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Es’hail-2: First Geostationary Satellite with Amateur Radio Transponders Successfully Deployed

Today SpaceX have successfully launched and deployed the Es'hail-2 satellite which is now in geostationary orbit. This launch is special for amateur radio enthusiasts because it is the first geostationary satellite that contains an amateur radio transponder on it. The satellite is positioned at 25.5°E which is over Africa. It will cover Africa, Europe, the Middle East, India, eastern Brazil and the west half of Russia/Asia. Unfortunately, North America, Japan, most of South America, Australia and NZ miss out.

Coverage of Es'hail 2
Coverage of Es'hail 2

The satellite has a two bandwidth segments, a 250 kHz narrow band for modes like SSB, FreeDV, CW, RTTY etc, and a 8 MHz wide band for digital amateur TV (DATV) modes like DVB-S and DVB-T.

The downlink frequencies are at 10 GHz so a low cost TV LNB could be used as the antenna. For receiving the narrowband modes, an RTL-SDR or similar SDR could be used, and for the 8 MHz DATV modes a standard DVB-S2 set top box can be used to receive and decode the video. For uplink, the transmission frequency is at 2.4 GHz.

According to the commissioning order of the satellite, it is expected that the AMSAT transponders will be activated only after all tests have been passed, and after other higher priority commercial telecommunications systems have been activated. This is expected to take about 1-2 months.

2018: Es'hail-2 and its amateur radio payload - Graham Shirville (G3VZV) & Dave Crump (G8GKQ)

An Overview of Aircraft Communication Modes from HF to UHF

Over on YouTube icholakov has uploaded an informative video that gives an overview of the main communication modes that aircraft use from HF to UHF. In the video he also gives examples of those modes being received and decoded with an SDR.

The modes that he explains and demonstrates are VHF voice, VHF ATIS automated weather, ACARS short data messages, HF voice, HF automatic weather, HF data selective calling (SELCAL), HF data link (HFDL) and UHF ADS-B aircraft positioning.

Monitoring airplane communications

Setting up Air Traffic Control Audio Sharing with Broadcastify, RTL-Airband, RTL-SDR and a Raspberry Pi

Over on YouTube Fuzz The Pi Guy has uploaded a video tutorial showing how to set up a Broadcastify air traffic control audio feed with RTL-Airband and an RTL-SDR running on a Raspberry Pi. This allows you to publicly share your received air traffic control audio online via sites like Broadcastify.

The video is based on a comprehensive Radioreference text tutorial which takes you through the process from scratch. Setting it up involves installing the Raspbian OS, installing RTL-SDR, installing and setting up RTL-Airband, configuring ezstream and then ensuring that everything runs automatically on boot. It's a fairly involved setup process, but the video helps make things easier.

How To Setup Broadcastify On A Raspberry Pi Using RTL_AM For Aviation

RPiTX v2 Released: Easily Record and Replay with RTL-SDR and a Raspberry Pi

RPiTX is software for the Raspberry Pi which can turn it into a 5 kHz to 1500 MHz transmitter which can transmit any arbitrary signal. In order to transmit the software does not require any additional hardware apart from a wire plugged into a GPIO pin on the expansion header. It works by modulating the GPIO pin with square waves in such a way that the desired signal is generated. However, although additional hardware isn't required, if RPiTX is to be used in any actual application a band-pass filter is highly recommended in order to remove any harmonics which could interfere and jam other radio systems.

Earlier this month RPiTX was upgraded to version 2. One of the changes is a new GUI for testing the various transmission modes. Currently it is possible to transmit a chirp, FM with RDS, USB, SSTV, Opera, Pocsag, SSTV, Freedv. There is also a spectrum painter which allows you to display an image on a SDR's waterfall.

Painting an Image on a SDR Waterfall Display with RPiTX v2
Painting an Image on a SDR Waterfall Display with RPiTX v2

The RPiTX v2 update also makes recording a signal with an RTL-SDR, and replaying that signal with RPiTX significantly easier. Previously it was necessary to go through a bunch of preprocessing steps (as described in our previous tutorial) in order to get a transmittable file, but now RPiTX is capable of transmitting a recorded IQ file directly. This makes copying things like 433 MHz ISM band remotes significantly easier. One application might be to use RPiTX as an internet connected home automation tool which could control all your wireless devices.

Finally, another application of the RPiTX and RTL-SDR combination is a live RF relay. The software is able to receive a signal at one frequency from the RTL-SDR, and then re-transmit it at another frequency in real time. Additionally, it is also capable of live transmodulation, where it receives an FM radio station, demodulates and then remodulates it as SSB to transmit on another frequency.

