Category: News

SDR Academy 2022 Recorded Livestream now Available

The Software Defined Academy is a group that organizes an SDR focused conference during the yearly HAMRADIO fair that is usually held in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The past two years have seen the conference go exclusively virtual, however this year the conference was a hybrid of real life and virtual presentations. The conference was held a few days ago, and the recorded livestream is now available on YouTube for viewing.

The full program of presentations can be found on the SDRA 2022 website.

Day 1:

Livestream von Software Defined Radio Academy

Day 2:

Livestream von Software Defined Radio Academy

Metal Case Upgrade for the SDRplay RSP1A Back in Stock!

Due to popular demand we have decided to manufacture one more batch of our SDRplay RSP1A metal enclosure upgrade kit. After numerous delays due to the Shanghai COVID lockdown, it is now in stock in our store and ready to ship out from our shipping warehouse in China. Amazon stock local to the USA will be arriving later around the end of July.

This is a premium aluminum metal upgrade enclosure for the SDRplay RSP1A. Helps block RF interference and protects the RSP inside the sturdy enclosure. We don't make batches of this enclosure often, and this batch could be the last, so if you are interested please order before stock runs out for good.

The kit includes 1x black aluminum metal enclosure with two labelled side panels, 1x black semi-hardshell carry case, 1x thermal pad to keep the RSP1A cool and mechanically stable inside the enclosure, 1x accessory set including enclosure screws, GND lug bolt set and 3M anti-slip rubber feet.

RSP1A Metal Case Upgrade
RSP1A Metal Case Upgrade

NEWSDR 2022 to be held Virtually on June 3

The 12th New England Workshop on Software Defined Radio (NEWSDR 2022) is due to be held online again this year starting tomorrow at June 3 9AM - 6PM US Eastern time.

The 2022 New England Workshop on Software-Defined Radio (NEWSDR’22) is the twelfth installment of an annual workshop series organized by the Boston SDR User Group (SDR-Boston). Given the continued global health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event will be safely hosted online in a virtual setting. Although this will be a virtual event, the NEWSDR 2022 organizers are committed to achieving the primary goal of this workshop by providing a forum that enables SDR enthusiasts to get together, collaborate, and introduce SDR concepts to those interested in furthering their knowledge of SDR capabilities and available resources. NEWSDR 2022 welcomes both experienced SDR enthusiasts as well as individuals who are interested in getting started with SDR.

There are some interesting talks, panels and posters that will be presented, a summary of which can be found on the NEWSDR 2022 page. These are mostly research level talks, that may be interesting to people who love cutting edge SDR and radio research topics.

The talks will be livestreamed on YouTube for anyone to watch live or at a later date. The livestream YouTube player is embedded below.

NEWSDR 2022 :: 12th New England Workshop on Software Defined Radio

If you're interested, presentations from last years NEWSDR 2021 can be viewed in the following YouTube video.

NEWSDR 2021 :: 11th New England Workshop on Software Defined Radio

Radio Related News Occurring in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

In the current Russia-Ukraine conflict we've seen several noteworthy radio related events occurring over the last few days, mostly throughout Twitter.

Russian HF Bomber Communications

As mentioned in the previous post it has been found that since the start of the invasion, Russian Strategic bombers have been very active on USB voice at 8131 kHz. We've even seen a security firm predict air raid siren activations based on increased bomber HF activity. 

Russian Military HF Frequencies Jammed by Activists

It has been observed that several Russian military HF stations including the famous UVB-76 Buzzer have been jammed with either the Ukrainian national anthem, or various meme-type songs. It is likely that these stations are being jammed mostly by civilian activists, or members of the activist hacker collective known as Anonymous, rather than any military organization.

The UVB-76 Buzzer is a famous and mysterious numbers station that plays a buzzing sound and sometimes voice. It can be received from all over the world. Via civilian investigations, and through the use of the KiwiSDR TDoA direction finding functionality, it has been found to be transmitted from a location just north of St. Petersburg, and is assumed to be a military signal of some sort.

We've also seen waterfall text based jamming:

Using KiwiSDRs you can listen to these jammed stations yourself remotely through public internet connected SDRs in Europe. Some known frequencies are listed here and here

We note that there have also been reports about fake Russian frequencies being posted on the internet.

