Category: News

Is the Titus II Portable Android Tablet Shortwave SDR Close to Release?

The PatronX Titus II SDR is something we've been posting about several times since 2016, but in the end it was never released and assumed to be vaporware. However, we found that the website for the Titus II SDR was updated only a few weeks ago, and pricing details have been added advertising $120 and $150 for two versions of the product. But on the new website there is no store, just an email link to contact sales for ordering information. We contacted that email two weeks ago for more information but have not received a reply back yet.

The PantronX Titus II was advertised to be a portable Android tablet based SDR that would feature a 100 kHz - 2 GHz tuning range, and software that focuses on HF digital DRM decoding, as well as DAB on VHF. Computer rendered images show the tablet housed in a portable carry enclosure with two speakers. Their new website writes:

The design of rTablet / rTab defined radio receiver started in 2014. It soon became evident that electronic products available on the market could not be modified to incorporate the advanced features requested by potential buyers. This initiated the process of the innovative design of the Titus SDR (Software Defined Radio) unit. The engineering team started with a general purpose computer unit and embedding it in a broadband radio receiver module.

All types of applications, including RF software, could be installed. For example, DRM capabilities could be added as DRM is an open source. Dream Linux app was converted to run under Android mobile operating system.

The Titus rTablet / rTab being introduced to the market, is a low cost, high performance platform with many RF and PC factory installed applications.

Key feature of rTablet / rTab is the compatibility with analog (SW, AM, FM) and digital standards (DRM, DRM+, DAB, DAB+, HD). Consequently the market of rTablet / rTab is global.

The updated website with pricing and an ordering email makes us think that it might be finally on the way, but the lack of email reply is concerning. If anyone has any further information about the rTab/Titus II please be sure to share with us in the comments!

Titus II SDR updated website
Titus II Specs

Reminder: GNU Radio Conference 2021 to be held Sept 20-24 with Virtual and In-Person Events

Just a reminder than GNU Radio Conference 2021 (GRCON21) will be going ahead on Sept 20 - 24 with virtual and in-person events. It is free to register for virtual attendance and you will be able to view all talks live via streaming. If you wish to attend workshops virtually, the registration fee is $50. All links for YouTube live streaming can be found on the virtual attendance page as well. Be sure to use the YouTube "set reminder" feature to be notified when the streams begin.

GNU Radio Conference (GRCon) is the annual conference for the GNU Radio project and community, and has established itself as one of the premier industry events for Software Radio. It is a week-long conference that includes high-quality technical content and valuable networking opportunities. GRCon is a venue that highlights design, implementation, and theory that has been practically applied in a useful way. GRCon attendees come from a large variety of backgrounds, including industry, academia, government, and hobbyists.

The yearly GNU Radio Conference (GRCon) is a conference all about the development of GNU Radio and projects based on GNU Radio. GNU Radio is an open source digital signal processing (DSP) toolkit which is often used in cutting edge radio applications and research to implement decoders, demodulators and various other SDR algorithms. 

Check out the list of upcoming talks here to see if there is anything that interests you, and perhaps check out last years GRCon20 video playlist too

RTL-SDR Blog Active L-Band Patch Antenna for Inmarsat, Iridium, GPS Back in Stock

Just a quick note to say that the second batch of our Active L-Band Patch Antenna for receiving Inmarsat, Iridium and other L-Band satellites is now in stock, available to be shipped from our warehouse in China from early next week. Amazon will be stocked within the next 1-2 months as the freighter will take time to arrive.

Please see our store for ordering details.

Apologies as we've had to temporarily suspend sales of this product as a manufacturing defect has been discovered in this batch. The defect is that on a number of units the plastic around the screws is cracking, and this was caused by a factory worker over torqueing a pneumatic screwdriver.

The antenna itself will work fine, and it probably won't even affect weather tightness, but it is certainly a defect. If your unit already shipped out and your unit has these cracks, please let us know at [email protected] and we will get the factory to ship you a replacement enclosure. For unshipped units we will be issuing a refund within the next few days.

Pricing remains the same at US$49.95 including free worldwide shipping to most countries. A reminder to EU customers: please order from our Aliexpress or eBay stores as due to the new IOSS laws we need to now use those marketplaces to collect and remit VAT upon your purchase, instead of upon import at the border.

This second batch comes in a gray color as feedback from the previous batch indicated that a lighter color is preferred to avoid excess heating from the sun.

If you are hearing about this patch antenna for the first time, please see our original release post for more information. In short this is an amplified patch antenna designed to be used with bias tee capable SDRs that can provide 3.3V - 5V power, such as our RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongle, Airspy, SDRplay or HackRF.

The antenna allows for reception of L-band satellites that transmit between 1525 - 1660 MHz, such as Inmarsat, Iridium and GPS. Please note it is *not* for receiving weaker signals like HRPT and GOES which require a dish antenna.

The patch comes with useful mounting accessories including a window suction cup, bendable tripod and 3M RG174 coax cable. The patch and active circuitry is enclosed in a weather proof enclosure.

What can you do with this antenna?

