Category: Mobile

Preview: GNU Radio 3.8 Running on an Un-Rooted Android Smartphone

Over on Twitter and YouTube Bastian Bloessl (@bastibl) have been posting teaser shots and videos of GNU Radio 3.8 running on an un-rooted Android device. Unfortunately there doesn't yet seem to be any word yet on how he's been able to do this, but we guess  that the details will all be released in due time, possibly on his blog.

GNU Radio is an open source digital signal processing (DSP) toolkit which is often used in cutting edge radio applications and research, and to implement decoders, demodulators and various other SDR algorithms.

GNU Radio 3.8 on un-rooted Android receiving FM w/ HackRF (take 2)

Dash Mounted ADS-B With an RTL-SDR Blog V3

Reddit user [Bobcalamarie] recently [posted] about how he uses his car dash mounted Android tablet along with an RTL-SDR Blog V3 and a magnetic mount antenna while sitting in traffic to track aircraft overhead.

We’ve seen something similar to this once before when [Signals Everywhere] uploaded a video showing off ADS-B reception (among other things) to a dash-mounted Windows tablet and an Android head unit.

The software used by Bobcalamarie is the Android [Avare ADS-B] software which can be found in the Google Play Store. However, other applications exist for Windows, Linux, and other operating systems as well. Some software such as [Virtual Radar Server] even allows you to set-up alerts for specific types of aircraft. Which while we wouldn’t condone it, it might come in handy for someone in traffic.

What would you do if you had an SDR installed in your vehicle? We would love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.

Dash Mounted ADS-B Reception

A Portable RTL-SDR Based ADS-B Receiver with Display and 3D Printed Enclosure

Over on Hackaday.io user nathan.matsuda has written about his RTL-SDR based hand held ADS-B aircraft receiver with display and 3D printed enclosure.

His initial idea was to create a flexible and open portable SDR device, however keeping the device open and built for general use meant increased complexity which quickly slowed his progress. Instead [Nathan] decided to focus on just ADS-B for his portable device as living near an airport he’d been interested in aircraft tracking since his first SDR arrived.

The device consists of a Raspberry Zero, RTL-SDR, 3.5″ IPS LCD and a battery pack for portability. For software he uses dump1090 with some custom code for the map plotting. Together with a 3D printed case and some buttons, the result is a very professional looking portable aircraft tracking device.

Hopefully Nathan will continue updating his project page so that others may replicate it on their own.

Raspberry Pi Zero and RTL-SDR Portable ADS-B Receiver
Raspberry Pi Zero and RTL-SDR Portable ADS-B Receiver

Radwave Beta: Android RTL-SDR RF Analyzer App with Spectrum Pause and Rewind Features

Radwave Screenshot
Radwave Screenshot

Radwave is a recently released Android App for RTL-SDR dongles. It provides a real time waterfall of the RF spectrum, and it's defining feature is that you can easily zoom, pause and rewind the spectrum at any time. The software is currently in beta, and doesn't demodulate any signals, but the work and ideas behind the spectrum display features is really interesting.

Radwave utilizes RTL-SDR dongles and the RTL2832U driver app to allow people to interactively explore the RF spectrum. You can dynamically zoom in and out in time and frequency, pause, and go back in time - all without losing any samples. If you find something cool, tag it and share with friends.

Radwave core technology is its interactive real-time spectrogram. It shows all the spectrum - utilizing every sample1 - for the entire collection2. Frequencies are aligned over time as you change the RF center frequency3, helping you make sense of what you see.

1 Adjacent non-overlapping DFT windows

2 Up to device limitations

3 Alignment limited by buffer uncertainty

Radwave Intro - We're in Beta!

YouTube Tutorial: Using RTL-SDR on an Android Smartphone

Over on YouTube, channel Null Byte has uploaded a video showing us how to use an RTL-SDR V3 on an Android smartphone. In the video he discusses the hardware and software required to get started on Android and demonstrates the free SDRoid Android app (based on RFAnalyzer) by tuning to several signals including a voice signal. Later in the video he also shows an ADS-B app for receiving aircraft positions. The video is intended for people new to RTL-SDR so it is a little basic, but it's a great introduction.

He notes that the next video (which will probably be released in a week) will show RPiTX being used with the RTL-SDR.

Use an RTL-SDR Software-Defined Radio Receiver with an Android Smartphone [Tutorial]

RTL_TCP SDR: iOS Software Defined Radio App with Spectrum Display

In the post a few days ago about the newly released "SDR Receiver" app for iOS, we briefly mentioned that another iOS app called "RTL_TCP SDR" has just been released out of beta and put onto the Apple store as well.

"RTL_TCP SDR" is a little different to "SDR Receiver" because it contains a full spectrum analyzer and waterfall display, whereas "SDR Receiver" only allows you to listen via presets or manual tuning. Both apps can not access the RTL-SDR directly on the iOS device due to Apple limitations. An external server on a Raspberry Pi or PC running rtl_tcp is required. Programmer HotPaw writes about his App:

An RTL-SDR Software Defined Radio receiver for iOS devices (requires an external rtl_tcp server). Listen to VHF AM and FM radio signals. View a waterfall of the RF spectrum. Connect, via the rtl_tcp network protocol, to a networked RTL-SDR USB peripheral. 

iOS devices do not currently support the direct connection of USB devices such as an RTL-SDR. Thus, the use of this app requires network access to a server, such as a Raspberry Pi (or Mac), with an RTL-SDR unit plugged into its USB port, and running the rtl_tcp protocol at an TCP/IP network address accessible from your iOS device. The Raspberry Pi acts, essentially, as a USB port adapter for your iOS device. 

