Vasili, author of several SDR# plugins has recently released a new APCO P25 plugin for SDR#. The plugin is easy to use, simply tune to a P25 voice signal, and it will automatically decode it into voice audio assuming that the signal is not encrypted. If the P25 signal is encrypted, you will hear garbled unintelligible voice. The plugin does not support trunking or any advanced talk group filtering features that you might find with DSD+, Unitrunker, SDR Trunk etc.
To install the plugin, simply download the zip file from rtl-sdr.ru and extra the .dll's into the SDR# folder. Then copy the text in magicline.txt file into the plugins.xml file inside the SDR# folder. The plugin should work with any SDR supported by SDR#, including the RTL-SDR.
Over on YouTube user knoxieman has uploaded a video that provides a few tips on using DSD+ and an RTL-SDR for listening to DMR digital voice signals. The video is designed as a companion to Tech Minds' video which shows a full set up procedure for DSD+.
Knoxieman's video includes some tips on SDR# settings, virtual audio cable setup, and using a program called "DisplayFusion" to keep the DSD+ event windows permanently on top of the SDR# window.
Tips on using SDR Plus and DSDPLUS to listen to DMR/DIGITAL conversations.
Over on YouTube user Tech Minds has uploaded a useful video which shows how to set up DMR decoding with SDR#, VB-Cable, DSD+ and an RTL-SDR dongle. He also uses the DSD plugin for SDR# which makes controlling the command line DSD+ software a little easier. If you are interested we also have a short tutorial on DMR/P25 decoding available here. The video starts from downloading and installing the software, and explains every step very carefully, so it is a very good starting video for beginners.
DMR (aka MotoTRBO or TRBO) is a digital voice protocol used by Motorola radios. Software like DSD+ is required to listen to it, but it can only listen in if the signal is unencrypted.
Tech Minds has also uploaded several other tutorial videos to his channel over the last few months including guides on how to set up the ham-it-up upconverter, ADS-B tracking, using a Raspberry Pi to create a FM transmitter and more.
How To Setup SDR # Sharp To Decode DMR Digitial Using DSD Plus And An RTL SDR Receiver on Windows 10
QRadioLink is a Linux and Android compatible radio app that can run on smartphones. It can be used to receive and transmit digital radio signals with a compatible SDR such as an RTL-SDR (RX only), or a LimeSDR Mini (TX and RX). The following video by Adrian M shows QRadioLink running on an Android phone with a LimeSDR Mini connected to it. An external battery pack is also connected to maintain power levels over a longer time.
In the video Adrian shows how this combination can be used as a fully portable radio transceiver. The video first shows him receiving broadcast FM, digital amateur radio voice (Codec2 & Opus is supported), narrowband FM and SSB signals. Later in the video he transmits a digital voice signal using the microphone on his Android phone. He notes that an external amplifier would still be needed if you wanted more transmission power.
Portable SDR transceiver: LimeSDR-mini, mobile phone and QRadioLink
Over on YouTube user radiosification has uploaded a video tutorial that shows how to decode, follow and listen to NXDN/IDAS trunking radio signals. NXDN/IDAS is a narrowband digital voice protocol commonly used with handheld radio terminals.
In the tutorial radiosification explains how to set up DSDPlus and its frequencies text file to automatically listen to and track conversations using the control channel. SDR# is initially used to find the NXDN control and voice channels, which are then entered into the text file. Using this method only DSDPlus and its corresponding receiver FMP is used. Trunking software like Unitrunker is not needed.
Radiosification also notes that the method he presents can also be used for other digital trunking systems such as P25 as well.
Over on YouTube user jdlucas78 has uploaded a video showing a P25 LSM modulated digital voice signal being decoded by the Osmocom OP25 software for Linux. Although DSD and DSD+ can decode P25 voice, it seems that the Osmocom OP25 software is better at decoding P25 signals as it implements better error correction algorithms.
Over on the RadioReference forums there is a thread discussing the use of the OP25 decoding software which can be found here. There is a post in the thread that shows an easy Linux install procedure for the OP25 software.
Monitoring a Trunked P25 LSM Simulcast System w/ OP25 and RTL SDR Dongle
Take 2: Monitoring a Trunked P25 LSM Simulcast System w/ OP25 and RTL SDR Dongle
Digital radio voice communications are becoming more commonly used in the radio spectrum. This is due to the various improvements offered over traditional analogue voice radio systems. Unfortunately for radio scanner hobbyists, digital radio is difficult to receive, as special radio scanners which can be expensive are required to decode the digital signal. Additionally, digital radio systems can be encrypted making it impossible for communications to be decoded by a hobbyist. However, most users of digital radio do not bother to encrypt their systems as it can introduce lag, monetary expense and extra battery drain in portable radios.
The most common digital speech codec is APCO P25, which DSD is able to decode. DSD is also capable of decoding other common digital codecs such as DMR/MOTOTRBO, NXDN, D-STAR and ProVoice.
Super cheap software defined radios such as the RTL-SDR can be used to decode these digital voice communication signals instead of expensive radio scanners. While this tutorial is aimed at the RTL-SDR, other software radios such as the Funcube dongle, Airspy, HackRF and BladeRF will also work. Hardware radios with discriminator taps connected to a PC may also work.
Examples of DSD Decoding Digital Voice with RTL-SDR as a Radio Scanner
YouTube user Geoff Wolf shows a video where he uses RTL-SDR as a police scanner to listen to public safety P25 digital radio using DSD, SDRSharp and virtual audio cable.
RTL-SDR: Decoding P25 Phase I QPSK with DSD and SDR#