Category: Other

Tysonpower Reviews A Cheap 15€ DAB/DAB+ USB Receiver Dongle that Generates an MP3 Stream

Thank you to Tysonpower who wanted to share his review of a cheap 15€ DAB/DAB+ receiver USB dongle that he found on eBay.de (we also found the same device on eBay.com for US$23.99).  The device is not an SDR, but it receives BAND III DAB/DAB+ at 160-240 MHz and generates an MP3 stream which can be played back on any MP3 capable device such as a PC, single board computer or car head unit.

His review notes that the dongle works well. When you plug it in the device shows up as a storage device. You then simply press a button to automatically search for DAB+ channels, and then choose one of the mp3 stream files that will show up to play live DAB+ audio on your device. In his video he also gives a quick tear down, showing that it uses a FCI FC8080 demodulator and a MVSilicon 32-bit Micro with audio FFT accelerator.

While RTL-SDR dongles can also be used to receive DAB+ cheaply with software like SDR-J and welle.io, this may be a simpler method since it can be used on any device that can play MP3s.

Note that Tysonpowers video is narrated in German, with English subtitles. He also has a short blog post with images from the tear down.

[EN subs] DAB+ für nur 15€ Nachrüsten! - Digitalradio für alle MP3 fähigen Geräte mit USB

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)

cuSignal: Easy CUDA GPU Acceleration for SDR DSP and Other Applications

The RAPIDS cuSignal project is billed as an ecosystem that makes enabling CUDA GPU acceleration in Python easy. Scipy is a Python library that is filled with many useful digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms. The cuSignal documentation notes that in some cases you can directly port Scipy signal functions over to cuSignal allowing you to leverage GPU acceleration.

In computing, most operations are performed on the CPU (central processing unit). However, GPU's (graphical processing units) have been gaining popularity for general computing as they can perform many more operations in parallel compared to CPUs. This can be used to significantly accelerate DSP code that is commonly used with SDRs.

In particular the developers have already created a notebook containing some examples of how cuSignal can be used with RTL-SDRs to accelerate an FFT graph. There are various other DSP examples in the list of notebooks too. According to the benchmarks in the notebooks, the GPU computation times are indeed much faster. In the benchmarks they appear to be using a high end NVIDIA P100 GPU, but other NVIDIA graphics cards should also show a good speedup. 

The cuSignal code is based on CUDA, so for any GPU acceleration code to work you'll need to have an NVIDIA based GPU (like a graphics card) with a Maxwell or newer core.

We note that in the future we'll be investigating how this could be used to speed up the passive radar algorithms that are used in the KerberosSDR. It may also be useful for running DSP code quickly on a $99 NVIDIA Jetson Nano single board computer.

NVIDIA Tesla P100. A high end $3000+ GPU.
NVIDIA Tesla P100. A high end $3000+ GPU.

The Malachite-DSP: A $195 Russian Made Portable Wideband SDR Receiver with Touch Screen

Over on the SWLing.com blog we've seen news about the release of a new Russian designed and made portable software defined radio called the "Malachite-DSP". The Malachite-DSP is an "all-in-one" portable SDR that is controlled via a touch screen and two control knobs. It covers 0.1 MHz to 1000 MHz with a bandwidth of up to 160 kHz, and the custom software supports all common modulation types. The whole device consumes 300mA and is powered by a Li-ion cell. It's marketed as a modern DEGEN and TECSUN replacement, so it appears to be targeting the HF short wave listening (SWL) customer.

Production appears to be small, with purchasing currently done by contacting RX9CIM, one of the project creators, directly at his email address (details on this forum post). The cost for a fully assembled unit is 12500 Russian Rubles which is 195 USD (not including international shipping). You can also purchase just the PCB without components for 1100 Rubles (17 USD). Importantly the forum post notes to watch out for scammers, who appear to be trying to take fake preorders for the device.

