DSDPlus Help with sdr software

bobruzzo

W1AV
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
880
Location
Cranston, Rhode Island
I am waiting for an "rtl sdr v3" dongle to arrive. Newbie to this aspect of the radio hobby. I also ordered an sma male to bnc male adapter so I can connect dongle to my discone antenna. The software I downloaded looks way too intimidating and confusing. I have Airspy sdr# and another program called "DSDplus" which is also extremely confusing. Is there an EASIER less complicated program to get started with? AlI care to monitor at this point is just digital/conventional scanner stuff. I have been looking online for help but most of the time what I find goes beyond my understanding and more than what I intend to do. My computer is a Dell Optiplex 390 with SSD and 16G RAM. I also installed "VB virtual audio cable" cause that was recommended. I could not find any step by step instructions how to get this all set up and working. All I know is to connect the dongle to the sma/bnc adapter, then connect to antenna. Does anyone have a checklist of steps to get this set up? I would guess that depends on what software is used. I dont understand why I need 2 programs. There are way too many options and things to check/uncheck and set. I simply want to just monitor scanner data/voice. Not interested in recording.
 

bob550

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
1,543
Location
Albany County, NY
The difference between monitoring with an SDR versus a dedicated scanner or HF receiver is like the difference between making dinner from scratch, or ordering delivery. Whereas the scanner has everything onboard, the SDR's are heavily reliant on software. You've already found that you'll need multiple programs to do what you want, and the setup can be intimidating. One program you will definitely need is Zadig, which is necessary for your computer to recognize the SDR hardware. To maximize the possible features, SDR# relies on add-ons. But with every one you add, you need to amend the Plugins file which some could find intimidating. I've used SDR#, HDSDR, SDRuno, and SDR Console. Almost all of my SDR listening is done on the HF bands, and I've found SDR Console with the SDRPlay RSP2 to be the best for my needs. SDR Console is a fairly complete program, although you may eventually want to add something more sophisticated, such as MultiPSK, for monitoring digital forms of communication. You'll find this link to be very informative and a good place to begin. The plus is that once you have everything set up to your liking, the SDR hobby is lots of fun.
 

bobruzzo

W1AV
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
880
Location
Cranston, Rhode Island
The difference between monitoring with an SDR versus a dedicated scanner or HF receiver is like the difference between making dinner from scratch, or ordering delivery. Whereas the scanner has everything onboard, the SDR's are heavily reliant on software. You've already found that you'll need multiple programs to do what you want, and the setup can be intimidating. One program you will definitely need is Zadig, which is necessary for your computer to recognize the SDR hardware. To maximize the possible features, SDR# relies on add-ons. But with every one you add, you need to amend the Plugins file which some could find intimidating. I've used SDR#, HDSDR, SDRuno, and SDR Console. Almost all of my SDR listening is done on the HF bands, and I've found SDR Console with the SDRPlay RSP2 to be the best for my needs. SDR Console is a fairly complete program, although you may eventually want to add something more sophisticated, such as MultiPSK, for monitoring digital forms of communication. You'll find this link to be very informative and a good place to begin. The plus is that once you have everything set up to your liking, the SDR hobby is lots of fun.
Thanks Bob550....I do have Zadig which is in the Airspy folder. I will wait till the dongle and adapter get here, probably next week. And I will check out that link. I just dont know where to begin once I plug the dongle in but hopefully I can make some progress.
 

N6ML

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,036
Location
SF Bay / Delta, CA
As for why you need multiple programs; it's because there are multiple problems to be solved. At a fairly high level... the SDR hardware provides sampling of RF in a way that can be processed by software. Generally you first need software to demodulate signals (FM, AM, etc.). If those are analog signals, you get audio out, which can be sent to a sound card for listening and/or recorded. There are quite a lot of options for that part - SDR-Console is definitely worth a look. SDR# is popular. If the signals are digital, you need additional software to decode the digital data after demodulation, to access its content (which may or may not be audio). DSDPlus is an option there - and it can interoperate with the demodulating software (SDR-Console, SDR#), but some plumbing is required. It can also access some SDR devices directly and do the demodulating itself. If the systems you want to monitor are trunked, you need yet more software to implement trunk-tracking (monitoring of control channels, tuning to voice channels, etc.), and it depends on the type of trunking. P25 is populate for public safety systems in the US. Options there include SDR-Trunk, Unitrunker, DSDPlus FastLane, op25 (on Linux). Most of them include support for some SDR devices without separate demodulating software, but they are focused on digital/trunking, so you can't mix that with analog systems.

