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NanoVNA V2 Video Tutorials

The NanoVNA V2 (aka S-A-A-2) is a vector network analyzer (VNA) with 50 kHz to 3 GHz frequency range. Recently is has become readily available for around $60 + shipping from the Tindie store. We like this product a lot and are planning to get some for our store soon as well.

A Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) is an extremely useful tool for radio hobbyists as it allows you to measure and tune antennas and filters, as well as measure cable loss among other applications. Until recently low cost VNA's cost hundreds of dollars. Then came along the original NanoVNA which brought expensive VNA capabilities to the masses with its low $40 pricing. But the original design is limited to a maximum frequency of only 900 MHz. The new V2 design pushes this maximum frequency up to 3 GHz officially, and unofficially up to 4.4 GHz with reduced performance. It also improves on overall dynamic range and maintains the affordable sub $100 price. We note that the NanoVNA V2 is unrelated to the original NanoVNA apart from being the inspiration, and sharing the same firmware base.

Over on YouTube Robert J. Meade has been uploading a series of videos demonstrating and teaching viewers how to use the NanoVNA V2 to measure various devices. For example in his videos he shows how to use the NanoVNA V2 to measure one of our RTL-SDR Blog Broadcast FM filters, how to measure a log spiral & clover antenna, use measurements to rebuild a variable attenuator, measure an active device (SAWbird+ NOAA), and how to measure a DIY microstrip L-band LNA. If you're just getting started with the NanoVNA V2, then these are some great videos to start with.

NanoVNA V2 First Measurements V2: Log Spiral & Clover Antennas (Above 900 MHz & up to 3GHz)

Hak5: Turning a Key Croc into an RTL-SDR Server

The Hak5 Key Croc is a pentesting tool designed for emulating USB devices such as keyboards. It is commonly used by pentesters for keylogging and keystroke injection. It has some advanced features like keyword detection which can be used to detect when a certain word is typed. Under the hood it runs Linux on a quad-core ARM processor.

Over on the Hak5 YouTube channel Glytch shows us that he's been using the Key Croc as a remote RTL-SDR server. The server is setup through a payload script, which is then activated by typing "setup" into notepad on a PC. The keystroke logging and keyword detection feature detects the setup keyword, and runs the payload script which installs the RTL-SDR drivers and rtl_tcp server all while using the keystroke injection feature to output the install progress. Then it is a simple matter of plugging in an RTL-SDR, and connecting to the rtl_tcp server on a program like SDR#. 

Glytch notes that this is useful because you can run the entire Key Croc server and RTL-SDR on a portable battery pack, and now you have a remote SDR that you can place anywhere within your WiFi network.

Turning a KeyCroc into an RTL SDR Server w/ Glytch

DragonOS: Decoding Iridium Satellites with the Iridium Toolkit and an RTL-SDR

DragonOS is a ready to use Linux OS image that includes various SDR programs preinstalled and ready to use. The creator Aaron also runs a YouTube channel that has multiple tutorial videos demonstrating software built into DragonOS.

In his latest video Aaron explores Iridium reception with an RTL-SDR Blog V3, RTL-SDR Blog Active L-Band Patch Antenna and Iridium Toolkit/gr-iridium. Iridium is a satellite constellation that provides services such as global paging, satellite phones, tracking and fleet management services, as well as services for emergency, aircraft, maritime and covert operations too.

In the video he shows how to edit the config file to turn the bias tee on, how to record Iridium data, how to install the AMBE voice decoder, and finally how to decode the Iridum data with Iridium toolkit and play voice recordings.

DragonOS LTS Decoding Iridium satellites with the Iridium toolkit (gr-iridium, RTL-SDR)

Tech Minds: Testing the Mayhem Firmware on the HackRF Portapack

In a video uploaded to YouTube last week, Tech Minds explored the HackRF Portapack, which is an add on for the HackRF SDR that allows the HackRF to be used portably without a PC. In that video he demonstrated it running the stock firmware.

In his latest video Tech Minds explores the Mayhem firmware, which is firmware developed by a third party in order to add significantly more features. The Mayhem firmware is a fork of the Havok firmware which is no longer maintained. If you're interested, back in 2018 we did our own review of the Havok firmware.

In the video Tech Minds first explains how to install the Mayhem firmware which also requires you to add an external SD card into your portapack. He goes on to demonstrate the various RX decoders available including ADS-B, ACARS, AIS, AFSK, BTLE, FM/AM/SSB audio, analog TV, ERT meters, POCSAG, Radiosonde and TPMS. Next he shows the various transmittable signals available including, ADS-B, APRS, BHT, GPS Sim, Jammer, Key Fob, LGE, Mic, Morse, Burger Pagers, OOK, POCSAG, RDS, Sounds, SSTV, TEDI/LCR and TouchTune.

MAYHEM Firmware for the HackRF Portapack Installation / Overview

DSD (Open Source) with dPMR Decoding and Windows Binaries Released

Digital Speech Decoder (DSD) is an open source program for decoding signals containing digital speech, such as DMR and P25. The open source version has been mostly surpassed in use over the last few years by the closed source DSD+ version. However, work is still ongoing on the open source version, and a recent fork by Louis-Erig HERVE @LouisErigHerve has added support for Digital Private Mobile Radio (dPMR) decoding.

dPMR is an open, non-proprietary trunked radio standard that supports both data and digital voice transmission. A licence free variation for short range communications called dPMR466 uses the 446.1–446.2 MHz band. Other modes allow for efficient peer to peer to peer operation (mode 1), operation with a base station repeater (mode 2), or with a trunking signal (mode 3).  All dPMR signals operate in FDMA mode with an efficient bandwidth of only 6.25 kHz. dPMR is also known as Icom IDAS and Kenwood NEXEDGE.

