Tagged: sdr#

The Open Source OVI-40 SDR Transceiver

Thanks to various contributors for letting us know about the OVI-40, a new open source DIY SDR ham radio transceiver project that is now available for ordering. The OVI-40 appears to be a German project that is based on the mcHF transceiver. It is a standalone SDR transceiver (no PC required) with a frequency range of DC - 75 MHz. Most discussion appears to be happening in German on their forums, so it is a little difficult to get English information about it.

The kit has recently been released for preorder. The transceiver is a kit involving SMD soldering, but can be ordered fully soldered for 202 Euros (~$240 US) + taxes. The LCD screen is an additional 24 - 27 Euros. The kit without soldering done costs 112 Euros (~$132 US) + taxes.

The advertised details and specs are listed below:

OVI40-SDR is a transceiver which covers VLF...75MHz. It is mainly a DIY project - but all PCBs will also be available as soldered, aligned / programmed PCBs for all those, who do not have the skill to build a complex SMD project by themself or do not want it. OVI40-SDR will also be available as "only RX" and can be expanded with TX stages later.

Developer team takes inspirations from all existing commercial and DIY projects to get a SDR which combines possibly the best of all of them. But OVI40-SDR is not only a TRX - it is a philosophy. A community based working together, regardless of different countries, languages, religions, political systems - all are working together to get a very nice transceiver for themselfes and for others who are coming to the project later - wants to show, what people can reach if they are working together and do not struggle against each other. HAM radio always has connected the world - using the possibilities of the internet adds much more power for community working.

  • RX from VLF (~ a few KHz) ... 4m, possibly 2m Including
  • TX 160m ... 4m: 50W, 2200m, 630m and 4m (2m if Implemented): 10 ... 20mW SMA Out
  • continuosly tuned preselection
  • PA works using double LDMOSFET, independent BIAS adjusted. BIAS is internally Measured via A / D and can be set in menu Directly in [mA].
  • TX and RX mixer with very low capacity to minimize LO leakage
  • true RX QSD mixer using instrumental amplifiers
  • all internal Voltages (8V, 5V) are generated using well-shielded switching regulators. Additionally switching frequency is shifted via firmware so that never harmonics are present in the RX spectrum
  • included hardware for measuring antenna (sweep) using logarithmic amplifier
  • output of an independent selectable rf to SMA plug. I am experimenting to use this as a beacon WSPR Which can run parallel to radio
  • usage as possible network analyzer
The OVI-40 Kit Assembled
The OVI-40 Kit Assembled

TempestSDR: An SDR tool for Eavesdropping on Computer Screens via Unintentionally Radiated RF

Thanks to RTL-SDR.com reader 'flatflyfish' for submitting information on how to get Martin Marinov's TempestSDR up and running on a Windows system. If you didn't already know by definition "TEMPEST" refers to techniques used by some spy agencies to eavesdrop on electronic equipment via their unintentional radio emissions (as well as via sounds and vibrations). All electronics emit some sort of unintentional RF signals, and by capturing and processing those signals some data can be recovered. For example the unintentional signals from a computer screen could be captured, and converted back into a live image of what the screen is displaying.

TempestSDR is an open source tool that allows you to use any SDR that has a supporting ExtIO (such as RTL-SDR, Airspy, SDRplay, HackRF) to receive the unintentional signal radiation from a screen, and turn that signal back into a live image. This can let you view what is on a screen without any physical connections. If a high gain directional antenna is used then it may be possible to receive images from several meters away as well.

TempestSDR showing what's on the screen via unintentional RF radiation from the monitor.
TempestSDR showing what's on the screen via unintentional RF radiation from the monitor.

Although TempestSDR has been released now for a number of years it hasn't worked properly in Windows with ExtIO interfaces. In his email flatflyfish showed us how to compile a new version that does work.

1. You need to install a 32-bit version of the Java runtime. The 64-bit version won't work with extio's possibly because they are all 32-bit. Also install the JDK.

2. You need to install MingW32 and MSYS and put their bin folders in your Windows PATH.

3. Then when compiling I was seeing a lot of CC command unknown errors. To fix that I just added CC=gcc to the top of all makefiles. I also removed the Mirics compilation line from the JavaGUI makefile to make things easier as we're not using that sdr.

4. Originally my JDK folder was in Program Files. The makefile didn't like the spaces in the folder, so I moved it to a folder without spaces and it fixed the errors.

