Tagged: trunked radio

TETRA Decoding on Windows with Telive

TETRA is a type of digital voice and trunked radio communications system that stands for “Terrestrial Trunked Radio”. It is used heavily in many parts of the world, except for the USA. Telive is a decoder for TETRA which is compatible with RTL-SDR dongles, and has been around and in use for almost 2 years now. If you have unencrypted TETRA signals available in your area it can be used to listen in on them.

Telive is dependent on GNU Radio, so it is normally installed and used on a Linux system. Previously we wrote a tutorial on it’s installation and use, and other users have also made bootable Linux images of telive available.

However, now a TETRA experimenter by the handle of “cURLy bOi” has released a new prototype of a telive modification that works on Windows systems. It makes use of the GNU Radio for Windows development. The telive Windows file can be downloaded from curly’s webserver. His reademe file shows how to install and use the software and it reads:

This has been put together as lowest-effort configuration
to run telive on Windows system. I have also optimized to process (for example adding the CQPSK block to GRC since the python code in the original telive package is IN FACT some unused part of GNU Radio)

Warning:
———
This package contains pre-compiled binaries that work on my 64-bit system. I have compiled them inside the M-SYS2 package. If you don’t trust me, you can follow the installation guide from telive docs, just be prepared you are going to need a lot of packages for the M-SYS2 (pacman -S gcc automake git wget, etc.)

Install:
———
1) Download GNU Radio for Windows from http://www.gcndevelopment.com/gnuradio/downloads.htm
and install
2) Copy contents of gnuradio_mod to c:\Program Files\GNURadio-3.7\
3) Download and install M-SYS2 from https://sourceforge.net/projects/msys2/ and install
4) Copy contents of msys_root to your M-SYS2 installation directory
5) Download FFmpeg for Windows (64-bit Shared) from https://ffmpeg.zeranoe.com/builds/
and extract everything from bin to usr\bin in your M-SYS2 installation directory
6) In M-SYS2 shell execute “pacman -S socat”
7) Get GNU Radio Companion (GRC) projects from original telive package at
https://github.com/sq5bpf/telive/tree/master/gnuradio-companion
(only udp or xmlrpc, pipes won’t work)
8) Open whatever GRC project you want to use and edit it:
– Delete the link between (all) Fractional Resampler and UDP Sink
– From the modules on the right (ctrl-f to search) drag CQPSK Demod to project
(If you don’t see CQPSK Demod then you have messed up #2)
– Connect Fractional Resampler -> CQPSK Demod -> UDP Sink
– Change UDP Sink Input Type to Float in its properties
– Save

Use:
——
1) Open GRC project of your choice (already with the CQPSK Demod box)
2) Use the Project/Execute to run the project from the GRC
– OR –
If you had headless (without GUI) project, use Project/Generate option
to generate top_block.py file in the GRC project directory.
Then open GNURadio Command Prompt from Start menu, the use this command
c:\Program Files\GNURadio-3.7\gr-python27\python.exe -u c:\path\to\grc\project\top_block.py
This will enhance performance.
3) Open new M-SYS2 shell for every channel in that project and execute
command “receiver1udp X” where X is the number of each channel in GRC project
4) Open new M-SYS2 shell, resize it to 203×60 and execute:
– cd /tetra/bin
– ./rxx OR ./rxx_xmlrpc (if you are using XMLRPC GRC project)
You can edit these files to match your preferences
5) That’s it, should work.

Note that we have not tested this out ourselves yet and can’t guarantee the file safety or that it works, but we have no reason to believe that it wouldn’t be safe or not work.

TETRA Decoding (with telive on Linux)
TETRA Decoding (with telive on Linux)

RTL-SDR Tutorial: Listening to TETRA Radio Channels

TETRA is a trunked radio communications system that stands for “Terrestrial Trunked Radio”. It is used heavily in many parts of the world, except for the USA. Recently, a software program called Tetra Live Monitor (telive) was released on GitHub. This software can be used along with the (patched) Osmo-TETRA software to monitor and listen to unencrypted TETRA communications.

Below we show a tutorial on how to listen to TETRA communications using a RTL-SDR RTL2832U software defined radio. This tutorial is based heavily on the telive_doc.pdf file that is written by the author of telive and included in the telive git download. Please refer to that pdf file for further details on how the software works. We have modified their tutorial slightly to make it a little easier to understand. As this code is still under heavy development if you have trouble please check their PDF file for modifications to the procedures.

Again, we reiterate: This tutorial is not a substitute for a thorough reading of the documentation. If you have trouble setting this software up, please refer to the telive documentation first, before asking any questions. It contains a comprehensive FAQ section which solves most of the common problems. The documentation can be found directly at https://github.com/sq5bpf/telive/raw/master/telive_doc.pdf. There is also a discussion at http://forums.radioreference.com/digital-voice-decoding-software/302347-tetra-decoding.html.

Decoding and Listening to TETRA Tutorial

Most of this tutorial is performed in Linux and we assume that you have some decent Linux experience. We also assume you have some experience with the RTL-SDR dongle and have a decent antenna capable of picking up TETRA signals in your area. If you don’t have a RTL-SDR dongle yet see our Buy RTL-SDR dongles page.

Note: As of October 2016 there is now a Windows port of the Telive decoding software available. This may be an option for you if you prefer to run in Windows. More information here.

First, we will need to find some TETRA signals. The easiest way to do this is to open SDR# or another program like GQRX and look for them. TETRA signals are continuously broadcasting with a bandwidth of around 25 kHz. In most European countries they can be found at 390 – 470 MHz. In some countries they may be found around 850 MHz or 915 – 933 MHz. There may be several TETRA signals grouped in close proximity to one another. See the example images below.

 
A Zoomed in TETRA Signal
A Zoomed in TETRA Signal
 
TETRA Signals Zoomed Out
A Grouping of TETRA Signals Zoomed Out

An example audio clip of a TETRA signal recorded in NFM mode is shown below.

Once you have found some TETRA signals, record their frequencies. Now close SDR#, or whatever software you were using and boot into Linux. In this tutorial we use a 32-bit Ubuntu 14.04 virtual machine running on VMWare Player as our Linux system. Some of the commands may vary if you are using a different system.

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Logic Trunked Radio Analyzer and the RTL-SDR

Over on YouTube user k2nccvids has posted a short video showing the Logic Trunked Radio (LTR) Analyzer software working with SDR# and the RTL-SDR. Logic Trunked Radio is a type of radio trunking system that uses distributed control channels modulated into the analogue voice channel instead of using just one signal control channel.

RTL-SDR Tutorial: Following Trunked Radio with Unitrunker

The popular trunking decoding software Unitrunker now supports the RTL2832U R820T RTL-SDR directly in its new version. This means that extra SDR receiver software like SDR# is no longer required to use Unitrunker.

You can download the latest version of Unitrunker here.

In a normal radio system, one company (or talkgroup) might use a single frequency for radio communications. However, this is very inefficient as the frequency may not be in use for the majority of the time. In a trunked radio system, a small set number of frequencies are shared between a large number of talkgroups. Each radio receives a special computer controlled control channel. The control channel determines a vacant frequency that a particular talkgroup should use. This helps to make radio frequency allocations more efficient.

Because a talkgroup might switch between various frequencies often, it can make listening to a conversation difficult for radio scanners. Unitrunker can be used to decode the control channel and follow a voice conversation as it hops across various frequencies. With two RTL-SDR dongles you can set up a trunking receiver station with just Unitrunker. What follows below is a tutorial on how to set this up.

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