Category: HF

TechMinds: Demonstrating OpenWebRX Plus

In one of his videos from a few days ago Matt from the Tech Minds YouTube channel tests out OpenWebRX+, an unofficial fork of OpenWebRX. OpenWebRX is open source software which enables users to put software defined radios like RTL-SDRs on the internet, allowing people from all over the world to access the receiver if desired, or just letting yourself access it remotely if you want to keep it private.

OpenWebRX+ adds several additional decoders and features on top of the official version. In the video Matt demonstrates OpenWebRX+ running on a Raspberry Pi 4, with an SDRPlay RSPdx. He demonstrates the web GUI in action and shows decoding examples of the various decoders that OpenWebRX+ comes with.

OpenWebRX Plus - The ULTIMATE Web SDR Application

A Tape Measure Antenna for Receiving HF Numbers Stations

In his post (and a post on the main Hackaday blog), Tom Farnell explains how he used two 10-meter tape measures combined with an RTL-SDR Blog V3 software defined radio to receive numbers stations in the HF bands. We want to add that this antenna isn't restricted to just numbers stations, and could receive many different types of shortwave and amateur stations on HF.

In his post Tom explains what numbers stations are and why they are interesting. In brief, a numbers station is a radio broadcast of a voice saying a bunch of numbers continuously. These stations are known to be espionage related, containing some sort of coded message for international spies to decode.

Tom goes on to show how the antenna is constructed. As HF antennas need to be long to get the best reception, Tom uses the long metal tape measure and attached it to the included dipole assembly that comes with the RTL-SDR to increase them to an appropriate length. 

Can You Pick Up Number Stations With A Tape Measure Antenna ?

Testing the ATS25 Max-Decoder Receiver

Thank you for Manuel Lausmann for submitting his videos where he tests out and upgrades an ATS25 Max-decoder receiver. The ATS25 Max-decoder is a low cost portable HF receiver which has a large number of decoders built in such as RTTY, Hell, FT8 and FT4. Manuel notes that more decoders are still to come, such as SSTV. The built in decoders make it superior to it's predecessors the x1 and x2.

We note that the ATS25 Max appears to be around US$75 on Aliexpress, but these appear to be Max units without the "-decoder" add on. So if you are looking at purchasing one, please make sure to check that you are getting one with the text "max-decoder".

Manuel also notes that older models of the ATS25 can be retrofitted with a decoder PCB and converted into an ATS25 Max-decoder with a firmware update written by Bernhard Binns.

Note that Manuel's videos below are narrated in German, however the YouTube subtitle auto-translate feature works well enough to understand what is being said. In the first video Manuel demonstrates and reviews the ATS25 Max-Decoder, showing off some of the decoding features.

In the second video Manuel shows how to update an old model ATS25 in to the ATS25 Max by soldering on the decoder board.

Alter ATS25 umbauen zum max Decoder Teil 1 Die Hardware

Building an OpenWebRX Server with an RTL-SDR Blog V3 for HF Monitoring

Thank you to Ramadhan (YD1RUH) who has put together a brief set of commands showing how to quickly get setup with OpenWebRX and an RTL-SDR Blog V3. OpenWebRX is a web based SDR program that allows users to use their SDR over a network or internet connector. It is compatible with several SDRs including the RTL-SDR.

 The installation is based on Ubuntu, and uses docker for the install. He also shows how to set up the OpenWebRX configuration file so that it will use the Q-branch direct sampling mode in RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongles for HF reception.

A demonstration of the result can be seen on Ramadhan's public OpenWebRX page. You can select between the various enabled HF bands in the lower left.

OpenWebRX HF reception running on an RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongle.

A GNU Radio DCF77 Time Signal Decoder

DCF77 is a long wave time keeping signal transmitting at 77.5 kHz from Frankfurt, Germany. It has been active since 1 January 1959. Using simple amplitude modulation, the signal encodes the current time and date, which is used by some devices like railway station clocks in Germany. Because it's a long wave signal transmitting at 50kW, it's possible to receive the signal across Europe, and sometimes even further away if propagation conditions are good.

Recently a DCF77 receiver and decoder program based on Python and GNU Radio has been uploaded to GitHub by henningM1r. It includes a simulator written in Python so you can simulate your own DCF77 signal for testing the receiver too.

Currently the decoder has been tested to work with an Airspy HF+ Discovery SDR, but it should work with any SDR capable of receiver 77.5 kHz if the GNU Radio source block is changed out.

DCF77 GNU Radio Decoder

Maverick-603 Project Suspended Indefinitely

Back in December 2022 we posted about the Maverick-603 which was at that stage Crowd Funding on Crowd Supply.

It was to be a US$149 FT8 receiver based on an open source RF chip design, capable of acquiring signals between 7 MHz and 70 MHz (technically 1 MHz to 100 MHz). Shipments were expected to begin in April 2023.

Unfortunately the Maverick team just released today that the project will be suspended indefinitely due to logistical issues. Backers of the project will receive a full refund.

The Maverick-603 project has been indefinitely suspended due to unforeseen logistical obstacles. No funds have yet been spent and all backers will receive full refunds. If you backed this project, your refund will be issued within the next week to the credit card you originally used. If your credit card is no longer valid, please contact Crowd Supply support before midnight UTC on Friday, April 28, 2023 to arrange your refund. If the Maverick-603 project is revived, we will post another update. Thank you for your support and patience.

The Maverick-603 FT8 Receiver
The Maverick-603 FT8 Receiver

The SDRSharp ListenInfo Plugin

SDR# is a popular software defined radio program that is compatible with RTL-SDR, Airspy and several other SDR devices. One feature is the ability for third parties to develop plugins for the software.

One recently released plugin that is gaining popularity is the "ListenInfo" plugin. The ListenInfo plugin uses a publicly available database of shortwave stations to display frequency station info for the LW, MW, SW bands within the SDR# spectrum display.

If you've ever been browsing the shortwave bands and wondered where a station is broadcasting from, and what it's transit power, beam direction and transmit schedule are like, then this will be a very useful plugin for you.

SDR# ListenInfo Plugin
SDR# ListenInfo Plugin

Upgrading the Mahahit DSP1 and Malahit Chinese Clones into the Mahahit DSP2

Mahiteam is a Russian company that produces the relatively popular Malahit DSP1/DSP2 and Malahit DDC portable SDR radio which are great for shortwave listening, but can also cover up to 2 GHz. Manuel L. has been following developments and notes that Malahiteam are offering the ability to upgrade their DSP1 (and any DSP1 Chinese clone) into Malahit 2 units by sending the device in for a chip replacement. Manuel writes:

Hi. Recently it is possible to upgrade the Malahit DSP1 (original) and also the China clones (if registered in Russia) of the Malahit with a new CPU and if necessary a new audio codec chip. This upgrade has been officially released by the Malahiteam the developers.

This allows custom DSP2 firmware to run on the DSP1 and clones. This makes the device more powerful and also has the option of installing a Bluetooth board and controlling it via the software, as is the case with the DSP2.

This upgrade can be carried out directly in Russia by the Malahit team.

For Europe this is done by Jochen Köster DC9DD (Malahit Servise Europa) who converted the first DSP1 and China clones outside of Russia.

In the US, the future KD9NXV makes Mark Roy (USA Service Malahit).

I have tested the first conversions outside of Russia and it is a very big upgrade of the devices. They work a lot better now. I have shown this in several YouTube films. More information and contacts to the service teams outside of Russia can be found at Telegram and the Malahit Facebook group

YouTube Video Upgrade Malahit DSP1 and China Clone:

The Malahit DSP2
The Malahit DSP2