Category: Digital Signals

TechMinds: Detecting HF Interference from a VDSL Internet Connection

Over on YouTube user Tech Minds has uploaded a video showing how you can determine if you are getting HF interference from a VDSL internet connection going to your house or neighbors. VDSL or Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line is an internet connection technology that runs over old copper phone wires allowing for a fast broadband connection. The frequencies used by VDSL are between 25 kHz to 12 MHz, and for VDSL2 up to 30 MHz. Unfortunately the frequencies used can result in high amounts of radio interference from RFI radiating from the copper phone lines which is a major problem for HF amateurs and short wave listeners.

In his video Tech Minds uses an SDRplay RSPdx to record a short IQ file of the VDSL interference that he experiences in his home in the UK. He then opens the IQ file in a piece of software called Lelantos, which was developed by a member of the UK amateur radio organization RSGB. If a VDSL signal is present, this tool will determine various bits of information about the interference, and will give you enough information to make a complaint to OFCOM, the UK's radio communications regulator.

VDSL RFI Detection and how to report it to OFCOM

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)

OpenEar Now Supports TETRA, DMR, POCSAG, ADS-B

Back in March we posted about "OpenEar" which was a newly released Windows TETRA decoder for RTL-SDR dongles. Back then the author "moneriomaa" noted that he planned to add several new modes. In the release that is currently available, OpenEar now supports TETRA, DMR, Pocsag, ADS-B as well as standard AM and NFM modes. We tested the software, and all modes appear to decode as advertised. In the future the author plans to add more modes such as MPT-1327 and AERO.

In the previous post we added an update noting that OpenEar appeared to be violating the GPL licence of OsmocomTETRA, and the author noted that he would remove the TETRA functionality until licencing was resolved. As TETRA decoding is back in the recent releases we assume these legal issues have been solved.

In the current release you also need to provide your own rtlsdr.dll file, which can be obtained from your SDR# folder, or directly from the Osmocom windows release (rename librtlsdr.dll to rtlsdr.dll).

Latest OpenEar Version
Latest OpenEar Version

OpenEar: An Easy to Use Windows TETRA Voice Decoder

A new TETRA voice decoder called "OpenEar" has just been released. The program is a standalone Windows app that directly connects to an RTL-SDR. Decoding a TETRA voice signal is as simple as opening the program, tuning to the TETRA frequency and clicking on the signal. With good signal strength voice comes through very clearly. CPU usage on our PC is also minimal. 

The program source is currently not available as the author notes that he only intends to release it as open source in the future once the project is completed, and right now this is only the first early release. Right now the program is just an .exe with a few .dlls. You'll need to first install the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable Package linked in the Git readme. Just in case, we virus scanned the exe and tested the program in Sandboxie. It appears to be clean, and it works as intended.

In the future the author hopes to support many more protocols such as DMR, MPT1327, ACARS, AIR, GSM and more. In order to support his work he is asking for Bitcoin donations, and the donations link can be found on the Git readme.

UPDATE 1: If you're getting missing dll errors and you already installed the Visual C++ Redistributable, try downloading the missing dll's from dll-files.com. There should only be about 5 missing.

UPDATE 2: As pointed out in the comments by Steve M. from Osmocom, this software may be in violation of several GPL licences as no source code has been released and it appears to rely on GPL code and libraries. Please take this into account.

UPDATE 3: As per update 2, the author has decided to temporarily disable the TETRA functionality pending a rewrite of the code that he will complete within one to two months). Instead he has added DMR decoding.

OpenEar TETRA Voice Decoder Screenshot
OpenEar TETRA Voice Decoder Screenshot

OpenWebRX Version 0.18.0 Released: New Decoders for Digital Voice, Digital Ham Modes and More

Back in early January we posted about how the popular web based SDR and RTL-SDR compatible receiver software known as OpenWebRX was officially discontinued by the original author. However, thanks to it's open source licence, code contributor Jakob Ketterl (DD5JFK) has been able to continue developing the code and is taking over as the lead developer on his own fork of the code.

Recently he released version 0.18.0 of OpenWebRX which includes a few major upgrades including the much needed shift to Python 3, and the inclusion of multiple new decoders for DMR, D-Star, YSF, NXDN, FT8, FT4, WSPR, JT65, JT9, APRS and Pocsag.

