Category: RTL-SDR

A Guide to Using SDR-Console V3 for Accessing and Creating Remote Servers

Jon Hudson, head of marketing at SDRplay has recently released a helpful tutorial that shows how to access remote servers in SDR-Console V3, and also how to set up your own server too. As you may already know, SDR-Console V3 provides a remote server platform which allows you to access all sorts of SDR hardware remotely over a network connection or over the internet. Some SDR hardware owners even opt to share their radio hardware publicly over the internet for anyone to access. The video description reads:

This video is a screen-by-screen guide to both accessing, and setting up your own, remote SDR radio using the new (Feb 2018) SDR Console V3 software from SDR-Radio. Although the guide uses an RSP2 from SDRplay, this will work with all the popular SDRs

Please note - you need to have a good internet connection since (unlike in V2), the entire I/Q data is being sent over the internet. This also limits how much visual bandwidth you are can see at any one time.

Links referenced in this video:
www.sdr-radio.com
http://www.sdr-radio.com/Software/Version3/Server
www.sdrplay.com
More videos on https://www.youtube.com/c/SDRplayRSP

SOME IMPORTANT WARNINGS IF YOU ARE ADDING YOUR OWN SDR!
Be careful not to plug multiple SDRs into a single USB2 socket - for multiple SDRs, you may need a powered hub ( like this: https://www.amazon.co.uk/UGREEN-Adapt... )

Once you are up and running - please go to http://www.sdr-radio.com/Software/Ver... and view your listing - if there is a yellow triangle, then you are not accessible outside your own firewall - attention is needed! Just because you can access it on your own LAN doesn't mean it's accessible via the internet!!!

The RSP family of SDRs from SDRplay cover 1kHz to 2 GHz with no gaps and give up to 10MHz spectrum visibility.

Jon's video first shows how to use SDR-Console V3 to access those publicly shared SDR radios over the internet. The second part of the video demonstrates how to set up your own server that you can use remotely for personal use, or to share over the internet.

The SDR-Console V3 server accepts various kinds of SDR hardware including RTL-SDR, Airspy, SDRplay, HackRF, Elad, LimeSDR and many more SDR units so this is a good way to explore various types of hardware, or simply to explore signals from different areas around the world.

Decoding Morse Code and Weather Faxes with an RTL-SDR

Over on the YouTube channel Tech Minds the presenter has uploaded two new RTL-SDR based tutorial videos. The first video gives a bit of background and shows how to decode Morse code with an RTL-SDR. He uses SDR-Console V3 and the Morse code decoder CwGet. With this he's able to decode a few calls from some ham radio operators.

In the second video Tech Minds shows how to decode Weather Fax with the RTL-SDR. Weather faxes are images of weather charts sent over HF frequencies. In the video he uses SDR-Console and SeaTTY to do the decoding and demonstrates reception of an example fax.

SDR# Plugin: FFT Window Screen Grabber

Recently Eddie MacDonald has been pumping out simple but useful plugins for SDR# including the SDR# Dark Mode and Visual Tuner Knob plugins. Recently he released a new plugin called "FFT Window Screen Grabber". This plugin simply helps you to easily take a screenshot of the FFT and waterfall displays in SDR#. It could be a useful plugin if you are constantly finding interesting signals that you want to document, or upload to sigidwiki.com.

The plugin can be downloaded from his thread in our forums.

FFT Window Screen Grabber example screenshot
FFT Window Screen Grabber example screenshot

Antennas for Receiving Shortwave Indoors with an SDR

Over on the swling.com blog admin Thomas has been exploring various indoor antenna options for pairing with an HF capable software defined radio. He notes that unless you happen to live in isolation, you're highly likely to experience RFI problems with standard wire antennas. Instead he recommends looking into magnetic loop antennas which are significantly more resistant to urban electric field based RFI noise, and they can also be rotated to null out any other local noise sources. Thomas then goes on to highlight some of the best commercial magnetic loop options for sale. There is also some good advice in the comments section.

We note that magnetic loop antenna seem to work fairly well with the RTL-SDR in V3 in direct sampling mode, but you may need to filter out the broadcast AM band to avoid overload if the loop doesn't do this already.

An example small PK-Loop antenna for receiving shortwave with an SDR.
An example small PK-Loop antenna for receiving shortwave with an SDR.

RTLSDR-Airband V3 Released

Thanks to RTL-SDR.com reader Lee Donaghy for writing in and little us know that RTLSDR-Airband was recently updated to include SoapySDR support. This allows the software to now work with almost any SDR including the RTL-SDR, Airspy, SDRplay, HackRF, LimeSDR and more. They have also removed the 8-channels per device limitation and applied various bug fixes too. The full changelog is posted at the end of this post.

