On his blog leander has added a post which shows how he has set up a icecast streaming solution together with an RTL-SDR dongle which is receiving live NOAA weather radio. The idea is to give a computer with no soundcard the ability to stream compressed NOAA weather audio over a network. To do this he uses ezstream, icecast2 and lame. Streaming like this is great if you only want to listen to a single radio channel, and want a low bandwidth solution. Something like rtl_tcp streams the entire raw IQ data across the network which can use huge amounts of bandwidth. Streaming only MP3 audio is significantly more efficient.
First the RTL-SDR is set up to receive NOAA weather audio with rtl_fm. The audio is output to stdin, which is then sent to lame for encoding and MP3 compression. Next ezstream is set up to stream the encoded MP3 data via icecast. Now any PC on the network can use VLC or a similar program to connect to the stream and listen in.
Cloud-SDR is a new tool currently in beta testing which enables remote streaming access of SDR receivers, such as the RTL-SDR and Airspy. In a way it is similar to rtl_tcp in that it allows IQ samples to be streamed over the network, however Cloud-SDR appears to be a much more developed solution that can support more SDR’s and has many more features, as well as better performance. Cloud-SDR is not free, and during these beta stages of release the pricing does not appear to be public. However they have licences for personal/hobbyist use, which we assume will be reasonably priced.
They describe their software in the following blurb:
Cloud-SDR can collect real-time IQ complex samples from an SDR hardware device connected on one machine, stream the samples to a second machine for demodulation or analysis, then send the resulting stream to third machine for storage.
Because network bandwidth is limited compared to SDR receiving bandwidth, the core concept of Cloud-SDR is to move the processing along the cloud to where it is required or possible : the DSP chain is divided in sub-tasks that are spread between computers interconnected through Internet.
For example a “signal scanner” application can be programmed with a script and stored on the SDR server for execution. Only found signals will threshold stream transmission through the TCP/IP network. Remote Client will only receive the IQ stream if a signal is detected by the DSP task. In “cloud mode”, the same script can be broadcasted to several SDR nodes located at different places, enabling parrallel signal search.
Server software SDRNode receives IQ streams from the different SDR hardwares, extracts the different bands, processes them and transmits the RF data using compression algorithms to limit TCP/IP network bandwidth.
Recently Kristian, a reader of our blog wrote in to let us know about a new software project he found that allows you to use your RTL-SDR remotely through a web interface. The web interface runs on Linux and uses mysql and the Apache server to work. Currently it can be used to access options for rtl_fm, rtl_tcp, dump1090 and can also be used to create an icecast audio stream.
The software can be downloaded from its Git at https://github.com/sixuniform/yousdr. The instructions on the GitHub page show how to set it up on a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian, but the instructions should also be valid for other Linux distributions. As the software is new the authors are welcoming any improvements and feedback.
Some similar web based RTL-SDR remote control software that you may be interested in includes WebRadio and rtl_fm_python.
Over on our forums, user sysrun has posted about his fork of the rtl_fm command line tool. His fork allows retuning of the rtl_fm program via UDP without the need to restart the program. In the future he hopes to support UDP PCM streaming. He writes
rtl_udp is a copy of rtl_fm with a special feature: It opens a udp control port (currently fixed to 6020) which takes commands like changing the frequency or mode. No need to restart