Beta release of SDRplay ADS-B for Windows

SDPlay-RSP

Many thanks to Jon Hudson with SDRplay who noted that, yesterday, the beta Windows version of ADS-B for SDRplay was released:

“We now have an updated beta version of ADS-B for Windows. This is based upon the 16bit Mutability version of dump1090 developed by Oliver Jowett and unlocks the full 12 bit performance of the RSP1. People should see a significant performance improvement over the dump1090_sdrplus version, which was based upon 8 bit code. Go to http://www.sdrplay.com/windows.html – as with the recent update on Raspberry Pi, it supports both 2MHz and 8MHz demodulator modes. We recommend you uninstall the previous version (if you had it) before installing this one. Performance should be better than before. This is still in beta so any feedback or comments to software@sdrplay.com is welcomed.”

Thanks for the info, Jon!

SDRplay announces acquisition of Studio 1 SDR software

SDRplay-Logo

28/April/2016, Wakefield UK:

SDRplay announces the acquisition of Studio 1 SDR software

SDRplay Limited has today announced that it has reached an agreement with Sandro Sfregola, (formerly CEO of SDR Applications S.a.s.) to acquire all Rights, Title and Interest in Studio 1 a leading software package for Software Defined Radio applications.

Jon Hudson, SDRplay Marketing Director said: “We are delighted to have reached this agreement with Sandro to acquire Studio 1. Studio 1 is the perfect complement to our SDR hardware products and gives us the ideal platform to deliver a complete class leading SDR solution for our customers. We look forward to working with Sandro and further developing Studio 1 to unlock the full capability of our current and future products”.

Hudson added: “Studio1 has established a strong customer base with users of many other SDR hardware products. Studio 1 will continue to be available as a stand-alone product from WoodBoxRadio http://www.woodboxradio.com/studio1.html for the foreseeable future , but we also look forward to further developing Studio 1 to specifically benefit present and future owners of our products”

Sandro Sfregola added: “I am very pleased to have reached this agreement with SDRplay. The long term future for SDR lies in complete end to end solutions and I feel the SDRplay RSP combined with Studio 1 software gives users an outstanding combination of performance and affordability”.

About Studio 1:

Studio1 was developed in Italy by SDR Applications S.a.s. and has hundreds of happy customers around the world.

Studio 1 is known for its user friendly stylish GUI, CPU efficiency and advanced DSP capabilities, including features not

available on other SDR software packages.

www.sdrapplications.it

About SDRplay:

SDRplay limited is a UK company and consists of a small group of engineers with strong connections to the UK Wireless

semiconductor industry. SDRplay announced its first product, the RSP1 in August 2014

www.sdrplay.com

Email: admin@sdrplay.com


Studio1Screen

My Comments:

Of course, I believe this is a very good move for SDRplay. Studio 1 is a very well-respected application and, though I’ve never tested it myself, I’m very impressed with it’s interface. I’ve also received many positive comments about Studio 1 from Perseus owners.

This will give SDRplay a great platform to have native SDR applications for their current and future products. I’m sure they’ll continue to support and develop Studio 1 for all of its supported receivers:

  • The Elad FDM-S1, FDM-S2
  • Microtelecom Perseus
  • PMSDR
  • RFspace SDR-IQ, SDR-14
  • SRL QS1R
  • Funcube Dongle

Click here to download the Studio 1 brochure (PDF) for more details.

Off-Grid Radio: Portable power recommendations?

Elecraft-KX3This year, I have a lot of portable radio play in mind as I travel across the continent. At some point, I even plan to spend several days in an off-grid cabin on the coast.

In the past, I’ve powered my 12 VDC ham radio transceivers with a system comprised of three PowerFilm solar 5 watt foldable PV panels (see below), a Micro M+ charge controller and several gel cell type sealed batteries (a couple 7 Ah and one 20 Ah).Powerfilm-Solar-Panel

The system works well, but the batteries are a little heavy and unhandy when I want to hike into a remote site or play radio on the beach, for example.

PowerFilmAACharger-1

In terms of receivers, my portables (like the Sony ICF-SW7600GR, Tecsun PL-660, etc.) simply use AA batteries which I charge with PowerFilm AA PV chargers (see above). My CommRadio CR-1a has an internal battery that will power it for hours at a time.

Power is much less of an issue with receivers because they’re quite resource efficient.

I mainly need a system to power my QRP ham radio gear, and that’s where I could use your experience!

Wish list

Charge controller

I need a new charge controller since my Micro M+ (no longer produced) is now being used to power a remote antenna tuner.

Of course, I’ll need an inexpensive charge controller that doesn’t produce RFI (radio interference).

It would be an added bonus if the charge controller could also charge my batteries when grid power is available.