5. Lastly to compile it you need to specify the ARCHNAME as x86 eg "make all JAVA_HOME=F:/Java/jdk1.7.0_45 ARCHNAME=X86"

After doing all that it compiled and I had a working JAR file. The extio's that are used normally with HDSDR work fine now and I get some images from my test monitor with an rtlsdr.

We tested compilation ourselves and were successful at getting a working program. To help others we've just uploaded a fork of the code with the makefile changes done, as well as a precompiled release ZIP available on the releases page so no compilation should be required to just use it. Note that to use the precompiled JAR you still need to install MingW32, and also don't forget to install the MingW /bin and msys /1.0/bin folders into the Windows PATH. You also do need to have the 32-bit Java runtime installed as the 64-bit version doesn't seem to work. On at least one Win 10 machine we also had to manually add a 'Prefs' folder to the Java path in the registry.

We've tested the software with the ExtIO for RTL-SDRs (available on the HDSDR downloads page) and confirmed that it works. Images from one of our older DELL monitors using DVI are received nicely, although they are a bit blurry. We also tried using an Airspy or SDRplay unit and this significantly improved the quality of the images a lot due to the larger bandwidth. The quality was good enough to make out large text on the screens. ExtIO's for the Airspy are available on this page, and for the SDRplay on the official SDRplay website. Note that for the SDRplay we were unable to go above 6 MHz, and on the RTL-SDR 2.8 MHz was the limit - anything higher on these SDRs did not produce an image possibly due to dropped samples.

To use the software you should ideally know the resolution and refresh rate of your target monitor. But if you don't there are auto-correlation graphs which actually help to predict the detected resolution and frame rate. Just click on the peaks. Also, you will need to know the frequency that your monitor unintentionally emits at. If you don't know you can browse around in SDR# looking for interference peaks that change depending on what the image of the screen is showing. For example in the image below we show what the interference might look like. A tip to improving images is to increase the "Lpass" option and to watch that the auto FPS search doesn't deviate too far from your expected frame rate. If it goes too far, reset it by re-selecting your screen resolution.

Unintentionally radiated RF signal from computer screen shown in SDR#
Unintentionally radiated RF signal from computer screen shown in SDR#

The best results were had with the Airspy listening to an older 19" DELL monitor connected via DVI. A newer Phillips 1080p monitor connected via HDMI had much weaker unintentional signals but images were still able to be recovered. A third AOC 1080p monitor produced no emissions that we could find.

Clear images were obtained with an antenna used in the same room as the monitor. In a neighboring room the images on the DELL monitor could still be received, but they were too blurry to make anything out. Possibly a higher gain directional antenna could improve that.

An example set up with RTL-SDR antenna and monitors
An example set up with RTL-SDR antenna and monitors

Below we've uploaded a video to YouTube showing our results with TempestSDR.

If you want to learn more about TEMPEST and TempestSDR Martin Marinovs dissertation on this software might be a good read (pdf).

PlutoSDR SDR# Plugin + New Dual Core CPU Hack

A new plugin for SDR# has been released which allows SDR# to be used with the ADALM-PLUTO SDR. To use the plugin you’ll have to apply the frequency range hack first, which allows the PlutoSDR to tune to 70 – 6000 MHz. Then simply extract the plugin to the SDR# directory and add the key to the FrontEnds.xml file.

We tested the plugin out and found that it worked well with our PlutoSDR. The interface allows you to set the sample rate up to 19 MSPS, but anything over 4 MSPS causes dropped samples and anything over 5 MSPS is labelled as not supported. The advertised hardware limit of the PlutoSDR with no dropped samples is 4 MSPS, and we did notice audio jitter at 5 MSPS and above. Anything higher than 5 MSPS shows noticeable jitter in the waterfall display too. Note that this is not a problem of the plugin or SDR#, but rather of the hardware limitations.

Over on the PlutoSDR forums user jocover also discovered a new hack which allows you to enable dual-core support on the PlutoSDR. It’s not clear if this helps with anything useful yet, but maybe useful for some custom applications that make use of the CPU.

PlutoSDR running in SDR#
PlutoSDR running in SDR#

Forum Talk Videos From Hamvention 2017

During Hamvention 2017 several presenters and myself presented SDR or radio related talks. Some were filmed and put up onto YouTube. Unfortunately the 2017 SDR Forum video seems to be missing, or not yet uploaded yet.

