Data Decoding packages and SDRs

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ka3jjz

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For a number of years now, I have been maintaining a list of digital decoding packages on Mike Chace-Ortiz's website. You can see that list if you click on the blue text in my sig line.

You will notice that some of the links are in green. These are packages that are known to interface with Software Defined Radios (SDRs). I don't know of all of them, though - and that's where you come in. For example I have heard that the popular package MixW works with the Funcube Dongles. If this is correct I need to add this to that page, along with a list of the other SDRs it works with, since I don't see such a list on the MixW page.

Are there others there that are not green that should be? And if so, which SDRs do they interface with?

As always thanks in advance for your support.

Mike
 
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DaveNF2G

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You might need to differentiate between software that is designed around a particular type of "SDR" as opposed to programs that will work with the TV dongles.
 

ka3jjz

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I'm unsure what you mean here...the RTL dongles do a great deal more than just TV

??

Mike
 

Token

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Mike,

You have Sorcerer in green. While I do not use Sorcerer, and so am not well versed in it, I am not aware of it having any SDR control / integration functionality.

T!
 

ka3jjz

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I can't bring the page up at work, but supposedly it works with several SDRs including the QS1R and Perseus, as I recall. Take a look at the entire page

Mike
 
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DaveNF2G

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I meant the RTL dongles. As mentioned earlier in this thread, there are programs that work with WinRadio. There is other software that is intended to be used with other expensive commercial products. They are useless if you just have a dongle.
 

ka3jjz

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True enough; keep in mind that the page is meant to highlight decoding software - it's up to the individual page to identify exactly which SDRs these programs work with (professional or hobby level really isn't relevant here). If they don't mention it, how can you tell whether it's supported or not?

Put another way, the packages colored in green aren't really the highlight of the section - it's an extra bit of information SDR users would find useful. If the page doesn't state which ones it supports, it's a good idea to find that information and post it.

Case in point on opposite ends of the spectrum - MultiPSK (which doesn't mention which SDRs it works with - just mentions that it has some integration in a one line, and poorly translated, phrase) vs. Sigmira (which explicitly states with which SDRs it has special functionality)

Mike
 

ka3jjz

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I thought SkySweeper was no longer being marketed...I'll look at that one.

DIGTRX is already on that page (refresh your cache if you don't see it - I added it just recently). Can it interface with SDRs?

Re HF and SDRs - surely you've heard of the Perseus - and there are many others...Mike
 
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poltergeisty

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Just looked to see how much a Perseus is. Forgetaboutit. I think I'll stick with a PCR-1000. I did see some cheap Chinese SDR's on eBay that cover 100 KHz-1.7 GHz.

I didn't see DIGTRX. Must have missed it. Cache is off.
 

ka3jjz

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While this isn't the SDR forum, I''ll point out that the AFEDRI and the Cross Country units - amongst others - are quite capable on HF, and there's the Flex units for ham stuff...both the AFEDRI and Cross Country units are significantly cheaper than the nearly USD1000 Perseus

and DIGTRX is on that page in my sig as the first line under 'Soundcard Digital Decoders'...thanks
 
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DaveNF2G

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There are also HF upconverters for the RTL sticks. Lazy Dog Engineering markets a couple of models and there are others.
 

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Just looked to see how much a Perseus is. Forgetaboutit. I think I'll stick with a PCR-1000. I did see some cheap Chinese SDR's on eBay that cover 100 KHz-1.7 GHz.
No comparison, either to the Chinese SDRs or the Icom. Even though the Perseus is 6 years old now it is still a World class shortwave receiver in almost every aspect. It is not quite up to more current HF specific SDRs on the market, but it competes more than favorably with such classic traditional receivers as the Icom R70/71/72/75 series, the Kenwood R5000, or the Drake R8.

The RTL based SDRs, like the Chinese ones covering 100 kHz to 1.7 GHz or the ones using separate upconverters, open the world of SDR to everyone for low initial investment. But there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and their low cost comes at another cost, performance.

And more recent dedicated shortwave SDRs, like the AFEDRI and the Elad FDM-S2, bring very good performance at a decent price.

Long before anyone discovered the hack for the RTL dongles the dedicated HF SDRs were about the only game in town. They were good, some of them very, very, good, but typically expensive. Now the dongle based hardware is cheap and plentiful, but somewhat lacking in performance. Of course, because any wideband SDR is such an eye opener many users are not aware of how lacking the dongles can be on HF, until they try one side by side with a "real" HF SDR. The dedicate HF SDRs may no longer be the only game in town, but they are still the best SDR game in town for HF use.

Before anyone takes the above as a slam on the RTLs, it is not, it is simply a fact. If the dongle based SDRs are what you can afford get one and be happy (I have several here), it will be a cool experience for most new users, for less than the cost of a so-so HF portable. But if HF is your goal (as opposed to scanner type VHF/UHF activity or ADS-B) there are things that will work better, sometimes a lot better, but also at higher cost. Only the end user can decide which model fits their needs and their pocket books best.

