MagicSDR: Streaming Audio over UDP to Decoders like Multimon-NG

Back in May 2021 we first posted about the release of MagicSDR, which is an Android and iOS SDR app that receives data from an rtl_tcp server elsewhere on your network. Apart from the RTL-SDR, MagicSDR also supports the SDRplay, LimeSDR, HiQSDR, Flex 6-seris and sound card based radios.

Recently MagicSDR programmer Vlad wanted to share a new feature in MagicSDR that allows users to stream audio over UDP. He notes that this allows external data decoders such as direwolf or multimon-ng to be used. The example in the video below shows MagicSDR sending demodulated audio over UDP to multimon-ng running on the same Android device.

Decoding Morse CW on android phone

MagicSDR sending demodulated audio over UDP to multimod-ng decoder

SDR Academy 2022 Recorded Livestream now Available

The Software Defined Academy is a group that organizes an SDR focused conference during the yearly HAMRADIO fair that is usually held in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The past two years have seen the conference go exclusively virtual, however this year the conference was a hybrid of real life and virtual presentations. The conference was held a few days ago, and the recorded livestream is now available on YouTube for viewing.

The full program of presentations can be found on the SDRA 2022 website.

Day 1:

Livestream von Software Defined Radio Academy

Day 2:

Livestream von Software Defined Radio Academy

An Improved ExtIO for RTL_TCP

Back in 2020 we posted about a modified ExtIO interface which exposed advanced RTL-SDR driver settings such as decimation, manual gain and tuner bandwidth and filtering controls. These features allow users to tune filters to avoid ADC overload and to overall fine tune reception better, especially for narrowband signals. ExtIO is the driver interface used by some popular SDR programs like HDSDR.

Thanks to contributor Ladislav (OK1UNL) for notifying us about an improved version of that ExtIO interface by DG2YCB.

DG2YCB improved version adds the following features:

  • Auto-Q: The RTLSDR stick automatically switches to direct sampling (Q channel) for frequencies below 24.5 MHz and direct sampling is automatically disabled when tuned to any frequencies above 24.5 MHz.
  • My ExtIO_RTLTCP_improved.dll drivers set the chip AGC to ON, which brings you a better RX sensitivity than the original version.
  • My ExtIO_RTLTCP_improved.dll drivers are available in the following versions:
    • ExtIO_RTTCP_improved1.dll uses autoGain for the tuner gain.
    • ExtIO_RTTCP_improved2.dll uses optimized manual gain settings for the tuner gain, which shall prevent that the RTLSDR stick is overdriven on VHF / UHF frequencies.
    • ExtIO_RTTCP_improved3.dll has Auto-Q as well as the optimized gain settings profile but has a more sophisticated GUI, so that you can adjust more parameters manually. (Currently available as beta version.)

This ExtIO also allows users to connect to an RTL-SDR when software like HDSDR is run on Linux via an emulator such as WINE.

Ladislav also pointed out that DG2YCB has improved versions of WSJT-X and JTDX that might be of interest to some.

ExtIO Improved dll 3

ESAR – Extraordinarily Simple AIS Receiver written in C

Thank you to Richard Gosiorovsky for submitting his latest SDR project called ESAR (Extraordinarily Simple AIS Receiver). AIS stands for Automatic Identification System and is used by marine vessels to broadcast their GPS locations in order to help avoid collisions and aide with rescues. An RTL-SDR with the right software can be used to receive and decode these signals, and plot ship positions on a map.

Richards code comes as raw C code, so you will need some knowledge on C code compiling to use it. Being so simple, the code is also a great resource for learning how to access data from an RTL-SDR, and write a decoder. Richard writes:

[ESAR] takes less then 300 lines of programming code and no additional software is necessary (like SDR# or audio piping).

It was intended mainly as exercise in digital signal processing.

All you need is RTL-SDR dongle with driver and rtl_tcp command. Simple dipole antenna is sufficient. If all this you have just compile C code (in the attachment) using MS Visual Studio.

Before running ESAR run rtl_tcp command with this parameters:

rtl_tcp.exe -f 162e6 -s 300000 -a -p 2345 -g 48.0

It comes with GNU licence so converting output to NMEA format or any graphical output is free choice of other SDR enthusiasts.

Richard has shared the C code file directly with us, and it can be downloaded from our server here.

ESAR Code Screenshot

RTL-SDR Blog V3 Dongle and SDR# Spotted on The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch TV Show

An RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongle and multipurpose dipole antenna set has been spotted in action on the popular TV Show "The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch" in Season 3 Episode 7. Skinwalker Ranch is a History channel conspiracy theory reality TV series where a team of scientists and researchers are sent to look for various explanations for "otherworldly" activities supposedly occurring on the ranch. In the past we have also seen an SDRplay RSP software defined radio with SDRuno software featured in a previous episode.