RPiTX v2 re-transmitting a broadcast FM signal live at 434 MHz.
RPiTX v2 re-transmitting a broadcast FM signal live at 434 MHz.

Video Tutorial: Installing GNU-Radio on Windows 10

Over on YouTube user Petr Horký has uploaded a helpful tutorial video showing how to install GNU Radio on Windows 10. Petr goes through the steps from installing Python, pip and other dependencies like numpy and pyqt, to installing GNU Radio itself and then ensuring that the system PATH is set correctly.

GNU Radio is a block based programming language for building digital signal processing applications (e.g. demodulators/decoders). It is very useful for experimenting with more advanced SDR concepts, and there are also many RTL-SDR compatible applications built with GNU Radio as well. GNU Radio is typically run on Linux, but can also run on Windows now too, although perhaps not every program will be compatible.

How to install GNU Radio Companion on Windows 10 (pip, environment variables)

Final Day to Pre-Order a Discounted KerberosSDR

Today is the last day to pre-order a KerberosSDR in our Indiegogo campaign! More information also available on our KerberosSDR page.

First, we'd like to thank all those who've pre-ordered a KerberosSDR unit already. The response has been overwhelming, and we've raised so much more than we originally thought. Thanks to your support, we've been able to immediately fund continued development on the open source demo software. We aim to release the software when we ship, and we'll have another update then. On the Hardware side, we've already begun ordering some components, and have started prototyping the metal enclosure that will come stock on all KerberosSDR units. We are still on track for a late December/early January shipping date.

If you haven't pre-ordered yet, get in quick as the campaign and pre-order discount ends today! Although all 600 early bird discounts have been taken, it is still possible to pre-order KerberosSDR for $125. Afterwards, the price will rise to a maximum of $150.

Over the next month of manufacturing we intend to begin releasing tutorials that show how to use the board and demo software for passive radar and direction finding experiments. We'll also show some other use cases, like how KerberosSDR could be used as four separate RTL-SDRs for monitoring multiple frequencies simultaneously.

KerberosSDR with Calibration Board Attached (Metal Enclosure with SMA connectors Not Shown)
KerberosSDR with Calibration Board Attached (Metal Enclosure with SMA connectors Not Shown)

If you weren't already aware, over the past few months we've been working with the engineering team at to create a 4x Coherent RTL-SDR that we're calling KerberosSDR. A coherent RTL-SDR allows you to perform interesting experiments such as RF direction finding, passive radar and beam forming. In conjunction with developer Tamas Peto, we have also had developed open source demo software for the board, which allows you to test direction finding and passive radar. The open source software also provides a good DSP base for extension.

USA-Satcom XRIT Decoder Updated

USA-Satcom is the programmer of XRIT Decoder (not to be confused with XRITDecoder by CM2ESP), which is a popular (paid) Windows decoding application for GOES weather satellites. Recently, over on the SDRplay forums RSP2user made a note about the latest update:

USA-Satcom has just released v2.1.0.0 of the XRIT Decoder. Along with enhancements for the XRIT Decoder, a new RSP Streamer X has been released and is operable with the RSP1A, RSP2, and RSPduo - new features include operation with two streams simultaneously (provided that the PC being used has sufficient processing power and an RSPduo or more than one compatible RSP are being used). Also new is the XRIT File manager which allows for improved operation with both LRIT and HRIT files, improved LUT for excellent false color images, user-selectable automated black filling of the white background on full disk visual and false color HRIT images, and country as well as state map overlays.

The new color enhancements are excellent:

GOES 16 Full Disk Weather Satellite Image. Received by RSP2user with V2.1.0.0 of XRIT Decoder.
GOES 16 Full Disk Weather Satellite Image. Received by RSP2user with V2.1.0.0 of XRIT Decoder.

If you are interested in receiving and decoding GOES images, we now have several previous blog posts on this topic which may be helpful.

A Tutorial on Receiving HF SSTV with a Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR V3

Thank you to Giuseppe (IT9YBG) who has written in to share his tutorial about setting up a direct sampling RTL-SDR V3 based SSTV receiver on a Raspberry Pi. He writes that he uses the receiver to continuously receive images at 14.230 MHz, but with a frequency tweak in the command line code the system could also be used to receive the VHF SSTV images sent by the ISS.

