Tagged: sdr#

The New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) Accepting Poster Submissions

Thanks to Michael Rahaim a Postdoctoral Researcher at Boston University for letting us know about the New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) which will be held on June 1 & 2 and Tufts University in Medford, MA. They write:

A few of my colleagues and I are organizing the New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) next month and we are currently accepting submissions for poster presentations. The event will be held at Tufts University and is sponsored by MathWorks, Ettus/NI, MediaTek and Analog Devices. It is the 7th time we’ve held the workshop and we typically have attendance of 80-100 people from industry, academia, and government.

This seems to be mostly an academic and industry conference type event, but a few people reading this blog may be interested. Registration is free.

This year as well as the poster presentations there will be a tutorial and introduction to using the PlutoSDR, which is an (as of yet unreleased) TX & RX capable SDR that will be priced at around $149 USD. It looks to be like a way to get started with SDR TXing very cheaply. During the workshops they are also providing tutorials on using USRP SDR devices with MATLAB Simulink, and with FPGAs. In 2016 they also had some interesting presentations including “Wireless Beyond RF: From Underwater to Intra-body Ultrasonic Software Defined Radios” and a tutorial on “Identifying Mystery Waveform Using Simulink and RTL-SDR”

Using SDR# and the Fast Scanner Plugin for Wide Band Scanning

Over on Tom’s Radio Room Show (TRRS) on YouTube Tom has uploaded a video showing how to use SDR# together with Vasili’s Fast Scanner plugin. Fast Scanner is a plugin for SDR# that allows you to use SDR# as a wide band scanner. Essentially this quickly scans through multiple ~2 MHz chunks of bandwidth, and automatically tunes to any active signals. 

In his video Tom shows the Fast Scanner plugin in action, shows how to use it, discusses a bit about how it works and also shows what all the features are.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYC2L1rYoD8

The Panoradio: A tech-demo for direct sampling SDR

SDR researcher Stefan Scholl (DC9ST) recently wrote in to us and wanted to share his project which is a direct sampling SDR using a fast AD converter on the Zynq SoC (System on Chip). He calls the SDR ‘Panoradio’. He writes:

The Panoradio is a modern software defined radio receiver, that directly samples the antenna signal with 250 MHz with an analog-to-digital converter. The receiver captures and displays signals from 0-100 MHz, i.e. shortwave and VHF signals simultaneously, and can even receive signals from the 70 cm band with undersampling.

The hardware platform is the Zedboard, that features the Xilinx Zynq Soc, which combines an FPGA with an ARM A9 dual core and runs a Linux operating system. Fast signal processing is then done in the FPGA, slow signal processing with the ARM A9. The radio can operate in standalone mode with just a monitor and mouse attached.

The radio’s features at a glance:
– 0 -100 MHz direct sampling reception
– Direct sampling of 70 cm (425 – 440 MHz) signals
– Three independent zoomable waterfall displays (100 MHz to 6.1 kHz bandwidth)
– Two independent audio receivers (22 kHz bandwidth) with Weaver SSB demod
– Standalone operation with embedded system (Zynq / Zedboard)
– Full Linux running, including demodulation software (e.g. Fldigi)

The Panoradio is designed as a tech-demo for software defined radio, that shows what is possible with today’s technology in AD conversion and signal processing platforms.
It is an open source project, the design files can be accessed from the project website, which also includes basic information on direct sampling SDRs and single-sideband (SSB) detection:
www.panoradio-sdr.de

Stefan also presented his work at the “Software Defined Radio Academy” conferences in Friedrichshafen, Germany in both 2015 and 2016. The talks are shown below, as well as some photos and screenshots of the SDR in action.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1_fOYEi-p8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HICY3TYsp9Y

A direct sampling SDR is an SDR without any analogue tuner on the front end, basically directly sampling with the ADC from the antenna. This takes us closer to a ‘true’ SDR which has very little analogue components. Over time we should start to see more direct sampling SDRs popping up. For example recently we saw the release of a new Xilinx RFSoC which is capable of sampling at up to 4Gsamples per second which should provide a very wide band, wide frequency range SDR. While this chip will probably be extremely expensive for the time being as it is mainly designed for commercial cell tower communications, it shows how well direct sampling technology is progressing.

The New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) Accepting Poster Submissions

Thanks to Michael Rahaim a Postdoctoral Researcher at Boston University for letting us know about the New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) which will be held on June 1 & 2 and Tufts University in Medford, MA. They write:

A few of my colleagues and I are organizing the New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) next month and we are currently accepting submissions for poster presentations. The event will be held at Tufts University and is sponsored by MathWorks, Ettus/NI, MediaTek and Analog Devices. It is the 7th time we’ve held the workshop and we typically have attendance of 80-100 people from industry, academia, and government.