In this episode the team are drilling into a mysterious mesa rock formation on the ranch, and are monitoring the RF spectrum with an RTL-SDR during the drill. They take note of a mysterious signal at 1.6 GHz that appears during the drilling.

Screenshots from "The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch" Season 3 Ep 7

Airspy 2022 Summer Sale + SDR# Noise Reduction Improvements

Airspy is currently holding a 15% off summer promotion which runs until June 30. The sale is active at all participating resellers, which includes our own store where we have the YouLoop on sale for US$29.71 including free shipping to most countries in the world. Please note that due to new EU VAT collection laws, EU customers must purchase the discounted YouLoop from our eBay or Aliexpress stores. 

The YouLoop is a low cost passive loop antenna for HF and VHF. It is based on the Möbius loop design which results in a high degree of noise cancelling. However the main drawback is that it is a non-resonant design, which means that it works best when used with ultra sensitive receivers like the Airspy HF+ Discovery. 

Some good reviews include the YouTube videos done by Frugal Radio where he reviews HF reception and VLF & LF reception with an Airspy HF+, and later tests it with an RTL-SDR Blog V3 using direct sampling. Techminds also has an excellent review on his YouTube channel. We also have a product release overview on this post from March 2020.

Airspy SDR# Noise Reduction Improvements

We also wanted to highlight some recent improvements to SDR#, the official software for Airspy products, and compatible with the RTL-SDR. One recent development is the introduction of the Natural Intelligence Noise Reduction (NINR) feature which results less audio artifacts, deeper noise cancelling, and lower CPU usage.

Airspy "NINR" Noise Reduction on 40m

Low Cost Shielding Idea for Plastic RTL-SDRs

Generic RTL-SDRs that come with a plastic enclosure can be prone to picking up interference directly via the PCB itself. Higher end RTL-SDRs generally come with a metal enclosure.

Thanks to Alan R. for submitting a low cost idea he's come up with for shielding his plastic RTL-SDR dongles. Alan writes:

I’ve used this attached method with quite a bit of success for shielding the RTL dongle. It’s just a fizzy orange tube with two holes drilled at each end and some sticky metal insulating tape, which can be bought at any DIY store. Once the USB adapter and RTL dongle are inside they fit snuggly and any standard printer cable with reasonable length works well. Usually this allows for shorter coax connections which again helps keep the signal to noise level reasonable. I opted for a USB with a ferrite core at either end and I also added one to the coax - just because.

If you leave the antenna detached and tune in to any FM radio station you get a strong signal, and as soon as you put the RTL-SDR inside the insulated tube the signal stops. Needless to say if you plug the antenna in then the FM radio comes through with a strong signal. It certainly helps cut down a lot of FM broadcast noise (cheaply!)

I’m not using any band stop / band pass / pre amps and currently I’m receiving loud and clear satellite transmissions - NOAA / Meteor 2. I can even grab the telemetry from AO-73 Funcube with no problems. As the USB is shielded too and is away from the computer it also helps. Plugging the dongle directly into the computer tends to pick up a lot of unwanted noise.

The only thing to watch is it can get a little hot, so some common sense when using it (especially on a hot day). The other advantage is the weather proofing should you get caught in rain!


The South Indian SDR User Group

Thank you to Balaji for writing in and sharing news about the growing South Indian SDR Users Group. The group have already held several virtual events where a variety of speakers have presented various topics on SDRs and related research. The recorded talks are available on their YouTube channel and include a variety of local Indian and international presenters.

About Us: The South Indian SDR User Group (SI-SDR-UG) was founded in January 2021, and is a community of people, from novices to experts, spanning industry, academia, and government, who are interested in the design and implementation of Software-Defined Radio (SDR) technology and systems. This includes such diverse areas such as RF, digital signal processing (DSP), wireless communications, operating systems, computer networking, software development and optimization, machine learning, and radio hardware. The mission of our community is to facilitate the exchange of ideas and enable greater collaboration within the SDR community in India. We host a regular technical workshops and gatherings, and we also run a dedicated Slack workspace for the community. We have a YouTube channel for recordings of past events, and a GitHub page for any relevant code. Our Twitter feed contains announcements about events and other news relevant to the community. We are not focused or tied to any one single software tool, hardware platform, commercial vendor, or specific technology. The SI-SDR-UG is non-profit, and the people on the organizing committee are all volunteers. We are based in Bangalore, but we invite people from all throughout India, as well as from outside India, to join our community. Please reach out to us on Slack or by email if you have any questions or comments. Thank you!

Gmail: [email protected]