Pluto (SDR) Goes Ethernet

Pluto may no longer be a planet, but it is still a fun software defined radio (SDR) set up from Analog Devices. The inexpensive radio uses a USB connector and looks somewhat like a network connection to your PC. But what if you want to really use it with a network? [SignalsEverywhere] shows you how to do it using a USB network adapter and a USB connection adapter.

Just plugging a USB dongle into the box isn’t sufficient, an extra power supply is required as well as a minor bit of configuration. The IP address will be static so you might want to use an IP that your DHCP server won’t hand out, or reserve the IP on your local network.

The Pluto SDR is an inexpensive ($150) student kit that can both receive and transmit (at very low power). There’s a free book about it, too. By default, the device only operates from 325 to 3800 MHz — too high to receive the FM radio band, for example. However, there is a hack that not only makes the range from 70 to 6000 MHz, but also increases the bandwidth from 20 MHz to 56 MHz. It may not be totally “in spec” in the increased range, but it works fine to pick up FM signals, for example. The official page hints this only works with certain units, but we’ve known quite a few people to get it to work, so it will likely work for you, too.

In addition to increasing the frequency range, you can enable the device’s 2nd CPU which is disabled by default. If you want to do a little more hacking, there’s a custom firmware for it that turns it into a stand-alone streaming device — handy with the Ethernet hack. You can download PlutoWeb from GitHub.


14 thoughts on “Pluto (SDR) Goes Ethernet

  1. This is excellent! It opens up the ‘single piece of hardware to do x’. Like a standalone APRS gateway, or even a LoRa gateway.

    I’ve really been a fan of the SignalsEverywhere channel, there are plenty of other tutorials / interesting vids that are worth the watch.

  2. Yeah, if the Pluto was a bit more stable this would be great. But as soon as you hook up a real antenna the Pluto will hang or loose its network connection. This has to do with ground level offsets.

    1. I ran into this issue too, your bus is not providing enough current.

      you need to either power the Pluto with the second adapter using the power port or run the Pluto through a powered USB hub.

      mine is usually connected through a hub at my work station and this ability is perfect I’ve had it transmit 100% duty cycle for 3 hours straight on various modes with no issues after that.

  3. So – with a hack, you can get the 2 metre band (for NOAA signals, 137 MHz)
    But if you want HF, you still need an upconverter?

    Heck, even a basic RTLSDR can be modded to cover a portion of baseband.

    1. Except RTLSDR can’t transmit, only sensitive from 25Mhz to 1.2Ghz, is limited to 3.2Mhz bandwidth, and only has a 8-bit ADC. The Pluto (for $150 being a bargain!) works with Ham-it-Up if you need HF, and as a bonus you can also transmit through the Ham-it-Up, meaning you can do amature digital modes or voice with a cheap add-on that costs about as much as an RTLSDR kit. So… You take your pick.

  4. I have a pluto with a AD9364 (not the full blown AD9361) but the “hack” works no problem. But you won’t reach the 56 MHz bandwidth because it uses a USB 2.0 connection which is not fast enought. The Ettus B2x0 uses the AD9361 too and reaches higher bandwidths due to usb 3.0. however both devices suffer from insufficient filtering. I tried to record a signal from cable tv but aliasing ruined it :(

    1. This is one of the downsides but I believe the popularity with this device will see more work in the firmware. Look at the RTLSDR community and what they achieved. This is the cheapest transmitting sdr (full duplex at that!) anyone can get and it was designed to be open sourced from the ground up. Really what we need are passionate developers.

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