RTLSDR-Airband is a Linux based command line tool that allows you to simultaneously monitor multiple AM or FM channels per SDR within the same chunk of bandwidth. It is great for monitoring narrowband communications such as aircraft control and can be used to feed websites like liveatc.net, or for use with a Icecast server, or simply for continuously recording multiple channels to an MP3 file locally. It is also very useful for those running on low powered computing hardware who want software that uses less CPU power than a full GUI program like GQRX or CubicSDR.

Version 3.0.0 (Feb 10, 2018):

  • Major overhaul of the SDR input code - now it's modular and hardware-agnostic (no longer tightly coupled with librtlsdr).
  • Support for SoapySDR vendor-neutral SDR library - any SDR which has a plugin for SoapySDR shall now work in RTLSDR-Airband.
  • Support for Mirics DVB-T dongles via libmirisdr-4 library.
  • Support for RTLSDR is now optional and can be disabled at compilation stage.
  • Removed the 8-channels-per-device limit in multichannel mode.
  • Configurable per-device sampling rate.
  • Configurable FFT size.
  • Support for multibyte input samples.
  • Support for rawfile outputs (ie. writing raw I/Q data from a narrowband channel to a file for processing with other programs, line GNUradio or csdr).
  • INCOMPATIBLE CHANGE: removed rtlsdr_buffers global configuration option; buffer count can now be adjusted with a per-device "buffers" option.
  • INCOMPATIBLE CHANGE: removed syslog global configuration option; syslog logging is now enabled by default, both in foreground and background mode. To force logging to standard error, use -e command line option.
  • Added -F command line option for better cooperation with systemd. Runs the program in foreground, but without textual waterfalls. Together with -e it allows running rtl_airband as a service of type "simple" under systemd. Example rtl_airband.service file has been adjusted to reflect this change.
  • Added type device configuration option. It sets the device type (ie. the input driver which shall be used to talk to the device). "rtlsdr" is assumed as a default type for backward compatibility. If RTLSDR support has been disabled at compilation stage, then there is no default type - it must be set manually, or the program will throw an error on startup.
  • Frequencies in the config can now be expressed in Hz, kHz, MHz or GHz for improved readability.
  • Lots of bugfixes.
  • Rewritten documentation on Github Wiki.

An Intuitive Tutorial on SDR, The Frequency Domain and IQ Data

Over on his website P. Lutus has written up a useful article that introduces us to some common SDR hardware (RTL-SDRs, upconverters and the HackRF), mentions some common SDR software, and then dives into some SDR theory explaining concepts like the frequency domain and IQ sampling.

The theory sections in particular are explained quite intuitively with animated and interactive graphs that really help with visualizing the math. The explanations are short and not math heavy, so if you have half an hour you can learn some of the basic theory behind making SDRs work.

IQ Visualized on an interactive graph.
IQ Visualized on an interactive graph on P.Lutus' blog post.

SDR# Dark Mode Plugin

A few days ago Eddie MacDonald released his Tuner Knob plugin for SDR#. Today he's released a new plugin called "SDR# Dark Mode" over on our forums. This plugin is very simple in that is just makes the SDR# interface black, which should be better on the eyes those using the app at night. The plugin also adds two other options which allow you move the tuning toolbar to the bottom of the screen and remove all padding to save some screen space. The three options in the plugin are:

"Night Mode" or "Regular Mode" - allowing the app to be black or not
"Bottom Tool Bar" - allows you to place the radio control tool bar on the top or bottom of the app
"Remove Padding" - remove the 10px border around all the controls giving you a tiny amount of more workable space.

The plugin can be downloaded from the file uploaded on the third post on the announcement thread.

Normal Mode

Normal Mode

Dark Mode + Remove Padding

Dark Mode + Remove Padding

Dark Mode + Remove Padding + Toolbar on Bottom

Dark Mode + Remove Padding + Toolbar on Bottom

A Guide to Using SDR-Console V3 for Accessing and Creating Remote Servers

Jon Hudson, head of marketing at SDRplay has recently released a helpful tutorial that shows how to access remote servers in SDR-Console V3, and also how to set up your own server too. As you may already know, SDR-Console V3 provides a remote server platform which allows you to access all sorts of SDR hardware remotely over a network connection or over the internet. Some SDR hardware owners even opt to share their radio hardware publicly over the internet for anyone to access. The video description reads:

This video is a screen-by-screen guide to both accessing, and setting up your own, remote SDR radio using the new (Feb 2018) SDR Console V3 software from SDR-Radio. Although the guide uses an RSP2 from SDRplay, this will work with all the popular SDRs

Please note - you need to have a good internet connection since (unlike in V2), the entire I/Q data is being sent over the internet. This also limits how much visual bandwidth you are can see at any one time.

