Category: Broadcast Radio

yellowShoes: A Browser Based HD Radio / NRSC-5 User Interface

Thank you to Evuraan for writing in and sharing his new browser based HD Radio / NRSC-5 interface for the nrsc5 decoder which he has called yellowShoes.

NOTE: We have been informed by some users that yellowShoes may contain a Trojan virus. This is likely to be a false positive which is a very common problem with antivirus software falsely detecting viruses on newly released niche software via heuristics. We have removed the above link out of an abundance of caution, however if you wish to continue the yellowShoes Github is here. If you want the software, but are concerned you can check the code compile it yourself.

NOTE UPDATE: The author of the software has contacted us regarding the virus concerns and written "I wanted to write in clarify that it is indeed a false positive, please see https://groups.google.com/g/golang-nuts/c/Au1FbtTZzbk and also https://golang.org/doc/faq#virus - this false positive occurs when you cross compile go binaries - This is a common occurrence, especially on Windows machines. Commercial virus scanning programs are often confused by the structure of Go binaries, which they don't see as often as those compiled from other languages." 

HD Radio is a digital broadcast protocol replacement for analogue broadcast FM. It is only used in North America and is easily recognized as the two rectangular blocks on either side of a broadcast FM station signal on a spectrum analyzer/waterfall display. Together with an RTL-SDR and theori's command line nrsc5 decoder, the HD Radio signal can be decoded and listened to. Evuraan writes:

I wrote yellowShoes - an nrsc5 player which you can control from your browser. (Should work on Windows, Linux etc. Player F/E also works on Android Phones.)

Its sole dependency is that the nrsc5 binary must be available in the path.

A discussion thread on Reddit has also been created.

Screenshot of the yellowShoes browser based UI for the NRSC5 decoder.

Decoding NRSC5 HD Radio with GNU Radio and a HackRF

Thank you to "LikWidChz" for submitting his tutorial on receiving and decoding multiple NRSC5 (HD Radio) channels with the help of GNU Radio, a HackRF and the NRSC5 decoder. He writes:

I wanted a way to utilize GnuRadio for working with HD radio. There are no decoder blocks from within GnuRadio to perform this decoding without an external application. This write up is how I was able to split up some signal and supply NRSC5 what it requires to perform the decode.

My goal was to capture some slice of spectrum and "channelize it" so I can perform multiple HD radio decodes at once.

In this linked zip file we have uploaded his GRC file, and his tutorial PDF, which fully explains each GNU Radio block used, and how to use the NRCS5 decoder along with the flowgraph. He also notes that if anyone wants to get in touch with him he is idling on IRC in #gnuradio and ##rtlsdr on freenode under the nickname "LikWidChz".

Channelizing NRSC5 in GNU Radio

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

NRSC5-DUI: An Updated NRSC-5 HD Radio Decoder for RTL-SDR

Recently we've seen on GitHub the release of NRSC5-DUI, a fork of NRSC5-GUI which was the first fully functional RTL-SDR compatible HD Radio decoder that we posted about back in 2017. HD Radio is a digital broadcast protocol replacement for analogue broadcast FM. It is only used in North America and is easily recognized as the two rectangular blocks on either side of a broadcast FM station signal on a spectrum analyzer/waterfall display.

According to a Reddit post by u/andrewfer000, NRSC5-DUI includes several upgrades from prior forks, including "better audio processing, better channel switcher, more station information, the option to pull album art from Discogs (currently broken due to Discogs anti-bot), better map displays, cleaner code, and optimizations for Python 3.9".

If listening to audio is not your thing, we also wanted to note that HD radio stations operated by iHeatMedia broadcast live traffic and weather radar data within their HD radio signal as well. With NRSC5-DUI this can be easily decoded and plotted on a map.

When listening to radio stations operated by iHeartMedia, you may view live traffic maps and weather radar. The images are typically sent every few minutes and will fill the tab area once received, processed, and loaded. Clicking the Map Viewer button on the toolbar will open a larger window to view the maps at full size. The weather radar information from the last 12 hours will be stored and can be played back by selecting the Animate Radar option. The delay between frames (in seconds) can be adjusted by changing the Animation Speed value. Other stations provide Navteq/HERE navigation information... it's on the TODO 'like to have' list.

NRSC5-DUI Screenshots

SDR# FM Co-Channel Canceller Added

A few days ago the developer of SDR# added a very useful AM Co-Channel canceller plugin, and just today he has also added a new FM Co-Channel canceller. A Co-Channel canceller allow a user to remove an interfering station, allowing a buried station to be received cleanly. This is especially useful for DXer's where strong local and weak distant overlapping stations are likely to be received at the same time. The plugin works with all SDR# compatible SDRs including the RTL-SDR.

On a related note, we wanted to point out that recently the Airspy website and downloads have been getting flagged by some antivirus software, however we believe these detections to be false positives caused by the very frequent update schedule of SDR#.

SDRSharp FM Co-Channel Canceller

Over on Twitter we've seen a couple of videos from @K7al_L3afta demonstrating how well the new FM Co-Channel canceller works.

Techminds: Testing out the new Plugins Feature on SDRuno V1.4 RC1

Earlier in the month SDRplay released SDRuno V1.4 RC1. This is a beta version that amongst other changes now has the capability to run "plugins". Plugins allow developers to easily create modules that extend the functionality of the SDRUno software. For example right now there is a plugin included with V1.4 RC1 that allows users to listen to DAB audio. Up until recently plugin functionality has only been available in Airspy's SDR# software, so it's good to see SDRuno finally including this feature too.

Over on the Techminds YouTube channel Matthew has uploaded a short video where he tests out the new plugins feature. First he tests out the DAB decoder, noting that the CoreAAC codec needs to be installed first separately. Later he tests the second plugin which is an audio recorder that allows users to record audio to MP3.

SDRPlay SDRuno Plugins Feature - NEW!

TechMinds: Demonstrating the QT-DAB Digital Audio Broadcast Decoder

Over on YouTube TechMinds has uploaded a video where he explores the QT-DAB software (formerly known as SDR-J), which is a program capable of decoding Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) signals. QT-DAB is compatible with several SDRs including the RTL-SDR, HackRF, Airspy and SDRplay units. 

DAB stands for Digital Audio Broadcast and is a digital broadcast radio signal that is available in many countries outside of the USA. The digital signal encodes several radio stations, and it is considered a modern alternative or future replacement for standard analog broadcast FM.

In the video TechMinds explains how to download, install and use the software on a Windows machine. He goes on to demonstrate some DAB decoding in action with various SDRs and then shows how to connect QT-DAB to a remote RTL-SDR via rtl_tcp.

DAB Radio Decoder For SDR (RTL_SDR - HACKRF - AIRSPY)

Techminds Reviews a HF RX SWL Antenna for Small Spaces and Apartments

Over on his YouTube channel TechMinds has uploaded a video reviewing the X1-HF 1 - 50 MHz Trapped Coil Receiving antenna from Moonraker.eu which goes for £69.95. This is a small electrically short antenna for HF reception which is easy to setup and install, requiring no radials. However, like all short HF antennas it is a compromise.

In the review he uses an SDRplay RSP2 SDR to test HF reception with the antenna. Later in the video he also tests it outside the advertised 1 - 50 MHz range. He concludes that the antenna works very well for it's small size.

HF RX SWL Antenna For Small Spaces And Apartments RTL SDR