We assume most jamming is happening from outside the warring countries, and it is unknown how far the jamming signals extend onto Russian or Ukrainian territory, or how much of an impact they are having on Russian operations.

Russian State TV Hacked

Twitter account Anonymous TV has reported hacking Russian state TV to show citizens what is actually happening in Ukraine. It's unknown if this was a hack via TV transmissions being overpowered by another signal, or a computer hack.

Starlink Activated in Ukraine

A few days ago Elon Musk and SpaceX activated their Starlink wireless satellite internet system in Ukraine, and have sent over a shipment of ground terminals. This is useful as even if the local wired internet were to be destroyed, or be censored by Russia, the Starlink system will be able to connect to uncensored internet as long as there is power. 

An account of a Ukrainian engineer and RF hobbyist recently Tweeted his success at getting his Starlink system up and running from his home in Ukraine. We decided not to link to his Twitter account in this post, just in case he needs to delete his account for safety in the future as he appears to be very close to the bombing.

Viasat Satellite Service Experiences Cyberattack and Outages

Viasat, another provider of satellite internet services in Ukraine region appears to have been subject to a DDOS cyberattack, causing outages to it's satellite internet service in the European region.

SSTV Activism Seen On Russian Meridian Satellites

Meridian satellites are a "family of telecommunications satellites for civil and military use developed by Russia in the 2000s placed in a Molniya Orbit" (Wikipedia). A tweet by Scott Tilley @coastal8049 has noted that they have seen reports of SSTV activist activity occurring on the 484 MHz Meridian transponders. 

Scott Tilleys Twitter feed also shows some interesting other pieces of news and information, including frequencies and orbits of Meridian satellites, images of a destroyed Russian command and control satellite communications vehicle, and links to now deleted, but Google cached pages with information about Russian satellite communication systems.

APRS Activism against Russia causes APRS-IS DDOS

Amateur radio operators can use a system called APRS to communicate with text and packet data globally through internet connected radio repeaters. A few days ago it appears that anti-Russia activists flooded the APRS-IS (Automatic Packet Reporting System-Internet Service) system with bogus packets targeting Russian coordinates, which unintentionally resulted in a denial of service (DOS) event on APRS trackers like aprs.fi

DARC Urges Safety First for Ukraine and Foreign Amateur Radio Hobbyists

The German ham-radio association known as DARC has issued a warning to Ukrainian hams, and to foreign hams who may receive from them. Amateur radio operations are currently banned in Ukraine due to wartime laws.

Poland Amateur Radio Society Provides WinLink HF Email Service

In response to geopolitical threats, the Poland Amateur Radio Society has set up a HF WinLink email system, aimed at provided email services to amateur radio operators that could be cutoff from internet email services. It appears this may be aimed at helping Ukrainians communicate, however in these modern days of electronic warfare, it is important to take into account the warning from DARC above too as transmitting stations could easily be located by Russian electronic warfare forces.

Dear HAM operators, in the face of the latest threats in our region and a possibility of an incoming wave of refugees, with over 2 mln already living in Poland, we would like to remind you that we are at your disposal.

If you are a licensed amateur radio operator, you can send information by e-mail to your relatives in Poland or Emergency Services with via the Winlink system, which works on HF bands, independently of access to the local ICT infrastructure https://winlink.org/WinlinkExpress.

We advise you to download the software, install it and check its operation.
Polish WinLink nodes are QRV on 160,80,20m
SR5WLK dial frequency 3595,5 kHz USB
SR3WLK dial requency 14111 kHz USB
SP3IEW dial frequency 1865 kHz USB

If we receive information about the cut-off of the Internet in the region in danger, we will be QRV daily as SP0MASR @ 18-20 UTC on the frequencies 3770 kHz +/- QRM, 7110 kHz +/- QRM. In such a situation, please communicate in Polish or English.

We are here to serve you.

Shortwave Listening Updates

The excellent SWLing.com blog has also provided some updates on shortwave, including news that WRMI have resumed broadcasts of Radio Ukraine International, Ukrainian state radio resumes broadcasting at 549 kHz, and that the BBC adds to new broadcasts to Ukraine.