SDRA2021 Talks: Electrosense, Neural Network Signal Classification, gr-rpitx, Radio Astronomy and More

The 2021 Software Defined Radio Academy conference was held online this year on June 26/27 and the talks have been recently uploaded to YouTube. There are some interesting talks this year including a presentation on various SDR related topics including Electrosense, gr-rpitx, 21cm radio astronomy with low cost SDR hardware, and using deep learning neural networks for automatic signal identification. Our favorite talks and blurbs are collected below for easy access, and the full set of talks can be found on their YouTube channel.

Dr. Henning Paul: Building a flexible Multi-Antenna-capable SDR using open Source

The availability of Open Source software components enables the ambitious hardware hacker to design their own powerful SDR. This talk is the follow-up to the talk on Scientific SDR and recapitulates the steps towards the current design of a Homebrew SDR based on a Xilinx Zynq SoC using the Linux kernel and other Open Source components. Furthermore, one of its applications, receiving shortwave radio with antenna diversity is presented.

SDRA2021 - 04 - Dr. Henning Paul: Building a flexible Multi-Antenna-capable SDR using open Source

Jean-Michel Friedt: GNURadio compatible gen. purpose SDR emitter using RasPi4 PLL

GNU Radio, the Raspberry Pi single board computer and Digital Video Broadcast Terrestrial receivers make an awesome combination for educational purposes of Software Defined Radio. gr-rpitx aims at complementing these tools with emitting capabilities, combined with the flexibility of GNU Radio.

SDRA2021 - 08 - Jean-Michel Friedt: GNURadio compatible gen. purpose SDR emitter using RasPi4 PLL

Sreeraj Radjendran: Knowledge extraction from wireless spectrum data

In this half-hour talk, the need for large scale wireless spectrum monitoring will be discussed. A short introduction to a large scale wireless spectrum monitoring framework, Electrosense, will be given. Furthermore, how anomaly detection and signal classification can be performed using the collected data will also be discussed. Insights to the major problems with state-of-the-art machine learning models will also be discussed in this context.

SDRA2021 -11- Sreeraj Radjendran: Knowledge extraction from wireless spectrum data

Stefan Scholl, DC9ST: Classification of shortwave radio signals with deep learning

Automatic mode classification of radio signals in the HF band is a valueable tool for band monitoring, operation of rare transmission modes and future applications of cognitive radio. In recent years, machine learning has established as a general and very powerful approach to classification problems. The presentation first provides an introduction to neural networks and deep learning. Then neural nets are applied to the task of radio signal classification. The result is an experimental deep convolutional neural net (CNN), that can distinguish between 18 different transmission modes occurring in the HF band, such as AM, SSB, Morse, RTTY, Olivia, etc.

Additional Links: Stefan Scholl's post on this topic 

SDRA2021 -12- Stefan Scholl, DC9ST: Classification of shortwave radio signals with deep learning

Marcus Leech: Mapping the sky at 21cm: Gnuradio and Radio Astronomy

We show the results of a year-long sky survey at the 21cm hydrogen line, producing an intensity map of the sky covering a declination range from -35 to +75DEG. We discuss the software tools used, Gnu Radio signal flows, and the hardware aspects of the instrument.

SDRA2021 -14- Marcus Leech: Mapping the sky at 21cm: Gnuradio and Radio Astronomy

SDR Videos from DEFCON 29

Recently some videos from this years (mostly virtual) DEFCON 29 conference have been uploaded to YouTube. Defcon is a major yearly conference all about information security, and some of the talks deal with wireless and SDR topics. Some interesting talks that we've found from the main Defcon and Villages are posted below.

You can view all the talks directly as well as the many others via the main stage DEFCON YouTube channel, the ICS Village Channel, RF Village Channel and the Aerospace Village. There are also several talks from the Ham Radio Village recorded on Twitch. Did we miss any interesting talks? Please let us know in the comments.

Smart Meters: I'm Hacking Infrastructure and So Should You (Hash Salehi)

Why Smart Meters? This is a question Hash is often asked. There's no bitcoin or credit card numbers hiding inside, so he must want to steal power, right? Openly analyzing the technology running our critical infrastructure and publishing the findings is something Hash is passionate about. In the wake of the great Texas freeze of 2021, we can no longer "hope" those in power will make decisions that are in the people's best interest. This talk will present research on the Landis+Gyr GridStream series of smart meters used by Oncor, the largest energy provider in Texas.

Cyber attacks on Industrial Control Systems (ICS) differ in scope and impact based on a number of factors, including the adversary's intent, sophistication and capabilities, and familiarity with ICS and automated indutrial processes. In order to understand, identify and address the specific points that can prevent or stop an attack, a systematic model known as "Cyber Kill Chain" is detailed, a term that comes from the military environment and registered by the Lockheed Martin company. While most are familiar with terms and theoretical diagrams of how security should be implemented, in this talk we want to present live how an attack chain occurs from scratch to compromise industrial devices, the full kill chain, based in our experiences. The goal is to land these threats into the real world without the need to carry out these attacks with a nation-state budget.

