Recently Eddie MacDonald has been pumping out simple but useful plugins for SDR# including the SDR# Dark Mode and Visual Tuner Knob plugins. Recently he released a new plugin called "FFT Window Screen Grabber". This plugin simply helps you to easily take a screenshot of the FFT and waterfall displays in SDR#. It could be a useful plugin if you are constantly finding interesting signals that you want to document, or upload to sigidwiki.com.
Over on his site rtl-sdr.ru, Vasilli has been back at work creating new plugins for SDR#. The latest plugin is a TCP server that takes the demodulated mono audio stream from SDR# and sends it over TCP (note that the site is in Russian but the Google translate button on the right can be used). This can be used to easily stream audio over the internet or a network, or even locally on the same PC to another program. If enough programs support TCP audio streams, then the plugin could potentially replace the need for software like Virtual Audio Cable or VBCable by allowing another method for piping the audio from SDR# into a decoding program.
Installing the plugin is the same as usual. Just extract the SDRSharp.TcpServer.dll file to the SDRSharp folder, open plugins.xml with a text editor and paste in the 'magic line' specified in MagicLine.txt.
To test the server you can connect to it with VLC media player. Some special commands need to be specified to VLC in order for it to understand the audio format. To enter them go to Media->Open Network Stream and make sure 'Show more options' is checked. Enter the network URL as 'TCP://127.0.0.1:20022' (without quotes), and enter the Edit Options field as ':demux=rawaud :rawaud-channels=1 :rawaud-samplerate=48000 :rawaud-fourcc=s16l' (without quotes). Ensure the first colon in the line is copied over properly. Then enable the TCP server in the SDR# plugin, and click Play in VLC. Ensure the SDR# is muted, and the volume in VLC turned up. Audio should now begin streaming through TCP.
Hopefully in the future we can see some audio compression algorithms and more decoding software supporting TCP audio connections.
Vasilli has also updated many of his other plugins too, including creating a DSD_TCP plugin which allows you to transmit the digital audio directly to DSD+ via a TCP connection.
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.
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 old audio waterfall plugin for SDR# seems to be no longer available for download anywhere (it may have gone out of date and is no longer compatible with the latest versions of SDR#). Alan Duffy decided to write his own version of the audio waterfall plugin and make it available for download. An audio waterfall shows the demodulated audio in waterfall form, essentially creating an audio spectrum analyzer. This can be useful for understanding the demodulated frequency structure of a signal.
To install the plugin simply download the dll from his website and place it in the SDR# folder. Note that for us Chrome detected this file as malicious, but this is a false alarm as Chrome does this often with unknown .dll files. To recover the file we had to go to the Chrome menu -> Downloads, then select “Recover File” to download the file. (If you still have problems with the download then check out the comments as some users have kindly mirrored it). Then open plugins.xml file with a text editor, and add the magicline specified on his page.
SDR# (SDRSharp) is probably the most popular software program that is used with the RTL-SDR. It is free, fast and fairly easy to use.
SDR# is coded in C# and so runs on the Microsoft .NET runtime. SDR# has always used the 3.5 version of the .NET runtime, however recently the programmers have made the decision to upgrade the runtime used to the latest 4.6 version of .NET. For non-programmers this means that compatibility with newer operating system such as Windows 10 is enhanced, performance and stability is improved and that SDR# can now be run on Linux and OSX with Mono 4.0. The downside is that Windows XP and Vista are no longer supported operating systems (Vista SP2 is supported). An OS compatibility list for .NET 4.6 can be found here.
If you are an SDR# user and run an older operating system such as XP or Vista we suggest that you either upgrade your OS, or simply continue to run the older versions of SDR#.
In addition to the new changes, the install procedure has also changed. Firstly, the old sdrsharp.com website now redirects to airspy.com. To install SDR# now, simply download SDR# zip file from airspy.com/download. Unzip it to any folder on your PC. Next, to download the RTL-SDR drivers simply run the install-rtlsdr.bat file. We will soon be updating our Quickstart guide to incorporate these changes.
We have been relying on the .NET Framework 3.5 for quite some time until it’s no longer installed by default into the new operating systems. Microsoft also provides minimalist support of this version of the Framework on Windows 10 which handicaped the core and plugin developers in many ways. This also resulted in obscure bugs in the user base. So we moved recently the entire code base to the .NET 4.6 in order to refresh the software and make it compatible with modern operating systems like Windows 10.
This has many implications:
Better programming API
Support of Windows 10
Support of Linux and Mac with Mono 4.0 and up
End of support of Windows XP and Vista
End of support of the ExtIO interface (not portable)
We coordinated this migration with all the plugins and front-ends developers so no body misses the boat. The installation procedure has also changed and now the main package contains a batch file to download the dependencies required to run RTL-SDR. This might be disturbing for a few, but the overall impact was judged positive and a better investment for the future, especially with the new API offered by .NET 4.6.
Recently the popular Frequency Manager + Scanner plugin set for SDR# has been upgraded and renamed to the “Frequency Manager Suite”. The plugin can be downloaded from their new website at www.freqmgrsuite.com. The plugin suite includes a frequency scanner and manager, a scanner metrics recorder, a scheduler, an activity logger and a frequency entry plugin.
Apart from plugins the suite also now includes a plugin manager program called “Pluginator” which can help you to install and delete plugins without needing to edit the Plugins.xml file directly. There is also a new database manager tool which can help you to import frequency databases from online or other sources.
We have posted the full feature release below:
The Frequency Manager Suite (FMS) adds 4 more plugins to the previous set of 3:
Scheduler – allows you to schedule listening activities by date and time.
Activity Logger – records scanner activity to a file for later use.
Scanner Decisions – now a first-class plugin and also available as the classic stand-alone window. And you can change the position of the plugin without restarting SDR#.
Frequency Details – displays details about a frequency from your database. And you can change the position of the plugin without restarting SDR#.
New standalone applications also come with FMS:
Data Tools – this significantly upgraded import/export application lets you import data from 6 popular internet databases as well as generically-formatted files, and permits you to export your FMS databases to standard file format.
The Pluginator – an application that lets you add, delete, and change the order of plugins without ever having to hand-edit the SDR# file Plugins.xml. Just fill in the blanks.
New features in Frequency Manager + Scanner:
The new Preferences dialog allows customization without hand-editing a configuration file.
FMS configurations are now kept in a file separate from those of SDR#, permitting easier upgrades to SDR#.
You can have multiple frequency databases, and can change to a different database without restarting SDR#.
When tuning manually you can optionally change the radio settings (mode, BW, etc.) according to what’s in the database for the tuned frequency.
Scan resolution – high-res or low-res to favor speed over accuracy or vice versa.
Adjacent Frequency Rejection now displays its bandwidth on the spectrum analyzer.
MPX Output plugin. Allows programs like RDS Spy to work with the audio output from SDR#
Aviation band 8.33 calculator. Automatically converts the current frequency input to an aviation one according to the standard 8.33 kHz channel spacing.
Frequency Lock. Simply locks the frequency change settings in SDR# to prevent accidental changes.
SDR Update Script. Not a plugin, but a script that automatically updates SDR# and installs most of Vasilli’s plugins all at once. To use this script, it must be placed in a subdirectory of the SDR# folder.
Here’s an example video of SDR# running the MPX plugin so that RDS Spy can be used.