From the components list we can see that this SDR runs on the MSI001 tuner chip, which is the same tuner chip used in the SDRplay line of units. However, unlike the SDRplay units which use a wideband MSi2500 ADC, the Malachite-DSP uses an audio chip as the RF ADC. This provides a 16-bit ADC, resulting in high dynamic range, but at the expense of the available bandwidth which is only 160 kHz. A STM32H743VIT6 with ARM Cortex A7 processor runs what appears to be custom DSP and GUI software. The software doesn't seem to support DRM, but AM, WFM, NFM, LSB, USB are all supported.

The main place for news and discussion on the Malachite-DSP appears to be on a Russian ham radio forum thread. Judging by the fact that the schematic, software and BOM is all freely released, the project appears to be open source. There is also a group on the Russian Facebook clone vk.com where some discussion is occurring.

The YouTube videos below are by a Russian reviewers. Be sure to turn on the YouTube closed captioning and auto translation feature if you want to follow along in English.

😲ПРИЕМНИК КОТОРЫЙ ЛОВИТ ВСЁ!!!💥🔝 ЭТО ВАМ НЕ Degen и Tecsun ВСТРЕЧАЙТЕ НОВЫЙ МАЛАХИТ DSP V2💯🆕

SDR приемник МАЛАХИТ DSP

The Malachite-DSP reminds us a bit of the unreleased PantronX Titus II SDR, which is supposed to be a low cost (aiming for less than $100 USD) 100 kHz - 2 GHz tablet screen based SDR that was supposed to make DRM reception more popular. However the Titus II hardware has never eventuated since it's initial news in 2016, and at this time appears to be a dead project.

Video About Receiving The Othernet Satellite Data Service: Free APRS, News, Weather

The Othernet project aims to bring live data such as news, weather, video, books, Wikipedia articles and audio broadcasts to the world via cheap receivers and a free satellite service. Although an internet connection provides the same data, Othernet's satellite broadcast is receivable in remote areas, will continue working in disasters, and costs nothing to continually receive roughly 100-200 MB of data a day. The trade off is that the service is downlink only, so the data that you get is only what is curated by the Othernet team. Currently the service is only available in North America and Europe, but service to other areas in the world may eventuate in the future.

We've posted about this project a few times in the past, as previously they used an L-band satellite service that was received by RTL-SDR dongles. However, these days they operate using LoRa hardware chips on the Ku-band.

Over on YouTube the TechMinds YouTube channel has just uploaded a video that demonstrates the Othernet service being received from the UK via their Dreamcatcher hardware. In particular he shows off the APRS feature which sends any APRS message containing the string "OUTNET" to the Othernet satellite stream. Later in the video he also shows the news articles, weather data, Wikipedia and audio data that was received.

OTHERNET - Free Data Anywhere - For everyone!

New Accessibility Plugin for SDR#

In the past we've seen several SDR# plugins released by Eddie MacDonald, and now thanks to recent updates to the core of SDR#, he's been able to work on and release a new accessibility plugin for SDR#. Eddie writes -

I have created a new plugin which provides keyboard shortcuts, an on screen display and a new improved toolbar for the new native toolbar area that Prog has provided to plugin developers.

There are many new and improved toolbar buttons available.

Many, many keyboard shortcuts including the ability to directly enter the frequency easily from the keyboard.

I am currently working on incorporating a screen reader into the plugin to aid the blind in using SDR#.

The plugin is available from his website at https://sdrplugins.com/downloads

New SDR# Accessibility Plugin
New SDR# Accessibility Plugin
Keyboard Shortcuts in the Accessibility Plugin
Keyboard Shortcuts in the Accessibility Plugin

GNU Radio Conference 2019 Videos now up on YouTube

GNU Radio Conference 2019 (GRCon19) was a conference about GNU Radio and projects based on GNU Radio that was held back in September 2019. 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. 

Yesterday videos from all the GRCon19 talks were uploaded to YouTube. The talks consists of many high level and cutting edge SDR topics. All talks can be found on their GRCon19 YouTube playlist, and matching slides on the GRCon19 website presentations page.

A list of the talk titles is pasted below.