This seems to be mostly an academic and industry conference type event, but a few people reading this blog may be interested. Registration is free.

This year as well as the poster presentations there will be a tutorial and introduction to using the PlutoSDR, which is an (as of yet unreleased) TX & RX capable SDR that will be priced at around $149 USD. It looks to be like a way to get started with SDR TXing very cheaply. During the workshops they are also providing tutorials on using USRP SDR devices with MATLAB Simulink, and with FPGAs. In 2016 they also had some interesting presentations including “Wireless Beyond RF: From Underwater to Intra-body Ultrasonic Software Defined Radios” and a tutorial on “Identifying Mystery Waveform Using Simulink and RTL-SDR”

Using SDR# and the Fast Scanner Plugin for Wide Band Scanning

Over on Tom’s Radio Room Show (TRRS) on YouTube Tom has uploaded a video showing how to use SDR# together with Vasili’s Fast Scanner plugin. Fast Scanner is a plugin for SDR# that allows you to use SDR# as a wide band scanner. Essentially this quickly scans through multiple ~2 MHz chunks of bandwidth, and automatically tunes to any active signals. 

In his video Tom shows the Fast Scanner plugin in action, shows how to use it, discusses a bit about how it works and also shows what all the features are.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYC2L1rYoD8

The Panoradio: A tech-demo for direct sampling SDR

SDR researcher Stefan Scholl (DC9ST) recently wrote in to us and wanted to share his project which is a direct sampling SDR using a fast AD converter on the Zynq SoC (System on Chip). He calls the SDR ‘Panoradio’. He writes:

The Panoradio is a modern software defined radio receiver, that directly samples the antenna signal with 250 MHz with an analog-to-digital converter. The receiver captures and displays signals from 0-100 MHz, i.e. shortwave and VHF signals simultaneously, and can even receive signals from the 70 cm band with undersampling.

The hardware platform is the Zedboard, that features the Xilinx Zynq Soc, which combines an FPGA with an ARM A9 dual core and runs a Linux operating system. Fast signal processing is then done in the FPGA, slow signal processing with the ARM A9. The radio can operate in standalone mode with just a monitor and mouse attached.

The radio’s features at a glance:
– 0 -100 MHz direct sampling reception
– Direct sampling of 70 cm (425 – 440 MHz) signals
– Three independent zoomable waterfall displays (100 MHz to 6.1 kHz bandwidth)
– Two independent audio receivers (22 kHz bandwidth) with Weaver SSB demod
– Standalone operation with embedded system (Zynq / Zedboard)
– Full Linux running, including demodulation software (e.g. Fldigi)

The Panoradio is designed as a tech-demo for software defined radio, that shows what is possible with today’s technology in AD conversion and signal processing platforms.
It is an open source project, the design files can be accessed from the project website, which also includes basic information on direct sampling SDRs and single-sideband (SSB) detection:
www.panoradio-sdr.de

Stefan also presented his work at the “Software Defined Radio Academy” conferences in Friedrichshafen, Germany in both 2015 and 2016. The talks are shown below, as well as some photos and screenshots of the SDR in action.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1_fOYEi-p8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HICY3TYsp9Y

A direct sampling SDR is an SDR without any analogue tuner on the front end, basically directly sampling with the ADC from the antenna. This takes us closer to a ‘true’ SDR which has very little analogue components. Over time we should start to see more direct sampling SDRs popping up. For example recently we saw the release of a new Xilinx RFSoC which is capable of sampling at up to 4Gsamples per second which should provide a very wide band, wide frequency range SDR. While this chip will probably be extremely expensive for the time being as it is mainly designed for commercial cell tower communications, it shows how well direct sampling technology is progressing.

New SDR# Plugin: Radio-Sky Spectrograph Data Stream

Edit: If you downloaded an older version of the plugin please note that it has now been updated. The update fixes some stability issues which would previously hang SDR#. The updated .dll file can be downloaded directly from https://goo.gl/VQlH9E.

Radio-Sky Spectrograph is a radio astronomy software program which is often used together with the RTL-SDR or other similar SDRs. It is best explained by the author:

Radio-Sky Spectrograph displays a waterfall spectrum. It is not so different from other programs that produce these displays except that it saves the spectra at a manageable data rate and provides channel widths that are consistent with many natural radio signal bandwidths. For terrestrial , solar flare, Jupiter decametric, or emission/absorption observations you might want to use RSS.

