Category: News

NanoVNA V2 Now Readily Available for $60 + US Stock Available at R&L

The much awaited NanoVNA V2 is now readily available for around $60 + shipping from the Tindie store. Shipping is noted to begin on June 30th due to a public holiday and you must agree to possible pandemic delays, although feedback from earlier customers indicates that most countries appear to be receiving the packages in good time. You can also add a calibration kit for $10 extra, or a calibration kit and acrylic enclosure for $14 extra.

For US customers R&L Electronics have them in stock in "high end" for $59.95 and "low end" for $54.95 options. The high end option appears to have higher quality cables included. UPDATE: It has been brought to our attention that the stock at R&L is actually from a "clone" manufacturer and the clones do not support the original developer.

We note that the NanoVNA V2 is an open source project created by OwOComm, a research organization with a mission to further "intellectual communism". Therefore any factory is free to produce their own version from the designs, and hence several other versions have already been showing up on marketplaces like Aliexpress/eBay. However, for now it is probably safer to buy directly from the original manufacturers on the Tindie store. This is because according to the developer the quality of the "unofficial" clones that are showing up on Aliexpress and eBay is not yet known. The official version also supports the original developer and funds future software development.

NanoVNA V2 Available for Sale on Tindie
NanoVNA V2 Available for Sale on Tindie

A Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) is an extremely useful tool for radio hobbyists as it allows you to tune antennas, filters, and measure cable loss among other applications. Until recently a VNA would cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. However, the original NanoVNA brought expensive VNA capabilities to the masses with its low $40 pricing. But the original design was limited to a maximum frequency of only 900 MHz. The new V2 design pushes this maximum frequency up to 3 GHz officially, and unofficially up to 4.4 GHz with reduced performance. It also improves on overall dynamic range and maintains the affordable price.

Trump Tweets about Pushed Buffalo Protestor Scanning to Jam Police Radios with an RTL-SDR and Android Phone

In political news 75 year old Buffalo protestor Martin Gugino has been generating controversy due to a video of him being pushed to the ground by a police officer, then subsequently lying motionless while bleeding from the head and being ignored by other officers.

Recently US president Donald Trump tweeted about a video news report by "One America News" (OAN) indicating that Gugino may have been trying to scan police with a "capture scanner". Whilst talking about the capture scanner they show an image of an RTL-SDR dongle and Android phone running the SDR Touch software. OAN go on to say that these capture scanners are designed to "skim microphones" in order to capture police communications, and are a tool commonly used by Antifa. Credit to @hackerfantastic for initially tweeting about the RTL-SDR being featured in the video.

Trump's tweet reads "Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment @OANN
I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?".

We're not entirely sure where this theory from OAN came from as there is no need to get so close in order to listen to police radio communications, since if unencrypted, they can be listened to from anywhere in the city. It's also unclear as to what microphones police would be using, and how these could be "skimmed" with an RTL-SDR. As for blacking out the equipment, an RTL-SDR cannot transmit so it would be impossible to use to jam the radios. An illegal jammer could be used after scanning, but police frequencies are already well known anyway, and there would be no need to scan for them so close even if low power comm links were used.

The video also shows that he appears to be filming police badge numbers with his phone before he was pushed, so it is unlikely that he was using an RTL-SDR and running SDR Touch at the same time as the camera app. No cables, antenna or dongle can be seen in the video either.

In the past we have seen a Slovenian researcher almost jailed for performing University research with an RTL-SDR, and a UN expert arrested for possessing an RTL-SDR in Tunisia. So this is a timely reminder to be careful as police and media do not always understand what an SDR is.

EDIT: Please note that this is not a political post or blog. We only post it to highlight the severe lack of understanding that can surround SDR and our technical hobbies. Comments inciting violence against protestors or anyone are NOT OK, and will be removed. Please keep discussions technical and civil in nature.

OAN indicates that Martin Gugino may have used an RTL-SDR on police
OAN indicates that Martin Gugino may have used an RTL-SDR "capture scanner" on police

A Self-Executable version of TempestSDR is now Available

TempestSDR is an open source tool made by Martin Marinov which allows you to use any SDR that has a supporting ExtIO (such as RTL-SDR, Airspy, SDRplay, HackRF) to receive the unintentional signals radiated from a screen, and turn that signal back into a live image. This can let you view what is on a screen through a wall without using any physical cables.

