Category: RTL-SDR

DragonOS: KerberosSDR Bearing Server Setup with RDFMapper

DragonOS is a ready to use Linux OS image that includes many SDR programs preinstalled and ready to use. The creator Aaron also runs a YouTube channel that has multiple tutorial videos demonstrating software built into DragonOS.

In a recent video Aaron has provided a two part tutorial showing how to set up and use KerberosSDR with the RDFMapper software on DragonOS. This allows you to network multiple KerberosSDR units together and display each units radio bearing on the same map. Two or more bearings crossing can be used to determine the location of a transmitter. In the future Aaron will use this setup to have multiple mobile and fixed  KerberosSDR units connected together via Zero Tier. Aaron writes:

In this first video I show how to install software to control the KerberosSDR – A 4-Channel Phase Coherent RTL-SDR for Passive Radar, Direction Finding and more onto DragonOS Focal (Lubuntu 20.04 based). A fork of the main code is required due to some changes in dependencies and packages. This fork is only meant for or at least tested on Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Lubuntu 20.04.

I also show some issues you may experience due to poor quality USB cables, insufficient power, and/or issues with USB ports being used to power the KerberosSDR or connect to it.

In this second video I show how to install and use RDFMapper with the KerberosSDR software and Android App. I also cover some common problems I've experienced with the current KerberosSDR Android App.

Recommended to watch the first video if you are planning to run the KerberosSDR on a PC or a SBC like the Raspberry Pi. This video and setup procedure can be adapted to use the Raspberry Pi/Android App instead of a PC. 

I plan to make a couple more videos on this topic. By the end, it should be possible to have multiple KerberosSDR stations, both mobile and stationary, linked to one instance of RDFMapper over Zero Tier all simultaneously performing direction finding on one frequency.

KerberosSDR is our 4-channel phase coherent capable RTL-SDR unit that we previously successfully crowdfunded back in 2018.  With a 4-channel phase coherent RTL-SDR interesting applications like radio direction findingpassive radar and beam forming become possible. It can also be used as 4 separate RTL-SDRs for multichannel monitoring. KerberosSDR is currently in stock and available on the Othernet store.

DragonOS Focal KerberosSDR setup (20.04 fork, x86_64 Laptop) part 1

DragonOS Focal KerberosSDR w/ Bearing Server setup (RDFMapper, Android App, x86_64 Laptop) part 2

Setting up a Raspberry Pi for Ham Radio with RTL-SDR

Over on his blog F4GOH has posted a rather comprehensive tutorial consisting of seven PDF documents showing how he's set up his Raspberry Pi for ham radio and other RF projects. The PDF's essentially form a book that starts with the very basics like preparing an OS for the Pi SD Card, powering on the Pi, finding the IP address and connecting to it with SSH or VNC.

The tutorials move on to installing and using various ham radio programs like Fldigi, WSJT-X , GQRX, GNU Radio, before going on to teach some more Linux concepts. The final two PDF tutorials cover the installation and use of OpenWebRX for remote RTL-SDR use, R2Cloud for decoding weather satellites, and finally Radiosonde Auto RX for decoding radiosonde's on weather balloons.

[Also seen on Hackaday]

Raspberry Pi for Ham Radio

Reminder: Register for the GNU Radio Online Conference on September 14-18

This is just a reminder that the 2020 GNU Radio Conference will be held online in a few days time starting on September 14 and ending September 18 2020. Viewing the live talks and participation in the discussion forums is free for everyone around the world, however you must register first via their site. The paid $50 workshops are all currently booked however you can go on the waiting list in case more spaces are opened.

GNU Radio Conference (GRCon) is the annual conference for the GNU Radio project & 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.

GRCon20 will be held starting September 14, 2020 online as a virtual event. The organizing team is hard at work to create a fun and interactive experience.

Our keynote speakers include: Becky Schoenfeld W1BXY, managing editor of QST magazine, Oona Räisänen [ windytan ] hacker of signals and computer programmer, and Jim St. Leger, Director Open Source, Intel.

With an annual program that has broad appeal, GRCon attracts people new to Software Radio just looking to learn more, experts that want to keep their finger on the pulse & direction of the industry, and seasoned developers ready to show off their latest work.

Titles of the talks scheduled are shown below. The full list of talks, workshops and descriptions can be found here

  • Oona Räisänen - Video Decoding Adventure
  • Introducing OpenCPI as an Infrastructure for GNU Radio and GNU Radio Companion
  • How Strong is my SDR Signal?
  • Introducing the Radio Resiliency Competition
  • Are We Alone? How GNU Radio Can Help Us Find ET
  • A Conversation with the Ettus Research / NI SDR R&D Team
  • Enabling Performance Portability of GnuRadio on Heterogeneous Systems
  • Architecture Update - Marcus Mueller
  • Becky Schoenfeld - Keeping Ham Radio Alive and Well: ARRL’s Education Initiatives
  • ESA's OPS-SAT Mission: Powered by GNU Radio
  • Designing a Narrowband Radar using GNU Radio and Software Defined Radio for Tomography and Indoor Sensing
  • The De-Swiggification of GNU Radio
  • Exploring RFNoC with the UHD Python API
  • Teaching the Principles of Time Delay Spectrometry Ultrasound with GNU Radio
  • Ultra-cheap SDR Digital Television Transmission: ISDB-T with an osmo-fl2k and an RTL-SDR
  • Software defined radio based Synthetic Aperture noise and OFDM (WiFi) RADAR mapping
  • Community Continuous Integration (CI) for GNU Radio
  • RadEOT: The Radio Education Outreach Tool
  • Software defined radio based Global Navigation Satellite System real time spoofing detection and cancellation
  • SDR to GPU Peer-to-Peer Data Streaming for Cognitive Radar and EW Use-Case
  • Security Analysis of Zigbee Networks with Zigator and GNU Radio
  • Using GNU Radio in Amateur Radio
  • GR Wiki Block Docs: What's Important?

