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SOFTWARE DEFINED RADIO

SDR using the Realtek RLT2832U USB Digital Terrestrial TV (DVB-T) tuner dongle to receive VHF/UHF. February 2013 


A software-defined radio system, or SDR, is a radio communication system where the components that have been typically  hardware (e.g. mixers, filters, amplifiers, modulators/demodulators, detectors, etc.) have there faction replaced by software on a personal computer or similar system. 

Software Defined Radio using a Realtek RLT2832U USB Digital Video Broadcast -Terrestrial TV (DVB-T) tuner stick  or 'dongle' can be used to receive VHF/UHF (64~1700 MHz) in various modes.  With one of the familiar SDR application such as SDR#  the Realtek RLT2832U dongle can display a 2 MHz section of the RF spectrum between typically about 64 ~1700MHz and demodulate the common modes such as AM, CW, SSB and FM

The Realtek RTL2832U USB DVB-T tuners design for the reception of digital TV and FM radio also have the ability to present basic SDR with little effort at a very attractive price.

The only real hardware is the Realtek RTL2832U dongle of the type pictured below and a suitable antenna. The Realtek RTL2832U dongle come with a number front tuner variants with the most popular being the Elonics E4000 that provides a tuning range of  64~1700 MHz however the dongle shown below in photos 1 and 2 came with a Fitipower FC0012 that presents a tuning range of about 22 - 948.6 MHz also quite useful.

Photo 1 Realtek RTL2832U USB DVB-T dongle

Photo 2 Realtek RTL2832U USB DVB-T dongle. This particular one with the Fitipower FC0012 tuner chip just left of centre.

Tuner

Frequency range

Elonics E4000

52 - 2200 MHz with a gap from 1100 MHz to 1250 MHz (varies)

Rafael Micro R820T

24 - 1766 MHz

Fitipower FC0013

22 - 1100 MHz (FC0013B/C, FC0013G has a separate L-band input, which is unconnected on most sticks)

Fitipower FC0012

22 - 948.6 MHz

FCI FC2580

146 - 308 MHz and 438 - 924 MHz (gap in between)

Fig 1 Tuning ranges of common tuner chips used in the various Realtek RTL2832U USB DVB-T dongles.

 

The rest of the SDR system is as the name suggests; software. A Software Defined Radio application such as SDR# (read SDR Sharp) and the appropriate drives. The drives are installed used an application known as Zadig.

The easiest approach is to use an automated installer known as sdr-install that will install the SDR#  application and Zadig.

Automated Installer

Download sdr-install.zip and unzip it. Double click on the install.bat file in the newly created sdr-install directory to have the script download everything you need including Zadig.  It is obviously important to let the script run completely as it appears at times nothing is happening.

Once the script run is completed it will have downloaded the latest SDR#, the latest RTL driver from Osmocom (and enabled use of RTL-USB) and Zadig and put them in a new sdrsharp directory. It will be necessary use the Windows 7zip to extract it from the .7z Zadig It will be necessary use the Windows 7zip to extract the Zadig application from the .7z Zadig file.

Once the the WinUSB driver is installed you are ready to run SDR# with the RTL-SDR/USB input device.

Zadig

When the RTL device pluged in for the first time, Windows may request a driver or automatically install a driver from Microsoft - this is OK as it will be replaced in the next few steps using Zadig. Don't install the software on the CD that comes with the device.

Note that you will need to run Zadig for every USB port you use an RTLSDR dongle in as Windows seems to only apply this driver to the port in question at the time.  

The below screen dumps are as experienced when completing the installation process and differ slightly with presentations on other sites.

  1. Run the Zadig.exe file and you should see the following.  
  2. Click on Options drop down and select “List All Devices”. See Fig 1
  3. Choose the one that says “REALTEK 2832U (Interface 0) (Interface 0) (Interface 0)”. This should be the primary endpoint of your RTL device. See Fig 2
  4. In the box to the right of the green arrow make sure “WinUSB” is chosen - not libusb or libusbk. The big button underneath will say “Replace Driver” or “Reinstall Driver” or “Install Driver”. Before you proceed make sure the USBID matches the VID/PID in the hardware table.  See Fig 3 & Fig 3

Fig 1 Click on Options drop down and select “List All Devices”.  