We first posted a demonstration of TempestSDR back in 2017 when we were finally able to get it to compile. Compiling the software took a fair amount of work for those without experience, and even running it was a chore. However, getting it to work is worth it as you can do some really interesting demonstrations.

However these problems are over and recently Erwin Ried @eried has made a self-executable version of TempestSDR. This means that no compilation, java installs, mingw or extra dlls are required to get the program to work as now it's just an exe that you can run. You will still need the appropriate ExtIO dlls for your SDR. The video in his twitter post shows it working with a HackRF.

OpenEar Updated to Version 1.6

The RTL-SDR compatible multi-mode digital decoder OpenEar has recently been updated to version 1.6. The latest version currently supports the decoding of FM/AM, TETRA, DMR, Pocsag and ADS-B. New features include a zoomable waterfall and other GUI and functionality improvements. The changelog reads:

6/4/2020
version 1.6.0
- saving last settings
- waterfall
- zoom on spectrum and waterfall with mouse wheel
- better list placement (pocsag & ads-b)
- wav(I/Q) loading (only 1024000 Sample/sec)
- voice volume & mute button
- spectrum range and offset
- rtl gain and correction (ppm)
- top menu
- frequency list
- some DMR improvement on SYNC detection
- solved center frequency issue (DC problem)
- and other few UI improvements

OpenEar Version 1.6
OpenEar Version 1.6

OpenWebRX directory SDR.hu has now shut down

OpenWebRX was first developed by Andras Retzler and is and open source program that allows users to make RTL-SDRs, KiwiSDRs and other SDRs accessible over the internet via a web browser. Recently the OpenWebRX public directory at SDR.hu, also run by Andras, has been closed. In the past we've posted about Andras' decision to move on from OpenWebRX and how sdr.hu went from public access to requiring an amateur radio callsign to access. Now Andras has decided to take the final step and close sdr.hu for good. The sdr.hu website now reads:

The SDR.hu project has been finished

I'd like to say a big thanks to everyone who joined my journey with this project!

I hope you had a good time listening on the site, and learnt some things about SDR. The purpose of this site was to provide a technological demonstration for amateur radio operators about Software Defined Radio, and I hope this goal has been reached. As this website was a one-person hobby project, with my tasks and responsibilities growing, and my focus moving to other projects at which I hope to make a greater positive impact, I'm unable to further develop SDR.hu and protect it from abuse.

Furthermore, I think this site has some good alternatives now. Nevertheless, in my opinion amateur radio receivers should be shared with strict access control in the future.

If you have more questions, feel free to consult the FAQ.

73!

Andras, HA7ILM

We want to note that although KiwiSDR makes use of OpenWebRX, the KiwiSDR project is not affected by this closure as they use a custom fork of OpenWebRX, and there is an official KiwiSDR directory at kiwisdr.com/public, a map version at map.kiwisdr.com, and an SNR score directory at snr.kiwisdr.com. Unfortunately the one major drawback is that these directories do not list public RTL-SDRs or other SDRs running OpenWebRX as only sdr.hu did that.

Also, although Andras has stopped development on OpenWebRX, a fork of the project led by Jakob Ketterl (DD5JFK) is alive and well at github.com/jketterl/openwebrx and openwebrx.de.

OpenWebRX Screenshot
OpenWebRX Screenshot

PineTab Linux Tablet will have an Optional RTL-SDR Expansion Module

The PineTab is an upcoming $100 open source Ubuntu Linux Tablet being created by PINE who are known for their low cost Pine64 single board computers, Pinebook Laptop and Linux based PinePhone. The PineTab is not yet for sale, and they have just announced their intention to begin taking pre-orders in late May, and that the first production run will be a limited quantity pilot production intended only for early adopters.

What's interesting about the PineTab is that they are advertising that they are working on expansion options, with one expansion module being an RTL-SDR. It seems that the expansion module will allow cards to be inserted internally, keeping everything tidy on the outside. Apart from the RTL-SDR, they will also offer LoRa, LTE (with GPS) and sata SSD add on cards.

