SDRplay Releases SDRuno: Free SDR Software for the RSP

The SDRplay is a $149 USD RX only software defined radio with a 12-bit ADC and up to 8 MHz of bandwidth that can tune from 10 kHz – 2 GHz. We consider it and it’s competitors the Airspy R2/Mini to be the best next step up from an RTL-SDR. See our previous post for a review comparing the Airspy and RSP.

One of the main drawbacks of the RSP has been that it does not have any official software associated with it. The closest competitor, the Airspy has the free official SDR# software, but the RSP relied only on third party programs like HDSDR and SDR-Console.

That is set to change today as SDRplay have announced the release of their SDRuno software, a free general purpose software defined radio program for the RSP. SDRuno is a customized version of the Studio1 software which SDRplay acquired the rights to last April. The full press release is quoted below:

SDRplay is pleased to announce the official release of SDRuno for the RSP. SDRuno is the new name for the RSP compatible version of Studio1, the rights to which we obtained and announced on 28th April. SDRuno contains native support for the SDRplay RSP and no extra plugins are required. Third party hardware can also be supported via the ExtIO interface, but with reduced functionality.

SDRuno provides a rugged and flexible, high performance SDR receiver capability and boasts some excellent features:

  • Multiple ‘Virtual Receivers’ which allow for simultaneous reception and demodulation of different types of signals within the same receiver bandwidth.
  • A selectivity filter with an ultimate rejection greater than 140 dB.
  • A unique distortion-free double stage AGC with fully adjustable parameters.
  • Multiple notch filters with BW adjustable down to 1 Hz, Notch Lock feature.
  • A unique synchronous AM mode with selectable/adjustable sidebands, dedicated PLL input filter, and selectable PLL time constants.
  • SNR (stereo noise reduction), featuring a proprietary noise reduction algorithm for stereo broadcast.
  • AFC for FM signals.
  • Calibration for receiver frequency errors.

Over time, we plan to add many more features to SDRuno to enhance the user’s experience of this very powerful piece of software. This software runs on Windows and we don’t yet know how easy it will be to migrate it to other platforms but this is something we will be investigating.

SDRuno will be made freely available to all current and future users of the RSP – to download a copy – simply go to http://www.sdrplay.com/windows.html

Our support for SDRuno in no way lessens our commitment to support HDSDR, SDR Console, Cubic SDR or ANY other software solution where the authors are willing to work with us. We fully recognise that many people have strong preferences for particular pieces of software and we do not want to do anything to undermine the options that people have to use their favoured software packages. Indeed, our view is quite the opposite. Our objective remains aim to have our hardware platforms support any and every SDR package out there. This of course may not be possible, but it is our philosophy and part of the ethos of our company.

About Studio 1:

Studio1 was developed in Italy by SDR Applications S.a.s. and has hundreds of happy customers around the world.

Studio 1 is known for its user friendly stylish GUI, CPU efficiency and advanced DSP capabilities, including features not available on other SDR software packages.

www.sdrapplications.it

About SDRplay:

SDRplay limited is a UK company and consists of a small group of engineers with strong connections to the UK Wireless semiconductor industry. SDRplay announced its first product, the RSP1 in August 2014

www.sdrplay.com

Email: admin@sdrplay.com

The software can be downloaded at http://www.sdrplay.com/windows.html. SDRuno comes with a full manual (pdf) and SDRplay fans and beta testers of SDRuno have also released a free SDRuno cookbook guide (pdf). From the cookbook it appears that SDRuno is also compatible with any SDR that supports ExtIO modules, like the RTL-SDR, although as noted in the press release functionality for other radios may be reduced. We look forward to being able to test the software out, and post a review within the next few days.

sdruno_announcement

LimeSDR CrowdFunding Closing in Four Days: 80% Funded

The LimeSDR is a new transmit capable software defined radio with a 100 kHz – 3.8 GHz frequency range, 12-bit ADC and 61.44 MHz bandwidth which is currently seeking crowdfunding. At the time of this post there is about four days left to reach the $500k goal, and it is only 80% funded. To try and reach their funding goal they have released another batch of discounted units which cost only $249 USD. After the crowd funding campaign the price will rise to $289/$299 USD. If the LimeSDR is not funded in time, they write that the project will unfortunately be put on hold and it’s future may be uncertain. We believe that this product is shaping up to be a very good TX/RX capable SDR, like the HackRF and bladeRF, but much better overall and for the same or even lower price.

Recently they also released some new updates that show off some LimeSDR features. In a post previously featured on our blog beta tester Alexandru showed how he was able to get the LimeSDR to transmit DVB-S2 HDTV. In later updates they showed how the LimeSDR can be used to:

The LimeSDR Board
The LimeSDR Board

Using the SDRplay and SDRTouch on an Android Mobile Phone

A few months ago the popular SDRTouch software for Android added support for the SDRplay RSP. The RSP is a $149 USD software defined radio with a tuning range of 100 kHz to 2 GHz and a 12 bit ADC.

Over on YouTube user Mile Kokotov has uploaded a video showing the SDRplay RSP running in SDRTouch. He uses it to listen to the 14 MHz ham band in SSB mode and finds that reception is clear and that it is fairly easy to tune around.

