Tagged: rtl-sdr

Video on Using RF Filters with an RTL-SDR

Over on YouTube channel TheSmokinApe has uploaded a video about using RF filters with an RTL-SDR. In the video he first explains why FM bandstop and AM high pass filters might be required when using a software defined radio in order to avoid overloading the SDR with very strong signals. He goes on to test and review our RTL-SDR Blog FM Bandstop and AM Highpass filters, by testing them on a spectrum analyzer.

RTL-SDR RF Filters

Near Field Localization with Machine Learning and 7 Coherent RTL-SDRs

Thanks to Laakso Mikko and Risto Wichman researchers at the Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics in Aalto University, Finland for submitting news that their recent paper titled "Near-field localization using machine learning: an empirical study" is available on IEEE Xplore. (To access the paper you need an IEEE subscription, but we see no harm in letting individuals know that they can search for the DOI on sci-hub to get it for free).

The work described in the paper uses 7 RTL-SDR dongles with their clocks connected together. Combined with noise source calibration, this results in a coherent SDR. They then train a Deep Neural Network to perform near field localization using an antenna array. If you are interested, we have out own 5-channel coherent SDR called "KrakenSDR" which will soon be released for crowd funding. The abstract reads:

Estimation methods for passive near-field localization have been studied to an appreciable extent in signal processing research. Such localization methods find use in various applications, for instance in medical imaging. However, methods based on the standard near-field signal model can be inaccurate in real-world applications, due to deficiencies of the model itself and hardware imperfections. It is expected that deep neural network (DNN) based estimation methods trained on the nonideal sensor array signals could outperform the model-driven alternatives. In this work, a DNN based estimator is trained and validated on a set of real world measured data. The series of measurements was conducted with an inexpensive custom built multichannel software-defined radio (SDR) receiver, which makes the nonidealities more prominent. The results show that a DNN based localization estimator clearly outperforms the compared model-driven method.

The paper notes that the code used in the experiments is open source and available on GitHub.

If you're interested, we also posted about Laakso's previous work on beamforming with a phase coherent 21-channel RTL-SDR array back in February.

Examples of MUSIC pseudospectra. The units are [m] for range r on the vertical axis and degrees for θ on the horizontal axis. Red crosses mark the true location and black circles the NFLOPnet estimated location.

Installing Remote SDR V2 on a Raspberry Pi 4B

Remote SDR V2 is software that allows you to easily remotely access either a PlutoSDR, HackRF or RTL-SDR software defined radio. It was originally designed to be used with the amateur radio QO-100 satellite, but version 2.0 includes multiple demodulation modes, NBFM/SSB transmission capability, CTCSS and DTMF encoders, modulation compression and a programmable frequency shift for relays.

Over on the programmers blog, F1ATB has put out a new post showing how to install Remote SDR V2 on a Raspberry Pi 4B. The installation has been made simple thanks for a ready to use SD card image.

If you're interested in an overview of Remote SDR V2, we have posted previously about a Tech Minds review of the software.

Remote SDR V2 with a PlutoSDR

Viewing the RF Spectrum in Virtual Reality + Augmented Reality EMC Probe

Thank you to Manahiyo for submitting his video which shows his software that allows the RF spectrum to be viewed in virtual reality, using a VR headset and an RTL-SDR. In his setup he currently uses a Oculus Quest 2 VR headset, but it should work with others too. The VR screen allows you to have multiple graphs set up, as well as allowing you to explore a 3D spectrograph from all angles by moving it around via the pointer, or by moving your head. 

RTL-SDR×VR(Virtual Reality) with oculus quest2

Manahiyo also has another new VR video on his channel where he uses his RF Watcher software. RF Watcher is his software that allows augmented reality and RF power measurements from an RTL-SDR to be combined. His video demonstrates him using an RTL-SDR and EMC probe, together with RF watcher. As the EMC probe is moved over an RF 'hot spot' on a PCB, red dots are drawn around it in augmented reality.

The programs don't appear to be available to the public yet, but we will follow up with Manahiyo.

Receiving the ‘Hidden’ Broadcast FM SCA Audio Subcarrier with an RTL-SDR and SDR#

Broadcast FM channels can often contain additional subcarriers hidden within the bandwidth. A common subcarrier is Radio Data System (RDS), and this is what provides song and radio station text information to your radio.

