This is an old revision of the document!

Software Defined Radio

Software Defined Radio
founder: brmlab collective
depends on:
interested: sargon
software license: -
hardware license: -
status: active

Software Defined Radio is a computer peripheral that allows reception (and ideally also transmission) of arbitrary radio waves. Various peripherals have different frequency range, bandwidth and other capabilities. Best known are USRP (Universal Software Radio Peripherial) and RTL-SDR (extremely cheap DVB-T USB stick chipset).

On the software side, GNURadio is the most popular control software. Its modular design allows defining arbitrary signal decoding pathways visually.


We have SDR station on the table near our library (RadioLab), and some antennas on the roof. A radio-adsb.brm computer is using RTL-SDR to generate a live map of airplane traffic (ADSB-based) over Prague. Other activities (TETRA etc.) are planned or work in progress.




We are saving up for one. If you'd like to Donate with comment “RadioLab”.


Genius TVGo DVB-T03 USB dongle


Elonics E4000 tuner

  • 53 to 2211 MHz




TODO: Where/how to get a good antenna?

TODO: What are interesting frequencies to listen to without a super-strong antenna?


standalone, radio-mgmt.brm

Pentium D, 1 GB, 40 GB, Ubuntu 12.04

“public” computer, you can tune in GQRX (run ~/gqrx/gqrx), experiment with gnuradio…

Remote listening - tune radio in brmlab, listen at home!


xtightvncviewer -quality 7 -encodings tight

Maybe you will need to start a VNC server:

  • LightDM login in case machine rebooted and autologin got stuck :-(
root@radio-observer:~# x11vnc -display :0 -usepw -forever -auth /var/run/lightdm/root/\:0
  • Desktop access:
radio@radio-observer:~$ x11vnc -display :0 -usepw -forever
  • Audio: Vorbis compressed (for listening)
ssh radio@ "parecord --channels=1 | oggenc -q "-1" -r -C 1 -" | ogg123 -

Uncompressed (e.g. for further processing)

ssh radio@ "parecord --channels=1" | aplay -r 44100 -c 1 -f S16_LE

Average delay of this chain is 1-2 seconds.

Tunnel raw data - connect remote radio to your local receiver

ssh -A -L1234: 'ssh radio@ "killall rtl_tcp; rtl_tcp -a"'

Then start gqrx locally with


Works for me with 300000Hz bandwith.

KVM 1, radio-services.brm

P4, 1 GB, 60 GB, 10.04

currently there is a web-server with Virtual Radar map of planes running there

KVM 2, radio-mgmt.brm

KVM 3, radio-agenda.brm,

celeron, 512 MB, 80 GB, 10.04

KVM 4, radio-adsbrx.brm

celeron, 512 MB, 40 GB, 10.10

ADSB demodulator, Celeron@2.4GHz is enough (load ~0.9)



FM Radio

  • Get rtl-sdr tool, compile.
  • mkfifo /tmp/radio - we will use it to tunnel samples.
  • Install GNURadio. (Debian Unstable version works fine.)
  • Start gnuradio-companion and load
  • Switch sink from file to audio, adjust source file to /tmp/radio.
  • As root, run ./rtl_sdr -f 94.6e6 - >/tmp/radio
  • In gnuradio-companion, execute the flow graph (click on gear icon).
  • You should hear CRo Radiozurnal. Quality of reception depends (hopefully) on the antenna.
  • - stereo FM receiver with RDS decoder (original source here)

Detection of pulses from kappi's geiger counter with a soundcard

geiger.c (inspiration: Geiger on a Plane

Cutting and timestamping based on silence detection

GnuRadio on RPi


First attempt: I was able to record GSM channel data with (recorded file here) and decode it with airprobe ( with modified clock frequency here)

./ -I dump.cfile -d 1 B0


That nice QT GUI we are using is called GQRX. (build with qmake)


Except where otherwise noted, content on this wiki is licensed under the following license: CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Recent changes RSS feed Donate Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0 Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki