Tag Archives: SDR

Airspy & SpyVerter: A serious love affair

24ch

24 broadcast channels demodulated in parallel on shortwave – And Airspay and SpyVerter do need just a quarter of PC’s power!

For a much too long time, I had overlooked Airspy and the matching up-converter, namely SpyVerter. Found no explanation for this my blind spot. Now I am focusing my view onto this 10-bit SDR, covering 24 MHz to 1.800 MHz (just Airspy) plus 1 kHz to 60 MHz by help of Spyverter (+120 MHz). What I see from my first tests is a sensitive combo with a surprisingly lot of dynamic range, ending up in clear recpetion of up to a nearly 10 MHz wide band. This may be recorded and eventually played “as live”.

I am still tuning up and down the bands, trying this and that. It will end up in a test report in due time. For now, just have a look at the screenshot on top, showing 24 demodulators (Synchro-AM) in parallel, covering many broadcast channels in English from Asia. Have also a look at the fine print on the right at the bottom: this all needs just the quarter of the power of an able PC.

So, for now, just a a sentence at half-time: Don’t overlook this combo if you are in search for a “low cost, high perfomance SDR”. Yes – that’s exactly  the way Youssef and his team advertise it, but it is one of the rare cases where such a claim meets reality. Stay tuned.

LimeSDR: First Experiences on HF

One hour in the 20 m ham radio band with LimeSDR and SpyVerter, zoomed out of a one hour’s recording of 30 MHz width. Antenna: quadloop of 20 m circumference.

LimeSDR is a Crowdsupply project – delivering an SDR which covers 100 kHz to 3.8 GHz with bandwdiths of up to 2 x 30 MHz. I was interested almost exclusively in the range 100 kHz to 30 MHz. The board arrived on March 17th, and I already have done some tests with it. From these very first results & a recommendation:

  • Installing is easy (W10), if you follow the instructions.
  • Without modification, LimeSDR is simply useless on HF. It’s deaf near to a dummy load.
  • The producer recommends a “modification” by just removing one SMD. Then some life came into this range. But it was hard to sort the ghost stations from the real ones.
  • Even a low-pass filter from Heros didn’t helped that much.
  • Just before selling the board on ebay, I connected the antenna first with Spyverter – a state-of-the-art up-converter with an IIP3 of +35 dBm, transferring the band of 0 – 30 MHz to 120 – 150 MHz. This is a range, where LimeSDR sees some light.

So, if you are disappointed by the near-non HF performance of naked LimeSDR: an able up-converter will change the game. Recording and sonagrams had been made with SDR-Radio.com V3.

30 MHz live with LimeSDR and SpyVerter shows that it generally works. Same antenna as above.

“Ghost signals” make it sometimes difficult to distinguish them from real signals. This sonagram has been made with SpyVerter. Broadcast stations are easy to find out (in their majority). But it gets difficult to sort the ghost stations from the few real ones in the left part.

 

SDR Transceiver Zeus ZS-1 and Digimode Software FLDIGI

A strong combination: State-of-the-Art SDR transceiver Zeus ZS-1 and digimode software FLDIGI. with this insutrction, the combination of both with audio in/out, keying and freqeuncy transfer is easy.

A strong combination: State-of-the-Art SDR transceiver Zeus ZS-1 and digimode software FLDIGI. With a step-by-step instruction, the combination of both with audio in/out, keying and freqeuncy transfer is easy.

With software-defined radio or SDRs, also ham radio has made a considerable leap forward. SDR transceivers are around for many years but failed to have a major impact until now. Among these transceivers, Russian and German-made Zeus ZS-1 is an outstanding example, covering each amateur radio band from 160 m to 10 m with up to 15 watt output. It received enthusiastic reviews around the world, e.g. by RadCOM of RSGB and QST of ARRL with excellent ratings.

Recently, I again bought on ZS-1 to re-vitalize my amateur radio activity with also again a focus on QRP and digital modes. For this purpose, ZS-1 with its outstanding clean signal under transmit and Receiver plus tidy interface is almost ideal. BUt Ehen I needed a fool-proof instruction to set up the combination of ZS-1 and a multimode software like FLDIGI, I didn’t found what I need: a step-by-step approach.

This was the reason for writing such an instruction by myself. I concentrate on the combination of ZS-1 and FLDIGI which in a PDF is laid out in detail and with instructive screenshots. In an appendix, I go also through some other digimode software like FreeDV and EasyPal. To my own disappointment, I couldn’t get work WSJT/WSPR. So your help is very appreciated!

You can download the 20-paged PDF with its 24 screenshots right here.

 

PC-HFDL Display: Receive, decode and analyze the biggest net on HF!

HFDL is a net for data communications between airplanes and ground. The results can be shown on Google Earth . This screenshot shows a part of 29.000+ entries, received and processed on August 15th, 2016.

HFDL is a net for data communications between airplanes and ground. The results can be shown on Google Earth. This screenshot shows a part of 29.000+ entries, received and processed on August 15th, 2016.

