Scratch That SDR!

When you think of a software defined radio, what language might you consider reaching for to create the software part of the equation? C? C++, maybe?

How about Scratch?

“What, Scratch as in the visual programming language aimed at young people?”, we hear you cry incredulously. It’s not exactly the answer you’d expect for an SDR, but thanks to [Andrew Back]’s work there is now ScratchRadio, a set of Scratch extensions for software defined radio. Why on earth do this? The aim is to lower the barrier to entry for software defined radio as far as possible, and to place it in a learning environment such as Scratch seems an ideal way to achieve that.

Of course, Scratch itself isn’t powerful enough for the heaviest of heavy lifting, so in reality this is a Scratch wrapper for a LuaRadio backend. It was created with the LimeSDR Mini in mind, but given that LuaRadio is not specific to that hardware we’d expect it to work with other SDRs such as the ever-popular RTL chipset TV sticks. It gives an owner of a Raspberry Pi 3 the ability to experiment with SDR coding without the need for a huge level of experience, and that to our mind can only be a good thing.

If you fancy trying ScratchRadio, you can find the code in its GitHub repository, and take it from there. Meanwhile we covered LuaRadio last year, so if Scratch is a little basic for you and GNU Radio too advanced, give it a try.

Radio icon: [Sakurambo], (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Scratch cat logo: MIT Media Lab.

16 thoughts on “Scratch That SDR!

    1. That’s a little harsh. Neurosurgery has life or death implications and can be absolutely necessary. SDR is nowhere near that. For the most part it’s a useless hobby that we take up because we’re lonely or bored.

      1. Don’t ask the military though, nearly all of their radios of recent acquisition are field programmable SDRs.
        Most of us at the cutting edge in the civilian world are only a decade or so behind the 8-ball when it comes to radio tech.
        We are catching up but we need to go beyond our hacked RTL-SDR to something with RX and TX but at a similar pricepoint, and it has to be sourced from outside the US so military import/export controls do not limit sample rates.

        1. Quote: “… and it has to be sourced from outside the US so military import/export controls do not limit sample rates.”

          No it doesn’t need to be sourced from outside the U.S. to make the parts widely available. Just don’t make the chip so cutting edge only the military is using it.

          1. Please excuse my ignorance, but I’ve heard of ITAR for the limitation on sending certain parts outside of the US. Can you elaborate on limitations on imports, or even, on limitations of SDRs within the US? I’ve tried to do my preliminary due diligence via Google, but can’t find any restrictions or regulations.

          2. @travis – I’m guessing here – but I suspect the OP meant created outside the US so the US export regulations don’t make them have to “dumb down” the tech to be able to export it around the world.

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