The first set of talks was recorded by Gary KN4AQ at the TAPR Forum. The first talk in the set was from Michael Ossmann and Dominic Spill on “Low Cost, Open Source Spectrum Monitoring”. In this talk they discussed their recent improvements on creating a fast spectrum scanner mode on their HackRF. The second talk was “Advanced SDR Algorithms for Noise Blanking and Noise Reduction” by Warren Pratt NR0V. Here Warren discussed and gave examples of the effectiveness of some new noise blanker and noise reduction algorithms used in openHPSDR. Finally the third talk was “Introduction to RTL-SDR: Ultra cheap software defined radio” by Carl Laufer (myself). This was a brief introduction to the RTL-SDR showing some typical applications that they are used for.

The second set of talks was recorded by the Ham Radio 2.0 YouTube channel at the Digital Modes forum. The first talk was from myself again and was another introduction to cheap SDRs with some slightly different material. The second talk was by Uli with Wireless Holdings who discussed the latest developments in his DV4 digital mode transceiver products. Finally Mel K0PFX gave a talk on the latest developments in the FreeDV digital voice codec.

Finally I was interviewed by Gary KN4AQ of the HamRadioNow podcast and YouTube show and Marty KC1CWF of the PhasingLine podcast about RTL-SDR.com and the V3 dongles.

Just a reminder that slides from all the talks presented by myself are available on this post.

The New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) Accepting Poster Submissions

Thanks to Michael Rahaim a Postdoctoral Researcher at Boston University for letting us know about the New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) which will be held on June 1 & 2 and Tufts University in Medford, MA. They write:

A few of my colleagues and I are organizing the New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) next month and we are currently accepting submissions for poster presentations. The event will be held at Tufts University and is sponsored by MathWorks, Ettus/NI, MediaTek and Analog Devices. It is the 7th time we’ve held the workshop and we typically have attendance of 80-100 people from industry, academia, and government.

This seems to be mostly an academic and industry conference type event, but a few people reading this blog may be interested. Registration is free.

This year as well as the poster presentations there will be a tutorial and introduction to using the PlutoSDR, which is an (as of yet unreleased) TX & RX capable SDR that will be priced at around $149 USD. It looks to be like a way to get started with SDR TXing very cheaply. During the workshops they are also providing tutorials on using USRP SDR devices with MATLAB Simulink, and with FPGAs. In 2016 they also had some interesting presentations including “Wireless Beyond RF: From Underwater to Intra-body Ultrasonic Software Defined Radios” and a tutorial on “Identifying Mystery Waveform Using Simulink and RTL-SDR”

Using SDR# and the Fast Scanner Plugin for Wide Band Scanning

Over on Tom’s Radio Room Show (TRRS) on YouTube Tom has uploaded a video showing how to use SDR# together with Vasili’s Fast Scanner plugin. Fast Scanner is a plugin for SDR# that allows you to use SDR# as a wide band scanner. Essentially this quickly scans through multiple ~2 MHz chunks of bandwidth, and automatically tunes to any active signals. 

In his video Tom shows the Fast Scanner plugin in action, shows how to use it, discusses a bit about how it works and also shows what all the features are.

The Panoradio: A tech-demo for direct sampling SDR

SDR researcher Stefan Scholl (DC9ST) recently wrote in to us and wanted to share his project which is a direct sampling SDR using a fast AD converter on the Zynq SoC (System on Chip). He calls the SDR ‘Panoradio’. He writes:

The Panoradio is a modern software defined radio receiver, that directly samples the antenna signal with 250 MHz with an analog-to-digital converter. The receiver captures and displays signals from 0-100 MHz, i.e. shortwave and VHF signals simultaneously, and can even receive signals from the 70 cm band with undersampling.

The hardware platform is the Zedboard, that features the Xilinx Zynq Soc, which combines an FPGA with an ARM A9 dual core and runs a Linux operating system. Fast signal processing is then done in the FPGA, slow signal processing with the ARM A9. The radio can operate in standalone mode with just a monitor and mouse attached.

