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 jeweils als Titelgeschichte in der April- Ausgabe 2017 der Fachzeitschrift Radio-Kurier – weltweit hören und in der Mai-Ausgabe der Fachzeitschrift Funktelegramm veröffentlicht.]
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
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.
(Disclaimer: I have no commercial relationship with ILG, and bought the data like everyone.)
24 virtual channels in sizeable windows of 24 kHz width each – also zoomable.
In a sneak preview of his SDR software “SDR Console”, Simon Brown again presented all SDR enthusiasts with again another major achievement: up to 24 independent virtual receivers!
Called “Matrix”, and beautifully layouted, each virtual receiver can be placed within the bandwidth of an SDR, i.e. about 5 MHz using an FDM-S2 by ELAD. Each virtual receiver may carry it’s whole individual settings of e.g. mode, bandwidth and AGC.
I also tried out three instances of this software in parallel with three FDM-S2 to cover 15 MHz with 72 indvidual virtual receivers. Their output may be fed to recorders and/or decoders via virtual audio card.
See this introductory paper for a first view. It shows in praxi how to use this stunning feature to tune into 24 broadcasters in parallel, record and play their transmissions. More to come, e.g. examples with of monitoring with decoders.
Nach wie vor sprechen internationale Rundfunksender noch mit einer starken Stimme auf Kurzwelle. Diese Einführung beschreibt auf 33 Seiten und mit 31 instruktiven Abbildungen sowie vielen integrierten Hörbeispielen, wie diese Kommunikation zwischen Sender und Hörer funktioniert. Anders als sonst, wird hier auch die Planung aufseiten der Sender berücksichtigt – und was wir Hörer davon haben.
Schon das opulente Cover (siehe oben; Dank an Christoph Ratzer, OE2CRM!) zeigt, dass in diesem Thema weiterhin jede Menge Musik steckt!
This 33-pager in German has been written as introduction into international broadcasting on shortwave. It covers frequency planning of the transmitters as well many aspects for us listeners. 31 illustrations and many sound example may make it digestible even for people who don’t speak German.
HF spectrum is precious. Each user has to obey specific rule – of ITU and his own country. For best communications, there have been assigned exclusive band for different user groups. The amateur radio bands for hams are among them.
“Intruder Watch” is to look out for stations which do have no legitimation to transmit on the frequencies they use. These signals can originate from broadcasters, bad transmitters with their fundamental on a legitimate frequency, broadcast, military (OTHR RADAR!), diplomatic …
Amateur radio with it’s relatively small transmitters and antennas is especially prone to be disturbed by intruders. SDRs, software and a specific workflow (see illustration on top of this page) offer an as easy as complete monitoring of such bands on a 24/7 base at low costs.
This paper shows how that can be done: monitoring and analyzing on a professional level.
Professionelles Monitoring spürt zuverlässig sämtliche Bandeindringlinge in Frequenzbereichen auf, wo diese nicht hingehören. Das ist, sogar auf 24/7-Basis, auch mit Amateurmitteln möglich. Das Werkzeug sind ein SDR, Software und ein spezifischer Arbeitsprozess.
Hier kannst Du das Paper auch auf Deutsch lesen, wie alles funktioniert – Schritt für Schritt.
The Perseus SDR comes with a software, where you may define up to eight markers. Each of them measures the level of the signal at distances of 100 ms to 5 seconds and writes it into a CSV file. This is the base for further analyzing these data, i.e. propagation. See such an analysis of the fade-out of CHU on 3.330 kHz on top of this page.
With an (active) antenna delivering a constant antenna factor over specific range – as all professional antennas do, e.g. RF-Systems’s DX-1 – you may also switch to logging the field strength of the signal in dBµV, rather than the input level in dBm.
The first paper presents a general introduction into this concept. It has been translated into English by Guy Atkins.
The second paper, in German, goes more into the depth of analyzing the data. But it’s 13 illustrations will make it under stable also to readers who don’t understand German.