Over on YouTube user RickMakes has uploaded a video showing how to install and use CubicSDR on a Mac computer. CubicSDR is a general purpose program compatible with multiple SDRs including the RTL-SDR and is one of the few SDR programs available for use on MacOS.
The installation is as simple as downloading the .dmg file from the CubicSDR GitHub page and running the automatic installer. Afterwards you can move the program to your Applications folder. Once opened CubicSDR should then automatically detect any RTL-SDR that is plugged in.
In the rest of the video RickMakes demonstrates CubicSDR and the RTL-SDR in action, receiving various broadcast FM and ISM band signals.
During the recent George Floyd BLM protests police and military aircraft have been playing a large part in the surveillance of protestors. All these aircraft are required to transmit ADS-B which of course can be monitored with an RTL-SDR or other SDR. Many volunteers around the world use RTL-SDRs to upload ADS-B data to an online aggregation service, so flight data from all over the world can be accessed in one place. However, most ADS-B aggregation services like FlightAware and FlightRadar24 censor police and military aircraft from the raw ADS-B data received from the RTL-SDRs. ADS-B Exchange is the only service that has a policy to not censor any aircraft.
As mentioned in a previous post, ADS-B Exchange recently updated their interface and backend, and they now run tar1090, which is a fully featured ADS-B mapping platform that can display the historical tracks of any tracked aircraft.
We also note that on Twitter John Wiseman @lemonodor also runs several "advisory circular bots" that make use of ADS-B Exchange data to automatically tweet a notification when aircraft are detected as having a circular flight path.
A new video showing how to build a V-dipole for weather satellite reception has been uploaded over on the Tech Minds YouTube channel. A V-dipole isa dipole antenna arranged in a 120 degrees "vee" shape, and mounted horizontally. It was first popularized by Adam 9A4QV who realized that such a simple antenna would work well for low earth orbit satellites like the NOAA and Meteor weather sats.
The video shows how to use some steel rods, a plastic pipe and terminal block to build the v-dipole. After building and mounting the antenna in the required North-South orientation he shows how he's using Gpredict with SDR# and WxToImg to decode the NOAA satellite image.
How To Build A V Dipole For Receiving Weather Satellites
Back in March we posted about Othernet's release of their "Bullseye" TCXO ultra stable LNB for receiving QO-100 and other Ku-Band satellites. We have decided to now offer these for sale on our store as well.
They cost US$29.95 with free shipping to most countries. We are currently selling it over on our blog store and on our Aliexpress store. The Aliexpress store uses Aliexpress Standard Shipping which may be better for some countries like Poland, Ukraine, etc. As usual, please expect that there could be shipping delays at the moment due to the ongoing global pandemic. Since the US is not covered by QO-100 we will not be stocking Amazon USA.
QO-100 / Es'hail-2 is a geostationary satellite at at 25.5°E (covering Africa, Europe, the Middle East, India, eastern Brazil and the west half of Russia/Asia) providing broadcasting services. However, as a bonus it has allowed amateur radio operators to use a spare transponder. Uplink is at 2.4 GHz and downlink is at 10.5 GHz. Most SDRs do not tune all the way up to 10.5 GHz, so an LNB (low noise block) is typically used, which contains the feed, an LNA, and a downconverter which converts the 10.5 GHz frequency into a much lower one that can be received by most SDRs.
In order to properly monitor signals on QO-100 an LNB with a Temperature Compensated Oscillator (TCXO) or other stabilization method is required. Most LNBs have non-stabilized crystals which will drift over time with temperature changes. This means that the narrowband signals used on QO-100 can easily drift out of the receive band or cause distorted reception. It is possible to hand modify a standard Ku-band LNB by soldering on a replacement TCXO or hacking in connections to a GPSDO, but the Bullseye LNB is ready to use and cheap.
The official product details read:
The Bullseye LNB is the world's most precise and stable DTH/consumer Ku-band down converter. Even a VSAT LNBF costing hundreds of dollars more is no match for the performance of the Bullseye 10K LNB. Each unit is calibrated at the factory to within 1 kHz of absolute precision against a GPS-locked spectrum analyzer. Under outdoor conditions, the stability of the LNB is well within 10 kHz of offset. As a bonus feature, the Bullseye 10K provides access to its internal 25 MHz TCXO through the secondary F-connector. This reference output can be used to directly monitor the performance of the TCXO over time.