  • Huntsville's Connection to Space
  • GNU Radio Project Update
  • Mega Hertz, Mega Samples, Mega bits, Mega Confusing
  • Man or Machine?: Developing a Turing Test for Radio Intelligence
  • UHD Four-O
  • Striving for SDR Performance Portability in the Era of Heterogeneous SoCs
  • Fixing the E310 Bottleneck: Implementing a High-Rate Heterogeneous FPGA DMA 
  • Determining Optimized Radio settings for specific waveforms
  • Software Defined Everything
  • GNU Radio Beyond 3.8 - A Technical Outlook
  • GNU Radio Enhancements for Space-Based Research
  • A decade of gr-specest -- Free Spectral Estimation!
  • Open Source Licensing
  • Spectrum Monitoring Network: Tradeoffs, Results, and Future Directions
  • The Future of Digital RFICs
  • Phase Synchronization Techniques
  • Synchronization: Core Concepts and Applications
  • AI and SDR: Software Meets Hardware Again...
  • Building a radio with M2K and spare parts
  • How we talked from the Moon: the Apollo communication system
  • gr-satellites: a collection of decoders for Amateur satellites
  • gr-iio: Nuances, Hidden Features, and New Stuff
  • Open Sourcing the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
  • Multi-Vehicle Map Fusion Using GNU Radio
  • SigMF.
  • GPUDirect + SDR: How to Move One Billion Samples per Second over PCIe
  • Multichannel phase coherent transceiver system with GNU Radio interface
  • Exponent: Arbitrary Bandwidth Receiver Architecture
  • UHD Streaming with DPDK: Raising the Throughput Ceiling with Drivers in User Space
  • USRP based X-band Digital Beam Forming Synthetic Aperture Imaging Radar
  • The GNU Radio PDU Utilities
  • MetaSat: Metadata for Good
  • Enabling Precise Timing Control in SDRs
  • Managing Latency in Continuous GNU Radio Flowgraphs
  • VLBI with GNU Radio and White Rabbit
  • Performance Evaluation of MIMO Techniques With an SDR-Based Prototype
  • UAS Community Testbed Architecture for Advanced Wireless Research with Open-Source SDRs
  • Demonstration of GNU Radio Compatibility with a NASA Space Communications
  • Network Modem (GRCON2019)
  • Prototyping LTE-WiFi Interworking on a Single SDR Platform
GNU Radio Conference 2019
GNU Radio Conference 2019

XYNC: A Massive MIMO SDR with up to 32×32 TX/RX Channels

Back in 2017 we posted about the crowd funding of the Fairwaves XTRX, a small PCIe based TX/RX capable software defined radio that back then cost US$199 (now only the XTRX Pro is available for US$599). The XTRX is based on the same RF chips that are used in the LimeSDR and each unit has 2 x 2 MIMO (multi-input, multi-output), 120 MSPS SISO / 90 MSPS MIMO, 30 MHz to 3.7 GHz tuning range and comes with an on board GPSDO.

Recently Fairwaves have begun crowdfunding a new software defined radio called the XYNC. The XYNC is essentially a motherboard for connecting up to 16 XTRX boards together which results in an SDR with 32 TX and 32 RX channels.

If you’re working on a massive MIMO system or have a large swath of spectrum you need to monitor, XYNC (pronounced iks-sync) is right for you. XYNC builds on the success of the Octopack SDR we offered during the XTRX campaign and takes into account feedback from the original Octopack users.

You can connect two XYNC boards, either to increase the number of RX/TX channels (e.g., two XYNC Octos give you 32 TX and 32 RX channels) or to increase throughput per channel (e.g., two XYNC Quadros give you twice the throughput of a single XYNC Octo). Connecting more than two XYNC boards is also possible, but requires an external clock and 1 pps signal distribution circuitry, neither of which is provided as part of this campaign.

While advertised as low cost, the pricing is probably out of reach for most hobbyists, with the quad 8x8 unit coming in at US$4500 and the top 16 board 32x32 unit priced at US$13,000. Still, these prices are very good for a massively MIMO SDR and pricing is set to rise once the crowdfunding campaign ends in 39 days.

The XSYNC Massively MIMO SDR with up to 32x32 TX/RX Channels
The XSYNC Massively MIMO SDR with up to 32x32 TX/RX Channels