Tagged: airspy

Tech Minds: Eavesdropping on Video Monitors with TempestSDR

Over on his latest video Tech Minds' explores the use of TempestSDR to eavesdrop on video monitors with his Airspy Mini. TempestSDR is a program that we've posted about several times in the past. With an RTL-SDR or other compatible SDR like a HackRF it allows you to reconstruct an image from a computer monitor or TV just from the radio waves unintentionally emitted by the screen or cable. SDRs with larger bandwidths like the HackRF or Airspy are better at reconstructing the image as they can collect more information.

In his video Tech Minds shows how to download and setup one of the newer branches of TempestSDR which unlike older versions doesn't require much installation work. Using an Airspy Mini he shows that he is able to view what is on his screen via the emitted RF waves.

Eavesdropping Video Monitors With TempestSDR RTL-SDR

A Self-Executable version of TempestSDR is now Available

TempestSDR is an open source tool made by Martin Marinov which allows you to use any SDR that has a supporting ExtIO (such as RTL-SDR, Airspy, SDRplay, HackRF) to receive the unintentional signals radiated from a screen, and turn that signal back into a live image. This can let you view what is on a screen through a wall without using any physical cables.

We first posted a demonstration of TempestSDR back in 2017 when we were finally able to get it to compile. Compiling the software took a fair amount of work for those without experience, and even running it was a chore. However, getting it to work is worth it as you can do some really interesting demonstrations.

However these problems are over and recently Erwin Ried @eried has made a self-executable version of TempestSDR. This means that no compilation, java installs, mingw or extra dlls are required to get the program to work as now it's just an exe that you can run. You will still need the appropriate ExtIO dlls for your SDR. The video in his twitter post shows it working with a HackRF.

The YouLoop Passive Loop Antenna Reviewed on HF Reception

Thank you to Robin from the "Frugal Radio" channel on YouTube for submitting his latest video which is a review of the Airspy YouLoop antenna that we currently have for sale on our store for $34.95 including shipping.

The YouLoop is a low cost passive loop antenna for HF and VHF. It is based on the Möbius loop design which results in a high degree of noise cancelling. However the main drawback is that it is a non-resonant design, which means that it needs to be used with ultra low MDS receivers like the Airspy HF+ Discovery. However, a high performance HF pre-amp will be available in the future which will allow it to work well with other radios too.

In his video Robin tests the YouLoop on the HF bands with an Airspy HF+ Discovery and he demonstrates excellent noise free reception from his location. In terms of his setup he notes:

I am running Spyserver on a 10 year old Windows 7 laptop in the loft. The same laptop is also running 3 x SDRSharp instances (following 2 digital trunking systems). It runs 4 x  simultaneous Zello instances each providing a high quality audio feed to my Network Radio / phone.
 
In terms of noise-creating equipment nearby, there is
  • a second laptop used for other duties
  • a Pi 3B used for ADS-B reception, feeds & a second instance of spyserver 
  • a Pi 3A with MMDVM module performing as a hotspot
  • a Motorola HT charger
  • 5 x base station scanners
This means there are 10 x switched mode power supplies constantly running, as well as 4 x 24/7 WiFi devices.
All this equipment is within 10ft of the YouLoop antenna, was one of my primary reason for choosing a passive loop. 
 
Since making the video, cable clips have been added provide support to the antenna which means it is now in the correct shape of a loop.  That means I am unable to rotate the antenna to make use of the nulls when receiving. However I am very pleased with the performance based on the location, noisy environment, and frugal pricing :-)

$35 Airspy YouLoop Passive Antenna Review : tested on HF using Airspy HF+ Discovery SDR

Tech Minds: Upgrading to the latest Airspy R2/Mini Firmware

Over on YouTube Tech Minds has uploaded his latest video that shows how to easily update the firmware on Airspy R2 and Mini units. The Airspy R2 ($169) and Airspy Mini ($99) are two software defined radios that can be considered a step up from an RTL-SDR in terms of performance and price. Recently the Airspy developer updated the firmware, and we show the changelog below.

This release improves the overall phase noise, tuning accuracy, dynamic range and spur responses.

What changed:

  • More accurate R820T/2 tuning.
  • Fast R820T/2 register update by only sending the actual changes. Useful for fast scanning.
  • The R820T/2 reference clock is now fed directly from the 25 MHz TCXO. No noise contribution from PLL_A at all when using the internal TCXO.
  • The MCU and ADC reference clock is now using PLL_B of Si5351 in Integer mode with power of two dividers.
  • EXT_CLK now feeds PLL_A for the R820T/2 and PLL_B for the LPC4370 with optimal Integer Mode and power of two dividers.
  • Drive level reduced to 2mA per clock. This significantly reduces the spurs.

Tech Mind's YouTube video shows us how to check the current firmware installed, how to download the latest firmware, and finally how to actually flash the new firmware.