There are lots of software choices that implement some subsets of the above functionality. Many of them are opensource and/or free (as in beer). I've not yet seen a complete scanner implementation in PC software - i.e. something that can scan analog (FM, AM, etc), digital conventional, digital trunked, etc. all in one package (a "Happy Meal", in @bob550's analogy?), You generally need to decide on something specific that you want to focus on, and look for a solution for that.

As for getting started, I think I'd recommend focusing on conventional FM systems first - start with broadcast FM radio stations, since those are always on. Once you get comfortable with that, you can move on to more advanced topics like digital / trunking, etc.
 

bob550

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
1,543
Location
Albany County, NY
I just dont know where to begin once I plug the dongle in
Well, once you plug the dongle in and connect to your antenna, you have begun. If you start by only monitoring analog and leave digital P25 for later, you'll simplify things greatly. Most SDR software can handle basic tuning of the scanner bands right "out of the box" with no add-ons.
 

bobruzzo

W1AV
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
880
Location
Cranston, Rhode Island
Well, once you plug the dongle in and connect to your antenna, you have begun. If you start by only monitoring analog and leave digital P25 for later, you'll simplify things greatly. Most SDR software can handle basic tuning of the scanner bands right "out of the box" with no add-ons.
Yes I will do that. I just need to figure out how to configure software and get it to actually scan. Do you set scan edges? Like if you want to scan between 460mhz and 470mhz? I doubt it will work on lowband since discone isnt really good there.
 

SteveSimpkin

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
909
Location
Lancaster, CA
I found the difference between using a scanner and a SDR dongle more like the difference between driving a car and flying the space shuttle:)
I would recommend starting with the SDR# software and monitoring analog signals first. Here is a quick start guide for installing SDR# and using it with the SDR receiver you are buying. Scroll down to the section labeled
SDR# (SDRSharp) Set Up Guide”

 

bob550

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
1,543
Location
Albany County, NY
Honestly, I leave actual scanning to my scanners. I've personally found SDR's best for basic manual tuning. Scanning add-ons for SDR# were more work than I cared to get involved in, especially since I already had multiple scanners.
 

bobruzzo

W1AV
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
880
Location
Cranston, Rhode Island
I found the difference between using a scanner and a SDR dongle more like the difference between driving a car and flying the space shuttle:)
I would recommend starting with the SDR# software and monitoring analog signals first. Here is a quick start guide for installing SDR# and using it with the SDR receiver you are buying. Scroll down to the section labeled
SDR# (SDRSharp) Set Up Guide”

That is what some folks are recommending. I have plenty of freqs with analog here. But what confuses me is running more than 1 program. Do I still need to do that to simply just monitor analog? I have Airspy but it looks very confusing. And DSD plus. How do they both work together? I am going to read the setup guide later.
 

bobruzzo

W1AV
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
880
Location
Cranston, Rhode Island
Honestly, I leave actual scanning to my scanners. I've personally found SDR's best for basic manual tuning. Scanning add-ons for SDR# were more work than I cared to get involved in, especially since I already had multiple scanners.
Well eventually I would like to at least attempt to monitor the local P25 simulcast system. Even with my sds200 I still get distortion sometimes on certain TGs. I've gone as far as I can troubleshooting. It's like a blind man looking for a black cat in a dark room. And further down I would like to try and decode digital signals maybe satellites.
 