In the tutorial he uses the free QSSTV software for decoding. An RTL-SDR together with the CSDR DSP software is used to set up a command line based receiver, which pipes the SSTV audio into a virtual audio sink, and then into QSSTV. The receiver setup procedure is similar to the method used in our RTL-SDR V3 QRP monitoring station tutorial, and is a very nice way of setting up an efficient command line based RTL-SDR audio output.

QSSTV Running on a Raspberry Pi with RTL-SDR V3 Radio
QSSTV Running on a Raspberry Pi with RTL-SDR V3 Radio

A Multi-Feature Raspberry Pi Radio with RTL-SDR, Internet Radio, Google Assistant and Alexa

Recently JJ wrote in and wanted to share his multi-feature living room radio that he's created with a Raspberry Pi, RTL-SDR, and various software packages installed on the Pi. Previously we posted about his cute LegoPi radio, and this living room radio is an iteration on that.

The radio is able to tune into live broadcast FM via an RTL-SDR and the NGSoftFM software, and also can be remotely access with SpyServer. It can also tune into internet radio, or play MP3 files. He's also installed Google Assistant and Alexa onto the Pi, so it can work as a digital assistant too. The features and software he uses are noted below:

FM / DAB+ / Internet radio with random mode / MP3 player / Google assistant / Amazon Alexa / SPYserver (SDRsharp), all controlled with a USB keypad or a Bluetooth remote control.

Small, efficient and very stable (NO GUI). Radio boots in 15 seconds (Raspberry Pi 3 Model B).

NGSoftFM (
Works well but needs a clean / strong signal.

dab-cmdline (
Works well but needs a clean / strong signal. I used example-2.

Internet radio
The random internet radio part is a lot of fun to use. You can do random by genre or just random everything. Reminds me when turning the MW dial at night when I was a kid and not knowing what was coming next!
It is just a python script that fetch the icecast directory then populate a small SQL database on the pi. I used this ( as a starting point.

MP3 player
VLC. I used a 16GB SD card on the pi (good compromise between speed of boot versus capacity). The whole system takes a little bit less than 5GB, which means I have 10GB+ for MP3 files.

Google assistant
Fun and addictive, I used an old webcam that was gathering dust as a USB microphone. Pick-up range is pretty good, 4-5 meters in a quiet room. I followed these instructions:

Amazon Alexa
My favorite! Fun and addictive, I followed these instructions:

More a gadget than a serious tool because I'm using a wire for antenna (on the last radio) but has proven to be usefull to help position the wire for optimum FM / DAB+ reception by looking at the spectrum and play with the dongle gain in SDRsharp (

Bluetooth remote control
I used a PlayStation 3 (PS3) bluetooth remote since the pi 3 has bluetooth built-in.
Easily available in used video game stores and very cheap, the remote works very well but it took me a while to get it going. This page helped:

Last but not least, the radio is a complete Linux environment so I can connect to it from my Win10 box via SSH ( and play with all the RTL-SDR goodies, even GNU Radio :-) providing you install a desktop environment (for ex. PIXEL) on top of Raspbian Stretch Lite.

JJ has also uploaded a video here.

JJ's Radio is Packaged in a Plastic Toolbox
JJ's Radio is Packaged in a Plastic Toolbox
All the pieces
All the pieces

SDR# Physical Remote Now For Sale + YouTube Review

Back in August Maxim who runs his small company "ExpElectroLab" wrote in and shared with us news of his upcoming product called "SDR-Remote" which is a physical tuning knob and control panel for SDR#.

Recently the product was released for sale on his shop, and costs $57.50 USD + shipping. The store is for Russian customers only, but you contact him at if you are non-Russian and are interested in his products. The features of the SDR-Remote are pasted below:

The heart is ARDUINO NANO V3.0, buttons, encoder and software.

Implemented by:

  • tuning the frequency of reception with frequency of 1 kHz, 100 kHz, 1 MHz (additionally 50 Hz)
  • volume control
  • mute
  • FM mono / stereo switching
  • switching modulation types
  • on / off noise control
  • Noise level threshold adjustment
  • adjustment of width of a strip
  • switching bands 160m, 80m, 40m, 25m, 13m.10m, FM, AVIA, 2m, 70cm

Maxim hand builds these in his home country of Russia, and has noted that since the case is 3D printed he can only create a few per week at the moment. The knob interfaces with SDR# via an Arduino driver and SDR# plugin which can be downloaded.

SDR-Remote V2.1
SDR-Remote V2.1

Over on YouTube a Russian reviewer has uploaded a video showing SDR-Remote v2.1 in action. The video is narrated in Russian, but YouTube auto-captions combined with auto-translate does a decent job.

Пульт для SDR-приёмника и SDRSharp.

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