AIRSPY R2 & MINI Software Defined Radio Firmware Update Procedure

SignalsEverywhere: How to set up an RTL-SDR SpyServer on Windows

Over on YouTube SignalsEverywhere/Harold is back with a new video tutorial that shows users how to set up a SDR# SpyServer with an RTL-SDR dongle. SpyServer is a program included with SDR# that allows you to access your Airspy or RTL-SDR dongle remotely through the internet or local network connection. Thanks to it's compression techniques and that it does most processing on the server side, it requires significantly less network bandwidth compared to a raw IQ server like rtl_tcp.

In the video Harold first shows how to access the SpyServer network in SDR# which consists of many remote SpyServers that have been made accessible to the public for free. He then goes on to explain how you can set up your own SpyServer by simply editing a text config file. He notes that you may need to perform port forwarding on your router if you wish to make the server publicly accessible.

RTL SDR Spyserver Remote SDR Setup Tutorial (on Windows)

PiSDR Ready to use SDR Raspbian Image Updated to V4.0

It's been a good time for ready to use SDR Linux OS images recently, as we've seen the release of two new images, DragonOS and gorizont-rtlsdr over this lock down period. And now the already popular and mature PiSDR image has also been updated. 

PiSDR is a ready to use Raspbian based operating system for Raspberry Pi's which comes pre-loaded with many programs for software defined radios. It currently supports the RTL-SDR, LimeSDR, PlutoSDR, Airspy, and Airspy HF+ and has preinstalled software such as SDR Angel, Soapy Remote, GQRX, GNURadio, LimeUtil, and LimeVNA.

The latest update includes various bug fixes as well the following new features:

  • Three times smaller.
  • HackRF Support.
  • Verified Compilation on GitHub Actions.
  • New Software: Quisk, CygnusRFI, rpitx, rtl_433, acarsdec, gpredict, multimon-ng, and leansdr
PiSDR Running a SDRAngel with a LimeSDR
PiSDR Running a SDRAngel with a LimeSDR

TechMinds: Demonstrating the QT-DAB Digital Audio Broadcast Decoder

Over on YouTube TechMinds has uploaded a video where he explores the QT-DAB software (formerly known as SDR-J), which is a program capable of decoding Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) signals. QT-DAB is compatible with several SDRs including the RTL-SDR, HackRF, Airspy and SDRplay units. 

DAB stands for Digital Audio Broadcast and is a digital broadcast radio signal that is available in many countries outside of the USA. The digital signal encodes several radio stations, and it is considered a modern alternative or future replacement for standard analog broadcast FM.

In the video TechMinds explains how to download, install and use the software on a Windows machine. He goes on to demonstrate some DAB decoding in action with various SDRs and then shows how to connect QT-DAB to a remote RTL-SDR via rtl_tcp.

DAB Radio Decoder For SDR (RTL_SDR - HACKRF - AIRSPY)

A Comprehensive Lab Comparison between Multiple Software Defined Radios

Librespace, who are the people behind the open hardware/source SatNOGS satellite ground station project have recently released a comprehensive paper (pdf) that compares multiple software defined radios available on the market in a realistic laboratory based signal environment. The testing was performed by Alexandru Csete (@csete) who is the programmer behind GQRX and Gpredict and Sheila Christiansen (@astro_sheila) who is a Space Systems Engineer at Alexandru's company AC Satcom. Their goal was to evaluate multiple SDRs for use in SatNOGS ground stations and other satellite receiving applications. 

The SDRs tested include the RTL-SDR Blog V3, Airspy Mini, SDRplay RSPduo, LimeSDR Mini, BladeRF 2.0 Micro, Ettus USRP B210 and the PlutoSDR. In their tests they measure the noise figure, dynamic range, RX/TX spectral purity, TX power output and transmitter modulation error ratio of each SDR in various satellite bands from VHF to C-band.

The paper is an excellent read, however the results are summarized below. In terms of noise figure, the SDRplay RSPduo with it's built in LNA performed the best, with all other SDRs apart from the LimeSDR being similar. The LimeSDR had the worst noise figure by a large margin.

In terms of dynamic range, the graphs below show the maximum input power of a blocking signal that the receivers can tolerate vs. different noise figures at 437 MHz. They write that this gives a good indication of which devices have the highest dynamic range at any given noise figure. The results show that when the blocking signal is at the smallest 5 kHz spacing the RSPduo has poorest dynamic range by a significant margin, but improves significantly at the 100 kHz and 1 MHz spacings. The other SDRs all varied in performance between the different blocking signal separation spacings.

Overall the PlutoSDR seems to perform quite well, with the LimeSDR performing rather poorly in most tests among other problems like the NF being sensitive to touching the enclosure, and the matching network suspected as being broken on both their test units. The owner of Airspy noted that performance may look poor in these tests as the testers used non-optimized Linux drivers, instead of the optimized Windows drivers and software, so there is no oversampling, HDR or IF Filtering enabled. The RSPduo performs very well in most tests, but very poorly in the 5 kHz spacing test.

The rest of the paper covers the TX parameters, and we highly recommend going through and comparing the individual result graphs from each SDR test if you want more information and results from tests at different frequencies. The code and recorded data can also be found on the projects Gitlab page at https://gitlab.com/librespacefoundation/sdrmakerspace/sdreval.