Tagged: OSX

LocalRadio: A new RTL-SDR App for MacOS

Thanks to Doug Ward (@dsward) for letting us know about his new RTL-SDR compatible MacOS based app called LocalRadio. LocalRadio is an open source web browser based app that connects to a MacOS server running an RTL-SDR. The software allows you to listen in on any frequency supported by the RTL-SDR in AM or FM modes, and audio is capable of being streamed to multiple devices via a built the LAME MP3 encoder, EZStream and Icecast server. It does not provide an FFT or waterfall display however.

The software introduction reads:

LocalRadio is an experimental, GPL-2 licensed open-source application for listening to “software defined radio” on your Mac and mobile devices. With an inexpensive RTL-SDR device plugged into the Mac’s USB port, LocalRadio provides a casual listening experience for your favorite local FM broadcasts, free music, news, sports, weather, public safety and aviation scanner monitoring, and other radio sources.

LocalRadio’s easy-to-use web interface allows the radio to be shared from a Mac to iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and other PCs on your home network. No additional software or hardware is required for sharing with mobile devices, simply use the built-in mobile web browser to connect to LocalRadio and tune to your favorite stations. You can also listen to LocalRadio audio on your Apple TV and other AirPlay-compatible devices.

LocalRadio does not provide features like FFT waterfalls, panadapters, or signal recording that are found on other SDR software. For those features, GQRX for Mac is highly recommended. GQRX is a good way to discover radio frequencies that can be used with LocalRadio.

LocalRadio is intended for use as in-home entertainment, using a local area network with a private IP address. It has not been tested with a public IP address, particularly for security testing, therefore it is not recommended for that purpose. For simply listening to LocalRadio on the Mac with the RTL-SDR device plugged in, no network is required at all.

LocalRadio Interface in the Safari Web Browser
LocalRadio Interface in the Safari Web Browser

Getting SDR# and RTL-SDR to run on OSX El Capitan with Mono

A few weeks ago Matthew Miller showed us how it was possible to run DSD+ in OSX using a program called Wineskin. Now he’s uploaded a new video that shows how to get SDR# working in OSX El Capitan with Mono. SDR# is designed to be used in Windows, but since it is written in C# under the .NET framework, it should be possible to run it on OSX with the open source Mono .NET implementation. The overall installation is not as straight forward as simply downloading a zip file like it is on Windows, but the tutorial Matthew provides is clear and easy to follow.

The steps involve downloading SDR#, downloading Mono, installing MacPorts, installing PortAudi, installing the RTL-SDR libraries and then setting up some required symbolic links. Finally he shows that to access the RTL-SDR you must first run RTL-TCP and then connect to that using the RTL-SDR (TCP) option in SDR#.

SDR# on MAC OSX EL CAPITAN – RTL SDR – MONO

Decoding DMR on OSX using a RTL SDR and DSD Plus

DSD+ (Digital Speech Decoder+) is a popular Windows tool that can be used together with an RTL-SDR to decode digital speech signals such as P25 and DMR. There is unfortunately no version for OSX.

However, recently on YouTube user Matthew Miller has uploaded a video showing DSD+ running with CubicSDR on OSX. To do this he used a utility called “Wine Skin” which creates a wrapper that allows Windows software to run on a MAC computer running OSX. This means that DSD+ can be run on directly OSX without the need to use a virtual machine with Windows installed on it.

Decoding DMR on OSX using a RTL SDR and DSD Plus

Installing GQRX on OSX El Capitan

OSX users often don’t have much choice when it comes to general purpose SDR receiver software for the RTL-SDR or other SDR’s. However, one program that works well on Macs is GQRX. Installing GQRX on OSX can sometimes be difficult as the most common installation method involves using Macports, which won’t always work depending on the version of OSX you are using.

Recently, OSX and RTL-SDR user smittix wrote in to use to let us know that there is now a very easy way for El Capitan OSX users to install GQRX. Basically the GQRX team have now released a DMG file which can be downloaded and installed just like most other easy to use applications. Using the DMG file smittix was able to get up and running within 5 minutes.

GQRX running on El Capitan OSX
GQRX running on El Capitan OSX

Installing GQRX on Mac OSX

Mac OSX users can have a hard time with the RTL-SDR as there are not many software packages available for it. One software package that is known to work well on OSX is GQRX, which is a general multi mode receiver GUI that is similar to the Windows software SDR#. Over on smittix’s blog, the author has created a post showing how to install the latest version of GQRX on OSX. The installation involves using Macports, a system that allows some open source programs like GQRX to be automatically compiled and installed on OSX.

GQRX running on a Mac Computer
GQRX running on a OSX Computer

Installing SDR# on OSX

SDR# is the most commonly used Software Defined Radio receiver GUI that is used with the RTL-SDR. Natively, it runs on Windows, but since it is written in C#, it can also run on Mac OSX and Linux with Mono. Installing SDR# on OSX using Mono is a little more complicated compared to simply running it on Windows however.

To help with this, Jan Szumiec has written a simple guide on installing SDR# using Mono on OSX. The guide includes the steps of installing Mono, the Xamarin Studio Mono IDE, the rtl-sdr libraries and then compiling the SDR Sharp sources and symlinking the Mono runtime to the native libraries.

Update: This is no longer possible as the SDR# code is not available anymore.

SDR Sharp on OSX
SDR Sharp on OSX

RTL_ACARS Console Acars Decoder for RTL-SDR

On the Osmocom mailing list, Andreas has posted his work on a console based ACARS decoder for the RTL-SDR. Check out the mailing list thread here, and original post here. The second post on the thread shows how to compile it under Linux. Andreas writes

I have combined “rtl_fm” with Thierry Leconte’s (GPL’ed) acarsdec library code and created “rtl_acars” which can directly decode ACARS flight info messages to the console. Confirmed to compile on OSX 10.6 (not possible for me to check if it also compiles under Windows and *nix). Feel free to add it as another proof of concept to your distro unless you consider it too much of a quick&dirty hack.

Only the source code is available, and you will need to compile it yourself. The code can be found here.