Smart Meters: I'm Hacking Infrastructure and So Should You (Hash Salehi)

DEF CON 29 - Paz Hameiri - TEMPEST Radio Station

TEMPEST is a cyber security term that refers to the use of electromagnetic energy emissions generated by electronic devices to leak data out of a target device. The attacks may be passive (where the attacker receives the emissions and recovers the data) or active (where the attacker uses dedicated malware to target and emit specific data).

In this talk I present a new side channel attack that uses GPU memory transfers to emit electromagnetic waves which are then received and processed by the attacker. Software developed for this work encodes audio on one computer and transmits it to the reception equipment positioned fifty feet away. The signals are received and processed and the audio is decoded and played. The maximum bit rate achieved was 33kbit/s and more than 99% of the packets were received.

Frequency selection not only enables maximization of signal quality over distance, but also enables the attacker to receive signals from a specific computer when several computers in the area are active. The software developed demonstrates audio packets transfers, but other types of digital data may be transmitted using the same technique.

[Slides Link] [Whitepaper]

DEF CON 29 - Paz Hameiri - TEMPEST Radio Station

DEF CON 29 RF Village - cemaxecuter - RF Propagation and Visualization with DragonOS

"Today's presentation will start with a brief history of DragonOS, where it started and where it's at today. After a short introduction, I'll dive into the subject of visualizing RF propagation with DragonOS. I'll be showing a fresh OS install and the necessary steps to generate a rough estimate of a transmitter based on SRTM-3 elevation data, as well as a new feature enabling visualization/calculations of the path between transmitter and receiver .

Topics and hands on (pre-recorded) demonstrations will include the following,

  • SPLAT! is an RF Signal Propagation, Loss, And Terrain analysis tool for the electromagnetic spectrum between 20 MHz and 20 GHz.
  • Signal Server Multi-threaded RF coverage calculator
  • Dr. Bill Walker's role
  • Signal Server and DragonOS integration
  • DF-Aggregator Developer / Modifications for visualization

I’ll conclude talking about future improvements to RF propagation and visualization tools."

DEF CON 29 RF Village - cemaxecuter - RF Propagation and Visualization with DragonOS

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OpenWebRX Updated to V1.1.0

Thank you to Jason for writing in and letting us know that OpenWebRX Version 1.1.0 has been released on August 03. OpenWebRX is an open source program that allows users to make RTL-SDRs, KiwiSDRs and other SDRs accessible over the internet via a web browser. It is is currently available as a Raspberry Pi SD card image, in the Debian + Ubuntu repositories, as a docker image, or for manual installation. 

The latest version adds an AMBE voice data decoder, new decoders and metadata displays for NXDN and D-Star, and crisper SVG graphics.

Since we last posted about OpenWebRX updates in early 2020, there has also been support added for the Perseus-SDR, RadioBerry 2, Hermes HPSDR, Funcube Dongle Pro+ software defined radios. New decoders and support for external decoders such as JS8Call, FreeDV, Wideband FM, DREAM DRM,  FST4, FST4W, Q65 and M17 digital voice have been added.

There is also now a site called Receiverbook.de that aggregates a list of publicly available OpenWebRX receivers.

OpenWebRX Interface

NEWSDR 2021 Conference to be held Virtually on August 20

The 11th New England Workshop on Software Defined Radio (NEWSDR 2021) will again be held online this year due to the ongoing pandemic. It is due to begin on Friday, 20 August 2021, 9:00 AM (EDT) – 5:30 PM (EDT). Registration is completely free. 

The 11th iteration of NEWSDR will be held in a fully virtual format on August 20, 2021. The event will include a series of talks from invited speakers and our industry sponsors (Analog Devices, Ettus/NI, Lynk, MathWorks, and MediaTek) along with interactive breakout sessions, poster sessions, and sponsor/exhibitor booths within the Gather virtual meeting platform.

Registration is completely free and we are also accepting submissions for poster presentations and elevator pitches!

A livestream link has already been set up on YouTube for the 20th, so if interested you can set a reminder using the YouTube reminder feature.

All presentations from the 2020 NEWSDR virtual conference can be viewed on the YouTube video below.

NEWSDR 2020 :: 10th New England Workshop on Software-Defined Radio

EZNEC Pro Antenna Modelling Software will be free from 2022

EZNEC is a popular antenna modelling program created by W7EL which is based on the "Numerical Electromagnetics Code" or NEC. With a NEC based antenna modelling program it is possible to design antennas by modelling their geometry and connections, and then simulating parameters like radiation pattern gain and VSWR. You can also determine the effects of height, roof angles, nearby objects and more.

Originally the pricing was $99 for EZNEC, $149 for EZNEC+, $525 for EZNEC Pro/2 and $675 for EZNEC Pro/4. W7EL is retiring and from Jan 1 2022 EZNEC Pro/2 and EZNEC+ will be made free, and EZNEC Pro/4 will be discontinued. The source code will not be released, and no support will be provided.

If you're after a free NEC based antenna modeler today, 4NEC2 is a similar program that is already free. There is also the recently released and more modern CENOS, which is free for hobbyist use.

The EZNEC Software