The radio’s features at a glance:
– 0 -100 MHz direct sampling reception
– Direct sampling of 70 cm (425 – 440 MHz) signals
– Three independent zoomable waterfall displays (100 MHz to 6.1 kHz bandwidth)
– Two independent audio receivers (22 kHz bandwidth) with Weaver SSB demod
– Standalone operation with embedded system (Zynq / Zedboard)
– Full Linux running, including demodulation software (e.g. Fldigi)

The Panoradio is designed as a tech-demo for software defined radio, that shows what is possible with today’s technology in AD conversion and signal processing platforms.
It is an open source project, the design files can be accessed from the project website, which also includes basic information on direct sampling SDRs and single-sideband (SSB) detection:
www.panoradio-sdr.de

Stefan also presented his work at the “Software Defined Radio Academy” conferences in Friedrichshafen, Germany in both 2015 and 2016. The talks are shown below, as well as some photos and screenshots of the SDR in action.


SONY DSC
panoradio_sdr_gui
70cm_band_direct_sampling
SONY DSC

A direct sampling SDR is an SDR without any analogue tuner on the front end, basically directly sampling with the ADC from the antenna. This takes us closer to a ‘true’ SDR which has very little analogue components. Over time we should start to see more direct sampling SDRs popping up. For example recently we saw the release of a new Xilinx RFSoC which is capable of sampling at up to 4Gsamples per second which should provide a very wide band, wide frequency range SDR. While this chip will probably be extremely expensive for the time being as it is mainly designed for commercial cell tower communications, it shows how well direct sampling technology is progressing.

The Open Source OVI-40 SDR Transceiver

Thanks to various contributors for letting us know about the OVI-40, a new open source DIY SDR ham radio transceiver project that is now available for ordering. The OVI-40 appears to be a German project that is based on the mcHF transceiver. It is a standalone SDR transceiver (no PC required) with a frequency range of DC - 75 MHz. Most discussion appears to be happening in German on their forums, so it is a little difficult to get English information about it.

The kit has recently been released for preorder. The transceiver is a kit involving SMD soldering, but can be ordered fully soldered for 202 Euros (~$240 US) + taxes. The LCD screen is an additional 24 - 27 Euros. The kit without soldering done costs 112 Euros (~$132 US) + taxes.

The advertised details and specs are listed below:

OVI40-SDR is a transceiver which covers VLF...75MHz. It is mainly a DIY project - but all PCBs will also be available as soldered, aligned / programmed PCBs for all those, who do not have the skill to build a complex SMD project by themself or do not want it. OVI40-SDR will also be available as "only RX" and can be expanded with TX stages later.

Developer team takes inspirations from all existing commercial and DIY projects to get a SDR which combines possibly the best of all of them. But OVI40-SDR is not only a TRX - it is a philosophy. A community based working together, regardless of different countries, languages, religions, political systems - all are working together to get a very nice transceiver for themselfes and for others who are coming to the project later - wants to show, what people can reach if they are working together and do not struggle against each other. HAM radio always has connected the world - using the possibilities of the internet adds much more power for community working.

  • RX from VLF (~ a few KHz) ... 4m, possibly 2m Including
  • TX 160m ... 4m: 50W, 2200m, 630m and 4m (2m if Implemented): 10 ... 20mW SMA Out
  • continuosly tuned preselection
  • PA works using double LDMOSFET, independent BIAS adjusted. BIAS is internally Measured via A / D and can be set in menu Directly in [mA].
  • TX and RX mixer with very low capacity to minimize LO leakage
  • true RX QSD mixer using instrumental amplifiers
  • all internal Voltages (8V, 5V) are generated using well-shielded switching regulators. Additionally switching frequency is shifted via firmware so that never harmonics are present in the RX spectrum
  • included hardware for measuring antenna (sweep) using logarithmic amplifier
  • output of an independent selectable rf to SMA plug. I am experimenting to use this as a beacon WSPR Which can run parallel to radio
  • usage as possible network analyzer
The OVI-40 Kit Assembled
The OVI-40 Kit Assembled

TempestSDR: An SDR tool for Eavesdropping on Computer Screens via Unintentionally Radiated RF

Thanks to RTL-SDR.com reader 'flatflyfish' for submitting information on how to get Martin Marinov's TempestSDR up and running on a Windows system. If you didn't already know by definition "TEMPEST" refers to techniques used by some spy agencies to eavesdrop on electronic equipment via their unintentional radio emissions (as well as via sounds and vibrations). All electronics emit some sort of unintentional RF signals, and by capturing and processing those signals some data can be recovered. For example the unintentional signals from a computer screen could be captured, and converted back into a live image of what the screen is displaying.

