This weeks video on the TechMinds channel explores the various online web SDRs that are available to access for free. Accessing these online SDRs does not require any hardware apart from a PC and internet connection, although of course you are then receiving signals from a different location to yourself.
In the video he shows how to access the SDR# Spy Server Network which mostly consists of Airpsy and RTL-SDR units, the SDR-Console V3 Server network which consists of a wide array of different SDRs, the browser based WebSDR network which is mostly soundcard based SDRs but also RTL-SDR and other SDRs, and finally the KiwiSDR network which is made up of KiwiSDRs.
Using Software Defined Radio Without SDR Hardware - WebSDR
Over on his YouTube channel Frugal Radio has released the second episode in his 2020 SDR Guide series. In this video, Frugal Radio shows how to connect to remote SDRs such as KiwiSDR OpenWebRX, WebSDR, SDR-Console v3 Servers, and SDR# SpyServers. He shows how to use these remote SDRs to monitor long range aviation channels, amateur radio operators, and VHF Public Safety channels in the US. He also demonstrates how to decode HFDL signals from aircraft using WebSDR and free software, and verifies the aircraft locations via online tracking sites.
2020 SDR Guide Ep 2 : How to use over 500 remote SDRs free online (webSDR, KiwiSDR & HFDL decode)
SDRplay have recently released an update regarding third party software support and availability of their latest RSPdx receiver. They write:
Happy new Year from all of us at SDRplay.
Here’s an update on additional software for the RSPdx. SDRplay’s SDRuno fully supports the RSPdx but it takes several weeks for other software to catch up to the capabilities offered on the other RSP models.
Simon Brown has released his latest version of SDR Console V3 which supports the RSPdx (Version 3.0.18 dated January 1st) over on https://www.sdr-radio.com/ (make sure you download the latest API 3.x from our downloads page first)
We have released an EXTIO plugin for the RSPdx which will enable the RSPdx to work with any EXTIO-based software (e.g. HDSDR) although it doesn’t support HDR mode. HDR mode will not be added and the source code for the plugin can be found on our GitHub repository (https://github.com/SDRplay/ExtIO_SDRplay) we will not be supporting the plugin source code or extending the plugins capabilities. They are all free to be modified.
It is important to note that the RSPdx ExtIO plugin does NOT, AND WILL NOT, support HDR mode. If you need HDR mode, then SDRuno is the best option. HDR mode requires the end application to work in a certain way and this is not something that can be controlled via the ExtIO protocol.
Work has also begun on supporting RSPdx for SoapySDR based applications such as Cubic SDR (again this won’t include HDR mode). A Gnu Radio source block for the RSPdx will follow.
We are working with Steve Andrew, author of the Software Analyser software programme (see https://www.sdrplay.com/spectrum-analyser/ ) to help get compatibility for the RSPdx – this is a slightly longer process so this will take several more weeks.
Regarding stocks of the RSPs, SDRplay and most of our resellers on www.sdrplay.com/distributors/ have plenty of stock of RSP1A and the RSPduo. However there continues to be a shortage of the RSPdx whereby many of the resellers have sold out of their first deliveries. SDRplay is queuing up their replacement orders on a first come, first served basis. We also have our own quantity planned in there to allow us to sell direct from our website. We still hope that by the end of January we will have supplied this second wave of RSPdx demand.
Jon Hudson, head of marketing at SDRplay has recently released a helpful tutorial that shows how to access remote servers in SDR-Console V3, and also how to set up your own server too. As you may already know, SDR-Console V3 provides a remote server platform which allows you to access all sorts of SDR hardware remotely over a network connection or over the internet. Some SDR hardware owners even opt to share their radio hardware publicly over the internet for anyone to access. The video description reads:
This video is a screen-by-screen guide to both accessing, and setting up your own, remote SDR radio using the new (Feb 2018) SDR Console V3 software from SDR-Radio. Although the guide uses an RSP2 from SDRplay, this will work with all the popular SDRs
Please note - you need to have a good internet connection since (unlike in V2), the entire I/Q data is being sent over the internet. This also limits how much visual bandwidth you are can see at any one time.
SOME IMPORTANT WARNINGS IF YOU ARE ADDING YOUR OWN SDR! Be careful not to plug multiple SDRs into a single USB2 socket - for multiple SDRs, you may need a powered hub ( like this: https://www.amazon.co.uk/UGREEN-Adapt... )
Once you are up and running - please go to http://www.sdr-radio.com/Software/Ver... and view your listing - if there is a yellow triangle, then you are not accessible outside your own firewall - attention is needed! Just because you can access it on your own LAN doesn't mean it's accessible via the internet!!!