Bullseye 10 kHz BE01
Universal single output LNB
Frequency stability within 10 kHz in normal outdoor environment
Phase locked loop with 2 PPM TCXO
Factory calibration within 1 kHz utilizing GPS-locked spectrum analyzers
Ultra high precision PLL employing proprietary frequency control system (patent pending)
Digitally controlled carrier offset with optional programmer
25 MHz output reference available on secondary F-connector (red)
Return loss of 8 dB (739 - 1950 MHz) and 10 dB (1100 - 2150 MHz)
Noise figure: 0.5 dB
We note that an external bias tee power injector is required to power the LNB as it requires 11.5V - 14V to operate in vertical polarization and 16V - 19V to operate with horizontal polarization. The bias tee on the RTL-SDR Blog V3 outputs 4.5V so it is not suitable.
Just on the back of yesterday's post about a helical antenna Hydrogen line radio telescope, we have another submission. This telescope is a bit more advanced as it consists of a large motorized horn antenna, with a custom made LNA and filter board connected to an RTL-SDR with GNU Radio DSP processing.
Over on Instructables "diyguypt" has posted a full overview of his creation. The horn antenna is first created out of aluminum sheets, and then the waveguide is cut out of copper wire and installed into the can part of the horn. He then notes that he created two custom LNA+filter boards with the Minicircuits PMA2-43LN+ LNA and the Minicircuits BFCN-1445+ filter. This then connects to the RTL-SDR that is accessed via GNU Radio which creates a visualization spectrograph.
He then shows how he made the rotation system out of a salvaged drill motor and two relays, and how he made the Z-Axis control with a stepper motor. The motors are controlled with an Arduino and a gyroscope module.
Over on YouTube the "Unboxing Tomorrow" channel has uploaded a video explaining how he uses RTL-SDR dongles to monitor various radio channels for storm warnings. He notes how he uses his RTL-SDR to monitor the NOAA national weather service channel as well as the Skywarn channel which is the amateur radio based storm spotting network used in some parts of the USA. He also monitors a P25 trunking network with DSD+ for good measure.
In addition he shows a bit of his setup which includes an RTL-SDR Blog V3 and Raspberry Pi connected to an LCD screen all mounted on a neat rail system made from T-slots.
Thank you to YouTuber M Khanfar for submitting news about his various Windows GNU Radio tutorials that he has been uploading to YouTube. So far he's uploaded tutorials on creating an FM Receiver, Air Band Receiver, AM/NFM Receiver, NFM Receiver with Squelch and Recorder and Spectrum Analyzer with GNU Radio on Windows 10. The tutorials are straight to the point and designed to be followed along with the video. The full list of videos can be found on his YouTube channel, and we have embedded one below.
Build NFM Reciver with Squelch and Recorder Activity GNU RADIO Win10
Over on YouTube a Russian language channel called "HAM Radio Channel" has uploaded a video that compares our RTL-SDR Blog V3 against a ColibriNano. While the video is narrated in Russian, it is easy to understand the side by side comparisons with the V3 running on HDSDR on the left of the screen, and the ColibriNano running on its custom software on the right.
The Russian made ColibriNano is a 14-bit direct sampling SDR with 0.1-55 MHz tuning range (undersampling up to 500 MHz), and up to 3 MHz bandwidth. It costs about US$280 - US$300 depending on the region. The RTL-SDR Blog V3 is our US$24.95 receiver with built in direct sampling mod which allows users to bypass the tuner in software resulting in a low-end HF receiver.
While the RTL-SDR Blog V3 cannot compare spec-wise to the ColibriNano, the review shows that the 12x cheaper SDR can still hold up fairly well against the higher end product. Of course as we always say, the differences between most SDRs only become apparent in challenging signal conditions, and we're sure that the ColibriNano would win out in conditions with very strong and weak signals being received together without appropriate pre-filtering. But if the conditions and/or pre-filtering is right, we belive that the RTL-SDR Blog V3 is still the best bang for your buck overall.
Что лучше? RTL-SDR или ColibriNANO? Сравнение SDR приемников