Tagged: raspberry pi

Decoding DAB with an RTL-SDR and SDR-J On an Odroid C2

The Odroid C2 is a $40 USD single board computer with a 1.5 GHz ARM-A53 quad core CPU and 2 GB of RAM. Compared to a Raspberry Pi 3 it is more powerful and costs almost the same. YouTube uploader radio innovation recently wrote into us and wanted to share his video showing SDR-J decoding DAB+ smoothly on his Odroid C2. It seems that SDR-J works perfectly and only uses a small amount of CPU.

DAB stands for Digital Audio Broadcast and is a replacement/alternative to standard broadcast FM stations. SDR-J is a software suite that includes a DAB decoder for the RTL-SDR. It is compatible with Windows, Linux and the Raspberry Pi (and evidently also the Odroid C2). Over on their website they also provide a ready to go Raspberry Pi 2 image, and they write that it should perform well on the Rpi2 platform as well.

We’ve also seen that there is a new variant of SDR-J for the Raspberry Pi (and potentially other similar devices) available on GitHub. This one has a nice touch screen friendly GUI, which should be useful for creating a cheap portable DAB device.

Alternative SDR-J Raspberry Pi GUI
New SDR-J Variant for the Raspberry Pi with nice GUI


Building a Homemade FM Repeater with a Raspberry Pi, Rpitx and RTL-SDR Dongle

A radio repeater is usually a radio tower that receives weak signals from handheld, desktop or other radio, and rebroadcasts the same signal at a higher power over a wide area at a different frequency. This allows communications to be extended over a much greater area.

Repeaters are generally made from expensive professional grade radio equipment, however ZR6AIC has been experimenting with creating an ultra low cost repeater out of a RTL-SDR and Raspberry Pi. In his system the RTL-SDR dongle is set up to receive a signal on the 70 cm (420 – 450 MHz) amateur radio band, and then retransmit it using Rpitx on the 2M (144 – 148 MHz) amateur radio band.  He also adds a 2M low pass filter to the output of the Raspberry Pi to keep the signal clean.

RTL-SDR + Rpitx Block Diagram
RTL-SDR + Rpitx Block Diagram

Rpitx is software for the Raspberry Pi which we have featured on this blog several times in the past. We’ve also seen the qtcsdr software which also uses Rpitx and an RTL-SDR to create a transceiver. Rpitx allows the Raspberry Pi to transmit radio signals without the need for any transmitting radio hardware at all. It works by modulating signals onto a General Purpose I/O (GPIO) pin on the Raspberry Pi. If the GPIO pin is modulated in just the right way, FM/AM/SSB or other signal modulation approximations can be created at a specified frequency. The signal is however not clean, as this type of modulation generates many harmonics which could be dangerous if amplified. If you use Rpitx, always use appropriate filtering hardware.

ZR6AIC’s post goes into detail about how to install and set up the required software onto the Raspberry Pi and how to set up the script to piece all the programs together into a repeater. He’s also uploaded a video demonstrating the system in action on YouTube.


Videos Showing Rpidatv in action

A few days ago we posted about the release of Rpidatv, a program that allows a Rapberry Pi to transmit DATV without the need for any additional hardware. DATV stands for Digital Amateur TV, and can be received with an RTL-SDR using a program called leandvb.

Over on YouTube, the programmer of Rpidatv (Evariste F5OEO) has uploaded a video that shows a Rpidatv + leandvb system in action. The video demonstrates the touch screen GUI which can be used if a touch capable LCD screen is connected to the Raspberry Pi. It also shows the whole system in action with a video being transmitted from the Raspberry Pi camera to a Linux PC with an RTL-SDR running leandvb.


Another video uploaded to YouTube by Qyonek also shows Rpidatv + leandvb in action.


Transmitting DATV with a just a Raspberry Pi

All the way back in April 2014 we first posted about how the Raspberry Pi was able to transmit FM by cleverly modulating one of it’s GPIO pins. Later in October 2015 F5OEO expanded this idea and created software that allowed the Raspberry Pi to transmit not only FM, but also AM, SSB, SSTV and FSQ. Soon after some filter shields such as the QRPi were released to try and cut down on the spurious emissions caused by transmitting using this method.

