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Author Topic: Panadapter (spectrum display) using Linux?  (Read 5256 times)
N3KXZ
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Posts: 77




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« on: January 31, 2014, 11:28:51 AM »

Are any of you directly experienced using Linux to provide a panadapter/spectrum display?

I am a relatively inexperienced ham, and have never looked into digital modes at all. I read the thread here about the DVB-T dongle, but it seems all that discussion is Windows based.

Is there an simple way, using Linux, to get an inexpensive software based panadapter? Mostly interested in HF (SSB).

A friend lent me his R820T dongle, but looking at all the Linux software and installation descriptions leaves me wondering where to start. When I look at http://rtlsdr.org/softwarelinux or http://sdr.osmocom.org/trac/wiki/rtl-sdr#KnownApps, I'm unfamiliar with all the terminology. I use Debian.

I only started receiving QST recently, and the January 2013 issue that people refer (in the DVB-T thread) to isn't available for download.

Thanks,
Keith Ostertag
N3KXZ
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ZENKI
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Posts: 934




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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2014, 03:48:06 PM »

SM5BSZ Linrad
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N3KXZ
Member

Posts: 77




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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2014, 04:35:10 PM »

Thanks Zenki, I hadn't heard of Linrad before. I don't yet know if Linrad is what I want, but SM5BSZ's website certainly has lots of interesting and educational information and links. It may take me days just to read through it. Very useful.

Keith
N3KXZ
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KA4POL
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Posts: 1978




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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2014, 10:03:38 PM »

I only started receiving QST recently, and the January 2013 issue that people refer (in the DVB-T thread) to isn't available for download.


Can't you download the digital QST? I know ARRL does not allow the single articles for download.
This gets you to the digital QST archive: http://www.nxtbook.com/fx/archives/view.php?id=4d8f3fb65736c8b1e83e4879a8b0ef57
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N3KXZ
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Posts: 77




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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2014, 06:17:06 AM »

Generally, yes you can download individual articles from QST if you are a member. I do it all the time.

However, the last two years or so of QST are not made available from the ARRL website, for whatever reason.

I've got a friend locally who is going to copy it for me sometime this weekend. Although, I'd be surprised if there is much in it regarding specific Linux software.

Thanks,
Keith
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KA4POL
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Posts: 1978




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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2014, 06:44:17 AM »

They say: QST issues beginning with January 2012 can be accessed through the digital QST archive link that appears in every issue of digital QST.
You could, as a member of ARRL, even see it without downloading. However, they just mention that a set of drivers was developed for both, Linux and Windows. No link, nothing.
Good luck.
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N3KXZ
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Posts: 77




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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2014, 06:51:43 AM »

They say: QST issues beginning with January 2012 can be accessed through the digital QST archive link that appears in every issue of digital QST....

Oh, OK, that's interesting- didn't know that. I've never looked at the digital QST, I've always gotten the past articles via the ARRL website article search.

Several Linux programs will provide a panadapter/waterfall spectrum display as part of their function, but, like linrad, they are large complex programs which have a heavy learning curve and sometimes very involved installation process. I'm still reading about linrad and Gqrx, and GNURadio, among others

Thanks,
Keith
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N4WCQ
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Posts: 5




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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2014, 10:22:21 AM »

I would suggest sdrsharp you can compile it under linux by using the mono package.  It is not hard although might be a bit of a challenge for a newbie.  The resulting program works just like the windows version of sdr#.   The easiest program is quisk but it might not support your hardware.
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N3KXZ
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Posts: 77




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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2014, 11:03:28 AM »

Thanks Rick, I have been reading about sdr# as well.

I hadn't seen mention of quisk until your post, I'll look into it.

Keith
N3KXZ
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KC1ANM
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2014, 10:47:30 AM »

Hi Keith,

If you are using Ubuntu or another Debian derived distro like Mint, the following worked for me.
In a terminal, type in the following commands (the $ is the prompt; don't type that  Smiley  )

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:gqrx/snapshots
$ sudo apt-get install gqrx

Take care,
Al
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CHRISTOFERO
Member

Posts: 23




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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2014, 08:57:30 PM »

I would be more than glad to help you out with whatever info I can. I am not a ham (yet) but I hope to be soon. I also have a lot of experience using the rtlsdrs with various software and also am a Linux user. I have four SDR receivers running on my computer, GNUradio was the first one I used, then I spent a lot of time using Linrad, and recently I found online that you can run SDR# under Mono without stuttering, by simply upping the audio buffer delay. It works for me.

To use your rtlsdr as a panadapter, of course it has to receive your IF frequency, whatever it is. If your IF is 10.7 MHz,you will either need an upconverter, or you'll need to tear into it so you can bypass the tuner chip and use the using either the I and Q inputs on the e4000 or just the I or Q on the R820T.

That will almost certainly break its ability to receive VHF/UHF. (You'll need to do it using direct conversion.)

SDR# is really quite slick but mono is slow, so if you use Linux, running SDR# under mono might not work so well for you unless you have a multicore machine.

I am not sure if it uses 64 bit under mono, it may not, but it definitely does use multiple cores. But its not much effort. If your machine is fairly recent, in my experience its really quite easy to get it working. Once its running, SDR# can do a lot.

I also like GQRX more for some things. For FM stereo reception its quite good. Linrad is probably the most stable one under Linux and it has the most configurability. It also has the ability to adjust the crystal error to parts per billion, not parts per million, which is desirable for higher frequencies, especially.

One thing about Linrad which isn't at all obvious in the Linrad install is that you should use a much lower setting in Linrad for amplitude of the SDR, because its an 8 bit SDR. I usually use 30, instead of the default which is 2000! They should make that clearer.

It can eke slightly more gain and lower noise figure out of the e4000 tuner (which is getting hard to find)

Of all of them it seems to be the one most geared for use as a amateur radio communications receiver.

Also, there is another program too, SDR-J that looks quite interesting, that I have not used.

If you are into digital modes I would definitely look at it - it has native support for quite a few digital modes, it seems. I have not used it yet.

Linrad has some very slick features like a notch filter and a very good noise blanker. They each have their strong points and weak points. I use my RTLSDR to listen to HF a fair amount. With an upconverter, they make a surprisingly decent receiver if you are willing to try to work around their limitations. For example, a preselector helps a lot - I use a magnetic loop as a preselector.

It depends a lot on your hardware's raw CPU power and what kind of things you want to do, which one is the best choice.

 The main site for driver development is here: https://sdr.osmocom.org/trac/wiki/rtl-sdr

Debian recently added rtl-sdr, gr_osmosdr and the most recent Gnuradio (3.7.2) debs to their package management system for their stable distribution, (in backports, I think) which must mean it is already in their newer ones too.

their names are rtl-sdr, librtlsdr0, librtlsdr-dev, and for Gnuradio (make sure to install the 3.7 branch), Also, you should install gr_osmosdr. Its not immediately obvious to me which package supplies gr_osmosdr (I have a source install so I am not using the debs) but its probably libosmosdr

The easiest non-package manager way to install everything is using the great "build-gnuradio" script which will install and build everything from source off the net.

You could also use pybombs, which builds everything automatically and makes updating easy when you need to.

That is where I think everyone is going. Pybombs looks quite slick.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 09:37:33 PM by CHRISTOFERO » Logged
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