May 19, 2014 AT 3:19 pm

Getting Started with RTL-SDR and SDR-Sharp

Adafruit Products 1497-00
Getting Started with RTL-SDR and SDR-Sharp @ The Adafruit Learning System.

Software-defined radio (SDR) is a technique for turning a computer into a radio. But not just an AM/FM radio – by using the computing power on your desktop you can listen and decode a wide variety of broadcasts. SDR can turn your computer into a weather-band receiver, a police/fire report scanner, a music listening station, and more! Instead of manually tuning inductors, its all done in software by chips fast enough to pick up and decode radio waves on the fly.

If you’ve ever been curious about software defined radio (SDR), this USB stick is the easiest way possible to have fun with a powerful, configurable receiver. Packed with the powerful RTL2832U and R820T tuner, it can tune into signals from 24MHz to 1850MHz. That means you can use a computer (with Windows, Mac, or Linux) to tune into: FM Radio, AM signals (but not AM radio), CW (morse code!), unencrypted radio signals (such as those used by many police and fire departments), POCSAG pagers, and more.

In this tutorial we’ll show how to get your very first listening adventure underway – listening to FM radio and decoding the RDS/RBDS data signal that is sent along with many FM radio stations as well.

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1 Comment

  1. Might I suggest that you recommend gqrx <http://gqrx.dk&gt; as well for users of other platforms? It supports Linux and OS X (I think there is a Windows port of it somewhere too). It’s a similar GUI that uses GNU Radio as a backend.

    Additionally, the core of SDR# is MS-RSL licensed (i.e. very much not open source) and the developer has performed some very questionable actions in the past including filing a completely false DMCA complaint against an Android SDR app as detailed here: <http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=37680134&postcount=51&gt;. Amusingly, the developer seems to have halted development of SDR# due to people complaining of the closed source nature of the project…

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