Receiving and acquiring GPS positions with an RTL-SDR dongle and GPS antenna

GPS experimenter and blog author e.p. has recently been posting about his experiments in which he uses an RTL-SDR dongle to receive GPS satellite signals and acquire a position lock. 

To receive GPS e.p. uses one of our RTL-SDR blog units (back in stock soon!) with the bias tee enabled which is used to power a cheap 5V active GPS antenna. For software he uses GNSS-SDRLIB and RTKLIB which runs on Windows. Using the RTL-SDR, GPS antenna and the decoding software he was able to get his current position to within about 5 meters of accuracy.

In his blog post e.p. shows a step by step guide on how to install and use the Windows software. In later posts he also shows how to install and use another program called GNSS-SDR which runs in Linux and can also be used to acquire GPS fixes with an RTL-SDR dongle.

The GNSS-SDRLIB GUI setup screen.
The GNSS-SDRLIB GUI setup screen.

To illustrate the software in action e.p. has also uploaded a video to YouTube which is shown below.

7 comments

  1. Nic

    I managed to fix problems I was having with not getting a fix by replacing the DLLs in the GNSS-SDRLIB folder with newer (64-bit) ones from the RTLSDR Lib project http://osmocom.org/projects/sdr/wiki/rtl-sdr – Look for prebuilt windows version and use the x64 folder. The versions they had seemed to be disabling the Bias-T on my RTL-SDR v3 making it obviously useless! With the new DLLs it found the satellites very quickly and I got a fix!

  2. e.p.

    Steven: Those DOS boxes are expected; they are kicking off workers for each satellite you are trying to track. What kind of error message do you get?

  3. Steven Schowiak

    Very interesting. But I’m not able to run it on my Windows 10 64 bit machine. When I run GNSS-SDRGUI I get a bunch of DOS boxes popping in and out then it crashed.

    Anybody have a similar problem?

    • NZ Lurch

      @Steve Schowiak, Yes I have a similar issue. Unable to find any solutions though.
      When I start GNSS-SDRLIB, and press Start, about a second later goes back to start screen. Nothing happening.

      • Tim

        It’s been awhile since I’ve run this…yes you should see lots of cmd windows boxes pop up and disappear. I suspect one for each satellite you selected. Then after a few seconds other gui boxes pop up as sats are acquired. Then about 20-30 seconds the gps coordinate appears.

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