Elektor is a popular electronics magazine and hobbyist kit store. Recently they have published a book titled "SDR Hands-on Book" written by Burkhard Kainka. The book is intended as a companion to their Arduino SDR shield kit, which is a low cost module that allows you to turn an Arduino into a 150 kHz to 30 MHz capable SDR. It is based on the G8JCFSDR, which is an RF front end downconverter that allows a PC soundcard to be used as an SDR analog to digital converter.
Kainka's book goes over introductory topics such as shortwave reception, explains signal to noise ratio and interference, different types of antennas, software, digital modes, SDR measurements, receiving and finally WSPR and QRP transmission. If you're interested Jan Buiting also recently reviewed the book on the Elektor website.
Elektor are currently running a promotion and are selling the book + Arduino shield for a reduced price of €49.90.
The New England Workshop on Software Defined Radio (NEWSDR) is a yearly conference that hosts multiple SDR related talks. Previously we posted a selection of our favorite 2018 talks which involved topics such as remote sensing of space with SDR, wireless deep learning and multi-objective SDR optimization.
This years NEWSDR event will been held on Jun 13 and 14 at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. They are currently offering pre-registration for free, and are looking for poster presentations.
This year is the 9th iteration of NEWSDR and it will be held at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus on June 13 and 14. Registration is free and we are also accepting submissions for poster presentations and elevator pitches. The event is an excellent networking opportunity and includes technical presentations as well as demonstrations from industry sponsors (Ettus/NI, MathWorks, Analog Devices, and MediaTek).
Over on his blog, DXer OH2-2192 was frustrated by lots of local electrical noise showing up on the HF bands on his Airspy + Spyverter SDR receiver. He discovered that the majority of the noise he was seeing was coming from the switch mode power supplies that power the electronic devices used in his setup. Switch mode power supplies are very common in the modern world, with almost every electronic device using one to efficiently convert wall AC into DC power. However, they convert power by rapidly switching on and off, and these on/off square wave pulses cause a lot of RF noise especially on the HF spectrum.
Over on the SignalsEverywhere YouTube channel, Corrosive has uploaded two new videos about the PlutoSDR. The PlutoSDR is a low cost (typically $99 - $149) RX/TX capable SDR with up to 56 MHz of bandwidth and 70 MHz to 6 GHz frequency range. It also has an onboard FPGA and ARM Cortex-A9 CPU.
By default the bandwidth and frequency range of the PlutoSDR is limited to only 20 MHz and 325 MHz - 3.8 GHz. A minor hack which requires some commands to be input via a terminal screen is required to unlock its full potential, and in the first video Corrosive runs through how this hack can be applied. He also shows an additional hack which unlocks a second CPU core which can be useful for increasing the available CPU power for apps running on the PlutoSDR's ARM processor.
In the second video Corrosive shows how to install the PlutoSDR SDR# plugin, which allows the PlutoSDR to run in SDR#. He then shows how to actually use the plugin to connect to the PlutoSDR.
Adalm Pluto SDR Tutorial: 70Mhz to 6Ghz and Dual Core CPU Modification
Adalm Pluto SDR Sharp Plugin Tutorial ~ [Infamous SDR# on Your Pluto]
As John notes, running SDR software from within a virtual machine essentially freezes a working version of your setup in a virtual image. It's then possible to put the image on a memory stick and take your entire working software setup with you and run it on another PC. Using a fixed image then also avoids problems with OS updates breaking things, as updates can be safely turned off on the virtual machine. Any damage from viruses is localized to the virtual machine only.
During his research John found many people who have been running Linux from within a virtual machine running on Windows, but not the reverse. Originally he tried running a Windows VM from within Windows, but he experienced crashes. Only when using Linux as the base OS was his Windows VM stable.
In his setup he runs Fedora 26 as the base Linux OS (although other Linux versions should also work), and Windows 7 in the Virtual Machine. He uses Oracle VirtualBox as the virtualization software. Once Windows 7 is installed on the Virtual Machine, setting up software like SDR# is as simple as going through our quickstart guide.
The Contour Shuttle Express and Pro V2 are USB controller accessories for PCs. They consist of a knob-like wheel with multiple buttons and they are designed as a keyboard replacement for improving the productivity of video/photo editors. However, several people have found them useful for controlling software defined radio receiver programs like SDR#.
There was no wrapper available for Contours Windows SDK so I created a managed .NET wrapper around contours dll. If anyone wants to develop their own software for these devices I will happily provide them with my .NET wrapper for free as well as a demo app to instruct on its usage.
Over on YouTube user TheGazLab has uploaded a video that reviews the Airspy HF+, and also shows how to use the HF+ with SDR# and WSJT-X in order to create a FT8 monitor. The Airspy HF+ is high dynamic range HF/VHF receiver designed for DXing.
In the video TheGazLab demonstrates to us the decoding in real time, and explains the CAT control SDR# plugin that he's using. The CAT control plugin when combined with a virtual serial port driver allows the WSJT-X program to automatically tune SDR# to the FT8 frequency selected in WSJT-X.
Later in the video he also discusses the SpyServer network which allows SDR# users to connect to remote public Airspy and RTL-SDR units over the internet. He demonstrates connecting to a public server in the UK, and decoding FT8 via the remote server. The video also shows the new SpyServer interface by @zakhttp which nicely lays out the world SpyServer network on a map, making it easy to choose a desired location to listen to.
Airspy HFPlus, SDR# and WSJT-X with full CAT control decoding FT-8
Vasilli has recently released the SDR# TETRA plugin on his website RTL-SDR.RU (note that the site is in Russian, but can be translated with the Google Translate option in the top right of the page). Previously it was only available via ever changing forum links, so it's good to see that it has a permanent home now for the latest version. This plugin allows you to listen to TETRA digital voice via SDR#, without needing to set up any complicated GNU Radio based receivers which were necessary in the past.
The features include (note Translated from Russian):
Receiving a signal from the BS band 25kHz and modulation Pi / 4-DQPSK;
Automatic adjustment of the reception frequency;
Displays information about the BS;
Displays ISSI, GSSI subscribers in the channels (for open channels only);
Displays a service exchange network (for open channels only);
It allows you to listen to the channels in manual or automatic mode selection (only open channels);
It allows to filter and distribute the listening priority specified for groups (GSSI);
It displays a message with the location (just a short message format)
The current features not yet implemented are:
And listen to correctly display any encoded information in a network;
Display SDS type 4 (short messages);
Record audio from the channels (menu added, but does not work);
We also note that as discussed in a previous post there is a companion program for this plugin called TETRA Trunk Tracker.