Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Good, The Bad and the RTL SDR

Well im now about 5-6 days into playing with / learning about RTL SDR's and so far its a lot of fun and fascination.

For the last few days i've been trying to get RTL1090 which is a nifty program that can grab ADS-B info and feed it into other programs like Planeplotter and Virtual Radar up and running so i can watch planes flying and find out information about them..

For about 4 days of leaving it running for a few hours each time i was getting no output and was a little confused as to whay it wasnt owrking.. I'd opened the ports etc but had no joy what so ever.

I loosely looked on the SDR# Yahoo group and saw that some people posted saying they were using a program called ADSB.exe which after reading thru seemed to do the same thing as RTL1090 so i thought id give it go as after all i had no luck with RTL1090.

After downloading it and making sure i had the right dll's in the adsb.exe folder (things like rtlsdr.dll, msvcr100.dll etc) I ran ADSB.exe and it told me that it couldn't see my dongle ! UH oh (gulps) had i blown it up??? So a quick post to SDR# and i was told to run a little tool called rtl_test.exe and post the results..

Now you must remeber that to see airplances on your pc you need to be able to decode ADS-B which is the information sent from planes as they travel the skies. things like Heading, Speed, Flight Level etc as well as aircraft identifying data... this is all recieved on 1090 Mhz down here on earth.

So a run of rtl_test -t in the adsb.exe folder in a command prompt gave the following results...

As you can see from the data output my dongle's tuner range is 
E4K range: 52 - 2171 Mhz. 
Thats fantastic i thought as i had heard that some dongles have a very restricted range.. So a big smile i read on....
E4K L-band gap: 1087 to 1231 Mhz

Oh no... the gap in the tuner is right where i need to be listening for 1090 Mhz ! drat... no ADS-B decoding from me..

So thats why for 4-5 days ive been going mad thinking id either blown the dongle or that my aerial wasnt working correctly... i did think about ordering another "cheapy" off of ebay but as lot of them dont list the tuner they have  i didn't want to risk so i've ordered direct from (the people that do 1090 Mhz software and kits). 

The new dongle is an ezCAP RTL2832  with a RT802 tuner that 100% works on 1090 Mhz.. Hurry up Mr Postman ;)

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