The NSA’s Software Defined Radio application “RedHawk” is now open source

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andrew, who writes:

Not kidding, a friend told me that NSA released a bunch of software to open source, the main list being here:

While looking at the list of projects on that page, halfway down the page, I found a project called “RedHawk” which is described as:

“A software-defined radio (SDR) framework designed to support the development, deployment, and management of real-time software radio applications.”

Now, being curious I opened the github link:

[It] contains quite a number of subprojects, modules and other stuff, then I checked the main “RedHawk” project:

Here’s the documentation:

It seems really interesting; apparently it allows to define a wealth of processing stages (e.g. filters, converters…) and connect them to process signals coming from an SDR; I think it may be a very interesting and useful tool to fiddle/experiment with SDR receivers, if I’m not wrong it may allow to push an SDR to the limits, improving its performance, and may also be useful to write SDR software!

Fascinating! Thank you for the tip, Andrew!

Post Readers: It appears this project has been in the public domain for a little while. Please comment if you’ve tried implementing RedHawk in your SDR system!

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6 thoughts on “The NSA’s Software Defined Radio application “RedHawk” is now open source

  1. Paul Evans

    The problem is that newer SDR receivers/transceivers are still pretty hybrid. The IC-7300, K4, etc. use hardware FPGAs, signal processing software and then the SAME DSP chips that have been used for a decade now. MatLab and several other programs can be used to build the SDR blocks. However, the FPGAs are the real IP part of this and may be the one single thing (apart from converters) that MARGINALLY distinguish a $900 rig from a $4000+ one. As far as the amateur is concerned all will be revealed when the Elecraft K4 starts to appear in the hands of users.

    As for phase/amplitude matching of the converters that’ll interesting when Elecraft have already had to screen out single converters for best performance. What’ll happen when an upgrade kit for a K4 from one direct converter to two takes place? Will they supply a matched pair and give credit on a returned good single unit? This matters a great deal when TRUE diversity reception is needed.

  2. K_C_

    what? install software from the biggest spy agency in the world, nothing to see here folks move along, sounds like a great way to get your PC rooted and trojaned with spyware,

    no thanks, ill stick with GQRX for Linux, and HDSDR on windows,

  3. Bill Lee

    You might look at Skywave Linux. It is listed this week as a “new distribution” on

    Skywave Linux is a 64 bit live system providing installed and configured software for accessing software defined radio servers locally and on the internet. With this operating system, a person may tune shortwave broadcasts, amateur radio, aeronautical, maritime, or other signals received at remote servers around the world.
    SDR software is configured for popular devices, such as the RTL-SDR dongles, Softrocks, Hermes, and other radios.

    Skywave Linux is a 64 bit system built over Ubuntu Linux, and may be installed on a bootable USB stick, SD card, DVD, or hard drive.

    WebSDR, OpenWebRX radio servers accessible via internet browser.
    HPSDR servers accessible via QtRadio
    HPSDR hardware also via cudaSDR
    RTL-SDR plug-and-play functionality via CubicSDR, Gqrx, and QtRadio
    RTL-SDR ADS-B tracking and mapping via Dump1090
    RTL-SDR RDS decoding via Gqrx and Redsea
    SDRPlay, Airspy radio hardware is supported.
    LADSPA audio plugins for EQ/Compression/Limiting
    WSJT -X / WSPR-X weak signal digimode software
    Weather Satellite Decoding via WXtoImg
    Satellite tracking with Gpredict
    Trunked Radio System Reception with SDRTrunk
    Radio firmware & data management with CHIRP
    Kodi Media Center for conventional internet streaming

  4. Andrew

    Hi Thomas, sounds like I made the headlines, oh well 🙂

    Anyhow, I tried to drill a bit more down into the “RedHawk” and I think that the informations found here may further explain what it is and what it can do

    also, judging from the number of discussions about “RedHawk” found on “StackOverflow” it sounds like the program has been around for quite a while (then ok, I just found it today)

    Plus, the program users don’t seem to be hobbyists, at least judging from a number of discussions on “StackOverflow” referring to the use of “RedHawk” with an SDR (never heard about it !) named “Ettus N210”, that is, this critter

    which, given the price (around $2000) doesn’t seem to be an “entry level” SDR unit; again, never heard about it, but given the price I suppose it should even be able to bake coffee (I wonder if anyone here ever heard about it or if it’s just some “super secret NSA SDR” :D) !!


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