Receiving Weather Balloon (Radiosonde) Data with RTL-SDR

Use your RTL-SDR to decode data from weather balloons (aka Radiosondes) that are launched twice daily by meteorological agencies all around the world.

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Following Trunked Radio with Unitrunker

Follow trunked radio conversations with your RTL-SDR and a program called Unitrunker. Also decode digital communications like P25 and DMR using the Digital Speech Decoder (DSD+) software.

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Analyzing GSM with Airprobe/GR-GSM and Wireshark

The RTL-SDR software defined radio can be used to analyze cellular phone GSM signals, using Linux based tools GR-GSM (or Airprobe) and Wireshark.

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Listening to TETRA Radio

Use your RTL-SDR in Linux to listen to TETRA, a digital trunked radio communications system that stands for “Terrestrial Trunked Radio”.

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Receiving ACARS Airplane Data

ACARS is an acronym for Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System and is a digital communications system that aircraft use to send and receive short messages to and from ground stations. With an RTL-SDR these messages can be decoded.

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POCSAG Pager Decoding

Decode POCSAG pager messages with an RTL-SDR. Even in the modern day pagers are still popular with doctors, some fire and ambulance agencies and various service companies, as they tend to be more reliable and have greater coverage.

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RTL-SDR Direct Sampling Mode

The RTL-SDR software defined radio can be told to run in a mode called “direct sampling mode”, which with a small hardware mod allows the dongle to tune to the HF frequencies where ham radio and many other interesting signals are found. This means that no upconverter circuit is required.

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Decoding DRM Radio

Digital Radio Monodial (DRM) radio is a type of digital shortwave radio signal that is used by international shortwave radio broadcasters. It provides superior audio quality compared to AM signals by using digital audio encoding. With an upconverter, good antenna, and decoding software the RTL-SDR software defined radio can receive and decode DRM signals.

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Decoding Inmarsat STD-C EGC Messages

With an RTL-SDR dongle, a cheap $10 modified GPS antenna or 1-2 LNA’s and a patch, dish or helix antenna you can listen to Inmarsat satellite signals, and decode the STD-C NCS channel which contains information such as search and rescue (SAR) and coast guard messages as well as news, weather and incident reports.

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Decoding Digital Voice (P25, DMR, NXDN, D-STAR) with DSD+

Learn how to decode digital voice communications like APCO P25, DMR MotoTRBO, NXDN and D-STAR with DSD+ and an RTL-SDR dongle.

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RTL-SDR as a Cheap Panadapter

For people already with expensive ham radios, the RTL-SDR can be used as a cheap panadapter. A panadapter is device that allows you to visually see the RF spectrum and waterfall being received by the ham radio. There are multiple (expensive) commercial panadapters available, but combined with a PC or laptop, the RTL-SDR will work just as well.

In this video YouTube user akdude47 shows a tutorial on setting up the RTL-SDR as a panadapter for a Yaesu FT-857. The setup involves connecting the IF output of the radio to the RTL-SDR, and putting in some settings into HDSDR.

17 comments

  1. Claudio

    Ok… very good video! … to cat you have the cat cable… no problem… but …how do i connect the dongle to the ft-817? any advice wellcome.

  2. Richard Steele M6DVK

    I would very much like to hook into my first I.f please can you advise on the location where to do this. Would it be the output of Q1073 (BB305CEW) so its amplified abit first and if so do i need to use a capacitor and if so what type and value. Hope its ok to post my question here. Really like the radio but turning it into a SDR tranceiver would be cool….
    P.s this is on a Yaesu FT-857D European version. Cheers regards Richard

  3. Pingback: SDR $20 Radio | The Oakville Amateur Radio Club Blog
  4. Don Peacock

    I think the reason your LO and Tune is losing sync, is that your setting of 100ms poll and timeout settings are too small. I haven’t used that software, but I do recall reading that the Yaesu implementation of the CAT commands required higher timeouts (I think it was 256ms between setting a value and being able to read that value back). Give a try of something higher and see if that makes it better. Nice video by the way, I plan on playing with HDSDR and a softrock in the near future.

  5. christopher zolnowski

    hello radio friend. i have been trying to research how to modify my icom 706 for the panadapter and use with the hdsdr. i cant find any direct instructions. are you willing to help me out?

    • Tehrasha

      I am looking to do this as well. I -think- that can be done by tapping off of the Optional Filter sockets inside the radio. There is also tiny ‘blank’ on the back of the 706 with 2 screws holding it in. If it works, I will mount an SMA connector there for easy access to the IF stage I will be sure to post pictures of it if/when i get it to work.

    • KB2WYL

      I am looking into the same thing with an ICOM 703? Have you had any luck? I think there is something out there for you to use for the 706 called MDSR, look that up. It’s PC though, and I’m running mac. But please tell me if you have found any info at all, Thanks much,

      Loren

  6. Richard Steele 26ND01

    I would very much like to hook into my first I.f please can you advise on the location where to do this. Would it be the output of Q1073 (BB305CEW) so its amplified abit first and if so do i need to use a capacitor and if so what type and value. Hope its ok to post my question here. Really like the radio but turning it into a SDR tranceiver would be cool….

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