Russian Oligarch Jets Tracked with ADS-B

An activist has set up a Twitter account to track the private jets of Russian Oligarch's via ADS-B. ADS-B aircraft data can be used to track aircraft locations, and these signals are typically received with low cost SDRs like RTL-SDRs. The project appears to use data sourced from adsbexchange.com which is known to be one of the only ADS-B aggrators that does not censor data.

The 7055 kHz 'Radio War' Frequency Sees Increase in Activity

In has been reported that the 7055 kHz LSB amateur radio frequency has been used by Ukrainian and Russian amateur radio operators for some time now to insult each other in a 'radio war', and recently activity has significantly increased. Other frequencies involved include 7050 kHz LSB and 3731 kHz.

Captured Equipment Shows Russian Radio Hardware In Use

A recent tweet shows a photo of hardware supposedly captured from Russian forces. Of interested is a Russian R-187PI Azart, a handheld digital software defined radio.

At the same time unconfirmed reports suggest that some parts of the Russian army may be relying on civilian Baofeng radios.

Russian Bomber HF Activity, Amateur Radio / SDR Hobbyist Warning Again

With Russian missiles now falling in the Ukraine it seems that the worst has occurred and a full scale invasion has started. We wish for the safety of all Ukrainian citizens and to that end we wanted again to reiterate our safety warning to all SDR owners and amateur radio operators in the Ukraine that we put out three weeks ago. Please remember that last year a Crimean resident was arrested and is currently imprisoned by Russian forces for using RTL-SDR and scanner radios to listen to the airband. Crimea was a previous territory of the Ukraine annexed by Russian forces in 2014.

Along with Ukraine's declared state of emergency, one of the conditions is that all transmitting radio amateur activities must cease. We would also strongly recommend ceasing any public facing receiving activities, including ADSB and WebSDR feeds etc.

We are also hearing reports that 8131 kHz is supposedly being used by Russian Strategic Bombers for voice communications and it has been very active within the last few hours. The WebSDR linked in the tweet is already at capacity, but you may be able to hear from KiwiSDRs stationed around Europe.

New GNU Radio Beginners Tutorials Available

A new set of beginners tutorials for the GNU Radio platform have been released on the GNU Radio Wiki.  GNU Radio is an open source development toolkit for signals processing and is commonly used to build software demodulators and decoders for Software Defined Radios including the RTL-SDR.

The tutorials lead you through topics such as understanding flowgraphs, creating custom Python blocks, using DSP blocks, GNU Radio core mechanics, modulation and demodulation and more.

We are pleased to announce a new set of beginner-level tutorials, as well as a new tutorials landing page, you can check them out here

A big thank you to NumFOCUS for sponsoring the work and to Matt from wavewalkerdsp who did the bulk of the work!

These beginner-level tutorials walk a new user through starting GRC and creating a simple flowgraph, all the way up to creating custom blocks and using tags and message passing.

We would like to create follow-up tutorials that the GNU Radio community needs so please leave feedback in the Discuss tab of the main Tutorials page, here are some suggestions:

  • Do you have ideas for future tutorials you’d like to see made?
  • What doesn’t make sense in GNU Radio, or what is hard to understand?
  • Where are the sticking points? What is hard to remember?
  • What is hard to use?
  • Are there any points in the current tutorials you’d like to see in more detail?
  • What would you change about the tutorials?

You can also access the tutorials using the Tutorials link on the left hand sidebar of the GNU Radio wiki, from any page.

GNU Radio Tutorial Topics

If you're interested in these tutorials you might also want to check out Michael Ossmann's set of video tutorials for the HackRF, which features GNU Radio usage heavily.

A Warning to Ukraine Based RTL-SDR Hobbyists

While we usually don't encourage politics on this blog, with the possibility of a Ukraine invasion by Russia we just wanted to issue a general warning to Ukrainian SDR owners. Last year we saw Stanislav Stetsenko a resident of Crimea arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service under suspicion of being a Ukrainian informant. The evidence against him was that he was an aviation and plane spotter hobbyist who used RTL-SDRs for listening in to aircraft communications - something of which many of us do in safety. 

Back in June 2021 Stanislav was facing 25 years in prison. We still don't know what has happened to him. If anyone local has heard any updates please let us know. (UPDATE: US1GBF in the comments below knew Stanislav personally and has provided an update: Stanislav was reportedly transferred from Crimea to a Moscow prison. The Ukrainian authorities are working on the exchange of Stanislav. However, the exchange has already been postponed many times because of the refusal of the Russians to diplomacy. Work continues.)