12 VDC Battery packs

I’d like something relatively lightweight and safe.

Note: LiPo packs worry me, especially since I had one (an early GoalZero model) quite literally melt down and burn up on my bed only a few hours after bringing it back from an eight hour flight a few years ago. Scary!

Pure Sine Wave Inverter

PureSineWaveInverter

I’d also like a small, efficient pure sine wave inverter that I I could connect to my largest battery and power my laptop for extended SDR spectrum recording sessions while off-grid.

I’d love a recommendation from someone who uses one and can confirm a model that doesn’t create radio interference while operating.

Recommendations?

Post readers: Please comment with your recommendations and include model numbers and links if possible. Thank you in advance!

SDR Touch now supports the SDRplay RSP in Beta release

sdrtouch

(Source: SDRplay Blog)

Good news for Android users – SDR Touch have released a beta version of their software with SDRplay RSp functionality – go to https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.sdrtouch.sdrplay to sign up as a beta tester.

SDR Touch works on most recent Android Phone or Tablet devices.

The Icom IC-7300 vs. WinRadio Excalibur: Which do you prefer?

Icom-IC-7300-Front

In the past, receiver shoot-outs in which I’ve provided sample audio for “blind” comparison––meaning, the listener does not know which audio sample is associated with which radio––have produced particularly positive feedback from Post readers.

The WinRadio Excalibur

The WinRadio Excalibur

So I’ve decided to do this for the new Icom IC-7300 transceiver. I’ve pitted the ‘7300 against a benchmark receiver: the WinRadio Excalibur.

I have a number of SDRs (software defined radios) in the shack at the moment, but I picked the Excalibur because it’s the closest in price ($900 US) to the IC-7300 ($1500) as compared to my Elad FDM-S2 ($520) or the TitanSDR Pro ($2500).

Recording notes and disclaimers

Both the WinRadio Excalibur and the Icom IC-7300 offer native digital audio recording (nice touch, Icom!). The Excalibur simply records the AF to a file on my PC’s hard drive, while the IC-7300 records the audio to an SD card which I can later transfer to my PC.

IC-7300

I’ve been using the Excalibur since 2012, so I’m very familiar with its recording feature. I was not, however, familiar with the IC-7300’s digital recorder, so prior to making recordings, I checked to make sure its recorded audio was a fair representation of its live audio. To my ear, the IC-7300 recorded audio was nearly identical to that of the live audio, so I used the 7300’s internal recorder rather than one of my external recorders.

Both receivers shared my large outdoor omni-directional horizontal delta loop antenna for each test.

The Elad ASA15 Antenna Splitter Amplifier

The Elad ASA15 Antenna Splitter Amplifier

To keep the comparison on as equal footing as possible, the receivers shared the same antenna through my Elad ASA15 antenna splitter amplifier. Though the ASA15 has both 12dB amplification and –15dB attenuation, I employed neither.

The ASA15 allowed me to make the following recordings simultaneously.

In each case, I tried to set up both radios using the same filter widths, gain, AGC settings, and (as much as possible), audio level. I didn’t engage a noise-reduction feature on either rig.

Note:  the only exception to the radios’ equal treatment was in the AM mode recordings, in which I used the WinRadio’s AM Sync (AMS) mode. Why? Frankly speaking, 99% of the time during which I use the Excalibur, I do employ its AMS mode as its AM mode often sounds “hot” and over-driven when band conditions are as noisy, as they were last night.

The IC-7300 does not have AM synchronous detection (AMS mode), but I felt it compared very favorably to the Excalibur in AMS mode.  The IC-7300 would have easily beat the Excalibur in this test had I only used the Excalibur’s AM mode. In the end, as a shortwave listener, the goal is to compare the total capabilities of broadcast performance between the two receivers (thus using sync mode if available, to maximize broadcast listening performance).

Please vote!

At the end of this post, I have an embedded a survey in which you can vote for the sample recordings you like best. Each recording is clearly labeled to denote that it’s either from “Radio A” or “Radio B” (I had my wife draw names from a hat to determine which radio would be labeled as A or B).

Since there are quite a few recordings, I’d suggest jotting down your notes separately before completing the survey.

Or, alternately, you can open the survey in a separate window by clicking here.

And now…here’s the recordings.

Ham Radio Band recordings

The following recordings were made on the 40 meter ham radio band yesterday evening. Both radios have the same filter width: 250 Hz in CW, 3 kHz in SSB.

Weak Signal CW (40 meter band)

Radio A

Radio B

Weak/Strong SSB QSO (40 meter band)

Radio A

Radio B


Shortwave Broadcast recordings

The following recordings were made on the 31 meter broadcast band yesterday evening. Both radios have the same filter width: 9 kHz and 8.2 kHz.

