How to Install and Configure RTL.SDR

Setting up an RTL-SDR dongle can fluctuate in terms of complexity, contingent upon your proficiency in software and radio equipment. If you possess knowledge in installing software and drivers on your computer, coupled with experience in software-defined radio (SDR), then setting up an RTL-SDR dongle should pose no significant challenge for you.

Here is my new Software Defined Radio, the RTL SDR: 100KHz-1.7GHz Full Band UV HF RTL-SDR Receiver. RTL is short for RTL2832U. The Realtek RTL2832U chipset was a popular choice for digital video broadcast (DVB-T) receivers, whose original purpose was to receive video. It was discovered that these could be repurposed and turned into wideband SDR receivers. These devices have come to be known as the RTL-SDR.

SDR Software Downloads

About Software-Defined Radio

Software defined radio (SDR) is a radio communication system in which traditional hardware components such as mixers, filters, amplifiers, and modulators/demodulators are replaced by software algorithms running on a computer or embedded system. This allows for greater flexibility and adaptability in the radio system, as the software can be easily modified to support different frequencies, modulation schemes, and protocols. SDR technology is widely used in applications such as military communications, amateur radio, cellular networks, and satellite communications.

What is the RTL.SDR?

RTL-SDR is a type of software-defined radio that uses a low-cost USB dongle to receive live radio signals in a wide frequency range, typically from 500 kHz up to 1.75 GHz. The RTL-SDR dongle is based on the Realtek RTL2832U chipset and is widely available for purchase at a low cost of around $20-$30 USD. Most of the software for the RTL-SDR is community developed, open-source, and free of charge. The project also aims to provide decentralized access to ADS-B and satellite data through the use of RTL-SDR ground stations.

RTL SDR setup

In this video, I show you how to complete the process. I have included links to the software below the video.

RTL.SDR features

  • Listening to unencrypted Police/Ambulance/Fire/EMS conversations.
  • Listening to aircraft traffic control conversations.
  • Tracking aircraft positions like a radar with ADS-B decoding.
  • Decoding aircraft ACARS short messages.
  • Scanning trunking radio conversations.
  • Decoding unencrypted digital voice transmissions.
  • Tracking maritime boat positions like a radar with AIS decoding.
  • Decoding POCSAG/FLEX pager traffic.
  • Scanning for cordless phones and baby monitors.
  • Tracking and receiving meteorological agency-launched weather balloon data.
  • Tracking your own self launched high altitude balloon for payload recovery.
  • Receiving wireless temperature sensors and wireless power meter sensors.
  • Listening to VHF amateur radio.
  • Decoding ham radio APRS packets and other digital modes.
  • Watching analog broadcast TV.
  • Sniffing GSM signals.
  • Using rtl-sdr on your Android device as a portable radio scanner.
  • Receiving GPS signals and decoding them.
  • Using rtl-sdr as a spectrum analyzer.
  • Receiving NOAA weather satellite images.
  • Listening to satellites and the ISS.
  • Listening to unencrypted military communications.
  • Radio astronomy.
  • Monitoring meteor scatter.
  • Listening to FM radio, and decoding RDS information.
  • Listening to DAB broadcast radio.
  • Use rtl-sdr as a panadapter for your traditional hardware radio.
  • Decoding taxi mobile data terminal signals.
  • Use rtl-sdr as a true random number generator.
  • Listening to amateur radio hams on SSB with LSB/USB modulation.
  • Decoding digital amateur radio ham communications such as CW/PSK/RTTY/SSTV.
  • Receiving HF weatherfax.
  • Receiving digital radio monodiale shortwave radio (DRM).
  • Listening to international shortwave radio.
  • Looking for RADAR signals like over-the-horizon (OTH) radar, and HAARP signals.
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