTRBO/DMR. DSD+ is under continual development, and in their last public update they began offering early access to the latest DSD+ features in development through their fast lane subscription. The fast lane subscription costs $10 USD for one year and $25 for unlimited early access. Information about joining the fast lane service can be found in the readme file of the latest DSD+ 1.074 public release.

Over on YouTube user John Miller has been testing the latest early access version DSD+ 1.08t. This new version adds trunking support which allows you to follow conversations. Previously other software like Unitrunker was required to follow the trunking signal. On YouTube John has uploaded a video first showing trunking in action, and a second video showing how to set up DSD+ 1.08t for trunking.

HackRF Blue Shipped and HackRF One Updates

Back in December of last year we posted about the Indiegogo campaign for the HackRF Blue, a lower cost clone of the HackRF One software defined radio. They were able to achieve a lower cost by better component sourcing and manufacturing choices, thus reducing the cost from $299 to $200. The HackRF Blue Indiegogo campaign was successful and most of the HackRF Blue’s have now been shipped and delivered to backers. If you need help getting started with the HackRF Blue see To get started on Windows, simply use Zadig like with the RTL-SDR, and use SDR# which has built in HackRF support.

The specs of the official HackRF One (and by extension the HackRF Blue) have also recently been changed. They now officially acknowledge that the HackRF One is capable of operating at a frequency down to about 1 MHz. They write:

Now that we’ve seen consistent low frequency performance across multiple manufacturing runs, we’re comfortable changing the official specification: HackRF One operates from 1 MHz to 6 GHz. Try attaching a long wire antenna to listen to shortwave radio!

Recently some people have been considering which mid priced SDR to upgrade to from their RTL-SDR. Our opinion is this: The HackRF has pretty poor RX performance, probably the same as, or even worse than the RTL-SDR, so we suggest you buy it only if you want TX capabilities or need operation above 1.7 – 2 GHz. If you only need RX then we suggest you choose the Airspy or SDRPlay as they have much better RX performance. See our list of SDRs for more possible options. 

The HackRF Blue.
The HackRF Blue.

New Version of Digital Speech Decoder DSD+ 1.071 Released

The latest version of Digital Speech Decoder+ (DSD+) has just been released, bringing it up to version 1.071. There appears to be no changelog, so we are unsure as to what is new, but one obvious change is that they now include a new program called FMP which is a simple NFM demodulator, similar to rtl_fm, although it does have a GUI with point and click tuning. FMP can be used as a replacement for SDR# or similar software, and is especially useful to use on low end devices such as netbooks.

An active discussion on the latest release of this software can be found in this thread on the forums.

The FMP NFM demodulator tuned to a MotoTRBO signal.
The FMP NFM demodulator tuned to a MotoTRBO signal.

DSD+ is a Windows program which can be used to decode and listen to digital voice protocols such as D-STAR, NXDN4800, NXDN9600, DMR/MotoTRBO, P25 Phase 1, X2-TDMA and ProVoice with an RTL-SDR or other radio. On some DMR systems you may also be able to use the included LRRP software, which allows you to view the GPS locations of broadcasting radios. The last major release was version 1.05.


The DSD+ team are now also offering a “fast lane” early access program, which for a small donation will allow you to have early access to new and upcoming DSD+ features. They aim to release a new update to donators every 7 to 30 days, while stable public releases will continue to be released every 4 to 6 months. The donation costs $10 for one year of early access, and $25 for lifetime updates. Some features they are currently working on include:

  • Better tablet support
  • IDAS/NEXEDGE/Cap+/Con+/TIII trunk voice following
  • Per-call audio recordings
  • Other needed DSD+ upgrades
  • FMP upgrades
    • Squelch
    • Drift tracking
    • Selectable sampling rates
    • Adjustable windows sizes
    • TCP client/server mode (eliminates VAC / VB-C)
    • Multiple VFOs
    • Airspy support

dump978: UAT Decoder for the RTL-SDR + FlightAware App now supports UAT

In most of the world aircraft use the ADS-B standard for location tracking which transmits at a frequency of 1090 MHz. However, in the USA there is the option for aircraft to instead use the Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) protocol which transmits at 978 MHz.

UAT has some extra features for pilots compared to ADS-B. In addition to location information UAT provides a Traffic Information Service (TIS/B) which allows pilots to see what ground control sees on their traditional RADAR system. It also provides a Flight Information Service-Broadcast (FIS/B) which includes weather and other information. It seems that most small aircraft in the USA prefer to use the UAT system due to it’s lower cost and additional features. 

A few months ago an experimental version of dump978 MHz was released which is what we believe to be the first working UAT decoder for the RTL-SDR. It’s still in experimental development, however the FlightAware team have already referenced it for developing their Android ADS-B app which we posted about a few days ago. Because of the work done with dump978, the beta version of the FlightAware Android app has recently been updated and can now support UAT decoding. To download the beta version with UAT you may need to sign up to their public beta. More information about the beta can be found on their Google+ beta testing community page.

FlightAware ADS-B App which now supports UAT decoding.
FlightAware ADS-B App which now supports UAT decoding.

Direct Sampling 14 MHz Low Pass Filter and Galvanic Isolator for the RTL-SDR now for sale in Japan

Previously we posted about Japanese RTL-SDR experimenter Nobu and his work in prototyping a new 14 MHz low pass filter and galvanic isolator for use with the RTL-SDR. The low pass filter improves reception when using the RTL-SDR in direct sampling mode by reducing out of band interference and the galvanic isolator (isolation transformer) reduces computer and other noise when using the RTL-SDR with an upconverter. The products can be bought from the Japanese Amazon store [Galvanic Isolator] [Low Pass Filter], however to purchase from outside of Japan you will need to use a third party shopping service available at If you are interested in Nobu’s products, he also has direct sampling modified RTL-SDR dongles and dongles with 10 ppm crystals available, as well as his own upconverter for sale in Japan.
Galvanic Isolator
Galvanic Isolator
14 MHz Low Pass Filter
14 MHz Low Pass Filter

SDRPlay Price Reduced to $149 USD

The Radio Spectrum Processor (RSP) by SDRPlay is a receive only software defined radio with a 100 kHz to 2 GHz range (with a small gap at 380 MHz to 430 MHz), a 12-bit analogue to digital converter (ADC) (~10.4 ENOB), 8 MHz bandwidth and a bank of several switched front end filters. Previously the SDRPlay RSP was priced at $299 USD, however they have just halved this price down to $149 USD plus tax and shipping. At this price point we think the SDRPlay is a very good competitor to the Airspy SDR which seems to be the more popular option priced at $199 USD, especially if you are interested in listening to the HF bands without the need for an upconverter. Recently we posted about some SDRPlay reviews which are all favourable.
The Radio Spectrum Processor (RSP) by SDRplay.
The Radio Spectrum Processor (RSP) by SDRplay.