TempestSDR is an open source tool that allows you to use any SDR that has a supporting ExtIO (such as RTL-SDR, Airspy, SDRplay, HackRF) to receive the unintentional signal radiation from a screen, and turn that signal back into a live image. This can let you view what is on a screen without any physical connections. If a high gain directional antenna is used then it may be possible to receive images from several meters away as well.

TempestSDR showing what's on the screen via unintentional RF radiation from the monitor.
TempestSDR showing what's on the screen via unintentional RF radiation from the monitor.

Although TempestSDR has been released now for a number of years it hasn't worked properly in Windows with ExtIO interfaces. In his email flatflyfish showed us how to compile a new version that does work.

1. You need to install a 32-bit version of the Java runtime. The 64-bit version won't work with extio's possibly because they are all 32-bit. Also install the JDK.

2. You need to install MingW32 and MSYS and put their bin folders in your Windows PATH.

3. Then when compiling I was seeing a lot of CC command unknown errors. To fix that I just added CC=gcc to the top of all makefiles. I also removed the Mirics compilation line from the JavaGUI makefile to make things easier as we're not using that sdr.

4. Originally my JDK folder was in Program Files. The makefile didn't like the spaces in the folder, so I moved it to a folder without spaces and it fixed the errors.

5. Lastly to compile it you need to specify the ARCHNAME as x86 eg "make all JAVA_HOME=F:/Java/jdk1.7.0_45 ARCHNAME=X86"

After doing all that it compiled and I had a working JAR file. The extio's that are used normally with HDSDR work fine now and I get some images from my test monitor with an rtlsdr.

We tested compilation ourselves and were successful at getting a working program. To help others we've just uploaded a fork of the code with the makefile changes done, as well as a precompiled release ZIP available on the releases page so no compilation should be required to just use it. Note that to use the precompiled JAR you still need to install MingW32, and also don't forget to install the MingW /bin and msys /1.0/bin folders into the Windows PATH. You also do need to have the 32-bit Java runtime installed as the 64-bit version doesn't seem to work. On at least one Win 10 machine we also had to manually add a 'Prefs' folder to the Java path in the registry.

We've tested the software with the ExtIO for RTL-SDRs (available on the HDSDR downloads page) and confirmed that it works. Images from one of our older DELL monitors using DVI are received nicely, although they are a bit blurry. We also tried using an Airspy or SDRplay unit and this significantly improved the quality of the images a lot due to the larger bandwidth. The quality was good enough to make out large text on the screens. ExtIO's for the Airspy are available on this page, and for the SDRplay on the official SDRplay website. Note that for the SDRplay we were unable to go above 6 MHz, and on the RTL-SDR 2.8 MHz was the limit - anything higher on these SDRs did not produce an image possibly due to dropped samples.

To use the software you should ideally know the resolution and refresh rate of your target monitor. But if you don't there are auto-correlation graphs which actually help to predict the detected resolution and frame rate. Just click on the peaks. Also, you will need to know the frequency that your monitor unintentionally emits at. If you don't know you can browse around in SDR# looking for interference peaks that change depending on what the image of the screen is showing. For example in the image below we show what the interference might look like. A tip to improving images is to increase the "Lpass" option and to watch that the auto FPS search doesn't deviate too far from your expected frame rate. If it goes too far, reset it by re-selecting your screen resolution.

Unintentionally radiated RF signal from computer screen shown in SDR#
Unintentionally radiated RF signal from computer screen shown in SDR#

The best results were had with the Airspy listening to an older 19" DELL monitor connected via DVI. A newer Phillips 1080p monitor connected via HDMI had much weaker unintentional signals but images were still able to be recovered. A third AOC 1080p monitor produced no emissions that we could find.

Clear images were obtained with an antenna used in the same room as the monitor. In a neighboring room the images on the DELL monitor could still be received, but they were too blurry to make anything out. Possibly a higher gain directional antenna could improve that.

An example set up with RTL-SDR antenna and monitors
An example set up with RTL-SDR antenna and monitors

Below we've uploaded a video to YouTube showing our results with TempestSDR.

If you want to learn more about TEMPEST and TempestSDR Martin Marinovs dissertation on this software might be a good read (pdf).

PlutoSDR SDR# Plugin + New Dual Core CPU Hack

A new plugin for SDR# has been released which allows SDR# to be used with the ADALM-PLUTO SDR. To use the plugin you’ll have to apply the frequency range hack first, which allows the PlutoSDR to tune to 70 – 6000 MHz. Then simply extract the plugin to the SDR# directory and add the key to the FrontEnds.xml file.

