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TechMinds: Testing DragonOS Focal, a Linux ISO with many SDR programs built-in

In the past we've posted many times about DragonOS which is an Ubuntu Linux image that comes preinstalled with multiple SDR software packages. This takes the hassle out of needing to compile and install programs on Linux, some of which can often be very difficult and time consuming to get up and running. Aaron who is the creator of DragonOS also runs a YouTube channel where he provides multiple tutorials and demos of the software installed.

This week on the Tech Minds YouTube channel, host Matt tests out DragonOS in a Virtual Machine and gives a broad overview of what DragonOS is capable of. He shows how to set up VMWare Workstation in order to create the virtual machine, installs Dragon OS, shows what programs are included and demonstrates a few programs in action.

DRAGON OS FOCAL - The Software Defined Radio Toolbox

Guglielmo: RTL-SDR FM + DAB Tuner Software for Linux

Thank you to Marco for submitting news about the release of his Linux based RTL-SDR FM and DAB tuner software package named Guglielmo. The code is based on the Qt-dab and sdr-j-fm packages, with some bug fixes, a new GUI and new audio features implemented. Marco writes:

Guglielmo implements a simple FM and DAB receiver based on Qt and the Qt-dab and sdr-j-fm packages.

The primary reason it is being developed is there is a lack of media centre quality Open Source Software Defined Radios: most of the packages out there focus more on hobbyist features, such as signal and content monitoring, leaving out media features like a volume slider or MPRIS control.

Yes, I have blown the ribbon tweeter fuses on my maggies because my previous go to SDR DAB receiver started at full blast, and I run my media centre headless: I don't really want to scramble for a VNC session when I want to stop the music, when I could simply use KDE connect on my phone.

There is also a distinct lack of FM SDR receivers, which is disappointing, since, at least in the UK, for reasons of cost, most stations transmit at a fairly poor bitRate, if not downright in mono, and FM stations seem to still be a better proposition in terms of sound quality.

If you're interested in trying it compilation instructions are available on the GitHub, and there is also a ready to use AppImage on the GitHub releases page too. 

Guglielmo: Screenshot of the DAB Interface

Gorizont Linux 2.0.4 Update

Thank you to Steve Cox, creator of the Gorizont Linux distribution for letting us know that the latest update is now out, although it is a small update only. Gorizont Linux is a custom distribution based on Xubuntu 20.04 LTS which contains many preinstalled RTL-SDR compatible programs. Steve writes that the following programs have been updated and added:

  • gqrx updated to 2.14.4
  • Universal Radio Hacker updated to 2.9.2
  • markjfine's nrsc5-DUI HD FM decoder included.

Adding an RTL-SDR Antenna Port to a Pinetab Linux Tablet

The Pinetab is a US$99.99 open source Ubuntu Linux Tablet based on a low power Pine64 singe board computer. The Pinetab can optionally support an internal RTL-SDR, which is essentially just a standard RTL-SDR PCB connected to the single board computer inside the tablet enclosure.

Over on YouTube channel Privacy & Tech Tips has uploaded a video where he takes the Pinetab apart and adds an external antenna port, allowing for external antennas to be connected. In the video we get a good look at the internals of the Pinetab, and after installing the external antenna port he shows us the Pinetab receiving a LoRa signal.

Opening Pinetab (Linux Tablet) back cover (+show tips for safer opening) on video and show how you can add an external threaded antenna port for your internal SDR. It makes for an amazingly compact SDR kit and smaller antennas like LoRa fit right inside the keyboard/tablet/laptop stand. Larger antennas such as a dipole, the antenna cord fits along the case/stand perfectly.

I show how to open the Pinetab safely, and install an external threaded antenna port. After this I take a Heltec LoRa ESP32 I have had laying around and use it to demo GQRX on the screen. I show LoRa packets coming over the radio waves at 915MHz. Series on SDR using Pinetab/Pinephone/Pine64 hardware. Linux makes for an amazing platform where the tools at hand leave the limits to what you can do to the power of your imagination.