Comparing Shortwave Antennas with an RTL-SDR and FT8 Monitoring

Eric had an inverted L and T3FD antenna set up in his backyard and he wanted to test both at the same time to see which received HF better overall. Rather than relying on subjective 'by ear' measurements he decided to use the digital FT8 mode as his comparison signal. FT8 is quite useful for this purpose as the decoded data includes a calculated signal-to-noise (SNR) reading which is a non subjective measure that can be used for comparisons. It also contains information about the location of the signal which can be used for determining the DX capability of the antenna. 

To perform the comparison he used two or our RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongles running in direct sampling mode, and also added an additional low pass filter to prevent excessively strong TV and FM signals from overloading the input. Each antenna is connected to it's own RTL-SDR, and a modified version of GQRX with remote UDP control is used to switch between multiple FT8 frequencies so that multiple bands can be covered in the experiment. WSJT-X is used for decoding the FT8 packets.

After logging SNR values for several days he was able to plot and compare the number of packets received by each antenna, the maximum distance received by each antenna. His results showed that his inverted L antenna was best in both regards. He then performed a relative comparison with the SNR readings and found that the inverted L performed best apart from at 14 MHz, where the T3FD performed better.

In further tests he also compared the antennas on which signal headings they were receiving best from. The results showed that Erics inverted L was receiving best from one direction only, whereas the T3FD received signals from more headings.

Eric's post includes full instructions on the software setup and also Python code which can be used to replicate his experiments. We think that this is a great way to objectively compare two types of antennas.

Antenna directionality measurements via FT8 received headings

New RTL-SDR Driver for Android Developers

Android developers have a new RTL-SDR driver wrapper available to use called "RTL-SDR CP Driver". This driver by Evgeni Karalamov is designed to have an additional feature over the current Android RTL-SDR drivers in that it implements client application permission management. The overview reads:

RTL-SDR CP Driver utilises the rtl-sdr codebase and is meant to be kept in sync with the developments there. The provided interface mirrors the functionality of rtl_tcp in an Android way. Instead of via a TCP socket, the communication is carried out through file descriptors returned by a ContentProvider.

Since some potentially sensitive information could be captured through the SDR receivers, like indications of the device location, the RTL-SDR CP Driver implements permission control similar to that of the Android framework. Prior to accessing receivers, client applications have to ask the user for permission to access the driver by starting the driver's permission flow via startActivityForResult. Once the user grants access, their answer is remembered and they are not prompted again. The user has the ability to later revoke the permission from the driver's UI, accessible via the Android launcher.

The actual driver app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Note that this doesn't provide any functionality by itself. We will need to wait until apps take advantage of it.

RTL-SDR CP Driver Screenshots

Unlocking a Car with an RTL-SDR and Yardstick One

Over on his YouTube channel Kalle Hallden has uploaded a video demonstrating how to perform a replay and "rolljam" attack on a wireless car key with an RTL-SDR and Yardstick One. His first experiment is a simple replay attack which involves recording the unlock signal from the car key with the Yardstick One in a place far away from the car so that it is not received, then replaying it close by.

This works well, but Kalle then explains rolling code security and how this would easily thwart any replay attack in the real world. However, he then goes on to explain and demonstrate the "rolljam" technique, which is one known way to get around rolling code security. The demonstrations are obviously not full tutorials, but are just high level overviews of how wireless security can be defeated.

Hacking Into A Car!

TechMinds: Decoding GPS with an RTL-SDR

Over on his YouTube channel Tech Minds has uploaded a video showing how it's possible to receive and decode GPS signals with an RTL-SDR. To do this he uses one of our RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongles and a GPS patch antenna which is powered via the bias tee on the dongle.

On the software side he uses GNSS-SDRLIB and RTKLIB to decode the GPS signal. The result of the two programs is your current GPS coordinates which can be plotted on a map. Unfortunately in the video Tech Minds was unable to get the Google Maps display to work, but you can easily type the coordinates into Google maps yourself.

Decoding GPS using an RTL SDR Receiver

 

New ExtIO For rtl_tcp: Control R820T Bandwidth, Decimation, Auto Reconnect

A few days ago we posted about Hayati and others' work in creating a new release of the librtlsdr drivers which implemented some new interesting features. However, at the time of the post there was no GUI for actually making use of the features easily. Now Hayati has released a new rtl_tcp ExtIO interface

The interface exposes the ability to manually adjust the filtering within the R820T tuner. This is quite useful for managing out of band interference and raising overall dynamic range especially when trying to listen to a narrowband signal. It also exposes decimation controls, tcp connection features like auto reconnect and persistent connection, manual IF gain control, the ability to choose USB vs LSB tuning, and the ability to choose the highest stable sample rate of 2.56 MSPS.

The ExtIO interface is only available for SDR programs that support ExtIO, such as HDSDR. To test the ExtIO, first download and extract the latest librtlsdr release then run rtl_tcp from the command line. Extract and run the new ExtIO dll into the HDSDR folder, then run HDSDR, making sure to select the new dll when it asks on startup. You can then set the desired bandwidth and the matching decimation settings for that bandwidth.

The new ExtIO exposing new features