We tested the plugin out and found that it worked well with our PlutoSDR. The interface allows you to set the sample rate up to 19 MSPS, but anything over 4 MSPS causes dropped samples and anything over 5 MSPS is labelled as not supported. The advertised hardware limit of the PlutoSDR with no dropped samples is 4 MSPS, and we did notice audio jitter at 5 MSPS and above. Anything higher than 5 MSPS shows noticeable jitter in the waterfall display too. Note that this is not a problem of the plugin or SDR#, but rather of the hardware limitations.

Over on the PlutoSDR forums user jocover also discovered a new hack which allows you to enable dual-core support on the PlutoSDR. It’s not clear if this helps with anything useful yet, but maybe useful for some custom applications that make use of the CPU.

PlutoSDR running in SDR#
PlutoSDR running in SDR#

Forum Talk Videos From Hamvention 2017

During Hamvention 2017 several presenters and myself presented SDR or radio related talks. Some were filmed and put up onto YouTube. Unfortunately the 2017 SDR Forum video seems to be missing, or not yet uploaded yet.

The first set of talks was recorded by Gary KN4AQ at the TAPR Forum. The first talk in the set was from Michael Ossmann and Dominic Spill on “Low Cost, Open Source Spectrum Monitoring”. In this talk they discussed their recent improvements on creating a fast spectrum scanner mode on their HackRF. The second talk was “Advanced SDR Algorithms for Noise Blanking and Noise Reduction” by Warren Pratt NR0V. Here Warren discussed and gave examples of the effectiveness of some new noise blanker and noise reduction algorithms used in openHPSDR. Finally the third talk was “Introduction to RTL-SDR: Ultra cheap software defined radio” by Carl Laufer (myself). This was a brief introduction to the RTL-SDR showing some typical applications that they are used for.

The second set of talks was recorded by the Ham Radio 2.0 YouTube channel at the Digital Modes forum. The first talk was from myself again and was another introduction to cheap SDRs with some slightly different material. The second talk was by Uli with Wireless Holdings who discussed the latest developments in his DV4 digital mode transceiver products. Finally Mel K0PFX gave a talk on the latest developments in the FreeDV digital voice codec.

Finally I was interviewed by Gary KN4AQ of the HamRadioNow podcast and YouTube show and Marty KC1CWF of the PhasingLine podcast about RTL-SDR.com and the V3 dongles.

Just a reminder that slides from all the talks presented by myself are available on this post.

The New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) Accepting Poster Submissions

Thanks to Michael Rahaim a Postdoctoral Researcher at Boston University for letting us know about the New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) which will be held on June 1 & 2 and Tufts University in Medford, MA. They write:

A few of my colleagues and I are organizing the New England Workshop for SDR (NEWSDR) next month and we are currently accepting submissions for poster presentations. The event will be held at Tufts University and is sponsored by MathWorks, Ettus/NI, MediaTek and Analog Devices. It is the 7th time we’ve held the workshop and we typically have attendance of 80-100 people from industry, academia, and government.

This seems to be mostly an academic and industry conference type event, but a few people reading this blog may be interested. Registration is free.

This year as well as the poster presentations there will be a tutorial and introduction to using the PlutoSDR, which is an (as of yet unreleased) TX & RX capable SDR that will be priced at around $149 USD. It looks to be like a way to get started with SDR TXing very cheaply. During the workshops they are also providing tutorials on using USRP SDR devices with MATLAB Simulink, and with FPGAs. In 2016 they also had some interesting presentations including “Wireless Beyond RF: From Underwater to Intra-body Ultrasonic Software Defined Radios” and a tutorial on “Identifying Mystery Waveform Using Simulink and RTL-SDR”

Using SDR# and the Fast Scanner Plugin for Wide Band Scanning

Over on Tom’s Radio Room Show (TRRS) on YouTube Tom has uploaded a video showing how to use SDR# together with Vasili’s Fast Scanner plugin. Fast Scanner is a plugin for SDR# that allows you to use SDR# as a wide band scanner. Essentially this quickly scans through multiple ~2 MHz chunks of bandwidth, and automatically tunes to any active signals. 

In his video Tom shows the Fast Scanner plugin in action, shows how to use it, discusses a bit about how it works and also shows what all the features are.

