If you weren't already aware KerberosSDR is our 4-channel phase coherent capable RTL-SDR unit that we previously crowdfunded back in 2018. With a 4-channel phase coherent RTL-SDR interesting applications like radio direction finding (RDF), passive radar and beam forming become possible. It can also be used as four separate RTL-SDRs for multichannel monitoring.
A single KerberosSDR combined with an antenna array is able to determine a bearing towards a signal source. By using multiple KerberosSDR units spread over a large area it is possible to triangulate the location of a transmitter and display it on a map. Corey's software uses a modified branch of our open source KerberosSDR code in order to generate a modified XML page that the mapping software polls for updated data. Some instructions on it's use are available on our forums and on the GitHub.
The image below shows three KerberosSDR stations on the map, and two transmitter locations that have been triangulated using the bearings from the three distributed KerberosSDR units.
In his latest video Frugal Radio shows how he shares one antenna with fifteen SDR and scanner receivers using two splitters/multicouplers. He explains that he uses a low cost $35 second hand 1->8 Electroline TV Drop Amp in combination with a more expensive Commercial 1->8 Strisdberg multicoupler. The splitters both have built in amplifiers which help to avoid splitting losses.
Over on his website there is also a companion blog post which shows all the antennas he uses, as well as the multicouplers and adapters.
Share 1 antenna with 15 receivers - signal splitting in the shack with TV amp & multicoupler
Over on GitLab Josh Conway has released a design for an automatically adjusting antenna array which can be used with radio direction finding capable SDRs like our KerberosSDR. KerberosSDR is a SDR consisting of four RTL-SDRs connected to the same oscillator, a USB hub, a built in noise source and calibration hardware which allows software to use the four RTL-SDRs coherently. Coherent operation of SDRs enables interesting applications such as radio direction finding, passive radar and beam forming.
With coherent antenna array based direction finding, the optimal spacing between the antenna elements is proportional to the wavelength of the frequency being received. If you want to do RF direction finding on different frequencies, either multiple antenna arrays with different element spacings, or manually adjusting the antenna array with each frequency change is required.
Josh's design automates this problem with an antenna array that can adjust the spacing automatically. The design puts the antennas on an extending pantograph arm whose length is controlled via a threaded rod connected to a stepper motor. An Arduino microcontroller controls the stepper, thus allowing the spacing to be adjusted automatically.
A full description of the build is provided in the document on GitLab titled "provisional_patent_application.pdf". From Twitter it appears that Josh (@CrankyLinuxUser) was unable to secure a patent for this design, so he has released the design for free under AGLP3. Most of the parts are 3D printed, and the CAD stl files all appear to be available on the GitLab. The Arduino microcontroller firmware is also available.
Thank you to José Carlos Rueda for submitting his project called "a-radio: a web virtual reality radio power spectrum analyzer". The idea behind the project is to first use an RTL-SDR together with rtl_power and heatmap.py to generate a heatmap image of the RF spectrum. This image is then projected into a 3D 360 degree view and hosted on a web server via José's script for the a-frame VR web framework, allowing the heatmap to be viewed with a virtual reality (VR) smartphone headset. José' recommends using a cheap VR headset like Google Cardboard which can be used with your Android smartphone.
José notes that the project is just a proof of concept, but he hopes to inspire future work around the combination of RF and VR.
Earlier in August we posted about radiosondy.info and the MySondy radiosonde receiver. Radiosondy.info is an internet service that aggregates radiosonde weather balloon data received and decoded by RTL-SDR users all over the world. MySondy is a cheap TTGO LoRa receiver that is modified with custom firmware and combined with a companion Android app in order to create a portable radiosonde receiver. A radiosonde is a small sensor and radio package normally attached to a weather balloon. Meteorological agencies around the world typically launch two balloons a day from several locations to gather data for weather prediction. With cheap hardware like an RTL-SDR and the right decoding software it is possible to receive weather and GPS data from the weather balloons launched in your area.
