Tagged: linux

Video Tutorial on Setting up the SDRplay RSP2 in Linux

Over on YouTube user Kevin Loughin has recently uploaded a video that shows a step by step guide on how to set up an SDRplay RSP2 in Linux. Setting up the RSP2 in Linux is not a simple task, but Kevin’s video walks us through the entire process step by step. At the end of the process you’ll be set up with the SoapySDR framework which is the glue software that sits between the hardware driver and SDR software. You’ll also have the CubicSDR software installed which is what you use for general browsing and listening. CubicSDR is similar to SDRuno, SDR#, HDSDR etc.

Over on his blog he’s also posted the steps in text form, and uploaded some of the scripts that he’s created to simplify the install process.

Version 2.6 of GQRX Released

Version 2.6 of the popular SDR program GQRX has just been released (changelog). GQRX is a general signal browsing program similar to programs like SDR#, HDSDR and SDR-Console. However GQRX is designed to run on Linux, MacOS and Raspberry Pi 2 & 3. Note that v2.6 is still a work in progress for MacOS. Apart from the new features and bug fixes, one of the major improvements appears to be reduced CPU usage, meaning that it should run better on older PCs. The changelog is pasted below:

New features

  • 1-2-5 scaling on FFT axis.
  • Audio waterfall.
  • Remember AGC settings between sessions.
  • Right-click on FFT resets frequency zoom.
  • Separate dB ranges for pandapter and waterfall.
  • Raw I/Q mode.
  • Portaudio support.
  • Command line option to set Qt style (fusion, windows, …)
  • Binary packages for Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 (see below)

Bugs fixed

  • Stuttering audio with Pulseaudio backend.
  • Use system font on FFT plot (too small font on high res displays).
  • Broken FUNcube Dongle Pro+ support on Mac OS X 10.11.4.
  • Correct display of negative offsets between -1 and 0 kHz.
  • Reset frequency digits below the one that is being changed.
  • LNB LO could not be set from I/O configuration dialog.
  • Update squelch level when switching between demodulators.
  • Set correct filter range when loading bookmark.
  • White area on waterfall.
  • RFSpace Cloud-IQ support on Mac OS X, RPI binaries and in PPA.

Miscellaneous improvements

  • Input decimator performance.
  • SDRPlay integration through SoapySDR.
  • Only probe for devices when the program is started.
  • Allow user to enter ALSA device name.
  • Set default audio FFT range to -70…0 dB.
  • Restore audio FFT dB scaling between sessions.


A Good Quickstart Guide for RTL-SDR Linux Users

Recently we found this excellent quick start guide by Kenn Ranous which shows how to set up various RTL-SDR related software programs on (Debian) Linux. The guide shows how to install the drivers, how to install and set up GQRX, CubicSDR, dump1090, Virtual Radar Server, QSpectrum Analyzer and SDR Trunk.

If you are struggling with getting an RTL-SDR to work on a Linux system then this should be a very good starting point.

The guide can be found on Kenn’s blog at https://ranous.wordpress.com/rtl-sdr4linux.


Natpos: New Linux SDR Software for the RTL-SDR

Natpos is a new Linux based SDR program similar in operation and features to other programs like GQRX, HDSDR and SDR#. At the moment Natpos only works with RTL-SDR receivers as it runs via the rtl_tcp interface. The software demodulates the standard AM/FM/SSB signals and has a frequency scanner that automatically tunes to the strongest signal. There is a discussion over on Reddit regarding the software, and there the author writes about his favorite features as follows:

The thing I like most is that I can replay past transmissions by clicking in the waterfall history. Using other SDR software, when a new transmission pops up, I feel like I’m in a race to tune to it before it ends so that I can at least hear some of it, but in my software, I don’t even have to pay attention to what’s happening now, and so I seldom do. Usually I don’t notice transmissions on new frequencies until they’ve ended, but I still get to listen to them.

I also put some effort into trying to make sure AM and FM transmissions were equal in volume, as well as at the correct volume according to how well they were modulated, in that I aimed for 100% modulation leading to audio output that’s 6 dB below the ceiling. It seemed as if it was quite random in other software, as switching from AM to FM might cause a huge jump or drop in audio volume. I don’t like to play with my volume controls, so I did my best to make it so that I don’t have to.
I’m also not at all fond of the “click the numbers” method of changing the center frequency which seems to be so common. So in mine, I just type in the MHz on the number keypad and press enter.

I’m also much more fond of my waterfall coloring scheme than any other I’ve seen. It seems much smoother and more informative, at least to me anyway. I suppose that’s rather subjective.

…but it’s rather hard to compare it to other software given that I only got to use other software for two or three days. I rather soon knew I wanted to write my own, and I wanted to use the V4L2 API (that dvb_usb_rtl28xxu module you have to blacklist to use rtl-sdr is an SDR driver, not a video driver), but I had to upgrade to Linux Mint 18 to get access to it since it’s a new API, and after doing so, I haven’t been able to get any of the existing SDR software to both compile and work after it’s compiled. So I just focused on writing my own, since I was wanting to do so anyway. (No support for that V4L2 API though, as it turns out its buggy and offers no way to control the dongle’s gain, so it’s basically unusable.)

Natpos SDR Screenshot
Natpos SDR Screenshot

Transmitting DVBT HDTV from a Raspberry Pi to an RTL2832U

Over on his blog, OZ9AEC has uploaded a post showing how he was able to create a live HDTV transmitter out of a Raspberry Pi, a Raspi Cam module and a UTC DVB-T Modulator adaptor. As he does not want to interfere with commercial DVB-T broadcasts, he sets the module to transmit at 1.28 GHz, aka the 23 cm licenced ham radio band.

On the RTL2832U dongle side, he modified the RTL2832U Linux DVB-T drivers (not the SDR drivers) to work on the 1.3 GHz band. The intention of this camera is for it to fly on a rocket mission. In the YouTube video below he has uploaded some sample footage with the RTL2832U dongle receiving the stream from 300 meters away.

Native RTL-SDR Support Coming to Linux

Linux will soon contain native support for software defined radio devices like the RTL2832U RTL-SDR. These new drivers written by Video4Linux developer Antii Palosaari should be included in the next Linux kernel version 3.15. Antii Palosaari was one of the first people to discover the SDR capabilities of the RTL2832U. In the image below Antii shows SDR# running in Linux with Mono with the Video4Linux gain control screen brought up.

Video4Linux Gain Controls and SDR#
Video4Linux Gain Controls and SDR#

Demonstrating GQRX Running on a BeagleBone Black with RTL-SDR

YouTube user Brad Bowers has posted a video showing GQRX running on his BeagleBone Black with an RTL-SDR dongle. The BeagleBone Black is an embedded Linux computer, similar to the Raspberry Pi, but with significantly more processing power. He found that GQRX actually performed quite responsively on the BeagleBone.