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.
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/0dPzOL.
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. Then open plugins.xml file with a text editor, and add the magicline specified on his page. 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). (File was moved to a trusted site so this problem shouldn't occur anymore)