Links referenced in this video:
www.sdr-radio.com
http://www.sdr-radio.com/Software/Version3/Server
www.sdrplay.com
More videos on https://www.youtube.com/c/SDRplayRSP

SOME IMPORTANT WARNINGS IF YOU ARE ADDING YOUR OWN SDR!
Be careful not to plug multiple SDRs into a single USB2 socket - for multiple SDRs, you may need a powered hub ( like this: https://www.amazon.co.uk/UGREEN-Adapt... )

Once you are up and running - please go to http://www.sdr-radio.com/Software/Ver... and view your listing - if there is a yellow triangle, then you are not accessible outside your own firewall - attention is needed! Just because you can access it on your own LAN doesn't mean it's accessible via the internet!!!

The RSP family of SDRs from SDRplay cover 1kHz to 2 GHz with no gaps and give up to 10MHz spectrum visibility.

Jon's video first shows how to use SDR-Console V3 to access those publicly shared SDR radios over the internet. The second part of the video demonstrates how to set up your own server that you can use remotely for personal use, or to share over the internet.

The SDR-Console V3 server accepts various kinds of SDR hardware including RTL-SDR, Airspy, SDRplay, HackRF, Elad, LimeSDR and many more SDR units so this is a good way to explore various types of hardware, or simply to explore signals from different areas around the world.

Decoding Morse Code and Weather Faxes with an RTL-SDR

Over on the YouTube channel Tech Minds the presenter has uploaded two new RTL-SDR based tutorial videos. The first video gives a bit of background and shows how to decode Morse code with an RTL-SDR. He uses SDR-Console V3 and the Morse code decoder CwGet. With this he's able to decode a few calls from some ham radio operators.

In the second video Tech Minds shows how to decode Weather Fax with the RTL-SDR. Weather faxes are images of weather charts sent over HF frequencies. In the video he uses SDR-Console and SeaTTY to do the decoding and demonstrates reception of an example fax.

SDR# Plugin: FFT Window Screen Grabber

Recently Eddie MacDonald has been pumping out simple but useful plugins for SDR# including the SDR# Dark Mode and Visual Tuner Knob plugins. Recently he released a new plugin called "FFT Window Screen Grabber". This plugin simply helps you to easily take a screenshot of the FFT and waterfall displays in SDR#. It could be a useful plugin if you are constantly finding interesting signals that you want to document, or upload to sigidwiki.com.

The plugin can be downloaded from his thread in our forums.

FFT Window Screen Grabber example screenshot
FFT Window Screen Grabber example screenshot

Antennas for Receiving Shortwave Indoors with an SDR

Over on the swling.com blog admin Thomas has been exploring various indoor antenna options for pairing with an HF capable software defined radio. He notes that unless you happen to live in isolation, you're highly likely to experience RFI problems with standard wire antennas. Instead he recommends looking into magnetic loop antennas which are significantly more resistant to urban electric field based RFI noise, and they can also be rotated to null out any other local noise sources. Thomas then goes on to highlight some of the best commercial magnetic loop options for sale. There is also some good advice in the comments section.

We note that magnetic loop antenna seem to work fairly well with the RTL-SDR in V3 in direct sampling mode, but you may need to filter out the broadcast AM band to avoid overload if the loop doesn't do this already.

An example small PK-Loop antenna for receiving shortwave with an SDR.
An example small PK-Loop antenna for receiving shortwave with an SDR.

RTLSDR-Airband V3 Released

Thanks to RTL-SDR.com reader Lee Donaghy for writing in and little us know that RTLSDR-Airband was recently updated to include SoapySDR support. This allows the software to now work with almost any SDR including the RTL-SDR, Airspy, SDRplay, HackRF, LimeSDR and more. They have also removed the 8-channels per device limitation and applied various bug fixes too. The full changelog is posted at the end of this post.

RTLSDR-Airband is a Linux based command line tool that allows you to simultaneously monitor multiple AM or FM channels per SDR within the same chunk of bandwidth. It is great for monitoring narrowband communications such as aircraft control and can be used to feed websites like liveatc.net, or for use with a Icecast server, or simply for continuously recording multiple channels to an MP3 file locally. It is also very useful for those running on low powered computing hardware who want software that uses less CPU power than a full GUI program like GQRX or CubicSDR.