Weak Shortwave AM (Radio Bandeirantes 31 meter band)

Radio A

Radio B

Strong Shortwave AM (Radio Romania International, French 31 Meter Band)

Radio A 

Radio B


Mediumwave Broadcast recordings

Note that the following mediumwave recordings were made during the morning hours (grayline). The strong station is the closest AM broadcaster to my home; it’s not a blow-torch “Class A” type station, merely the closest local broadcaster.

In the “weak” sample, I tuned to 630 kHz, where multiple broadcasters could be heard on frequency––but one was dominant.

Both radios are set to a filter width of 9.0 kHz.

Strong Mediumwave AM (1010 kHz)

Radio A

Radio B

Weak Mediumwave AM (630 kHz)

Radio A

Radio B


We want to hear from you!

Use the form below to vote for the recordings you prefer in each section.

I’ll close voting at 12:00 UTC on Thursday April 21, 2016. Thank you in advance for your participation in this survey!

A QS1R replacement in the works?

qs1r_front_sm1

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ken McKenzie, who noticed the following message from Phil Covington (of Software Radio Laboratory LLC) on the QS1R Yahoo group:

I am working on a replacement for the QS1R that will be less expensive, yet
use updated components. I am hoping to have them in production by the end of March.

Regards,

Philip A Covington
Software Radio Laboratory LLC
Columbus, Ohio
http://www.srl-llc.com

Ken noticed that the message was originally dated about one month ago, so I’ll follow-up with Phil and see how much progress has been made. The QS1R was a well-respected SDR that had been on the market for several years. It would be great to see an updated version on the market.

One year with the TitanSDR

TitanSDR-VOG

Last year, I reviewed the TitanSDR Pro by the Italian manufacturer, Enablia,. I was very impressed with not only this receiver’s performance, but also its accompanying application’s user interface. I also noted in the review that the TitanSDR is pricier than many other benchmark SDRs on the market ($1380-1970 EUR) but it is, after all, essentially a military-grade SDR that has been ported to the enthusiast/ham radio market.

I’ve been using and testing updates to theTitanSDR Pro for a year now, and I continue to be just as impressed with this receiver––and, especially, with the company who manufactures it, Enablia.

TitanSDRPro-3

I wondered at the time of my initial review how supportive Enablia might turn out to be; I knew time would tell.  Since my original review last year, Enablia has been regularly updating the TitanSDR application, adding many features requested by its users.  This shows a remarkable degree of responsiveness, and I now feel safe to say that that Enablia is an exceptional manufacturer with an exceptional product.

Only recently, I received an update which added two notch filters per narrowband channel, memories that retain AGC and notch filters settings, and sessions that retain AGC settings. I understand Enablia is also preparing updates that improve upon memory management, user interface, audio defaults, as well as offering a few tweaks to the existing feature set.

Overall, Enablia developers are certainly making this signal intelligence SDR cater to the ham radio and enthusiast market even better than before.

Though I use a number of SDRs, I reach for the TitanSDR any time there are multiple-band openings since it can record spectrum and audio across the entire LW/MW/SW landscape. Unlike my other SDRs, it’s not limited to an (already generous)  2-6 MHz recording/listening window.

For example, on Thursday night I had a lot on my listening/recording plate as there were a number of band openings. I had the TitanSDR tuned to:

  • the 31 meter band,
  • the 20 meter ham radio band,
  • the 49 meter band (specifically monitoring South American stations), and even
  • the mediumwave band.

The TitanSDR was recording spectrum on the 49 meter band while I made this AF recording of the Voice of Greece on the 31 meter band (9420 kHz, starting around 00:26 UTC on April 8, 2016):

Surprisingly, all of this recording wasn’t taxing my PC, nor the TitanSDR.

The TitanSDR application is highly stable and uses resources efficiently. Indeed, in the past year, to my knowledge the TitanSDR application hasn’t crashed even once, despite my rigorous demands of it. Since it runs nearly 24/7 in my shack, on a four-year old PC (third generation i5 Win 7), that’s saying a lot.

SWLing Post reader, Tony Roper, is also a heavy TitanSDR user and recently posted this 30+ minute video demonstrating some of the TitanSDR’s new features. Note that his screen capture software produced fairly low audio, so you’ll need to turn up the volume to hear his commentary:

Click here to view on YouTube.

In short, I stand by my conclusions drawn last year in my TitanSDR review:  although pricey compared to the competition, for those who can afford the price tag, the TitanSDR is a worthy hard-core DX machine that is especially useful to need a receiver with a bullet-proof front end, to weak-signal DXers, and to radio archivists like yours truly.