 

Communications between air and ground is mostly done on VHF, UHF and SHF. But if an aircraft is out of reach of a ground station station due to the limited “radio horizon” of these bands, it has to maintain communications by either satellite or HF. This HFDL net is in fact the most massive professional user of HF right now. Within 24 hours, I get more than 40.000 live messages with a modest equipment.

With his software Display Launcher, Mike Simpson from Australia provides a most valuable tool to analyze up to nine channels in parallel. His software also draws positions and routes onto Google Earth. Mike has spent much energy on coping with many inconsistencies of transmitted data before it all really goes smoothly.

This free software is the vital part of a monitoring project to receive, demodulate and analyze live up to nine HFDL channels in parallel. Other ingredients you need is a software-defined radio (SDR), nine virtual audio cables (in fact, a piece of software) and a decoder software. Don’t forget an antenna and a PC …

This setup comprises a semi-professional monitoring station which will allow you to receive and track many of the nearly 3.000 airplanes using HFDL. This also covers the military, business jets, helicopters and some other delicate users. It maybe used as an important complement to Flightradar24’s web service, whenever their VHF/UHF/SHF-based net is out of range of the aircraft. This is particularly true over vast water masses like oceans and sparsely populated land masses. Furthermore, Flightradar24 erases some sensible flights from the raw material before publication on their website. This is clearly no “censorship”, but some thoughtfulness in regard to those countries where reception and publication of HFDL data is more tolerated than explicitly encouraged by the government.

In a 9-page PDF, I published a step-by-step recipe on how to set up such an HF monitoring station for up to nine parallel HFDL channel. You can download it here.

20 MHz HF: “HackRF One” on Shortwave

world Kopie

The world is full of software-defined radio (SDR), but HackRF One has a rather unique position – thanks to its vast maximum bandwidth of 20 MHz. With an up-converter, this combination covers more than 70 percent of the whole HF range from 3 to 30 MHz. Even better: with proper software you can record and play this enormous band!

However, this stunning bandwidth is achieved by a moderate resolution of 8 bit, resulting in a dynamic range of just nearly 50 dB. Or the half of SDRs like Elad’s FDM-S2.

Anyway. I wanted to know in practice what you can actually do with such a set at a budget price plus mostly free software. The results surprised even me: Properly used, this combination convinced as a quite decent performer on HF! The world map above shows some of the stations received with the set (see insert bottom left) to test its performance.

I laid down my experiences and recommendations for best reception in a paper of 17 multi-media pages full of examples – including 55 screenshots, 21 audio clips and one video. The PDF shows how to optimize reception of broadcast, utility and amateur radio stations. It covers many examples on how to analyze recordings, to decode data transmission with free software plus live decoding of 14 channels in parallel. It also gives some examples of combining HF reception with the internet, e.g. regarding the reception of signals from airplanes (ARINC, HFDL) and vessels (GMDSS).

My experiences really left me enthusiastic about this set.

You may share this enthusiasm and download the PDF of 43 MB here. Save it on your hard disk or USB stick, and open it with a most recent Adobe Reader. Otherwise, the multimedia content will not work.
[Einen deutschsprachigen Test  habe ich als Titelgeschichte in der April- Ausgabe 2017 der Fachzeitschrift  Radio-Kurier – weltweit hören veröffentlicht.]

Multi-Channel Monitoring

Matrix_24_RDS

In recent posts, I already wrote about my experiences with Simon Brown’s software SDR Console V3.0. It matches most SDRs, delivers now up to 24 virtual receivers and is capable to run multi instances, i.e. you may run several SDRs on one PC in parallel.

That’s exactly what I did when I connected three SDRs FDM-S2 to a PC, running 35 different ARINC-635 channels in parallel resulting in 68.000 decoded messages. It worked brillantly.

And there is much more, e.g. recording and playing 24 audio channels from broadcasters throughout 20 MHz (the whole FM band!) with hardware RFHack One.

This paper provides a hands-on and step-by-step guide for some vital monitoring tasks like:

  • using up to three receivers on one antenna and one PC
  • working with multi instances of GUIs
  • working with multi instances of software decoders like PC-HFDL and MultiPSK
  • carefully planning a monitoring session
  • analyzing  the decoded results and apply some basic statistics on 68.000+ messages
  • record and play 24 channels incl. RDS data within a bandwidth of 20 MHz on the FM broadcast band plus on HF with RFHack One (see screenshot on top of this page, “Matrix” mode)
  • … and much more

Elad’s Radio Scale & ILG: 31.000+ entries

ILG UTE

The original software for Elad receivers provides a very useful feature, resembling the old radio scale: it inserts some station data from a list on their proper place in the spectrum – see screenshots above (utility) and below (broadcast).

You may invoke several lists like EiBi and your own memories. These list just must comply to the data standard, Elad had set. You may also set up your own list. If you sepcify a transmission time other than 0000-2400, only the stations active at this time will pop up.

With Bernd Friedewald’s (DK9FI) International Listening Guide there is such as matching list available providing 31.000+ entries of brodcast as well as of utility stations. Bernd is a long-time professional in the field of broadcast monitoring and international consulting in this field. You may also edit this list.

ILG BC

(Disclaimer: I have no commercial relationship with ILG, and bought the data like everyone.)

 

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