Hello fellow radio enthusiasts,

with great excitement I would like to announce the availability of OpenWebRX Version 0.18.0 as public release. This is the first release of the project in some time, and the first release since I started working on it, so I’m more than happy to bring this to you.

What’s new? Quite a lot, actually. For those that haven’t had the chance to follow the progress of the project in the past months, here’s a quick overview:

    • Most of the server code has been rewritten for better flexibility, stability and performance. The project is now fully based on Python 3.
    • Large parts of the frontend code have been updated or polished.
    • The new core now supports multiple SDR devices simultaneously, as well as switching between multiple profiles per SDR, allowing users to navigate between multiple bands or frequencies.
    • Added support for demodulation of digital voice modes (DMR, D-Star, YSF, NXDN).
Added support for digital modes of the WSJT-X suite (FT8, FT4, WSPR, JT65, JT9).
  • Added support for APRS.
  • Added support for Pocsag.
  • Bookmarks allow easy navigation between known stations.
  • Background decoding can transform your receiver into an automatic reporting station, including automatic band scheduling.
  • The integrated map shows digimode spots as well as APRS and YSF positions.
OpenWebRX 0.18.0 is available via the following channels: Please check out our updated Setup Guide along with the rest of the documentation on the Wiki!

Questions, ideas, problems? Get in touch with the community at [email protected]!

Best regards and vy 73s

Jakob DD5JFK

We're so glad to see that this excellent software isn't dead in the water and is in fact thriving. We will continue to follow the Jakob's and the OpenWebRX communities' future developments. If you are interested, you can follow OpenWebRX development on the OpenWebRX groups.io forum.

OpenWebRX Screenshot
OpenWebRX Screenshot

SignalsEverywhere: Exploring Cable Modem Signals with Software Defined Radio

Over on YouTube SignalsEverywhere has just uploaded his latest video about using a HackRF and Airspy R2/Mini to explore the signals coming out of an internet cable modem's coax cable. In the video he performs a wideband scan with his Airspy R2 and the SpectrumSpy software which shows not only his, but the downstream signals from other users in his neighborhood on the cable network too.

Next using his HackRF with Spectrum Analyzer and the hackrf_sweep fast sweeping software, he was able to determine the uplink portion of his cable modem. By running an internet speed test in the background he was also able to visualize the increased cable data activity on the spectrum waterfall display.

The Secret Signals Hiding In Your Cable Modem | SDR Used to Sniff Cable Internet Modem Coax

Hackaday Tutorial: A Crash Course in RF Modulation – ASK, FSK and LoRa Explained Simply

Hackaday writer Danie Conradie has recently posted a new tutorial explaining the difference between some common RF modulation choices. To do this he uses various RF hardware modules, and an RTL-SDR Blog V3 unit to view the spectrum of each modulation type. In the post he compares Amplitude Shift Keying (ASK), Frequency Shift Keying (FSK), and LoRa. He also explains the differences between ASK and OOK modulation, and FSK and GFSK modulation.

The key takeaways are that ASK modulation is simple, but prone to interference. FSK is less prone to interference, but requires more bandwidth. LoRa is good for receiver sensitivity and interference immunity, but comes at the expense of bandwidth efficiency. In addition LoRa modulation is patented, resulting in higher hardware costs.

Comparing the spectrum of a pure FSK signal, versus a Gaussian FSK signal.
Comparing the spectrum of a pure FSK signal, versus a Gaussian FSK signal.

Using an RTL-SDR Blog V3 in Direct Sampling Mode to Receive HF DRM on an Android Phone

Over on the SWLing blog contributor Dan Van Hoy wrote in and shared a report on how he's successfully been able to receive HF DRM 30 digital audio with an RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongle running in direct sampling mode on an Android phone.

To do this he used an Android app called "DRM+SDR Receiver" which is available for US$4.99 on the Play store. The app supports RTL-SDR and HackRF devices. So all you need to do is set the RTL-SDR Android driver to run in Q-branch direct sampling mode, then tune to a DRM signal for it to begin decoding.

A demonstration video uploaded to his Google drive account shows clean decoding of the DRM AAC audio, as well as the app displaying Journaline and live metadata. He notes that his signal was very strong, so he only required a short wire, but DXers would need an appropriate antenna.

DRM Received on an Android phone with an RTL-SDR Blog V3 running in direct sampling mode.
DRM Received on an Android phone with an RTL-SDR Blog V3 running in direct sampling mode.