The Panoradio: A tech-demo for direct sampling SDR

SDR researcher Stefan Scholl (DC9ST) recently wrote in to us and wanted to share his project which is a direct sampling SDR using a fast AD converter on the Zynq SoC (System on Chip). He calls the SDR ‘Panoradio’. He writes:

The Panoradio is a modern software defined radio receiver, that directly samples the antenna signal with 250 MHz with an analog-to-digital converter. The receiver captures and displays signals from 0-100 MHz, i.e. shortwave and VHF signals simultaneously, and can even receive signals from the 70 cm band with undersampling.

The hardware platform is the Zedboard, that features the Xilinx Zynq Soc, which combines an FPGA with an ARM A9 dual core and runs a Linux operating system. Fast signal processing is then done in the FPGA, slow signal processing with the ARM A9. The radio can operate in standalone mode with just a monitor and mouse attached.

The radio’s features at a glance:
– 0 -100 MHz direct sampling reception
– Direct sampling of 70 cm (425 – 440 MHz) signals
– Three independent zoomable waterfall displays (100 MHz to 6.1 kHz bandwidth)
– Two independent audio receivers (22 kHz bandwidth) with Weaver SSB demod
– Standalone operation with embedded system (Zynq / Zedboard)
– Full Linux running, including demodulation software (e.g. Fldigi)

The Panoradio is designed as a tech-demo for software defined radio, that shows what is possible with today’s technology in AD conversion and signal processing platforms.
It is an open source project, the design files can be accessed from the project website, which also includes basic information on direct sampling SDRs and single-sideband (SSB) detection:
www.panoradio-sdr.de

Stefan also presented his work at the “Software Defined Radio Academy” conferences in Friedrichshafen, Germany in both 2015 and 2016. The talks are shown below, as well as some photos and screenshots of the SDR in action.


SONY DSC
panoradio_sdr_gui
70cm_band_direct_sampling
SONY DSC

A direct sampling SDR is an SDR without any analogue tuner on the front end, basically directly sampling with the ADC from the antenna. This takes us closer to a ‘true’ SDR which has very little analogue components. Over time we should start to see more direct sampling SDRs popping up. For example recently we saw the release of a new Xilinx RFSoC which is capable of sampling at up to 4Gsamples per second which should provide a very wide band, wide frequency range SDR. While this chip will probably be extremely expensive for the time being as it is mainly designed for commercial cell tower communications, it shows how well direct sampling technology is progressing.

New SDR# Plugin: Radio-Sky Spectrograph Data Stream

Edit: If you downloaded an older version of the plugin please note that it has now been updated. The update fixes some stability issues which would previously hang SDR#. The updated .dll file can be downloaded directly from https://goo.gl/VQlH9E.

Radio-Sky Spectrograph is a radio astronomy software program which is often used together with the RTL-SDR or other similar SDRs. It is best explained by the author:

Radio-Sky Spectrograph displays a waterfall spectrum. It is not so different from other programs that produce these displays except that it saves the spectra at a manageable data rate and provides channel widths that are consistent with many natural radio signal bandwidths. For terrestrial , solar flare, Jupiter decametric, or emission/absorption observations you might want to use RSS.

Usually to interface an RTL-SDR with Radio-Sky Specrtograph a program called RTL-Bridge is used. However, now SDR# plugin programmer Alan Duffy has created a new plugin that allows SDR# to interface with Radio-Sky Spectrograph via a network stream. This allows it to work with any SDR that is supported by SDR# plugins. Alan Duffy writes:

I wrote the plugin after becoming interested in amateur radio astronomy. The plugin allows you to use any of the software defined radios supported by SDR# to feed the Radio-Sky Spectrograph program with wide-band data. The plugin shows the frequency, bandwidth, and FFT resolution and has a user selected “Number of Channels” that are sent to the spectrograph program with an allowable range of 100 to 500. This number can only be edited when the data stream is not enabled. Also if certain key parameters change, such as the frequency or decimation, the network stream will stop as the spectrograph would no longer be capturing the same data. If this happens, simply click the start button on client side software (i.e. Radio-Sky Spectrograph). As long as the Enable box is checked on the server side, the plugin will listen for a connection and start transmitting data after RSS makes a new request for data.

We note that the software might also be useful for simply capturing a long term waterfall for finding active frequencies or looking for meteor scatter or aircraft scatter echoes. 

The Radio-Sky Spectrograph SDR# Plugin
The Radio-Sky Spectrograph SDR# Plugin