Scanner School is an online site providing tutorials, podcasts and reviews all about the radio scanning hobby. They are currently planning a Webinar for February 23, 2021 titled "Why Every Scanner User Needs an SDR: The #1 Underrated Tool that should be in your setup". You can sign up to the webinar here. In addition to the upcoming webinar they have also already released episode 165 of their podcast titled "This is Why You Need an SDR". The topics covered in the podcast are listed below.
An SDR means that anything normally handled by the hardware of the radio is now handled by the computer, and the physical hardware serves as an interface.
The only limitation on the SDR hardware you buy is the frequency range and the amount of RF it can digest.
SDR receivers have come a long way since they were first hacked into existence.
SDRs used to be difficult to set up, but that’s no longer true.
You don’t need advanced computer skills to run SDR software.
SDR software can run on PC, Linux, Mac, Raspberry PI, and even Android.
An SDR is more flexible and less expensive than a traditional radio.
You can turn a $30 USB stick into something as powerful as an SDS200 in an afternoon.
All you need to get started is an SDR USB stick, a computer, and the free starter software SDR Sharp.
Once you get set up with FM broadcast stations, aviation, and other analog systems, Phil’s SDR course will go into how to set up digital reception.
If you download DSD+ Fast Lane or Unitrunker you can monitor trunking systems.
Back in July 2020 we first posted about the alpha release of "SDR++" which back then was a new project by "Whatsthegeek" that was determined to bring an open source, cross platform, C++ based GUI general receiver program for various SDRs including the RTL-SDR to the community. Over the past few months the author has been working hard on updating the software, and it's look a lot more mature today. Recently he has released the following updates as mentioned on his Reddit post:
As some of you might remember, I posted back in june about my SDR++ project. During the past 6 months, I've been hard at work to make it into usable software! The versions I released in june and july were extremely buggy and unusable. All of those issues have now been fixed. It's now simple to build and install. Here's a small rundown of the features it now has:
Fully modular architecture (plugins)
Support for most SDRs through dedicated modules or SoapySDR
Both baseband and audio recording with a level meter and volume adjust
Multiple bandplans available (very easy to write your own)
Switchable waterall colormap
Low CPU usage (lower than GQRX, CubicSDR, SDRConsole and in some cases SDR#)
Full waterfall update when zooming or changing min/max level
Also, SDR++ now runs on Windows, Linux, OSX and BSD! Do note that it still has a few quirks and misses some features (see https://github.com/AlexandreRouma/SDRPlusPlus/projects/2 for the todo list) In addition to what's in the todo list, decoders for common satellites will be written very soon. They will allow decoding of Meteor and NOAA with no external software needed!
I'd like to thank Airspy, Analog Devices, SDRplay and Howard Su for sending samples of their hardware for development! Would never have been able to add support for their hardware without it!
I hope this software will be useful to the community :)
We note that over on Twitter Whatsthegeek (@ryzerth) has been releasing further updates. He notes that some of the latest code updates for SDR++ add a native RTL-SDR module including bias tee support, and that it is also now available as a package for Arch Linux users over on the user Repository. However these latest updates are not yet available as binaries on the releases page.
In a recent tweet he also demonstrates the very useful looking multi-vfo feature allowing him to decode three AERO signals with Jaero simultaneously on a single RTL-SDR dongle.
The popular SDR# (SDRSharp) software has recently been updated to version 1788, and now runs on the .NET5 SDK. Most of the upgrades are behind the scenes, but generally the new version appears to be more memory efficient and loads faster. The new version also brings more theme and layout customizations and as explained further below an improved plugin SDK for developers.
In order to install the latest version you will need to download .NET5 runtime from Microsoft which may not already be on your system. For RTL-SDR users you can then run install-rtlsdr.bat then start the software as usual.
One of the most exciting new developments is the new .NET 5 plugin SDK that is now available. This allows third party developers to easily code up plugins for SDR#. While a plugin SDK already existed before, the new version appears to make development much simpler, and also comes with a few examples to help get developers started quickly. The result is that we should start to see more plugins appearing in the future with more features.
One plugin called Scytale-C for Inmarsat STD-C channel decoding has already been updated to the new SDK. The developer notes that the plugin now works great with the SDR# "slicer" feature, which allows users to decode multiple STD-C signals within the received bandwidth at the same time.
We've also recently seen reports of Twitter users having success with running this new SDR# version on WINE under Linux. Unfortunately direct USB still doesn't work under WINE, but it would still function via SpyServer or rtl_tcp.
Paolo Romani IZ1MLL has recently created a SDR# users guide document which comprehensively explains all the features and settings available in the program. SDR# (aka SDRSharp) from Airpsy.com is designed for Airspy SDRs, however it is one of the most popular SDR receiver programs used with RTL-SDRs as well.
Paolo's guide appears to build on our own guide at www.rtl-sdr.com/sdrsharp, providing new information and updates since many changes and new features have been released in SDR# since we wrote that guide a few years ago.
The guide can be found on the airspy.com/download page and is available in English, Italian and Spanish.
At the beginning of 2020 Annunaki (@StupotSinders) released his third party user interface for DSDPlus. DSDPlus is a digital speech decoder capable of decoding protocols such as P25 P1, DMR, NXDN and more with an SDR such as the RTL-SDR. As it is a command line tool, it can be a little daunting for some users, which is where the GUI comes in handy.
Recently Annunaki has released an SDR# plugin version of DSDPlusUI. This makes it so you can visualize the digital voice signals at the same time as controlling and decoding with DSDPlus. The plugin is available on the DSDPlusUI website at dsdplusui.com. To use it you will need to be using SDR# 1777 or later.
The Arecibo Radio Telescope has collapsed. Once the largest single dish radio telescope in the world at 305m, Arecibo was mostly used for radio astronomy research. However, the dish was made famous in 1974 for deliberating beaming a message into space as part of a search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) experiment. It also played a part in popular culture, being a part of several famous films such as Golden Eye and Contact.
As part of it's goodbye we thought we'd highlight a few old posts where Arecibo was used together with SDRs for some interesting applications.
The project required finding and researching the original spacecraft documentation, and implementing the modulators and demodulators in GNU Radio. Whilst being successful in communicating with the satellite, ultimately the project failed due to the satellite's nitrogen tanks which had long leaked empty. But the fact that they were even able to find and communicate with the spacecraft using Arecibo was a major achievement. If you're interested in that project, Balint's 2015 talk on YouTube is an interesting watch.
Later in 2017 we saw how Arecibo was used for an Ionospheric heating experiment which involved transmitting 600kW of net power into the Ionosphere. This resulted in SDR users around the world being able to receive the signal. Other posts involve u/moslers Reddit post where he toured Arecibo and showed how they used a familiar program, HDSDR, as part of their monitoring suite.
So goodbye to Arecibo. However, we can look forward to the 500 meter Chinese FAST (Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope) giving us new opportunities for single dish radio observations in the future.
Simple DMR decoder. No external dependencies, no settings, uses SDR # audio path. Designed for listening to unencrypted DMR channels. The voice from both slots is mixed into one channel.
To install the plugin simply copy the dll's from the zip file into the SDR# folder, then copy the line from the magline.txt text file into the plugins.xml file which can be opened with any text editor.