New Updates to the librtlsdr RTL-SDR Driver Fork

Thank you to Hayati Ayguen for letting us know that he and others have submitted a slew of updates to the "librtlsdr" fork of the librtlsdr RTL-SDR drivers. The improvements made to the development branch are extensive and are pasted below, and Hayati also has also created some presentation slides about his improvements. Hayati also notes that there are several open issues being tracked, and he has labelled some as "help wanted" where help and testing would be appreciated.

If you have tested any of the new features of tools, please let us know how they work in the comments!

"Driver" Library Features

  • added support for special USB (vendor) VID 0x1209 (product) PID 0x2832: "Generic RTL2832U":
  • added support for using RTLSDR-Dongle from remote - see rtl_rpcd and README.rtlsdr_rpc
  • improvements for R820T/2 tuner also see https://codingspirit.de/librtlsdr-driver.pdf
    • added better bandwidth support
      • added smaller bandwidths, improving selectivity: 290, 375, 420, 470, 600, 860, 950, 1100, 1300, 1500, 1600, 1750, 1950 kHz. These are coarse measured values .. which might get adjusted in future.
      • bandwidth filters utilize tuner's low- and highpass filters at IF
    • added spectrum flipping (inside tuner) - and back in RTL2832
      • the band edges (low/high-pass) have different steepness; the steeper edge can be selected with the mixer sideband (rtlsdr_set_tuner_sideband()), to achieve better attenuation depending on signal scenario
    • added (automatic) control over VGA (variable gain amplifier)
      • VGA gain (besides LNA and Mixer) can be utilized and set to automatic, letting it controlled from RTL2832U. Having all automatic (AGC) including activation of digital AGC in RTL2832 (rtlsdr_set_agc_mode()), oversteering effects got reduced (a lot).
      • gain range now up to 100 dB
    • deactivated "Filter extension under weak signal" for a stable filter characteristic
    • added shifting of IF-center, to receive away from DC. See rtlsdr_set_tuner_band_center()
  • probably some more: it's highly probable, that this list is incomplete

"Driver" Library API

  • added rtlsdr_set_and_get_tuner_bandwidth(), which also delivers the bandwidth. [ with rtlsdr_set_tuner_bandwidth() does not deliver the bandwidth ]
  • added rtlsdr_set_tuner_band_center(), to set center of the filtered tuner band
  • added rtlsdr_set_tuner_sideband(), to set mixer sideband
  • added rtlsdr_set_tuner_gain_ext(), special for R820T/2 tuner
  • added rtlsdr_set_tuner_if_mode(), sets AGC modes in detail
  • added rtlsdr_set_ds_mode() including threshold frequency
  • added rtlsdr_ir_query()
  • added rtlsdr_set_opt_string() and rtlsdr_get_opt_help() for configuration of 'driver' - especially from command line
  • added rtlsdr_set_tuner_i2c_register(), rtlsdr_get_tuner_i2c_register() and rtlsdr_set_tuner_i2c_override() exposing hacking of tuner-specific I2C registers
  • added rtlsdr_get_ver_id(), to allow discrimination between osmocom library - or this fork
  • added rtlsdr_get_version()

Added Tools

  • added rtl_ir: display received IR signals.
    • requires the IR diode of an RTL-SDR - which might not exist!
  • added rtl_rpcd: a Remote Procedure Call server for RTL-SDR dongles.
    • for use, set environment variable "RTLSDR_RPC_IS_ENABLED"
    • optionally set environment varibales "RTLSDR_RPC_SERV_ADDR" and "RTLSDR_RPC_SERV_PORT". These default to "127.0.0.1" and "40000".
    • requires cmake option WITH_RPC
  • added rtl_raw2wav: save rtl_sdr or rtl_fm's output (pipe) into a wave file, including some meta information like timestamp and frequency
  • added rtl_udp: same as rtl_tcp - just using UDP instead of TCP
  • added rtl_wavestat: display wave file meta information
  • added rtl_wavestream: stream raw data (in specified format)

Improved Tools

  • rtl_fm:
    • added command file option '-C', which can trigger actions depending on signal. have a look at README.rtlfm_cmdfile.
    • added command line interface option '-E rdc', to enable dc blocking on raw I/Q data at capture rate
    • added CLI option '-E rtlagc', to enable rtl2832's digital agc
    • added CLI option '-E bclo', to use tuner bandwidths low corner as band center
    • added CLI option '-E bchi', to use tuner bandwidths high corner as band center
    • added CLI option '-O', to set RTL driver options seperated with ':', e.g. -O 'bc=30000:agc=0'
    • added CLI option '-R', to specify number of seconds to run
    • added CLI option '-H', to write wave Header to file, producing a wave file with meta information, compatible with several SDR programs
    • added CLI option '-o', to request oversampling (4 recommended) for processing gain
  • not just rtl_fm, but many tools have more options. compare all the details by starting with command line option '-h'.

"Driver" Library's UDP-Server - only on Windows

  • enabled by cmake option PROVIDE_UDP_SERVER for tests. OFF by default
  • activated by rtlsdr_set_opt_string(): "port=1" or "port=<udp_port>", default port number: 32323
  • purpose is to allow configuration at runtime with a simple text protocol, e.g. with netcat
  • for detailed protocol, see comment section in parse() of librtlsdr.c. or look for sections with '#ifdef WITH_UDP_SERVER'

RTL_TCP TCP-PROTOCOL

  • allows non-GPL programs, e.g. QIRX, to utilize the RTLSDR stuff in a license compliant way
  • added several control functions in rtl_tcp, not existing in osmocom release: UDP_ESTABLISH, UDP_TERMINATE, SET_I2C_TUNER_REGISTER, SET_I2C_TUNER_OVERRIDE, SET_TUNER_BW_IF_CENTER, SET_TUNER_IF_MODE, SET_SIDEBAND, REPORT_I2C_REGS
  • control functions documented in rtl_tcp.h
  • (by default) control port number 1234, configurable via command-line-interface (CLI)
  • response(s) at +1 of control port: 1235, configurable via CLI
  • protocol details in protocol_rtl_tcp.txt

4 comments

  1. Clem

    Quote:
    “allows non-GPL programs, e.g. QIRX, to utilize the RTLSDR stuff in a license compliant way”

    The usage of the RTL_TCP software in qirx (“RTLSDR stuff”) has nothing at all to do with the licensing. Qirx had from its very beginning (V1, still available for download, btw. distributed under the GPL) been using TCP/IP as the only interface for “live” raw I/Q data, for purely technical reasons, one of them being that this allows receiving the data from remote antenna locations. Omitting the GPL as the license had completely different reasons which can be read on the qirx website. Arguably there are much better licenses than GPL for non-commercial usage of a software.

  2. Robert Symanek

    Okay my understanding of software is limited . The software that is talked about in the article , is this a new program , or is it added to HDSDR , or to SDRSharp ?????????????

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