[Balint]’s GNU Radio Tutorials


[Balint] has a bit of history in dealing with software defined radios and cheap USB TV tuners turned into what would have been very expensive hardware a few years ago. Now [Balint] is finally posting a few really great GNU Radio tutorials, aimed at getting software defined radio beginners up and running with some of the coolest hardware around today.

[Balint] is well-known around these parts for being the first person to create a GNU Radio source block for the implausibly inexpensive USB TV tuners, allowing anyone with $20 and enough patience to wait for a package from China to listen in on everything from 22 to 2200 MHz. There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening in that band, including the ACARS messages between airliners and traffic control, something that allowed [Balint] to play air traffic controller with a minimal amount of hardware.

Right now the tutorials are geared towards the absolute beginner, starting at the beginning with getting GNU Radio up and running. From there the tutorials continue to receiving FM radio, and with a small hardware investment, even transmitting over multiple frequencies.

It’s not much of an understatement to say software defined radio is one of the most versatile and fun projects out there. [Balint] even demonstrated triggering restaurant pagers with a simple SDR project, a fun project that is sure to annoy his coworkers.

15 thoughts on “[Balint]’s GNU Radio Tutorials

  1. How is this a beginner guide? The first link leads to a pseudo-ftp website that contains an introduction to python and “Labs 1-5”. There is no mention about what other software is needed, let alone the physical tuner.

  2. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_udlo=&_udhi=&_ftrt=901&_ftrv=1&_sabdlo=&_sabdhi=&_samilow=&_samihi=&_fpos=&_fsct=&LH_SALE_CURRENCY=0&_dmd=1&_ipg=200&LH_BIN=1&_nkw=realtek+RTL2832U&LH_PrefLoc=1&_sop=15

    above is ebay listing all in the united states (no waiting for packages from china, no customs to possibly block shipment).

    they come in different shapes and sizes.

    some look like they should be a hard drive usb sata bridge board others look like mouse bluetooth transmitters and others look like usb thumb drives when their protective cap is removed.

    i am confused on what one would work.

    also does the included software make the sdr part work?

    1. The included software is for DVB-T reception, which is useless in the US. It does not include GNURadio or any other SDR software.
      Any of them that say RTL-SDR are suitable, with slightly varying degrees of functionality depending on the other chips.

      There are a number of software packages that support the RTL-SDR sticks, in Linux and Windows. Setup in Linux is likely easier, as support in Windows requires that additional non-standard drivers are installed in order for the stick to function in the proper mode.

    2. If you don’t mind paying a slight bit more, I’ve bought RTL-SDR dongles from NooElec on Amazon without incident. Haven’t tried them under windows, just on linux and android.

      1. You can also order directly from NooElec. They are definitely the experts on RTL-SDRs, and have a good selection at good prices. They also are the people behind the Ham-It-Up upconverter that can be used in conjunction with an RTL-SDR to receive HF (shortwave).

  3. and the best part is NooElec is located smack dab in the united states thereby no problems with customs.

    i encourage everyone to buy from usa sources to avoid international shipping and customs especially with lithium batteries

  4. i just got mine from ebay

    item 151280105098 it is in hew york so it should be only a couple days instead of a couple weeks.

    also i paid extra for priority mail to insure it is here within the remainder of the week not here by the end of the month as with package services.

      1. It’s a very necessary upgrade, the stock antennas aren’t great (though you can certainly use it to get your feet wet; you’ll pick up quite a bit even with the stock one). I just use an amplified UHF/VHF TV antenna, but I’m sure I could do a lot better. Just be careful because different RTL dongles have different connections for the antennas, so if you get one that doesn’t fit, you’ll need an adapter.

      2. Depends on what you want to listen to for the type of antenna you’ll want to use, but a better antenna is a neccesity.

        Also keep in mind that you’ll want to turn the gain down on the RTL when you put a better antenna on, or otherwise you’ll overload the front end.

        I use one of these — http://www.ebay.com/itm/F-Female-Jack-to-MCX-Male-Plug-Straight-Rf-Coax-Coaxial-Connector-Adapter-/290909874319?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43bb94688f — to hook the RTL up to my various antennas. Admitedly not optimal, but it does work, and I have a lot of TV-grade coax lying around.

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