Now F5OEO has once again taken this method a step forward and has created software capable of allowing the Raspberry Pi to transmit Digital Amateur TV (DATV). The software is called Rpidatv, and can be downloaded from https://github.com/F5OEO/rpidatv. It can be run from the command line, or via a touch graphical interface if you have a touchscreen LCD screen. DATV is a DVB-S broadcast and can be decoded with an RTL-SDR by using the leandvb software which is bundled together with the Rapidatv software. Previously we’d posted about how the International Space Station intends to one day transmit DATV and that it can be decoded with an RTL-SDR.

F5OEO writes that the software is capable of generating a symbol rate from 64k symbols to 1M symbols, which is enough to transmit one video with good H264 encoded quality. He also writes that using a low symbol rate may be useful for long distance transmissions as the signal will take up a smaller bandwidth. For example a 250K symbol transmission would only need 300kHz of bandwidth. He writes that this type of transmission could easily be used in the ISM band to replace WiFi video for FPV, but that at the moment video latency is about 1 – 2 seconds and is still being improved.

Once again we remind you that if you intend to transmit using these methods where a GPIO pin is modulated, then you MUST use a bandpass filter at the frequency you are transmitting at, and that you must be licensed to transmit on those frequencies.

A DATV transmission received from a Raspberry Pi transmitter.
A DATV transmission received from a Raspberry Pi transmitter.

Setting up a Raspberry Pi Based AIS Receiver with an RTL-SDR

Over on YouTube user Tobias Härling has uploaded a video showing how he used a Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR dongle to set up an AIS receiver. AIS stands for Automatic Identification System and is a radio system similar to ADS-B which allows you to create a radar-like system for boats. For Windows we have a tutorial on AIS reception here.

In his setup he uses rtl_ais and the kplex software and shows how to install everything from scratch. He also shows how to set the system up so that decoding automatically starts up and begins outputing NMEA data through the network when the Raspberry Pi is powered on. This way an a device like an iPad could be used to run OpenCPN to view the plotted ships.


RTLSDR4Everyone: Raspberry Pi guide & choosing your first dongle

Over on his blog rtlsdr4everyone author Akos has recently uploaded three new posts. The first post is about the Raspberry Pi minicomputer and the post discusses the merits of using the Raspberry Pi with an RTL-SDR dongle. The second post provides information to help people new to RTL-SDR choose their first dongle, and weighs up options between dongles that cost $10, $20, $25, $35 and $50 dollars. Finally, the third post compares two dongles on HF performance.

Raspberry Pi3 and RTL-SDR dongles.
Raspberry Pi3 and RTL-SDR dongles.

PiTX QRP TX Shield for WSPR on 20M Now For Sale

Back in October 2015 we posted about a piece of software for the Raspberry Pi called PiTX. PiTX allows you to turn your Raspberry Pi into a fully functional RF transmitter. When combined with an RTL-SDR a full transceiver radio can be built using the QTCSDR software.

PiTX works by modulating the GPIO pins on the Pi in such a way that it is able to produce FM modulation. The major problem with using this method of producing radio is that it creates large amounts of harmonics and interference outside of the intended transmit frequency. Interference like this is illegal and could potentially disrupt life critical radio systems such as emergency services, cellphones and air traffic control.

In order to cleanly transmit with PiTX an output RF filter should be used. Recently, the team over at TAPR.org have released a 20M WSPR TX filter shield. WSPR is pronounced “Whisper” and is short for “Weak Signal Propagation Reporter Network“. It is a type of amateur radio signal that can be broadcast and received around the world by using very low transmit power. Radio amateurs use it to see how far their signal can travel when using very low power (QRP) and to investigate signal propagation conditions. 

The 20M WSPR shield sells for $20 at www.tapr.org/kits_20M-wspr-pi.html.

The WSPR shield sitting on top of a Raspberry Pi.
The WSPR shield sitting on top of a Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi Docker Images for ADS-B and ACARS with the RTL-SDR

Docker is a Linux based platform which allows you to build and deploy complex applications into a self contained “container” package that contains all the needed applications and dependencies. The container is completely preconfigured to just work as soon as you install the application without the need for any extra configuration.

Over on his blog SysRun has been developing an ADS-B ready docker image for use with the RTL-SDR on a Raspberry Pi embedded computer. His post shows how he prepared and built the docker image on the Pi and how to run the docker image.

In addition he has also uploaded another post showing how to prepare, build and run an ACARS decoding based docker image on the Raspberry Pi.

In the future SysRun also hopes to upload an AIS Docker tutorial.

Raspberry Pi + Docker + RTL-SDR
Raspberry Pi + Docker + RTL-SDR