Thanks to VE3NEA for letting us know about his new RTL-SDR compatible heatmap generator plugin for SDR#. To use the plugin you first need to generate some heatmap CSV data by using the rtl_power software. You can then open the CSV file in the plugin and it will generate a heatmap image. A frequency heatmap shows a wideband waterfall image of detected frequency activity.
RTL-SDR heatmap tools are nothing new, but the convenience of having it as a SDR# plugin is that you can click on the heatmap image to instantly tune to a frequency where activity was recorded during the initial rtl_power scan.
In the new version the 'Net Info' button is now functioning and it is possible to see the current calls, groups, and meta information on the current cell and neighbour cell. It also appears that it has been updated to allow for multiple SDR# TETRA decoder instances to be opened simultaneously now for wider band monitoring.
SDR# plugin developer Eddie Mac has again released a new plugin for SDR# called "SDR# Plugin Manager". This plugin is designed to make it easy to install, remove and re-order other SDR# plugins. Also included is a repository browser. This is a repository of many known SDR# plugin links which can be used to download and install a plugin with a simple click of a button.
If you are interested in programming your own plugins, Eddie also offers the following advice which he posted in our forum:
A good place to get started programming plugins is to download the express version of .NET (free for personal use) and install at least the C# pack. Then go to the Airspy website and download Youssef's zipped examples on coding plugins. While they are not documented you can use them as an example of the steps involved.
If you know a bit of c++ that is great it should be a good spring board to learn C#. In fact, you can even program simple plugins (like my tuner knob) in Visual Basic. Both C# and VB.NET compile to Common Language Run time anyway so to SDR# it's not much difference. The only caveat is that if you want to create any plugins to do processing on signals of any sort you MUST use C# as it supports the data types SDR# uses and VB does not. As well, VB does not allow unsafe code which C# can be instructed to allow.
Another great resource for learning to program plugins for SDR# is GitHUb and another great place is Andrej Mohar's website where he actually has a tutorial and an good explanation of the plugin coding process. You can find it here http://www.andrej-mohar.com/plugin-basics-for-sdr
If you would like an example of a "stencil" as you call it - a template, I would be happy to share a template in both VB and C# for you to use to start to learn. However, I would suggest begginning with C# from the start.
The basics of it is that the "plugin" is actually in interface that is called while SDR# loads. The "Plugins.xml" file tells SDR# what your dll is called and what the name of the plugin is. Once it has initialized your plugin, SDR# sharp asks the plugin for a "panel" control which contains the controls for your plugin. In also returns to you a "control" object interface that allows you to receive notifications of program value changes or to set program values. There are more complex things you can do but the basics are simple.
This is an excerpt from our book on RTL-SDR which we've decided to post given that many new users struggle to understand all the settings in SDR#.
SDR# is currently the most popular SDR program used with the RTL-SDR. It's easy to set up and use. To install SDR#, go through our Quickstart Guide. Below we explain some of the settings and displays in SDR#.
Upon opening SDR# you'll be greeted with the screen shown below. Here we have highlighted the main parts of SDR#
After opening SDR# for the first time, we suggest that you immediately remember to perform the following steps (if you don’t know what some of these steps are, continue reading further below for more information):
Increase the RF gain from zero to a higher value in the configure menu.
Reduce the range slider on the right of the SDR# window to about -70 (for RTL-SDR dongles).
Enable the “Correct IQ” setting to remove the center spike if using an R820T/R820T2, or enable “Offset Tuning” in the configure menu if using an E4000/FC0012/13.
Turn off the “Snap to grid” setting, or adjust the PPM offset accordingly.
Set the 'Mode' to the correct setting for the signal that you are listing to.
The plugin includes controls for setting the demodulation mode, changing the FFT display settings, a direct frequency entry text box, frequency stepper buttons, an SNR level meter, squelch controls, analog/digital preset buttons, screen grabber controls, and time slot selectors for the TETRA decoder plugin. The analog/digital preset buttons are quite interesting as they allow you to set presets for either analog or digital signals. For example for a digital signal you could set the preset to use NFM demodulation, and to launch the DSD+ application automatically.
More information about this and Eddie's other plugins can be found on his site, and on this forum post.
Thanks to Alex for submitting news about his new SDR# plugin called "SDRSharp.GpredictConnector". This plugin allows SDR# to interface with GPredict which is a tool used for tracking the orbit of satellites. Just like with the DDE Tracking plugin and the Orbitron satellite tracking program this plugin could be used to automatically tune SDR# to the frequency of a passing satellite using GPredict. It should also be able to compensate for any doppler shift frequency offset.
To use with SDR# simply download the zip file and move the .dll file into the SDR# folder. Then add the 'magicline' to the plugins.xml file using a text editor. In GPredict you can then add a radio interface from the preferences, and then use the 'Radio Connect' interface to connect to the plugin.
Recently we've posted about Eddie MacDonald's several releases of new plugins for the popular SDR# software. Recently he's released a tuner knob plugin which provides a visual frequency tuning knob that is useful for those running on touchscreen hardware, a 'dark mode' plugin which reduces the brightness of SDR# and compresses the UI a little, and an FFT grabber plugin which allows for easy screenshots of the FFT and waterfall spectrum's to be taken.
Eddie notes that all his plugins now have an actual home website at https://sdrplugins.com. This is where he will release updates and new plugins from now on.
If you are interested in discovering more SDR# plugins, we have a large list available here.