Usually to interface an RTL-SDR with Radio-Sky Specrtograph a program called RTL-Bridge is used. However, now SDR# plugin programmer Alan Duffy has created a new plugin that allows SDR# to interface with Radio-Sky Spectrograph via a network stream. This allows it to work with any SDR that is supported by SDR# plugins. Alan Duffy writes:

I wrote the plugin after becoming interested in amateur radio astronomy. The plugin allows you to use any of the software defined radios supported by SDR# to feed the Radio-Sky Spectrograph program with wide-band data. The plugin shows the frequency, bandwidth, and FFT resolution and has a user selected “Number of Channels” that are sent to the spectrograph program with an allowable range of 100 to 500. This number can only be edited when the data stream is not enabled. Also if certain key parameters change, such as the frequency or decimation, the network stream will stop as the spectrograph would no longer be capturing the same data. If this happens, simply click the start button on client side software (i.e. Radio-Sky Spectrograph). As long as the Enable box is checked on the server side, the plugin will listen for a connection and start transmitting data after RSS makes a new request for data.

We note that the software might also be useful for simply capturing a long term waterfall for finding active frequencies or looking for meteor scatter or aircraft scatter echoes. 

The Radio-Sky Spectrograph SDR# Plugin
The Radio-Sky Spectrograph SDR# Plugin

New SDR# Audio Waterfall Plugin

The old audio waterfall plugin for SDR# seems to be no longer available for download anywhere (it may have gone out of date and is no longer compatible with the latest versions of SDR#). Alan Duffy decided to write his own version of the audio waterfall plugin and make it available for download. An audio waterfall shows the demodulated audio in waterfall form, essentially creating an audio spectrum analyzer. This can be useful for understanding the demodulated frequency structure of a signal.

To install the plugin simply download the dll from his website and place it in the SDR# folder. Note that for us Chrome detected this file as malicious, but this is a false alarm as Chrome does this often with unknown .dll files. To recover the file we had to go to the Chrome menu -> Downloads, then select “Recover File” to download the file. (If you still have problems with the download then check out the comments as some users have kindly mirrored it). Then open plugins.xml file with a text editor, and add the magicline specified on his page.

Audio waterfall with the built in audio spectrum analyzer.
Alan’s Audio waterfall shown together with the built in audio spectrum analyzer in SDR#.

Building a Software Defined Radio from Scratch

Over on his blog Lukas Lao Beyer has uploaded a post that shows his journey with designing and building a software defined radio from scratch. Lukas’ finished SDR design is called the FreeSRP and is based on the Analog Deviced AD9364 transceiver and a Xlinx FPGA.

In his post Lukas describes how he designed the PCB with Altium Designer, routing the traces carefully to ensure the shortest path was used, and to ensure impedance matching was correct. Then after producing the PCB’s with OSH park he writes how he assembled the board by carefully placing the components down by hand and using his reflow oven. This was no easy task due to the manual nature of the operation and the high possibility for undetectable solder problems to arise. Despite the difficulties he found that the SDR powered up as expected.

His next steps were to start work on the FPGA controller design, however he discovered that he had failed to properly route some clock pins on the FPGA. On his third revision of the PCB he was able to fix this. Finally he was able to program the FPGA and get his SDR to work.

Designing an SDR from scratch is no easy task, especially if you have little design experience like Lukas did. However, in the end despite some mistakes he was able to build a working SDR that interfaces with GNU Radio. 

Lukas' FreeSRP SDR.
Lukas’ FreeSRP SDR.

Demonstrating the IF Processor and Notch Filter Plugin in SDR#

Over on YouTube user  FMDX HUN (Luc1f3rk0) has uploaded a video showing how useful the SDR# IF Processor and Notch Filter Plugin can be when attempting to DX FM broadcast stations. He shows that it can be used to listen to stations that are almost overlapping by cutting out the unwanted signal.

The plugin itself can be downloaded from http://rtl-sdr.ru/page/para-novyh-plaginov.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45JEeSGvK_w

Building a Tuning Knob for SDR#

If you love using SDR’s on the PC but miss the old feeling of tuning the frequency with a knob then 19max63 has a solution for you. On his blog he’s posted about how he built his own tuning knob by using a USB mouse PCB circuit and replacing the mouse wheel with a rotary encoder with no detents. Detents are the little clicks or steps that you can feel in some knobs, but for accurate frequency tuning you don’t want those.

His post shows the exact parts he bought (knob, mouse, buttons), the mods he made to the knob and mouse PCB, and how he put it all together. He writes that parts can all be found cheaply on eBay or Aliexpress and the total cost to produce a single knob was only about $4 (though he had to buy some parts in lots of 5 to 10).

The finished tuning kob for RTL-SDR and SDR#.
The finished tuning kob for RTL-SDR and SDR#.