The Biggest RTL-SDR and Related Stories from 2023

This year there were several interesting stories and product releases that we posted about on the blog and this post will be a brief end of year review of some of our most popular posts. We also wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to every celebrating at this time of the year!

In January we saw that the popular ADS-B Exchange (ADSBx) ADS-B aggregation platform was sold to a private equity firm called JETNET. This caused quite a bit of outrage as many involved with the development of the platform were blindsided by the owner's sudden decision to sell. ADS-B Exchange is a popular ADS-B aggregator that uses RTL-SDRs and is known for it's hard no censorship policy, allowing it to be used in projects like "Dictator Alert" and to uncover immoral use of aircraft in policing and military "kill chains". Many of the original team have since started a new service at interface interface

Next in February at the height of the "Chinese Spy Balloon" scare we ran a story about how the US air force had shot down an amateur radio 'pico balloon' called K9YO-15  , on the assumption that it could have been another Chinese spy balloon. Pico balloons are party sized helium balloons with a solar powered amateur radio transmitter attached. The fun of the hobby is seeing how far and long around the world they can travel for. A typical pico balloon could circumnavigate the globe several times over several months, all whilst transmitting it's position.

Rough trajectory overlay
Rough trajectory overlay

In April we saw the Flipper Zero go mainstream when it was reviewed on the Linus Tech Tips YouTube channel. The Flipper Zero is a small RF hacking device that gained high popularity on social media sites like TikTok. 

Linus Tech Tips Reviews the Flipper Zero
Linus Tech Tips Reviews the Flipper Zero

In June we saw a video from a YouTuber that appeared to show a Flipper Zero being used to wirelessly 'let the smoke out' and self-destruct an electricity meter which raised major infrastructure security concerns. However, this video appears to have since been removed, and there was speculation that the video was faked, or at least staged in some way.

In July we showed a video demonstration of how our KrakenSDR could be used to track down a low power FM transmitter station. In August we showed the KrakenSDR tracking down multiple GSM base station transmit towers simultaneously.

Later in August we also released the RTL-SDR Blog V4 dongle, a limited edition RTL-SDR that makes use of existing stockpiles of R828D tuner chips. It has improved HF performance thanks to an upconverter, and improved filtering on the VHF and UHF bands.

In September we saw crowd funding start for the RFNM, a device that promises to be a next generation software defined radio.

Finally in November we saw the release of the crowd funding campaign for our Discovery Dish project, a low cost and easy way to get into reception of L-band satellites, as well as Hydrogen Line radio astronomy.

Later in November we also saw a great technical overview of the Watch Duty wildfire monitoring project which uses multiple RTL-SDRs in their system.

The Discovery Dish
The Discovery Dish
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