If you are interested in manually decoding some unknown signals you may be interested in this write up as it discusses his entire journey including the failures he encountered along the way. Basically he records some packets using his SDR dongle, works out their bit patterns manually and then attempts to find correlations between the packets in an attempt to discover their structure. In the end his efforts are successful as he discovers that he is receiving a temperature sensor and is able to decode the temperature readings.
HDSDR, a popular SDR program used with the RTL-SDR dongle has been updated to version 2.70. The new features include
– better CPU utilization
– added Automatic Notch Filter
– added AFC for AM and FM. AFC can be deactivated in ECSS mode
– smoothed S-Meter display
– enhanced parameters for ‘SDR on IF output’
– new keyboard shortcuts for Lo/HiCut and WAV files
– ‘spectrum’ switchable to Autocorrelation/Cepstrum display (Click on ‘Spectrum’ label)
– TX-Button for HRD(DDE) / CAT to HDSDR
– added ‘Double Size’ option in Frequency Input Dialog
– Frequency Manager now provides 5 User Banks
Over on instructables.com, user v3l0c1r4pt0r has created an instructable that shows step by step instructions on how to create an FM receiver in GNU Radio using an RTL-SDR and GNU Radio Companion. His instructable explains a bit about the theory of what is required to decode an FM signal, and shows which GNU Radio blocks are required, and how to connect them up.
Amateur radio enthusiast and blogger 9A4QV has released a new wideband low noise amplifier (LNA) circuit that would work well with the rtl-sdr. It amplifies from 28MHz to 2500MHz with a 1dB noise figure. Check it out on his page here. At 20 Euros plus 5 Euros worldwide shipping for a fully assembled LNA, it is quite a good deal.
This small gadget can lower and improve you DVB-T SDR stick noise figure and improve the sensitivity. Adding the LNA in front the front end of your receiver can open another dimension in your reception. Receiving HAM radio satellites should not be a problem even with the small setup and portable antennas.