Paolo Romani IZ1MLL has recently created a SDR# users guide document which comprehensively explains all the features and settings available in the program. SDR# (aka SDRSharp) from Airpsy.com is designed for Airspy SDRs, however it is one of the most popular SDR receiver programs used with RTL-SDRs as well.
Paolo's guide appears to build on our own guide at www.rtl-sdr.com/sdrsharp, providing new information and updates since many changes and new features have been released in SDR# since we wrote that guide a few years ago.
The guide can be found on the airspy.com/download page and is available in English, Italian and Spanish.
Over on YouTube Tech Minds has uploaded a new video where he unboxes and tests a YouLoop HF Passive Loop Antenna with his Airspy. The YouLoop design is also known as a Möbius loop, or noise cancelling passive loop "NCPL". The passive nature of the antenna means that highly sensitive radios will work best with it, however limited results may still be obtained with other radios. The advantages are extremely low levels of interference pickup and high portability.
In the video Tech Minds explains the specifications of the antenna before demonstrating the antenna receiving the HF bands with an Airspy + SpyVerter. He also tests the loop on VHF, demonstrating its ability to receive a distant 2M beacon.
We note that we sell official YouLoop antennas on our store for $34.95 including free shipping to most countries.
At the beginning of 2020 Annunaki (@StupotSinders) released his third party user interface for DSDPlus. DSDPlus is a digital speech decoder capable of decoding protocols such as P25 P1, DMR, NXDN and more with an SDR such as the RTL-SDR. As it is a command line tool, it can be a little daunting for some users, which is where the GUI comes in handy.
Recently Annunaki has released an SDR# plugin version of DSDPlusUI. This makes it so you can visualize the digital voice signals at the same time as controlling and decoding with DSDPlus. The plugin is available on the DSDPlusUI website at dsdplusui.com. To use it you will need to be using SDR# 1777 or later.
Airspy have released their black Friday 2020 deals today with 30% off. Back in 2019 we saw that the black friday deals were the best time to purchase an Airspy and we don't expect pricing to get cheaper than this. Links to their distributors can be found on airspy.com.
Airspy sell a range of software defined radios. The HF+ Discovery is one of the best (if not the best) low cost HF SDRs we've ever tested, and the Airspy Mini and R2 are good wide band VHF/UHF radios that are a step up from RTL-SDRs. The SpyVerter is a good upconverter that is also compatible with RTL-SDRs, and can be used with the bias tee on the RTL-SDR Blog V3.
The sale brings the pricing down to the following prices in USD (plus shipping costs):
For some time now many weather satellite enthusiasts have enjoyed the ability to relatively easily receive live high resolution images directly from the GOES-16, GOES-17 and GK-2A geostationary satellites (tutorial here). However, while much of the world can see at least one of these satellites, European's have been left out.
What may be of some interest to Europeans is that the older GOES-13 (aka EWS-G1) satellite was repositioned in February 2020, and it can now be received in Europe (as well as Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Russia and West Australia) until at least 2024 when it will be replaced.
The important catch however is that GOES-13 is not broadcasting the same easy to receive LRIT/HRIT signals that the other satellites use. The signal is still in the L-Band at 1685.7 MHz, however it is called "GVAR" and it is much weaker and uses 5 MHz of bandwidth. For GOES 16/17 and GK-2A a 1m WiFi grid dish, LNA and RTL-SDR was sufficient, but for GOES-13 you'll need a much larger 1.8m dish, and a wider band SDR like an Airspy. The big dish requirement significantly increases the reception challenge.
We also note that the decoder is being developed by @aang254 and u/Xerbot and it is not yet publicly released. However, they do intend to release it soon. Update:
My hardware is: 180cm prime focus dish, with a custom cantenna (120mm diameter). I'm using the SAWBIRD GOES LNA. I will be switching to the + version, because the setup is still lacking a few db SNR. The SDR is the one I use for HRPT: the airspy mini
I found that the USB connection on the airspy generates a lot of noise, so I removed the USB cable, by moving the airspy to the laptop. I use 2m of CNT-400 coax and it works much better now. I get about 2 db SNR more. Thought you might find it interesting.
We note that there is some interesting differences with GOES-13 images. Since the image is less processed, it is higher resolution (a full resolution image can be found on this Reddit post), as well as not cropped, meaning that the Earth's atmosphere is visible. Please also follow @ZSztang on Twitter for more images.
According to the newest calculations performed (by me) on the EWS-G1 data, it has a stunning resolution of about 0.6x1 km/px on the VIS channel and about 2.5x4 km/px on the IR channels. I have yet to confirm my calculations with the doc, which is quite hard to get. pic.twitter.com/kLK8YPDyTV
SDR# is a very popular Windows SDR program often used with the RTL-SDR and Airspy SDR. One drawback is that it lacks native Linux compatibility. In the past it has been possible to run SDR# via WINE, however some newer updates were thought to have broken that ability. WINE is a Windows emulator that allows some Windows programs to run under Linux.
However, recently on Twitter we've seen a Tweet by @albinstigo indicating that SDR# can indeed run on Ubuntu 20.04 via WINE 5.0. In a Tweet he explains the steps which are quite simple:
One limitation is that the emulated SDR# cannot connect to the SDR natively via the USB. So you will need to use TCP server software such as rtl_tcp or SpyServer to get it to work. Basically, run the server on the native Linux environment, then connect to it in SDR# running on the emulated Windows environment.
1. Install wine via apt.
2. Install dotNET 4.8 via winetricks.
3. Install the Verdana font via winertricks.
4. Enjoy SDR.
In Frugal Radio's latest video he explores how you can use an Airspy or RTL-SDR dongle to scan the entire military UHF airband spectrum in a few seconds via SDR#. Frugal Radio notes that there are often many signals in the UHF milair band, but they can be difficult to find without a scanner.
In the first video he compares his Uniden BCT15X hardware radio scanner against an Airpsy, noting that his Uniden takes 1:10 minutes to scan the entire band, whereas the Airspy running SDR# with the frequency scanner community plugin can scan the same bandwidth in less than 2.5 seconds. Faster scanning means that you are less likely to miss an active signal. In the second video he tries scanning with an RTL-SDR and notes that it can scan the band in 9 seconds.
How to use Frequency Scanner to Search UHF MilAir in 2.3 seconds in SDR# using AirSpy R2
$25 RTL-SDR v3 Military Air band search in under 10 seconds! Frequency Scanner SDR Sharp plugin test
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