KiwiSDR Portal SDR.HU Now Requires a Ham Licence + OpenWebRX Development Discontinued

The KiwiSDR is a US$299 HF SDR that can monitor the entire 0 - 30 MHz band at once. It is designed to be web-based and shared, meaning that the KiwiSDR owner, or anyone that they've given access to can tune and listen to it via a web browser over the internet. 

OpenWebRX is code originally created by András Retzler and a modified version runs on the KiwiSDR devices. This code is what allows them to be accessed online by a browser and was popularized by it's use in the KiwiSDR. The original code can also be used by other compatible SDRs such as the RTL-SDR.

Recently András released news that he is discontinuing work on OpenWebRX due to interest in other projects, but it will remain on GitHub as open source code. András also notes that the security of OpenWebRX will soon be in question as it utilizes Python 2, which has been designated end of life on January 1 2020. In addition, if you've been following OpenWebRX since the beginning, you'll know that in the past OpenWebRX was involved in an legal/ethical issue over open source licencing with KiwiSDR. Although the problems with KiwiSDR were resolved amicably, Andras also references his frustrations with similar situations to do with his code being forked again and again. 

We note that maintenance and development of the KiwiSDR OpenWebRX code will continue as they are considered separate projects. Due to some confusion, we importantly reiterate that the KiwiSDR product is unaffected by OpenWebRX being discontinued. Although KiwiSDR is based on OpenWebRX they use their own custom branch of the software that is maintained by the KiwiSDR owners and not by András.

András also runs the popular sdr.hu OpenWebRX/KiwiSDR directory, which was/is considered the main directory for finding and accessing public KiwiSDR and other SDR devices running OpenWebRX. Recently the directory was restricted, and now can only be accessed by those with a ham radio callsign. It is unclear why this decision was made as sdr.hu was very popular with shortwave listeners and radio newbies who are typically not hams. But the sdr.hu FAQ notes "The purpose of the site is to serve amateur radio. I decided to restrict access to the receiver list in order to protect the site and its purpose in the long term."

Fortunately, over on his SWLing.com blog, Thomas has noted that there are still other KiwiSDR directories available such as https://ve3sun.com/KiwiSDR, http://kiwisdr.com/public and http://rx.linkfanel.net.

SDR.HU Requires a Login Now
SDR.HU Requires a Login Now

19 comments

  1. Noel Baker

    I am a licenced amateur radio operator and up to recently have been a user of SDR.HU. I have tried on numerous occasions to register but it wont register me.

  2. Pip Price

    I’ve always viewed the KiwiSDR as “the gift that keeps on giving”. The pleasure I’ve had over the past years of ownership have made purchase of the unit a gift. Thanks to the guys at KiwiSDR, I look forward to continued development on what is, without doubt, the best value HF SDR on the market.

    • JR User

      Given that a ham license is really only needed in most places in order to transmit, and that there are a great many people with a developed knowledge of and interest in radio with no interest in transmitting and without licenses, I find his decision pretty odd. As someone else points out, how precisely is he going to verify you have a real license?

      Frankly though, having looked at the other directories, who cares? The only advantage of sdr.hu for me was that it was an easy to remember address. Shutting out SWLs and others interested in these radios has left a bad taste in my mouth.. I’m sure I can memorise kiwisdr.com/public in no time.

  3. Dariuz

    I can understand Andras very well. His intention was to start advancement for ham radio with the OpenWebRX. Ham radio is definitively not commercial and should not be. Now the Kiwisdr guys kind of captured his great project in order to make money out of it. From a legal point of view it’s ok, but ethically quite questionable. So its only natural that he does not want to provide his website as a central “hosting” platform for KiwiSDR links…
    (btw: Let’s see how the KiwiSDR TDoA add-on further develops. This is also the work of a ham guy enthusiast, who was not payed by the KiwiSDR guys, but does a lot of “advertising” for the KiwiSDR)

    • KiwiSDR

      Will you people please stop misrepresenting the situation? You are damaging years of hard work and also investment by thousands of customers. Andras has been a profit sharing partner in KiwiSDR since 2016, and continues to be. It’s mentioned on his site (bottom of page, not recently updated) https://blog.sdr.hu/support

      He can do what he wants. That’s always been our position. That’s the only _rational_ position. Those of you that think you have some kind of special insight into the ethics or history here, well, you don’t. For example, the statements above about TDoA are categorically false. *All* of them.

      • Dariuz

        Believe me or not, I know the two guys personally and the background of their projects (OpenWebRX and TDoA).
        Andras, for example, has only been supported by you AFTER he complained in the public about the unfair situation…

        • KiwiSDR

          Like I said, you don’t know the complete story. You think you do, but you don’t. Meanwhile, all of the contributors to the Kiwi project, past and present, are doing fine. We’re all working on interesting things, having fun and making a few bucks on the side. Although it is by no means making a living like those guys at GSG(HackRF), Airspy or SDRplay. You seem to be the only one who has some sort of problem. And all these years later too..

    • KiwiSDR

      Yes it does. And so do all the others that are based on the IQ-generator architecture (RTL-SDR included). And the Kiwi isn’t like any of them..

  4. kenny

    i owned a kiwisdr for a while, the beaglebone SBC it piggybacks on is barely enough to run the kiwisdr, it gets hot and starts slowing down after 20 minutes of use, the developer of the kiwisdr needs to find a more powerful SBC to piggyback their SDR on, other than the beaglebone being underpowered the kiwisdr is an awesome SDR receiver, Mo

  5. Torque

    The kiwi can transmit, unlike cheaper sdr’s, I’m going to guess requiring a licence keeps the fcc off their backs.

  6. Taubin

    I would place bets on the site going down entirely in the not too distant future. This seems like a way to slow things to a crawl before a full shut down.

    • KiwiSDR

      I have nothing to do with sdr.hu. But I want to make it crystal clear that the kiwisdr.com/public site, and the KiwiSDR in general, is not going anywhere. It’s business as usual and will continue that way indefinitely.

      For example, work continues on DRM and a software release is about to go out that will remove the single-connection restriction. For a 4-channel Kiwi that means one user can use DRM while 3 other regular, non-DRM connections coexist.

        • KiwiSDR

          Thanks. I figured as much. But I have not commented about any of this yet and wanted to take the opportunity to state our position (and then get back to work, lol). Cheers.

  7. TechCom

    So how does he verify you have a real ham license…the same way they do APRS? (pffftt…LOL).
    Another example of if it ain’t broke, fix it until it is.

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