 

Fig 2 Choose the one that says “REALTEK 2832U (Interface 0) (Interface 0) (Interface 0)”. This should be the primary endpoint of your RTL device.  

 

Fig 3 In the box to the right of the green arrow make sure “WinUSB” is chosen - not libusb or libusbk. The big button underneath will say “Replace Driver” or “Reinstall Driver” or “Install Driver”. Before you proceed make sure the USBID matches the VID/PID in the Fig 4 Hardware table.

USB Hardware

VID PID Tuner device name
0x0bda 0x2832 all of them Generic RTL2832U (e.g. hama nano)
0x0bda 0x2838 E4000 ezcap USB 2.0 DVB-T/DAB/FM dongle
0x0ccd 0x00a9 FC0012 Terratec Cinergy T Stick Black (rev 1)
0x0ccd 0x00b3 FC0013 Terratec NOXON DAB/DAB+ USB dongle (rev 1)
0x0ccd 0x00d3 E4000 Terratec Cinergy T Stick RC (Rev.3)
0x0ccd 0x00e0 E4000 Terratec NOXON DAB/DAB+ USB dongle (rev 2)
0x185b 0x0620 E4000 Compro Videomate U620F
0x185b 0x0650 E4000 Compro Videomate U650F
0x1f4d 0xb803 FC0012 GTek T803
0x1f4d 0xc803 FC0012 Lifeview LV5TDeluxe
0x1b80 0xd3a4 FC0013 Twintech UT-40
0x1d19 0x1101 FC2580 Dexatek DK DVB-T Dongle (Logilink VG0002A)
0x1d19 0x1102 ? Dexatek DK DVB-T Dongle (MSI DigiVox? mini II V3.0)
0x1d19 0x1103 FC2580 Dexatek Technology Ltd. DK 5217 DVB-T Dongle
0x0458 0x707f ? Genius TVGo DVB-T03 USB dongle (Ver. B)
0xd393 FC0012 GIGABYTE GT-U7300
0x1b80 0xd394 ? DIKOM USB-DVBT HD
0x1b80 0xd395 FC0012 Peak 102569AGPK
0x1b80 0xd39d FC0012 SVEON STV20 DVB-T USB & FM

Fig 4 Hardware table hardware table.  

Note that if you insert the dongle into a different USB port you may have to use Zadig again. It seems that you can change which driver is loaded depending on the USB port used. So you could use one USB port for RTLSDR and another port for using the dongle to watch DVB-T with the supplied Windows application. 

SDR#

Run SDRSharp.exe and you should see the following window.

To get started set the following:
  1. Set Radio to WFM (wideband FM)
  2. Set the centre frequency to (88,000,000) This is 88MHz, the start of the FM radio band in most countries.
  3. Set the 'Front End' type from 'Other' to 'RTLSDR / USB'
  4. If all is working the 'Front End' button should go from grey text to black text.
  5. Click on Play.  

You should now see an orange waterfall display in the bottom half and a dancing blue spectrum in the top half. By clicking and dragging on the blue spectrum you can conveniently change the frequency. In the example below I have dragged the spectrum and centred on an FM station. All going well you should hear the audio coming out of the PC speaker.

References  

This Wiki is intended to collect all sorts of disparate information concerning the use of the so called RTLSDR. If you wish to add to this wiki please contact the Osmocom guys and ask for editing access rights to this site. http://www.rtlsdr.org/

 

SDR# (read SDR Sharp) is a high performance Software Defined Radio application. It is written in C# with both object design correctness and performance in mind. http://sdrsharp.com/

HDSDR is a freeware Software Defined Radio (SDR) program for Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8. Typical applications are Radio listening, Ham Radio, SWL, Radio Astronomy, NDB-hunting and Spectrum analysis. HDSDR (former WinradHD) is an advanced version of Winrad, written by Alberto di Bene (I2PHD). http://www.hdsdr.de/index.html

 

Software-defined radio : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software-defined_radio  

 

 

Overview of the setup of Software Defined Radio with the RTL2832 DVB-T USB stick

 

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Page last revised 10 February 2013 
 

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