Cloud-SDR: A Tool for Remotely Accessing SDR’s like the RTL-SDR and Airspy

Cloud-SDR is a new tool currently in beta testing which enables remote streaming access of SDR receivers, such as the RTL-SDR and Airspy. In a way it is similar to rtl_tcp in that it allows IQ samples to be streamed over the network, however Cloud-SDR appears to be a much more developed solution that can support more SDR’s and has many more features, as well as better performance. Cloud-SDR is not free, and during these beta stages of release the pricing does not appear to be public. However they have licences for personal/hobbyist use, which we assume will be reasonably priced. 

In this interesting post they describe various solutions for remote SDR access, and show why their Cloud-SDR solution is useful.

They describe their software in the following blurb:

Cloud-SDR can collect real-time IQ complex samples from an SDR hardware device connected on one machine, stream the samples to a second machine for demodulation or analysis, then send the resulting stream to third machine for storage.

In standalone mode, Cloud-SDR can execute signal processing tasks described with embedded JavaScript DSP engine.

Because network bandwidth is limited compared to SDR receiving bandwidth, the core concept of Cloud-SDR is to move the processing along the cloud to where it is required or possible : the DSP chain is divided in sub-tasks that are spread between computers interconnected through Internet.

For example a “signal scanner” application can be programmed with a script and stored on the SDR server for execution. Only found signals will threshold stream transmission through the TCP/IP network. Remote Client will only receive the IQ stream if a signal is detected by the DSP task. In “cloud mode”, the same script can be broadcasted to several SDR nodes located at different places, enabling parrallel signal search.

Server software SDRNode receives IQ streams from the different SDR hardwares, extracts the different bands, processes them and transmits the RF data using compression algorithms to limit TCP/IP network bandwidth.

Cloud-SDR-Big

Currently the hardware supported includes:

  • RTL SDR dongles
  • Perseus SDR
  • BladeRF x40 or x120
  • HackRF
  • AirSpy
  • SDRPlay (under work)
  • USRP UHD (Pro version only)
  • LimeSDR (Pro version only)

On their site they have some tutorials uploaded already. One tutorial shows how to remotely listen to airport radio with a remote Airspy, and one shows how to set up a dual-RTLSDR remote access system. This allows two RTL-SDR’s to be used together, with one streaming directly from the antenna, and the second streaming via an upconverter.

Sharing Two RTL-SDR's with CloudSDR.
Sharing Two RTL-SDR’s with CloudSDR.

There are also several examples of the Cloud-SDR in action over on the authors YouTube channel.

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