In order to use the RSP with an Android device you will need a fairly modern phone and a USB OTG cable. Ideally try to get a USB OTG cable with an external power port as the battery can drain quite fast when using the SDR. SDRTouch also supports the RTL-SDR.

Reverse Engineering a Commercial Inmarsat Front-End to use with the RTL-SDR

Over on his YouTube channel Adam 9A4QV has uploaded a video showing a commercial Inmarsat front end which he reverse engineered to use with his RTL-SDR. The front end is a duplexor, which allows both receive and transmit to occur on the same channel, but to use with the RTL-SDR Adam only uses the receive part. Inside the front end is a large cavity filter, ceramic filter, and about 60 dB of total L-band gain from MMIC amplifiers.

In the second video Adam hooks up the Inmarsat front end to his RTL-SDR and home made patch antenna. The results show that the signals are very strong when using the commercial front end. In a previous post we showed Adam’s results with two LNA4ALL amplifiers. The commercial front end seems to give much stronger signals, but the results with one or two LNA4ALL are adequate enough for decoding.

An ADS-B Decoder for the GOMX-3 Satellite ADS-B Repeater

The GOMX-3 is a CubeSat which carries an experimental ADS-B repeater. Since it is a satellite the experimental receiver hopes to be able to receive ADS-B from orbit, then beam it back down to earth at a frequency of about 437 MHz using a GFSK at 19200 baud high data rate transmission protocol. From space the GOM3-X satellite can see many aircraft at one time and space based tracking allows for aircraft tracking over oceans.

Recently the creators of the satellite, GomSpace released a complete decoder for the ADS-B downlink, and now it has also been turned into a GNU Radio flowgraph by Daniel Estevez which can output decoded aircraft position data directly to a KML file which can then be opened in Google Earth or similar. This blog by DK3WN shows several logged decodes of the satellite and shows what the signal looks like in SDR#. Some of his posts also curiously shows what looks to be a Windows decoder, or logger, though we were unable to find a download for it.

Decoding the downlink should give you real time ADS-B data in your area, but the full log of stored stored data is apparently only downloaded when the satellite passes over the GomSpace groundstations which are mostly located in the EU.

[Also mentioned on Hackaday]
The GOMX-3 ADS-B Downlink Signal.
The GOMX-3 ADS-B Downlink Signal.
Aircraft detected by the GOM3-X Satellite ADS-B Receiver.
Logged aircraft detected by the GOM3-X Satellite ADS-B Receiver. Major flight corridors are visible.

Stealing a Drone with Software Defined Radio

PHDays (Positive Hack Days) is a yearly forum with a focus on ethical hacking and security. During this years forum which took place in June, the organizers set up a competition where the goal was to “steal” or take control of a Syma X8C quadcopter drone. The drone runs on the nRF24L01 module, which from previous posts we have seen can easily be sniffed and decoded with an RTL-SDR or other SDR.

To reverse engineer the drones wireless communications system the teams used software defined radios like the HackRF and BladeRF, and also an alternative method involving just using an Arduino and nRF24L01+ receiver chip. Once the signal was received, they used GNU Radio to decode the signal into packets of data. After analyzing the data they found that the data bytes were easily reverse engineered and then were able to transmit their own data packets to control the drone. The post goes into further detail on the specifics of the reverse engineering.

The Syma X8C drone to be stolen in the competition.
The Syma X8C drone to be stolen in the competition.

RTL-SDR Stock Antenna Teardown and VNA Measurements

Over on his YouTube channel oh2ftg has uploaded two new RTL-SDR related videos. In the first video he does a tear down on the stock standard antennas that are supplied with most cheap RTL-SDR units. He finds that most are just a simple design, with the center conductor of the coax soldered to the whip, and the shield pinched between a metal plate and the base.

In his second video he measures the stock antennas on a Vector Network Analyzer (VNA). He places the antennas on a reasonably sized ground plane and finds that the antennas are as expected and pretuned to the DVB-T TV band at around 500 – 600 MHz.

Generally the included antennas are okay for receiving strong signals but we recommend getting yourself an outdoor discone antenna, or building a planar disk (pdf) for more serious scanning.

Receiving WSPR with a Direct Sampling Modified RTL-SDR

Over on YouTube user Veryokay has uploaded a video showing how he was able to receive WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Report) signals at 14 MHz with his direct sampling modified RTL-SDR. WSPR is a HF mode designed to be received even if the signal is very weak. It is used to help determine radio propagation conditions. Direct sampling mode allows you to receive HF signals on an RTL-SDR without the need for an upconverter, but it is more difficult to implement and get good results with. To get the best results Veryokay built an add on PCB that fits onto the RTL-SDR which contains and LNA and single ended to differential operational amplifier to amplify and get correct impedance matching on the input.

His video mainly shows how to calibrate the receiver correctly to receive WSPR as incorrect calibration is the most common error when trying to receive WSPR for the first time. In the video he also explains that he is transmitting WSPR himself using his Raspberry Pi and a QRPi WSPR filter shield for use with Rpitx.

Receiving WSPR with the RTL-SDR in direct sampling mode and WSPR-X.
Receiving WSPR with the RTL-SDR in direct sampling mode and WSPR-X.