RTLSDR-Airband V3 Released

Thanks to RTL-SDR.com reader Lee Donaghy for writing in and little us know that RTLSDR-Airband was recently updated to include SoapySDR support. This allows the software to now work with almost any SDR including the RTL-SDR, Airspy, SDRplay, HackRF, LimeSDR and more. They have also removed the 8-channels per device limitation and applied various bug fixes too. The full changelog is posted at the end of this post.

RTLSDR-Airband is a Linux based command line tool that allows you to simultaneously monitor multiple AM or FM channels per SDR within the same chunk of bandwidth. It is great for monitoring narrowband communications such as aircraft control and can be used to feed websites like liveatc.net, or for use with a Icecast server, or simply for continuously recording multiple channels to an MP3 file locally. It is also very useful for those running on low powered computing hardware who want software that uses less CPU power than a full GUI program like GQRX or CubicSDR.

Version 3.0.0 (Feb 10, 2018):

  • Major overhaul of the SDR input code - now it's modular and hardware-agnostic (no longer tightly coupled with librtlsdr).
  • Support for SoapySDR vendor-neutral SDR library - any SDR which has a plugin for SoapySDR shall now work in RTLSDR-Airband.
  • Support for Mirics DVB-T dongles via libmirisdr-4 library.
  • Support for RTLSDR is now optional and can be disabled at compilation stage.
  • Removed the 8-channels-per-device limit in multichannel mode.
  • Configurable per-device sampling rate.
  • Configurable FFT size.
  • Support for multibyte input samples.
  • Support for rawfile outputs (ie. writing raw I/Q data from a narrowband channel to a file for processing with other programs, line GNUradio or csdr).
  • INCOMPATIBLE CHANGE: removed rtlsdr_buffers global configuration option; buffer count can now be adjusted with a per-device "buffers" option.
  • INCOMPATIBLE CHANGE: removed syslog global configuration option; syslog logging is now enabled by default, both in foreground and background mode. To force logging to standard error, use -e command line option.
  • Added -F command line option for better cooperation with systemd. Runs the program in foreground, but without textual waterfalls. Together with -e it allows running rtl_airband as a service of type "simple" under systemd. Example rtl_airband.service file has been adjusted to reflect this change.
  • Added type device configuration option. It sets the device type (ie. the input driver which shall be used to talk to the device). "rtlsdr" is assumed as a default type for backward compatibility. If RTLSDR support has been disabled at compilation stage, then there is no default type - it must be set manually, or the program will throw an error on startup.
  • Frequencies in the config can now be expressed in Hz, kHz, MHz or GHz for improved readability.
  • Lots of bugfixes.
  • Rewritten documentation on Github Wiki.

17 comments

  1. Dave C

    Thank you for that. Now I have a rtl_airband.conf and a rtl_airband.conf.save.

    How do I remove the first and remove the word save out of the file name?

  2. Dave C

    I got up to here,
    “Done. If this is a new install, edit /usr/local/etc/rtl_airband.conf to suit your needs.”
    When I try to open and edit this file I get permission denied. I am more of a windows user and not a linux expert. How can I have access to this file?

      • Dave C

        Thank you, that worked. I now get permission denied when trying to edit the icecast.xml file. I was able to change using chmod -R o+wrX /path/to/directory But then I ewad that when icecast is set up, there are config options. So I uninstalled icecast and re installed it. Now chmod -R o+wrX /path/to/directory does not work. How do I edit icast.xml?

  3. Sai Hou

    The installation for this RTLSDR-Airband v3.0.1 seems have strange behavior.
    I monitor the same frequency using the Kenwood TM-V71A and after the conversation between the ATC and the pilot ended, and have to wait for approx 30s to rebroadcast from the Raspberry Pi to my PC.
    How to fix this problem?

  4. Sai Hou

    For this RTL Airband setup, if for those users who doesn’t familiar with the Debian / Raspbian, it is really DIFFICULT to get it work.
    I really hope that there is an easy way to have this Airband package to be installed as easy as installing PiAware or RadarBox24 or even PlaneFinder.

