Tagged: rtl2832u

SDRSharp Big Guide Book Updated to V5.3

Paolo Romani (IZ1MLL) has recently released version 5.3 of his SDRSharp PDF Guide. The book is available for download on the Airspy downloads page, just scroll down to the title "SDR# Big Book" and choose your language.

As before the document is a detailed guide about how to use SDRSharp (SDR#), 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.

Paolo writes:

Youssef Touil hasn't rested for a moment and the SDR# releases have been moving forward in leaps and bounds with new Denoisers (NINR), CCC, Audio/Baseband records and the new menu features.

I also had to re-update my Big Book PDF to v5.3 as a result!!

I have also implemented the SpyServer section a lot in multi OS and a chapter "Ideas and Suggestions" with two paragraphs: SDR & MacOS and the other using SDR# with two multiple monitors.

Detecting Starlink Satellites with a Portable Raspberry Pi + RTL-SDR

Over on his YouTube channel "saveitforparts" has in the past created a portable homemade 'tricorder' which was a boxed up Raspberry Pi with multiple sensors including an RTL-SDR. One new application he's found for the tricorder is the ability to detect the beacons from Starlink satellites using the RTL-SDR and an LNB.

Starlink beacons typically transmit at around 11.325 GHz, so to receive them with an RTL-SDR a downconverter and antenna such as an LNB is required.

In the video he demonstrates the hardware in use, and shows some of the beacons being received on the spectrum, via the tricorders built in LCD screen.

Detecting Starlink Satellites With DIY Tricorder

SatDump ReWork Release with Significant Feature and GUI Updates

SatDump is a popular piece of software that can be used with RTL-SDRs and other software defined radios for decoding images from a wide array of weather imaging satellites including GOES, GK-2A, NOAA HRPT, FengYun, Electro-L and Meteor M2 LRPT + HRPT, and many others (note: there is no APT support at the moment, but it is planned for the future). It is compatible with Windows, Linux and even has an Android APK available.

Recently author @aang23 has updated the software, noting that he's done an almost full rewrite, including major updates to the GUI. The SatDump blog post goes into greater detail about he updates, but as a summary some of the biggest updates include:

  • A reworking and tidy up of the GUI with improved FFT view
  • A viewer which allows you to view output image products, and create RGB composites
  • A projection tool on the viewer, allowing you to project images onto OpenStreetMap.
  • Upgrades to the plugins system, allowing developers to more easily add support for new satellites / missions and SDRs.
  • The addition of 'products' metadata, allowing users to separate raw channel data
  • The addition of demodulators like DVB-S2, GOES-R GRB, HimawariCast, DVB-S
  • Support for additional SDRs like BladeRF, SDRplay RSP Duo, PlutoSDR and MiriSDRs.
  • Updates to the CLI interface
  • Updated less buggy Android App
SatDump new Live Decoding / Recorder Interface

Frugal Radio KrakenSDR Part 2: Vehicle Direction Finding Tests

Over on the Frugal Radio YouTube channel Rob has uploaded part two of his two part series on the KrakenSDR. The KrakenSDR is our 5-channel coherent radio based on RTL-SDRs, and it can be used for applications like radio direction finding and passive radar. We successfully crowd funded the device on Crowd Supply.  

In the first video Rob unboxed the KrakenSDR and set up the software. In this second video he takes the KrakenSDR out on a drive and is able to successfully locate the transmission sources of two unknown transmitters. 

In the first part of the video Rob shows how he sets up his vehicle roof antennas and how he routes his cabling into the vehicle and KrakenSDR. He then shows his drivers view as he locates the site of a DMR trunked network user which ends up to be a factory plant. In his second test Rob locates a P25 transmitter site. In both tests Rob notes how he was impressed at how quickly a location was able to be determined, taking only a few minutes each time.