Code for Louis-Erig's DSD fork can be found on his GitHub, and he has also released binaries for Windows on his website. Over on his Twitter he has also been mentioning that he has been able to get around the basic privacy modes on DMR.

dPMR radios, data stations and repeater hardware.
dPMR radios, data stations and repeater hardware.

DragonOS: DSP and Signal Analysis with Composable-SDR, Inspectrum and an RTL-SDR

DragonOS is a ready to use Linux OS image that includes various SDR programs preinstalled. The creator Aaron also runs a YouTube channel that contains multiple tutorial videos for DragonOS

One of the latest videos shows us how to use composable-sdr and Inspectrum to capture and analyze signals. Both programs are pre-built into the latest version of DragonOS. Composable-sdr is a set of DSP processing blocks for SDRs embedded in Haskell. One thing it does well is allowing users to easily capture and record demodulated signals for later use via the terminal. Inspectrum is a tool for analysing and reverse engineering signals that have been recorded.

In the video Aaron explores many of the composable-sdr examples discussed on it's GitHub readme page. Including analyzing a wav file recorded with Composable-sdr with Inspectrum and demodulating and recording a wideband FM signal. He also mentions how it's possible to create a PMR446 scanner that records up to 16 channels at once, and how decode helicopter FSK data from audio heard on YouTube (which we mentioned in a previous post).

DragonOS LTS DSP and signal analysis with Composable-SDR + Inspectrum (RTL-SDR)

Testing the YouLoop on VLF & LF Reception with an Airspy HF+ Discovery

Over on his YouTube channel Frugal Radio has been testing his YouLoop passive magnetic loop antenna on VLF and LF reception with his Airspy HF+ Discovery. In the video Frugal Radio browses the VLF & LF spectrum, making note of some interesting signals, and showing how well the combo receives.

The YouLoop is a low cost passive loop antenna for HF and VHF. It is based on the Möbius loop design which results in a high degree of noise cancelling. However the main drawback is that it is a non-resonant design, which means that it needs to be used with ultra low MDS receivers like the Airspy HF+ Discovery. We have YouLoop stock available in our shop for $34.95 with free worldwide shipping.

Airpsy YouLoop passive antenna review on VLF & LF with an HF+ Discovery and SDR# during storms!

Tech Minds: Testing the OpenEar DMR TETRA ADSB POCSAG Decoder for RTL-SDR

Back in March we posted about the release of OpenEar, a standalone TETRA decoder for the RTL-SDR. Since then OpenEar has undergone massive developments, not only improving upon the TETRA decoder, but adding DMR, ADS-B and POCSAG decoders as well as a waterfall display.

Recently Tech Minds reviewed this software on his YouTube channel. In the video he shows how to download the software, install the rtlsdr.dll file, and run and use the software. He then demonstrates reception of an amateur radio DMR repeater, reception of POCSAG pager messages and finally reception of ADS-B aircraft messages.

OpenEar Digital Decoder - DMR TETRA P25 ADSB POCSAG RTL-SDR

Tech Minds: Decoding GMDSS Maritime Distress Messages

In a recent YouTube video Tech Minds shows how to decode GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) messages which are broadcast on MW and HF. In the video he explains the DSC (Digital Selective Calling) which allows calls to be made to individual ships, a group or all stations. He goes on to demonstrate the YADD GMDSS DSC decoder running via the HF audio piped in from SDRUno and received with an SDRPlay RSPdx.

How To Decode Maritime Distress Messages GMDSS DSC

NanoVNA V2 Now Readily Available for $60 + US Stock Available at R&L

The much awaited NanoVNA V2 is now readily available for around $60 + shipping from the Tindie store. Shipping is noted to begin on June 30th due to a public holiday and you must agree to possible pandemic delays, although feedback from earlier customers indicates that most countries appear to be receiving the packages in good time. You can also add a calibration kit for $10 extra, or a calibration kit and acrylic enclosure for $14 extra.

For US customers R&L Electronics have them in stock in "high end" for $59.95 and "low end" for $54.95 options. The high end option appears to have higher quality cables included.

We note that the NanoVNA V2 is an open source project created by OwOComm, a research organization with a mission to further "intellectual communism". Therefore any factory is free to produce their own version from the designs, and hence several other versions have already been showing up on marketplaces like Aliexpress/eBay. However, for now it is probably safer to buy directly from the original manufacturers on the Tindie store or from R&L. This is because according to the developer the quality of the "unofficial" clones that are showing up on Aliexpress and eBay is not yet known.

NanoVNA V2 Available for Sale on Tindie
NanoVNA V2 Available for Sale on Tindie

A Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) is an extremely useful tool for radio hobbyists as it allows you to tune antennas, filters, and measure cable loss among other applications. Until recently a VNA would cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. However, the original NanoVNA brought expensive VNA capabilities to the masses with its low $40 pricing. But the original design was limited to a maximum frequency of only 900 MHz. The new V2 design pushes this maximum frequency up to 3 GHz officially, and unofficially up to 4.4 GHz whilst also improving dynamic range and maintaining the affordable price.

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