The standard specs of the PineTab are shown below:

  • Allwinner A64 Quad Core SOC with Mali 400 MP2 GPU
  • 2GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • 10″ MiPi 720p Capacitive LCD
  • Bootable Micro SD Slot
  • 64GB of eMMC
  • microHDMI port for external HD output
  • USB 2.0 A host
  • Micro USB 2.0 OTG
  • 2Mpx front-facing camera
  • 5Mpx rear camera
  • Optional M.2 slot
  • Speakers and Microphone
  • Volume rocker and ‘home’ button
  • Magnetically attached keyboard (optional)
  • 6000mAh battery 
  • 3.5″ Barrel Power (5V 3A) Port
  • Multiple expansion boards for LTE, LoRa and SATA SSD
 

Black Hat USA 2020 will be a Virtual Event

Black Hat is a yearly conference about information security related topics. Whilst not as common as in other RF focused conferences, there are often talks related to software defined radio and RF in general. For example, recently they have uploaded videos of talks from their 2018 event and one talk titled "Screaming Channels: When Electromagnetic Side Channels Meet Radio Transceivers" shows how a HackRF SDR can be used to help break the cryptography of bluetooth AES encryption via RF noise unintentionally emitted by components in the transmitter.

Due to the current global pandemic, the conference organizers have decided that the 2020 conference to be held in Las Vegas during August 1-6 will instead be held virtually. They write:

MAY 8, 2020
We have been continuously reviewing the best ways to serve the information security community over the past few months as the global health situation continues to develop. While we will not be meeting in person, we are moving forward with a plan to transform Black Hat USA into an all-virtual event in order to best serve our community.

We're inspired to adapt Black Hat USA in a virtual format that will be available to our entire global community. Our team is working hard to deliver the same level of high-quality Briefings, Trainings and Business Hall programs that Black Hat attendees have come to expect every year.

We believe in the power of gathering our community to share, inspire, and strengthen our industry and are committed to providing that opportunity in August. We look forward to sharing more information about Black Hat’s virtual event soon.

Steve Wylie, Black Hat General Manager

We note that the GNU Radio conference which will be held on September 14 will also be held virtually

RTL-SDR Blog V3 Units and Antennas Back in Stock at Amazon (Local US Stock)

Just a note that our RTL-SDR Blog V3 units and antennas are now back in stock at Amazon.com with local US stock. There were a few manufacturing and shipping delays related to COVID-19 so they had been out of stock for a couple of months. Currently they are being fulfilled via our partners based in Chicago, and all orders will ship out within 2-business days via USPS First Class. We will look at replenishing the the Amazon Prime warehouses in a few weeks and at the moment we are only shipping to US customers from Amazon. US customers can also order directly from our store at www.rtl-sdr.com/store and this will result in the shipping fee being waived.

If you are based elsewhere in the world, please order directly from our store at www.rtl-sdr.com/store which ships non-US orders direct from our warehouse in China. Alternatively some countries might benefit from our Aliexpress store, which can now utilize the reliable Aliexpress Standard Shipping line.

Our RTL-SDR Blog V3 is an improved RTL-SDR dongle. It includes features like a TCXO, SMA port, software switchable bias tee, built in HF direct sampling mod, aluminum enclosure, improved ESD protection, improved cooling via thermal pad and many other design improvements. The kit comes with a multipurpose dipole antenna which is extremely versatile. It can be used as a standard vertical dipole for terrestrial signals, or can be mounted horizontally in a V-Dipole configuration for NOAA/Meteor LEO weather satellites. It's also easy to mount outdoors through a window for best reception with two mounting solutions included. 

Amazon Links

RTL-SDR Blog V3 Dongle + Multi Purpose Dipole Antenna Set

RTL-SDR Blog V3 Dongle Only

Multi Purpose Dipole Antenna Set Only

RTL-SDR Blog Store

We are also shipping any US orders made from our Worldwide store via our local stock. If you order directly from us you can save $1.99 on shipping.

RTL-SDR Blog Store

Features of the RTL-SDR Blog V3.
Features of the RTL-SDR Blog V3.
The RTL-SDR Blog V3 Set. Includes RTL-SDR V3 dongle, and multipurpose dipole antenna kit.
The RTL-SDR Blog V3 Set. Includes RTL-SDR V3 dongle, and multipurpose dipole antenna kit.