Over on his popular YouTube channel, Andreas Spiess "the guy with the Swiss accent" has uploaded a video featuring the RadioSondy and the MySondy receiver projects. In the video Andreas first explains what a radiosonde is, and who launches them. He goes on to show the RadioSondy website and how to track balloons on it. He then shows the portable MySondy receiver for tracking radiosondes, before finally showing how to set up a permanent fixed ground station with RTL-SDR and Raspberry Pi for contributing to the RadioSondy aggregation website.
In amongst the demonstrations he also goes on several hunts for weather balloons that have landed near him, ultimately recovering two radiosondes and one intact balloon. The radiosondes were initially tracked with the RadioSondy fixed RTL-SDR ground stations, then when in the vicinity of the landed balloon pinpointed and found with the MySondy hardware.
Tracking and Chasing Weather Balloons with TTGO LoRa board and Raspberry Pi. Fun and adventure
On Wednesday Nov 11 Noon Pacific time, Hackaday will hold a hack chat (group text chat session) with Marc Lictman, author of the free online book "PySDR: A Guide to SDR and DSP using Python". We posted about the release of this book last month, noting that it is probably one of the best books in terms of explaining DSP fundamental concepts in an easy to understand way. Hackaday write:
“Revolution” is a term thrown about with a lot less care than it probably should be, especially in fields like electronics. It’s understandable, though — the changes to society that have resulted from the “Transistor Revolution” or the “PC Revolution” or more recently, the “AI Revolution” have been transformative, often for good and sometimes for ill. The common thread, though, is that once these revolutions came about, nothing was ever the same afterward.
Such is the case with software-defined radio (SDR) and digital signal processing (DSP). These two related fields may not seem as transformative as some of the other electronic revolutions, but when you think about it, they really have transformed the world of radio communications. SDR means that complex radio transmitters and receivers, no longer have to be implemented strictly in hardware as a collection of filters, mixers, detectors, and amplifiers; instead, they can be reduced to a series of algorithms running on a computer.
Teamed with DSP, SDR has resulted in massive shifts in the RF field, with powerful, high-bandwidth radio links being built into devices almost as an afterthought. But the concepts can be difficult to wrap one’s head around, at least when digging beyond the basics and really trying to learn how SDR and DSP work. Thankfully, Dr. Marc Lichtman, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland, literally wrote the book on the subject. “PySDR: A Guide to SDR and DSP using Python” is a fantastic introduction to SDR and DSP that’s geared toward those looking to learn how to put SDR and DSP to work in practical systems. Dr. Lichtman will stop by the Hack Chat to talk about his textbook, to answer your questions on how best to learn about SDR and DSP, and to discuss what the next steps are once you conquer the basics.
Over on his blog SQ5BPF has been documenting a TEMPEST experiment where he's been able to transmit data via RF being leaked from a Raspberry Pi's Ethernet connection. The idea was born when he found that his Raspberry Pi 4 was leaking a strong RF signal at 125 MHz from the Ethernet cable. He went on to find that it was easy to turn a tone on and off simply changing the Ethernet link speed with the "ethtool" command line tool. Once this was known it is a simple matter of creating a bash script to generate some morse code.
Quite amazingly the Ethernet RF leakage is very strong. With the Raspberry Pi 10 meters away, and a steel reinforced concrete wall in between, SQ5BPF was able to receive the generated morse code via an RTL-SDR connected to a PC. Further experiments show that with a Yagi antenna he was able to receive the signal from 100 meters away.
His post explains some further experiments with data bursting, and provides links to the scripts he created, so you can try this at home.
Update - SQ5BPF also notes the following:
The leakage differs a lot with the hardware used. The Raspberry Pi 4 is exceptional and also allows to switch the link speed quickly, so was a nice candidate for a demo, but other hardware works as well.
The first tests were done on some old laptops I had laying around, and they leak as well. Maybe someday I will publish this, but everyone of them behaves differently.
Etherify 1 demo receiving via SDR and decoding via fldigi