RTLSDR-Airband V2 Released

Back in June of 2014 we posted about the released of a new program called RTLSDR-Airband. RTLSDR-Airband is a Windows and Linux compatible command line tool that allows you to simultaneously monitor multiple AM channels per dongle within the same chunk of bandwidth. It is great for monitoring aircraft voice communications and can be used to feed websites like liveatc.net.

Since our post the development of the software has been taken over by a new developer szpajder, who wrote in to us to let us know that he has now updated RTLSDR-Airband to version 2.0.0. The new versions improves performance and support for small embedded platforms such as the Raspberry Pi 2, but the Windows port is now not actively maintained and probably does not work. The full list of changes is shown below:

  •  New libconfig-style config file format
  • util/convert_cfg: can be used to convert old-style config.txt to the new format
  • Syslog logging (enabled by default)
  • Daemon mode
  • Reworked makefiles, added install rule
  • /dev/vcio is now used to access GPU on Raspberry Pi; creating char_dev no longer necessary
  • Startup scripts for Debian and Gentoo
  • Support for auto gain setting
  • Support for multiple outputs per channel
  • Support for recording streams to local MP3 files
  • Support for ARMv7-based platforms other than RPi (eg. Cubieboard)
  • Updated documentation
  • Numerous bugfixes and stability improvements

Compilation and install instructions can be found on the projects main GitHub page.

RTLSDR-Airband
RTLSDR-Airband

23 comments

  1. Lukas

    Mam dwa szybkie pytania:
    1. jak nagrywać pliki na kartę?
    2. jak ustawić skanowanie w FM trzech częstotliwości z zakresu 144-148Mhz?
    Z góry dzięki za odpowiedź!

  2. Lucian

    Hi.
    Many thanks @szpajder for your work.
    Is there a “auto” gain function. Sometimes I have aircrafts flying over my antenna and AM demodulation is a crap (due to saturation). Setting a lower gain value makes it OK, but it will be nice if auto gain on RF level is working.

    • szpajder

      No, there isn’t. Once upon a time there was an option to enable RTL auto gain, but it doesn’t work too well for narrowband signals (it sets the gain too high most of the time), so it has been dropped.

      The way to go is to use a receiver which offers 16-bit sampling and therefore wider dynamic range.

  3. ITNavigate

    Is there a forum / chat room / Google group etc. for discussing RTLSDR-Airband?

    @szpajder – Thanks for your work!!
    How do I associate device index with RTL Serial number?
    I have several RTL dongles that I use on my Linux dev system, each with different PPM offset’s required. How do I associate the serial number with the device ID, so if only 1 dongle is connected, the right PPM setting is used?

    • szpajder

      After connecting all dongles fire up rtl_test (the little program which comes with rtl-sdr library). It displays the list of all detected receivers together with their indices and serial numbers.
      Eventually I’ll probably add a config option to specify dongles by their serial instead of their index (which might change if dongles are reconnected in different order).

      • Anonymous

        Thanks @szpajder. I’m already using multiple dongles, the connection order / USB port used is my issue. Also would add some “portability” of the configuration in the situation where the PC dies, and the dongles need to be connected to another computer.

        Again, Thanks for your work.

        Is this the best place to discuss RTLSDR-Airband?

        • szpajder

          This is on TODO, as it has already been requested. You will be able to specify dongles by their serial number, probably in the next release.

          We do not currently have any forum or mailing list. There are a few threads related to rtl_airband on LiveATC Feeder subforum, however it’s only accessible to people who actually feed LiveATC. I’ve seen a thread or two on Reddit as well.

  4. Wolfgang

    Would be nice to find the compiled binaries for Windows. Not all RTL-SDR fans do have a complete set of compiler & linker to produce binaries out of the source.

  5. Wolfgang

    @Noway and others: in our law in Austria / Europe, it is forbidden to record, transcribe or forward transmission that are not ‘for the general public’. Even to give verbal information to third parties about the content or the fact that they have been received is forbidden. But the way around – and this makes it possible for us to listen to any frequency: as long as you just listen to, do not tell anybody the content, or simply do not even tell the fact you heard a non public transmission is not against the law.

      • Wolfgang

        @Noway – how can you say that ‘it’s illegal in Austria’. I am a licensed Radio Amateur and an Telecom Security Consultant and therefore pretty fit in our radio/telecom law. Just simply give me a pointer of the law (ris.gv.at) and the § you are referring to.

      • Wolfgang

        @noway – 1090 is ADSB and not the AirBand. The AirBand is 118-136 MHz and that’s the software is used for.
        What are you talking about?

  6. Daniel

    @Noway: This is complete and utter bullshit. In some countries like Germany it is illegal without a licence, yes. But in the US, Holland, the UK and Switzerland (just to name a few) you are allowed to listen to ATC radio communication.

  7. Noway

    1) in the most country in the world is illegal to receive Aircraft Comunication and upload can chartered with an long time in prison.

    2) why all use a pi. that sucks! It cost a lot of money to operate an Pi! An Server is much cheaper!!!!!

  8. Maxim

    AM only? Recording (or local streaming) NFM from rtl-sdr dongles in multichannel mode- it’s very-very interesting.. I’ll be waiting ver.2.1 (;

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