From our website and sales statistics we know that there is a sizable RTL-SDR community in the Ukraine. We don't know what will happen if there is an invasion, but it's possible that, like in Crimea, Russian security forces will see SDR hobbyist activities as a threat, so we urge Ukrainian residents to have a plan to take down any web feeds and antennas should it come to the worst.

EDIT: This post has stirred up quite the discussion. As long as comments remain civil comments will remain open. This post is not intended to take sides. Whilst many Ukrainians in the amateur radio community already know to keep their activities safe during conflicts, we are aware of many young Ukrainian STEM students and hobbyists that may be somewhat insulated or not care about geopolitical events, who read our blog and copy activities that are safe to perform in most countries, but may not be safe in the Ukraine during times of conflict.  

Crimean resident arrested for RTL-SDR use in June 2021

A Review of the Soon to be Released Malahit-DDC Portable SDR

The Malahit DDC is the latest in portable SDR packages coming out of the Russian designer and manufacturer known as 'Malahiteam'.  In the past they released the hugely successfull Malhit-DSP. We want to thank Manuel Lausmann for sending us a video and review that comprehensively looks at one of the first Malahit DDC devices that have been received. Manuel writes:

Differences between Malahit DSP and Malahit DDC

The comparison results for the main characteristics are summarized in the table. The worst result of the comparison is marked in red, the best or neutral result is blue.

The comparison took into account the results from the DDC versions with two ADC versions - AD9649 and MDRA1A16FI.

1) the sensitivity is about the same, there is no difference.

2) The dynamic range blocking is a big difference in favor of DDC. It is caused by the properties of the radio reception path and not by the difference in the classes of radio receivers. This has the practical advantage that a radio receiver with large antennas can be used under difficult conditions, for example when it is necessary to receive a weak signal in the presence of a strong interfering one.

3) The dynamic range of third order intermodulation is a big difference in favor of DDC. It is caused by the properties of the radio reception path and not by the difference in the classes of radio receivers. The practical advantage of this is the lack of parasitic or false reception channels.

4) The frequency range is different. This is the difference to specific design solutions. And the DDC has to catch up with the DSP version due to the additional board developed with converters. The additional board is already under development.

5) The type of antenna input - everything is the same here, the receivers can receive signals with both the telescope and external antennas.

6) Band values ​​/ frequency values. The DDC version is the undisputed leader here. In addition, these figures have actually already been confirmed.

7) Side channels of reception. As mentioned above, these are better in DDC. The difference lies in the classes of radio receivers.

8) The capacity of the ADC. I will go into this characteristic in a little more detail. Very often the ADC bitrate is used as a marketing ploy that is misleading the user. It is logical that the more the better. But as we see, even with a 14-bit DDC, a better dynamic than 16-bit DSP. And that's why not only the ADC capacity is important for classic or analog SDRs, but also the properties of the ADC radio path. If you use 24- or 32-bit ADCs in the Malachite DSP series, the radio receivers do not get any better - MSI001 does not allow this, in which case it limits the connection. So, you need to carefully analyze the build of radio receivers and not trust misleading promotions - many bits are certainly good, but you shouldn't forget the location of the ADC either. The main properties of radio receivers are determined in particular by the first input stages.

9) Overall dimensions. Everything is the same here.

10) audio output. And everything is the same here.

11) PC connection. And this is where the big difference in favor of DDC lies. A faster type of USB interface is used, the quadrature width is increased to almost 2 MHz, and the QUISK program also has the option of viewing the spectrum up to 38 MHz against the background of radio reception.

12) Power consumption. The power consumption is not the strength of the DDC - the digital technology eats up a lot of energy. In comparison, there is one more characteristic - the prices. With the DDC, the price is significantly higher due to the more expensive components

From February you can also expect an optional additional board where reception on 6ghz is possible with additional filters. A 16 bit ADC will also be built into the Malahit DDC from February.

The video review below is in German, however you can use the YouTube autogenerated English captions below, or wait a little as Manuel indicates that English subtitles will be added soon. 

Malahit DDC in Gefahr Teil 1