Another less commonly seen subcarrier is the Subsidiary communications authority (SCA), which is a separate audio channel hidden within the broadcast FM signal. SCA is typically used for niche radio programs, elevator music, music for doctors offices, and niche services such as reading for the visually impaired. In the past you needed a special hardware SCA radio to receive these channels, however receiving these channels with an SDR is relatively simple. Not all broadcast FM stations will have an SCA service, but the video shown below explains how to find one.

Over on YouTube channel Double A has uploaded a video showing how to decode these SCA subcarriers using an RTL-SDR, two SDR# instances and the MPX Output plugin. The idea to to use a virtual audio cable to pipe the FM Multiplex (MPX) audio output from one instance of SDR# to another. In the second SDR# instance you can then directly tune into the SCA channel. In his video he also explores the FM MPX spectrum, showing the different components, and also how to install and use RDS Spy for decoding RDS.

Tuning an FM Audio Subcarrier (SCA) & Decoding RDS Data with RTL-SDR USB

SDRSharp Guide V3.0 Released

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.

SDRSharp Guide

A SDR Digital Voice Hotspot with GNU Radio, MMDVM and QRadioLink

Thank you to Adrian (YO8RZZ) for writing in and sharing with us his article explaining how to use an SDR to set up a digital voice hotspot for digital voice modes supported by MMDVM such as D-Star, DMR, System Fusion, P25 and NXDN. Adrian notes that this is possible with any full duplex SDR such as the LimeSDR or PlutoSDR, or with a combination of simplex devices, such as a HackRF for transmitting combined with an RTL-SDR for receiving.

MMDVM is firmware that normally runs on an ARM microcontroller board such as the Arduino Due, and is designed to be interfaced with hardware radios via the microcontrollers built in ADC and DAC hardware.

In order to use an SDR instead of physical hardware radios, Adrian's article describes how a fork of MMDVM called MMDVM-SDR is used in his system as this allows the code to run on a normal Linux computer with an SDR. GNU Radio running on Adrian's own QRadioLink software is then used to create software ADC/DAC interfaces for the SDR and MMDVM-SDR to interface with, as well as providing a user interface.

QRadioLink used as the UI for MMDVM-SDR and GNU Radio

RTL-SDR Blog Active L-Band Patch Antenna for Inmarsat, Iridium, GPS Back in Stock

Just a quick note to say that the second batch of our Active L-Band Patch Antenna for receiving Inmarsat, Iridium and other L-Band satellites is now in stock, available to be shipped from our warehouse in China from early next week. Amazon will be stocked within the next 1-2 months as the freighter will take time to arrive.

Please see our store for ordering details.

Apologies as we've had to temporarily suspend sales of this product as a manufacturing defect has been discovered in this batch. The defect is that on a number of units the plastic around the screws is cracking, and this was caused by a factory worker over torqueing a pneumatic screwdriver.

The antenna itself will work fine, and it probably won't even affect weather tightness, but it is certainly a defect. If your unit already shipped out and your unit has these cracks, please let us know at [email protected] and we will get the factory to ship you a replacement enclosure. For unshipped units we will be issuing a refund within the next few days.

Pricing remains the same at US$49.95 including free worldwide shipping to most countries. A reminder to EU customers: please order from our Aliexpress or eBay stores as due to the new IOSS laws we need to now use those marketplaces to collect and remit VAT upon your purchase, instead of upon import at the border.

This second batch comes in a gray color as feedback from the previous batch indicated that a lighter color is preferred to avoid excess heating from the sun.

If you are hearing about this patch antenna for the first time, please see our original release post for more information. In short this is an amplified patch antenna designed to be used with bias tee capable SDRs that can provide 3.3V - 5V power, such as our RTL-SDR Blog V3 dongle, Airspy, SDRplay or HackRF.

The antenna allows for reception of L-band satellites that transmit between 1525 - 1660 MHz, such as Inmarsat, Iridium and GPS. Please note it is *not* for receiving weaker signals like HRPT and GOES which require a dish antenna.

The patch comes with useful mounting accessories including a window suction cup, bendable tripod and 3M RG174 coax cable. The patch and active circuitry is enclosed in a weather proof enclosure.

What can you do with this antenna?