Version 3.0.0 (Feb 10, 2018):

  • Major overhaul of the SDR input code - now it's modular and hardware-agnostic (no longer tightly coupled with librtlsdr).
  • Support for SoapySDR vendor-neutral SDR library - any SDR which has a plugin for SoapySDR shall now work in RTLSDR-Airband.
  • Support for Mirics DVB-T dongles via libmirisdr-4 library.
  • Support for RTLSDR is now optional and can be disabled at compilation stage.
  • Removed the 8-channels-per-device limit in multichannel mode.
  • Configurable per-device sampling rate.
  • Configurable FFT size.
  • Support for multibyte input samples.
  • Support for rawfile outputs (ie. writing raw I/Q data from a narrowband channel to a file for processing with other programs, line GNUradio or csdr).
  • INCOMPATIBLE CHANGE: removed rtlsdr_buffers global configuration option; buffer count can now be adjusted with a per-device "buffers" option.
  • INCOMPATIBLE CHANGE: removed syslog global configuration option; syslog logging is now enabled by default, both in foreground and background mode. To force logging to standard error, use -e command line option.
  • Added -F command line option for better cooperation with systemd. Runs the program in foreground, but without textual waterfalls. Together with -e it allows running rtl_airband as a service of type "simple" under systemd. Example rtl_airband.service file has been adjusted to reflect this change.
  • Added type device configuration option. It sets the device type (ie. the input driver which shall be used to talk to the device). "rtlsdr" is assumed as a default type for backward compatibility. If RTLSDR support has been disabled at compilation stage, then there is no default type - it must be set manually, or the program will throw an error on startup.
  • Frequencies in the config can now be expressed in Hz, kHz, MHz or GHz for improved readability.
  • Lots of bugfixes.
  • Rewritten documentation on Github Wiki.

An Intuitive Tutorial on SDR, The Frequency Domain and IQ Data

Over on his website P. Lutus has written up a useful article that introduces us to some common SDR hardware (RTL-SDRs, upconverters and the HackRF), mentions some common SDR software, and then dives into some SDR theory explaining concepts like the frequency domain and IQ sampling.

The theory sections in particular are explained quite intuitively with animated and interactive graphs that really help with visualizing the math. The explanations are short and not math heavy, so if you have half an hour you can learn some of the basic theory behind making SDRs work.

IQ Visualized on an interactive graph.
IQ Visualized on an interactive graph on P.Lutus' blog post.

SDR# Dark Mode Plugin

A few days ago Eddie MacDonald released his Tuner Knob plugin for SDR#. Today he's released a new plugin called "SDR# Dark Mode" over on our forums. This plugin is very simple in that is just makes the SDR# interface black, which should be better on the eyes those using the app at night. The plugin also adds two other options which allow you move the tuning toolbar to the bottom of the screen and remove all padding to save some screen space. The three options in the plugin are:

"Night Mode" or "Regular Mode" - allowing the app to be black or not
"Bottom Tool Bar" - allows you to place the radio control tool bar on the top or bottom of the app
"Remove Padding" - remove the 10px border around all the controls giving you a tiny amount of more workable space.

The plugin can be downloaded from the file uploaded on the third post on the announcement thread.

Normal Mode

Normal Mode

Dark Mode + Remove Padding

Dark Mode + Remove Padding

Dark Mode + Remove Padding + Toolbar on Bottom

Dark Mode + Remove Padding + Toolbar on Bottom

Video Tutorial: Setting up DMR Decoding with SDR#, DSD+ and an RTL-SDR

Over on YouTube user Tech Minds has uploaded a useful video which shows how to set up DMR decoding with SDR#, VB-Cable, DSD+ and an RTL-SDR dongle. He also uses the DSD plugin for SDR# which makes controlling the command line DSD+ software a little easier. If you are interested we also have a short tutorial on DMR/P25 decoding available here. The video starts from downloading and installing the software, and explains every step very carefully, so it is a very good starting video for beginners.

DMR (aka MotoTRBO or TRBO) is a digital voice protocol used by Motorola radios. Software like DSD+ is required to listen to it, but it can only listen in if the signal is unencrypted.

Tech Minds has also uploaded several other tutorial videos to his channel over the last few months including guides on how to set up the ham-it-up upconverter, ADS-B tracking, using a Raspberry Pi to create a FM transmitter and more.