KrakenSDR - WOW! Amazing Direction Finding Tests : Part 2

Open Source Military TAK Android App Supports RTL-SDR ADS-B Tracking

ATAK (Android Tactical Assault Kit) is an Android app used by some branches of the US military for visualizing geospatial information such as enemy and friendly positions, as well as any other information of interest. The civilian version of ATAK (CivTAK) was recently open sourced in 2020 and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

The software has a huge number of features for coordinating teams, planning operations and visualizing information. It can even network via handheld, or ham radios or a Meshtastic LoRa network if a central server and internet connection is unavailable. Of note is that their plugin page references the possibility of using a plugin that uses RTL-SDR hardware for ADS-B aircraft tracking. However, it appears that the plugin needs to be purchased from tak.gov. We suspect that in the future there will be more RTL-SDR compatible plugins available.

[First seen on Hackaday]

ATAK on an Android Device

An Inside Look into FlightAware’s RTL-SDR

Over on the FlightAware blog, Hardware and Software Engineers Eric Tran and Ziquan Wang have put up a blog post showing how they have designed the FlightAware RTL-SDR hardware and software, and detail some future plans.

FlightAware is a company that specializes in distributed ADS-B aggregation, in order to produce real time maps and information about what aircraft are in the air. In 2021 FlightAware was acquired by Collins Aerospace, which is a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, a large US aerospace and defense contractor.

Most of the data that FlightAware obtains comes from volunteers all around the world running an RTL-SDR dongles on their Raspberry Pi based image. The dongles receive the ADS-B 1090 MHz broadcasts from aircraft which contain information about the aircraft including GPS location. 

Back in 2016 they released the FlightAware ProStick, which is an ADS-B optimized RTL-SDR with onboard 1090 MHz LNA.  Later in 2017 they released the Prostick Plus which improved performance in high interference areas due to the addition of a 1090 MHz SAW filter.

Their post goes into more detail about their products, and note that they are currently designing a new Prostick Plus with filter placed before the LNA instead of after. They also discuss how they are looking into higher end 12-bit ADCs for their receiver hardware, and at creating a dual channel receiver for the 978 MHz UAT band as well. They then go on to discuss the software architecture behind the ADS-B decoder they use.

FlightAware ADS-B Kitset

KrakenSDR Locates a TETRA Transmitter

Over on YouTube F4IPO has posted a video of him using a KrakenSDR and the KrakenSDR Android mapping app to quickly locate the source of a TETRA transmission at 427 MHz in France.

The KrakenSDR is our 5-channel coherent radio based on RTL-SDRs, and it can be used for applications like radio direction finding and passive radar. We successfully crowd funded the device on Crowd Supply.  

In the video F4IPO shows a dash cam recording of his vehicle alongside a screen recording of his Android phone screen. He makes use of the auto-navigation feature which navigates him right to the radio transmit tower. He notes that the entire process to locate the transmitter only took about 5 minutes. At the end of the video he shows the antenna setup on his roof.

KrakenSDR : recherche d'un émetteur TETRA

IEEE Spectrum: Chasing Weather Balloons with Software Defined Radio

Electrical engineering magazine IEEE Spectrum has recently shared a story about how RTL-SDRs can be used for chasing weather balloons. With an RTL-SDR, antenna and appropriate decoding software, it is possible to decode the telemetry signal from weather balloons radiosondes, and track their live GPS location.

The author, James Provost explains how chasing and hunting weather balloons can be a fun sport. To help with his hunt James uses an RTL-SDR, a directional antenna and the Sondehub Tracker website.

First James logged onto Sondehub Tracker which aggregates multiple weather balloon signals received by volunteer ground stations. One feature of Sondehub is that it can predict an approximate landing position of a balloon. It however cannot track a balloon right to its final landing spot as usually the ground station will loose signal when the balloon gets too low.

Knowing the approximate landing position, James drove out to the indicated location and then took out his RTL-SDR and directional antenna and was able to track and find the radiosonde by decoding the telemetry signal with Sonde Monitor

IEEE Spectrum Weather Balloon hunting graphic