N6ML

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,036
Location
SF Bay / Delta, CA
That is what some folks are recommending. I have plenty of freqs with analog here. But what confuses me is running more than 1 program. Do I still need to do that to simply just monitor analog? I have Airspy but it looks very confusing. And DSD plus. How do they both work together? I am going to read the setup guide later.
As mentioned before, you will need to use Zadig to tell Windows to use the WinUSB driver for your RTL dongle. That's a one-time setup thing. You won't need Zadig again, unless you get a new dongle. Once that's done, you can listen to analog stations with just SDR#. No additional software required.
 

SteveSimpkin

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
909
Location
Lancaster, CA
That is what some folks are recommending. I have plenty of freqs with analog here. But what confuses me is running more than 1 program. Do I still need to do that to simply just monitor analog? I have Airspy but it looks very confusing. And DSD plus. How do they both work together? I am going to read the setup guide later.
SDR# by itself is all that you need to monitor analog signals. If you also run DSD plus at the same time, you can monitor digital systems. Here is a tutorial for that combination.
 

bob550

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
1,543
Location
Albany County, NY
With SDR#, if everything is done right, add-ons generally will show up in the left column to allow configuration and control. I recall there being an add-in for DSD+ that enabled the display in this column.
 

bobruzzo

W1AV
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
880
Location
Cranston, Rhode Island
SDR# by itself is all that you need to monitor analog signals. If you also run DSD plus at the same time, you can monitor digital systems. Here is a tutorial for that combination.
Yes that is basically what I want to do, I just dont get how the 2 programs work together and how to configure them to work together. And how do you actually get the whole thing to scan? There's no "scan" button!....clueless....
 

bobruzzo

W1AV
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
880
Location
Cranston, Rhode Island
With SDR#, if everything is done right, add-ons generally will show up in the left column to allow configuration and control. I recall there being an add-in for DSD+ that enabled the display in this column.
I guess I will just wait till the dongle arrives before asking more questions cause I cant get the software to do anything without the dongle.
 

SteveSimpkin

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
909
Location
Lancaster, CA
Yes that is basically what I want to do, I just dont get how the 2 programs work together and how to configure them to work together. And how do you actually get the whole thing to scan? There's no "scan" button!....clueless....
SDRs were not really made to replace scanners. With enough software and a lot of effort on your part, they can do some of the things a scanner can do but they are nowhere as easy to use as a SDS100/200. Not even close to as simple to use as a scanner. Look at this as a learning experience. Be prepared to read a lot of documentation and spend a lot of time playing with it to get results.
 

bobruzzo

W1AV
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
880
Location
Cranston, Rhode Island
SDRs were not really made to replace scanners. With enough software and a lot of effort on your part, they can do some of the things a scanner can do but they are nowhere as easy to use as a SDS100/200. Not even close to as simple to use as a scanner. Look at this as a learning experience. Be prepared to read a lot of documentation and spend a lot of time playing with it to get results.
OK I am really not wanting to REPLACE scanner, just learn the basics and eventually get into decoding those digital transmissions and being able to monitor the local P25 simulcast system.
 

bob550

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
1,543
Location
Albany County, NY
Yes that is basically what I want to do, I just dont get how the 2 programs work together and how to configure them to work together. And how do you actually get the whole thing to scan? There's no "scan" button!....clueless....
With SDR#, scanning multiple frequencies, trunk-tracking, and decoding P25 digital are done using separate add-ins. As suggested, start slowly with simple analog frequency reception and build from there. SDR is true roll-your-own radio reception. You're a Ham, you'll figure it out. :)
 

bobruzzo

W1AV
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
880
Location
Cranston, Rhode Island
With SDR#, scanning multiple frequencies, trunk-tracking, and decoding P25 digital are done using separate add-ins. As suggested, start slowly with simple analog frequency reception and build from there. SDR is true roll-your-own radio reception. You're a Ham, you'll figure it out. :)
Hahahaha I havent been an active ham since 2000. I got out of it when the digital stuff started taking over. So I am unfamiliar with any new modes hams use. I was active from 1989 till 2000. Was mainly into packet, both on HF and VHF and the regular HF stuff thru the 90's. When APRS was getting popular and packet radio was slowing down I started to sell off my vhf/uhf gear and stayed with HF for a while longer. But anyway yes I will start slow and go from there.
 
Top