No support is provided for installing any of the software needed to use this app with a Raspberry Pi. Please do not download this app unless you are already familiar with Software Defined Radio, have an RTL-SDR USB device, and have already installed and tested rtl_tcp on your Raspberry Pi, Mac, or other server.

Over on his Reddit discussion thread he also mentions:

Since Apple's iOS doesn't allow an RTL-SDR to be plugged directly into a Lightning port (even with a USB adapter), an rtl_tcp adapter, such as a Raspberry Pi (or Pi Zero) server is required.

This app is an experiment in real-time DSP and SDR coding using Apple's Swift and Metal GPU-shader programming languages. It includes a spectrum waterfall, and supports demodulating FM, AM, and SSB. Also, includes beta test support for the AirSpy HF+.

HotPaw's "RTL_TCP SDR" running on an iPad.
HotPaw's "RTL_TCP SDR" running on an iPad.

New RTL-SDR Receiver App for iOS Released

SDR Receiver on iOS Screenshot
SDR Receiver on iOS Screenshot

A new RTL-SDR compatible app for Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad) has recently been released on the Apple App store. The app is called "SDR Receiver", costs US$9.99, and is used together with an RTL-SDR (or Airspy HF+) server running on a separate networked device such as a Raspberry Pi or PC. Limitations by Apple mean that the RTL-SDR can not run directly on iOS  devices. The software description reads:

SDR Receiver, a new iOS app for RTL-SDR and Airspy HF+, is now available on the App Store. The app works with an RTL-SDR or Airspy HF+ that is attached to a host Mac, PC or Raspberry Pi running the rtl_tcp server or equivalent. The iOS device, which may be an iPhone or an iPad, communicates over the network with the host computer which may be anywhere on the network that is reachable by TCP/IP and that can sustain the required bandwidth. 

  • SDR Receiver demodulates AM, narrowband FM and wideband FM signals. Key features include:
  • Easily entered and managed lists of stations to simplify station selection.
  • Adjustable squelch that works for both AM and FM signals.
  • Adjustable LNA gain for RTL-SDR.
  • Adjustable audio high pass and low pass filters.
  • Signal strength indicator that shows power level in the signal passband.
  • Multiple sampling rates down to 240Ksps for RTL-SDR.
  • Sampling rate of 768Ksps for Airspy HF+.

Streaming from an RTL-SDR requires installation of the librtlsdr package including the rtl_tcp utility on the host computer. Streaming from an Airspy HF+ requires installation of server software on the host computer that supports the Airspy HF+ and that streams data according to the protocol used by the rtl_tcp utility. One such server has been made available by Ron Nicholson in source code form on GitHub.

Requires an RTL-SDR or Airspy HF+, a host computer and server software which are not provided with the application.

Another RTL-SDR client for iOS is "RTL_TCP SDR" by Ron Nicholson which we posted about back in March when it was still in beta testing. RTL_TCP SDR includes a spectrum analyzer and FFT display. SDR Receiver appears to have no spectrum display, so is mostly useful for listening to preset frequencies, whilst RTL_TCP SDR appears to be more useful for spectrum exploring.

QuestaSDR: New RTL-SDR Software for Android

Last year we posted about QuestaSDR, which is a simple SDR multi-mode GUI that is compatible with the RTL-SDR. Since then QuestaSDR has evolved, and is now available on Android devices as well. It looks to be a nice alternative to RF Analyzer and SDR Touch which are the most popular RTL-SDR Android apps. The description of Android QuestaSDR reads:

QuestaSDR - powerful and flexible, cross-platform Software Defined Radio Application (SDR). Built-in scheduler architecture provides integrate plugins, plugins kits and multi - UI. Typical applications are DXing, Ham Radio, Radio Astronomy and Spectrum analysis.

Support Hardware:
- RTLSDR Dongle

Main features:
- Dark, Ligth, Universal, Material application style
- Many spectrum settings (FFT size, waterfall FPS and color theme)
- AM/SSB/NFM/WFM demodulator
- RDS decoder
- Record AF file
- Frequency bookmarks
- Web remote
- Supported IF-adapter, upconverter, downconverter hardware
- Rig samplerate, frequency, level and iq disbalance calibrate

To start using QuestaSDR, you will need:
- RTL-SDR dongle
- USB OTG Cable - used to connect a RTLSDR to your Android device.

Connect the USB dongle to the USB-OTG, then insert the free end of the cable into the USB port of your Android device and launch the QuestaSDR! Now you can listen to live frequency range shortwave, VHF, UHF.

Feedback and bug reports are always welcome.

Please note that I am not responsible for any legal issues caused by the use of this application. Be responsible and familiarize yourself with local laws before using.

QuestaSDR - New RTL-SDR Compatible Android App
QuestaSDR - New RTL-SDR Compatible Android App

Promo QuestaSDR v3.3.1-b3