In this weeks Frugal Radio episode Rob explores some low cost "Step Up" radios that for a moderately higher price, can give improved receiver performance when compared to RTL-SDRs .
In the video Rob overviews and compares the Airspy Mini ($99), SDRplay RSP1A ($119), Airspy R2 ($169) and the Airspy HF+ Discovery ($169). He discusses their differences such as the tuning ranges, bandwidths and ADC bit depths and why these parameters matter.
Paolo Romani (IZ1MLL) has recently released version 3.0 of his SDRSharp PDF Guide which we posted about last in March of this year. As before the document is a detailed guide about how to use SDRSharp, which is the software provided by Airspy. While intended for Airspy devices, SDRSharp also supports a number of third party SDRs, including the RTL-SDR, and it is the software we recommend starting with when using an RTL-SDR.
The guide is now 61 pages long, and covers all the settings, UI customization, included and third party plugins, and use of some external decoders.
In the previous episode Rob from the Frugal Radio YouTube channel showed us how to decode HF ACARS using PC-HFDL and an HF capable SDR such as the Airspy HF+. In that episode he mentioned that it is possible to decode HF ACARS using a WebSDR as well.
In this weeks episode, Rob shows us how to do just that, making use of WebSDR receivers and the PC-HFDL software. Like the previous episode we see how to plot the aircraft HF ACARS position data on Google Earth and how to read and interpret some example messages received.
In Rob's latest episode of his excellent aviation communications series on his Frugal Radio YouTube channel he shows how to decode aircraft HF ACARS (HFDL) using a software defined radio. HFDL is short for "high frequency data link", and is a method aircraft use for sending text and data communications to ground stations. It is an alternative to VHF or satellite ACARS communications methods.
In the video he shows how he's been able to receive HFDL from all over the world using a simple HF dipole antenna and an Airspy HF+ Discovery. He goes on to show how to find HFDL signals, and how to decode signals using SDR# and the PC-HFDL software. Finally he shows examples of aircraft received, and how to interpret some of the information being received, including location information.
How to decode HF ACARS (HFDL) free with your SDR - Monitoring Aviation Communications Episode 8
Airspy is currently holding a 20% off summer promotion which runs from June 28th until Julty 4th 2021. The sale is active at all participating resellers, which includes our own store where we have the YouLoop on sale for US$27.96 including free shipping to most countries in the world, instead of the usual US$34.95. Please note that due to new EU VAT collection laws, EU customers must purchase the discounted YouLoop from our eBay or Aliexpress stores.
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 works best when used with ultra sensitive receivers like the Airspy HF+ Discovery.
Over on YouTube Rob from Frugal Radio has uploaded a video reviewing our new L-Band Patch antenna which we released for sale late last month. The patch is currently on a release sale for US$44.95 including free standard airmail shipping to most countries. We will be ending the sale this Wednesday at which point the price will go to US$49.95, still with free standard airmail shipping to most countries. The patch can be purchased from our web store at www.rtl-sdr.com/store.
In the video Rob demonstrates the patch receiving Inmarsat signals strongly, and decodes a few AERO signals using JAERO. He shows that the patch works on any RTL-SDR with bias tee capability as well as an Airspy Mini. Lastly he compares the unit against the SDR-Kits patch.
We note that we are also supplying a kit for a giveaway to Frugal Radio subscribers that we will announce in an upcoming video coming out a few days time.
RTL-SDR updated L-band patch antenna review - perfect for your SDR radio!
UPDATE: Giveaway information now available in the latest video below.
SDR# (SDRSharp) is one of the most popular free software defined radio programs available with RTL-SDR support. Recently it has been updated to version 1811 and the new version brings improved performance and also improves RTL-SDR compatibility with some systems. The changelog reads:
Date: Mon Mar 29 15:03:09 2021 +0200
More DSP optimizations;
Many fixes for RTL dongles (mainly workraounds for old libs);
Revert to libusb 220.127.116.1104 for backward compatibility;
Revert to portaudio 2016 for backward compatibility;
Check the latest and greatest SDR# release with more performance optimizations and better processing quality for #airspy devices. The #rtlsdr crowd will also be happy with the improved compatibility.
@lambdaprog (the SDR# programmer) has also tweeted showing how well SDR# can run on a 10 year old i7 4700 laptop with the new performance improvements. With a huge 160 MSPS baseband IQ file, the software is seen to be using very minimal CPU.
Over on their YouTube channel GNU Radio have uploaded a recent talk by Aaron Rossetto titled "A Look at Project 25 (P25) Digital Radio". The talk explains the North American public safety P25 system in great depth, and is a good watch for anyone looking into details on how the system works in a deeply technical way. He later shows some examples of his P25 decoding and recording setup. Slides can be found here, and the video is posted below.
Agenda: In this presentation, I will introduce Project 25 digital radio, with a strong emphasis on its use in North American public safety trunked radio systems, and to describe experiments monitoring and decoding P25 traffic using GNU Radio code.