Category Archives: Software Defined Radio

Tudor demos his portable Raspberry Pi-powered AirSpy HF+

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tudor Vedeanu, who has kindly shared details about his portable Raspberry Pi system which now can run the AirSpy HF+ SDR.

Tudor writes:

I bought the RPi to use it as a Spyserver for my Airspy HF+ SDR.

My main radio listening location is a small house located on a hill outside the city and there is no power grid there (it’s a radio heaven!), so everything has to run on batteries and consume as little power as possible.

My first tests showed that the Raspberry Pi works very well as a Spyserver: the CPU usage stays below 40% and the power consumption is low enough to allow it to run for several hours on a regular USB power bank. If I add a 4G internet connection there I could leave the Spyserver running and connect to it remotely from home.

Then I wondered if the Raspberry Pi would be powerful enough to run a SDR client app. All I needed was a portable screen so I bought the official 7” touchscreen for the RPi.

I installed Gqrx, which offers support for the Airspy HF+. I’m happy to say it works better than I expected, even though Gqrx wasn’t designed to work on such a small screen. The CPU usage is higher than in Spyserver mode (70-80%) but the performance is good. Using a 13000 mAh power bank I get about 3.5 hours of radio listening.

I made a video showing how it works:

Click here to view on YouTube.

This is fantastic, Tudor. Thanks for taking the time to put together a video for us. I’ve just ordered the latest Raspberry Pi 3 (Model B+). It has slightly more horsepower than the previous Pi3. Tudor, you’ve inspired me to grab the 7″ touch display as well and try my hand at running the AirSpy HF+ portable.

I’m not sure if the Raspberry Pi 3 will be able to record spectrum without hiccups, but it’s certainly worth a try.

As you tweak your system, please keep us in the loop!

CATSync: A new tool to control WebSDRs with your tabletop radio

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Introducing CATSync – The new CAT tool for WebSDRs

Oscar, DJ0MY, has developed a new software tool for radio amateurs and SWLs.

CATSync allows the user to control public WebSDR receivers with a real rig connected via CAT. It supports the classical Web-SDR servers as well as the newer Kiwi SDR servers publically available on the internet.

This gives you access to dozens of web based receivers with the comfort of tuning your rig at home. This software helps you to bring you back into the fun of ham radio when you are suffering from local temporary or permanent high noise levels in an urban QTH location.

The software has the following features:

  • Synchronizes any public WebSDR server with your real RIG…
  • Supports a wide number of RIG’s (it uses the popular OmniRig engine)
  • Supports WebSDR and KiwiSDR browser based SDR receivers
  • Tune the VFO of your radio and see the web SDR follow in real time !
  • Switch modes (SSB, CW, etc.) on your radio and see the web SDR switch mode in real time.
  • Listen to the same frequency as your rig via web SDR
  • Ideally suited e.g. for people suffering from local QRM
  • Can track RX or TX VFO (e.g. to find that split of a DX station) if radio CAT supports both simultaneously
  • Can be interfaced with popular logging software using OminRig or via VSPE port splitter

For more information visit the author’s website: https://catsyncsdr.wordpress.com/

See a YouTube video of CATSync under: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbSHfkjhx0c

Click here to read the full article on the Southgate ARC.

Video: Guide to using SDR-Console V3 remotely

Many thanks to Jon Hudson at SDRplay who produced the following excellent instructional video about setting up SDR-Console V3 for remote use. Jon writes:

For SDR Console users, this video guide shows you how to access other people’s SDRs and how to add your own.

If you are wanting to add your own SDR for remote use, there are a couple of things to be careful with:

Be careful when plugging multiple SDRs into a single USB2 socket to make sure there’s enough power – for multiple SDRs, you may need a powered hub ( like this: http://amzn.to/2oa84kM) [or this in North America].

Once you are up and running – please go to http://www.sdrspace.com/Version-3 and view your listing – if there is a yellow triangle, then you are not accessible outside your own firewall – attention is needed! Just because you can access it on your own LAN doesn’t mean it’s accessible via the internet!!! This is the most common area to have problems – double check your router’s port forwarding settings are correct (default port 50101 TCP).

SDR Console Version 3: A Holy Grail SDR application for the radio archivist

Encouraged by SWLing Post contributors Guy Atkins and Ivan Cholakov, I recently installed the latest version of SDR Console on my PC.

I had not tried SDR Console in many, many years, but after Guy announced that SDR Console had moved from preview to Beta, I decided it was time to try it once again.

All I can say is: WOW!

As someone who evaluates a number of software defined receivers and who regularly makes off-air audio and spectrum recordings, I’m simply amazed by SDR Console’s versatility.

The recording functionality, as Guy previously stated, is phenomenal–perhaps the best of any SDR application I’ve used to date save, perhaps, that of the Titan SDR Pro (which is proprietary).

Though I still haven’t logged a lot of hours on SDR Console, I can already mention several powerful features that I love:

Virtual receivers

So few SDR applications allow you to run multiple virtual receivers and–especially–make independent recordings from them simultaneously.

When I started writing this post last night, I was listening to and recording the Voice of Greece on virtual receiver #1,  Radio Guinea on #2, and WRMI on #3 using the brilliant little AirSpy HF+.

Audio recording options

When you start a recording of an active virtual receiver, a dialog box pops up allowing you to make a custom file title–it pre-populates the date, start time, frequency and mode. This is a simple but time-saving feature as most SDR applications save files according to global application settings–not for each individual recording. With the SDR Console dialog box, I can insert the name of the broadcaster in the file title which makes organizing recordings later a breeze.

Additionally, you can choose between MP3, WAV or WMA file types for each recording. I know of no other SDR app that gives you this flexibility.

Scheduled recordings

I’ve yet to use the scheduler feature, but based on Guy Atkins’ feedback, I know this will be an invaluable resource for collecting off-air recordings while I’m away from home.

So many features to discover…

As both Guy and Ivan have shown us in past posts, SDR Console allows for multiple application “instances”–meaning, you can run two independent SDRs simultaneously. This is a fantastic feature for those of us who make multiple spectrum recordings. Of course, it’s an ideal platform to compare SDR hardware as settings can be easily matched between both units (something very difficult to do when using different SDR applications).

I’ve so much to learn about SDR Console, but I can tell I’ll be spending a great deal of time with the application this year, attempting to learn every nuance.

I took Guy Atkins’ suggestion for new users of SDR Console and downloaded Paul Jones’ (NN4F) PDF manual.

I sent a donation to Simon (G4ELI) last night after having only used SDR Console for a few minutes. SDR Console is totally free, but I’m a firm believer in supporting creators who are doing amazing things! If you use SDR Console, consider sending Simon a donation as well.

I’ve a little free time this morning and plan to set up SDR Console to run my Elad FDM-S2, RTL-SDR dongle, SDR Play RSP1A and RSP2. It’ll be a bit revolutionary to have one SDR application to unite them all!

Post readers: Any other SDR Console fans out there?  What are your favorite features?

Icom IC-R8600 added to Sherwood’s Receiver Test Data Table

Icom IC-R8600

Rob Sherwood, at Sherwood Engineering, has now published test results of the Icom IC-R8600 wideband receiver. The IC-R8600 is (impressively) second from the top of the list sorted by third-order dynamic range narrow spaced if phase noise limited:

Click here to view the full list at Sherwood Engineering.

Click here to check out Dan Robinson’s recent review and benchmark receiver comparisons with the IC-R8600.