    • andy

      I did install yesterday on a Piaware Rpi together with Icecast, and it is really easy after a few tweaks. The only thing that is missing in the wiki is that Icecast must be enabed in /etc/default/icecast2 after the xml file is edited. All the rest is like in the wiki.
      When installing on a Piaware Rpi, make sure that /etc/apt/sources.list points to mirrordirector.raspbian.org.

      Put this to a batch file:
      #!/bin/bash
      apt-get update
      apt-get .y upgrade
      apt-get -y install build-essential libmp3lame-dev libshout3-dev libconfig++-dev libraspberrypi-dev
      apt-get -y install librtlsdr-dev
      cd
      wget -O RTLSDR-Airband-3.0.1.tar.gz https://github.com/szpajder/RTLSDR-Airband/archive/v3.0.1.tar.gz
      tar xvfz RTLSDR-Airband-3.0.1.tar.gz
      cd RTLSDR-Airband-3.0.1
      make PLATFORM=rpiv2
      make install
      apt-get install icecast2

      Continue manually:
      nano /usr/local/etc/rtl_airband.conf #edit as in wiki
      nano /etc/icecast2/icecast,xm #edit as in wikil
      nano /etc/default/icecast2 -#set enable to true
      systemctl restart icecast2
      /usr/local/bin/rtl_airband -f

      • Sai Hou

        Hi andy,

        Thanks for the reply. I will try to install with the instruction you stated. If there is any unclear, I will post to ask.
        Once again, thank you once again.

        Regards.

      • Sai Hou

        I am not understand what to set or edit in the:-
        nano /usr/local/etc/rtl_airband.conf
        nano /etc/icecast2/icecast

        Anyway, just forget about it.

        I admit that I am really no knowledge about the Linux / Debian / Raspbian at all.

        Regards.

        • andy

          ok, we start with rtl_airband.conf to setup for just one fixed frequency.
          From the command line open the editor with #sudo nano /usr/local/etc/rtl_airband.conf
          Put these lines in there. Most of it is in there already. You can put another freq, but then you MUST adjust centerfreq, too. Centerfreq MUST be within 2 MHz of freq. Remember to put the password in, that you entered during installation.
          devices:
          ({
          type = “rtlsdr”;
          index = 0;
          gain = 30;
          centerfreq = 126.0;
          correction = 0;
          channels:
          (
          {
          freq = 126.200;
          outputs: (
          {
          type = “icecast”;
          server = “127.0.0.1”;
          port = 7000;
          mountpoint = “atc.mp3”;
          name = “ATC”;
          genre = “ATC”;
          username = “source”;
          password = “yourpassword”;
          }
          );
          }
          );
          }
          );
          When you are ready leave nano with CTRL-X, then return, then Y.

          nano /etc/icecast2/icecast.xml is next

          • andx

            Open from the console again: #sudo nano /etc/icecast2/icecast.xml
            Only edit these two lines:
            1. 0</burst-on-connect
            2. <!– You may have multiple elements –>

            7000
            <!– 127.0.0.1 –>
            <!– /stream –>

            Let the rest as is.
            CTRL-X, return, Y

            Open #sudo nano etc/default/icecast2
            change enable=false to enable=true
            CTL-X, return, Y

            >from the console enter #systemctl restart icecast2
            >put your dongle to the USB slot
            >from the console enter #/usr/local/bin/rtl_airband -f
            >you should see a connecting message and then a waterfall with 2 figures
            >open winamp or VLC and open this streaming URL: http://:7000/atc.mp3
            Note: port 7000 is used because 8000 and 8080 are used by Piaware.

            • Sai Hou

              Hi Andy,
              Thanks for the clear instruction. Finally it works.

              I actually installed the Airband into a FRESH Raspbian image, no PiAware for this, purposely for Airband.

              Currently my setup is 1 dongle for 1 frequency which I preferred. If I want to add another dongle for another frequency, how should I add it?

              Both SDRs will be either NESDR SMART or RTL-SDR v3 USB dongles.

              **Is the current setup is only can be listen via any PC or phone which supports the streaming within the same LAN?
              ***Current setup is not feed to the LiveATC, right?

              Thanks.

      • David C

        Andy, you said that ” Icecast must be enabed in /etc/default/icecast2 after the xml file is edited. ”

        Can you post what that line looks like? I cant find it.

        Thanks

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