The RSP family of SDRs from SDRplay cover 1kHz to 2 GHz with no gaps and give up to 10MHz spectrum visibility.
Jon's video first shows how to use SDR-Console V3 to access those publicly shared SDR radios over the internet. The second part of the video demonstrates how to set up your own server that you can use remotely for personal use, or to share over the internet.
The SDR-Console V3 server accepts various kinds of SDR hardware including RTL-SDR, Airspy, SDRplay, HackRF, Elad, LimeSDR and many more SDR units so this is a good way to explore various types of hardware, or simply to explore signals from different areas around the world.
SDR-Console V3 is the latest in the line of the free SDR-Console software packages from developed Simon Brown. Recently SDR-Console V3 left its 'preview' software status and moved into 'beta' production status.
SDR-Console is a general purpose SDR program similar to other software like SDR#, HDSDR and SDRUno. SDR-Console V3 however sets itself apart by being one of the most feature rich packages with goodies like advanced DSP and NR options, frequency favorite lists, IQ recording and playback with reverse and fast forward, built in CW Skimmer and satellite tracker, independent receiver control with matrix view, signal history export, a recording scheduler, remote server and in the future support for SDRs with transmit capability.
One interesting feature released with the beta version is the SDR-Console server, which allows you to use an SDR remotely over a network such as a local LAN or over the internet. We tested the server on our local machine. After setting up the server account, adding an RTL-SDR radio definition and installing the server Windows service we were able to successfully connect and receive flawlessly. The server appears to limit the maximum bandwidth to 1 MHz.
SDR-Console and the server currently support multiple SDR hardware including the RTL-SDR. SDRplay have blogged about support for their line of RSP products too, and have also created a public internet connected RSP1A demo which anyone can connect to and use (assuming that you have a decent enough internet connection). A list of public Console V3 servers can be found by clicking on the 'SDR Space' button when adding a 'V3 server' radio definition in SDR-Console V3. Currently there are multiple locations and SDR hardware publically available including ELAD FDM-S1's, SDRplay units, Airspy HF+'s as well as RTL-SDR's. We tested a few remote servers and were able to easily connect to most of them and get good smooth throughput.
Recently the SDR# team have updated the algorithm on the noise reduction plugins used in SDR#. It appears that both the IF and Audio noise reduction plugins were updated with a better smoothing algorithm. We briefly tested the new algorithm and compared it against an older version. The new algorithm has noticeably less hiss and is slightly clearer when compared at the same noise reduction level. We tested with the same threshold levels and using the speech profile.
At the same time we've also seen news that Simon of SDR-Console is working on another noise reduction algorithm based on deep neural networks in the latest private beta version. A video of it in action was posted by Paul J in the SDRplay users group (note that you will need a Facebook account and will probably need to be a member of the SDRplay group to view that video). The algorithm seems to be based on the RNNoise paper that was posted here. The SDR# algorithm was also tweaked based on information gained from that paper although it doesn't use neural networks directly.
The Airspy HF+ on the other hand is based on a polyphase harmonic rejection mixer design with 18-bit DDC and has a frequency range of DC – 31 MHz and 60 – 260 MHz, with a maximum bandwidth of up to 660 kHZ. It is not yet released, but is expected to be about US $149 shipped from China.
Simon’s screenshots show that despite its low cost the HF+ seems to perform just as well as the more expensive NetSDR.
Over on his YouTube channel user Corrosive has uploaded a set of videos that show how to install and get started with an RTL-SDR or HackRF with SDR-Console V3. The video series starts from the very beginning with installing the drivers via zadig, and then goes on to show how to download, install and use SDR-Console V3.
In one of his later videos Corrosive also shows how to optimally configure the settings in SDR-Console V3 and SDR# for optimal reception and viewing.
In a newer video he also shows how he uses the HackRF as a spectrum analyzer to find his cellphone signal. Regarding this video, Corrosive wrote in to us and said the following:
For a while now I’ve been trying to find the frequency of my cell phone, looking frequencies up online and trying to find an app that would tell me my current frequency. None of these things seem to work and scanning the band manually I always came up dry because I wasn’t 100% sure where I needed to look.
Further videos on his channel also show how to receive ADSB data with an RTL-SDR and Android phone, and how he repurposed a rabbit ears antenna into a V-dipole antenna for receiving Satcom pirates.
Corrosive has done a good job putting out SDR and radio related videos over the past couple of weeks so it may be a channel to subscribe to if you are interested in this type of content.