T!
 

ka3jjz

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And to get this thread back to the topic of data decoding, you'll notice that Hoka, Wavecom, Krypto and Sorcerer all support the Perseus. Yes, the Hoka, Wavecom and Krypto offerings are all professional (or semi-pro) in nature (and cost) but you get (to some degree) what you pay for.

Interestingly enough, even the Bonito Radiocom6 (which is not really at the top of the popular software list) has a Perseus listing.

As I understand it, some SDRs have a IQ output that can be used for this purpose as well (the Alinco R8T has one, I believe...)

Mike
 
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Token

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Krypto 500 has native support and control for the RFSpace SDRs also, the SDR-IQ, SDR-14, NetSDR, and SDR-IP. For some things I like Code 300, but for most I like Krypto.

T!
 

ka3jjz

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Better not let a certain Kryptonian hear you say that - always wondered how they get away with using that name. DC comics might get royally pissed... :.>>

Anyway, onto a different tangent on the same subject - I see that version 2 of sdr-radio (I think I got that right) also does RTTY and ROS. Does anyone know if that's good old Baudot RTTY or encompasses other modes besides that one?

Mike
 

osros

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Interesting stuff, I just recently dusted off my gear in prep for a new shack and get back into it. I have a SDR-14 and when I got it enjoyed it very much as a standalone HF and as at spectrum analyzer tied into the IF Output of my AR5000A for VHF/UHF snooping I found many a unlisted input freq with it. Kind which I had two right now can think of a great setup with two.

Anyway about decoding I dabbled into it back in the day wish I did more but enjoyed it. I discovered Sky-sweeper a bit too late but was able to get the STD version, which looks like still works just tried it. I wish I had gotten the PRO version. Back in the day I wanted the Hoka stuff so bad but could not justify the cost.

Well now I like to get back into data and feel I will be starting from scratch at least with getting proper software. I like to know what is best all around decoder SW with the max modes/capabilities now a days at a reasonable price? I can appreciate all those professional type software but prices are extreme. What good SW that is lets say under $1000. I figure that's my limit if I'm serious about this I just cant afford any trail and error so I'm asking the pros out there.

Appreciate any links even if over $1k I interested in at least looking. I saw a couple pro grade SW out there but cant find them now.



Thanks
 

ka3jjz

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If you have seen the links on the page in my sig, you have an idea of what is out there now.

If we ignore the hyper expensive packages (Krypto, Hoka, WaveCom, etc.), you can build a nice library of software without spending big bucks. Certainly there's a place for those expensive decoders (but let's face it - not everyone can afford them). You will never get a straight answer about 'what is best' (much like asking the same thing about a car) simply because what is 'best' to one individual may not be to another. It's a matter of perspective, as well as a sometimes-subjective evaluation of performance. This is because each person may not have precisely the same setup (same receiver, antennas, PC, etc.) and all of this can influence that judgement to some degree.

If I were building a library - and most digital DXers I know do exactly this - of decoding software, I think you would be hard pressed not to find one (if not more) of the following (the links for all of these are listed in that page in my sig line, so I won't repeat them here)...

a. MultiPSK -has a USD45 registration fee for some modes, but is a very capable decoder, if you can get past the huge number of menus. Patrick doesn't seem to believe in pull downs...

b. Sigmira - Free, and it will handle Stanag4285 signals (it certainly won't de-crypt the ones that are encrypted, but that's to be expected)

c. Sorcerer - and I think it works directly with the SDR-14

d. PC-ALE - free, and it handles ALE signals. I should note that MultiPSK does too, but it's handy to have more than one decoder for a particular mode, and I'll get to why that's true in a moment

e. PC-HFDL- free, and it handles HFDL. Again, MultiPSK handles these as well

f. Rivet - free -Looks like the link on the UMC site is no good anymore, but here;s the right one...

https://github.com/IanWraith/Rivet/

g Digtrx - free - MIGHT be useful if you chase numbers stations...

Why overlap the decoders? Simple - one decoder might use a somewhat different algorithm for decoding that works better with your receiver and/or PC. There's no real way of determining this without experimentation.

With all of that at your fingertips you would probably be able to at least examine (if not outright decode) 70-80% of what's out there (that can be decoded - not encrypted).

Now there's the question of installation, of course, as well as the use of utilities like VAC or installing DLLs to make the SDR-14 talk to the software. I would install one at a time, use it for a bit, and when you're comfortable, install the next one and so on. Sorcerer has the advantage of (supposedly) interfacing with the SDR-14 directly, so that might be a place to start.

However a caution - if you belong to the UDXF Yahoo group (and you should - it's one of the best places to get digital station news and decoding), don't ask about that software there. It's known to be a crack of another package (not SkySweeper), and the folks running that group don't like it.

Mike
 
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