Howto: Open Pinetab Cover (Safely) + Adding SDR Antenna Port + LoRa Radio Tests (GQRX Linux)

DragonOS: Decoding FT8 on Linux with WSJT-X

DragonOS is a ready to use Ubuntu Linux image that comes preinstalled with multiple SDR program. The creator of DragonOS, Aaron, uploads various YouTube tutorials showing how to use some of the preinstalled software. This month one of his tutorials covers how to use a SDRplay RSP1A or a HackRF to receive and decode FT8 with the preinstalled software WSJT-X or JS8Call. Aaron also notes that an RTL-SDR could also be used as the SDR.

In the video he covers how to set up a virtual audio cable sink in Linux for getting audio from GQRX into WSJT-X, setting up rigctld to allow WSJT-X to control GQRX, configuring GQRX, CubicSDR and WSJT-X, and finally downloading and using GridTracker.

DragonOS Focal Receive FT8 w/ WSJT-X (RSP1A, HackRF One, GQRX, CubicSDR, GridTracker)

SignalsEverywhere: Installing and Configuring OP25 Phase 1 & 2 Digital Voice Decoder on Linux

In this weeks video Sarah from the SignalsEverywhere YouTube channel show us how to install and configure the OP25 software on a Linux machine. OP25 is a Linux based P25 digital voice decoder which works with RTL-SDR dongles. It is capable of decoding both Phase 1 and Phase 2 systems. Installation is fairly simple via an installation script, but it does take some time to install. After installation Sarah shows how to configure the software in order to properly follow a trunked P25 system. In order to help with importing talkgroup information from a premium RadioReference account Sarah has also created an automatic importer Python script which is very useful.

OP25 Installation and Configuration Tutorial | Setup OP25 P25 Phase 1 and 2 SDR Decoder on Linux Pi

Gorizont-RTLSDR Linux Distro Updated to V2.0.3

Gorizont-RTLSDR is an RTL-SDR focussed Linux distribution based on Xubuntu 20.04 LTS. Recently it was updated to V2.0.3. The creator Steve Cox writes: 

New release and upgrade of gorizont linux, v 2.0.3. uploaded to sourceforge. The new AMSynch option in gqrx 2.14.2 works rather well for broadcast stations in direct sampling mode.

  • gqrx 2.14.2 - now with AMSynch mode!
  • SigDigger 0.1.0
  • Universal Radio Hacker 2.9.0
  • gqrx-scan
  • Welle.io 2.2 for all your DAB and DAB+ needs.
  • Baudline
  • fldigi
  • fmsg
  • Due to multiple issues with linux versions of Dream DRM, Dream DRM is now installed as a Win 32 .exe running under wine. It works!
  • w-scan for creating DVB-T/ATSC/etc. scan files for TV viewing using VLC

Running SDR# On Ubuntu 20.04 Linux via WINE

SDR# is a very popular Windows SDR program often used with the RTL-SDR and Airspy SDR. One drawback is that it lacks native Linux compatibility. In the past it has been possible to run SDR# via WINE, however some newer updates were thought to have broken that ability. WINE is a Windows emulator that allows some Windows programs to run under Linux.

However, recently on Twitter we've seen a Tweet by @albinstigo indicating that SDR# can indeed run on Ubuntu 20.04 via WINE 5.0. In a Tweet he explains the steps which are quite simple:

  1. Install WINE via apt.
  2. Install dotNET 4.8 via winetricks.
  3. Install the Verdana font via winetricks.
  4. Enjoy SDR

One limitation is that the emulated SDR# cannot connect to the SDR natively via the USB. So you will need to use TCP server software such as rtl_tcp or SpyServer to get it to work. Basically, run the server on the native Linux environment, then connect to it in SDR# running on the emulated Windows environment.