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Old 26-06-2012, 00:40   #1
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Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR Dongles !

I don't come over here often but I have been following OpenCPN for a while because I used to sail sometimes as a kid and young adult, loved it, and now am into GPS stuff a bit.

I've enjoyed fooling around OpenCPN a bit and if someday I might be able to sail again it will be at the top of my list of useful tools...

But, I've never posted here because, its all just too remote of a chance right now for me to think about it unless it becomes a bit more possible.

But, just tonight, I realized something I knew I really should tell you folks about. (of course, you all probably know about this already, but if not..check it out!)

Around three months ago one of the developers of the Linux DVB-T driver made a chance discovery that some of the very cheap DVB-T dongles that (at that time) were selling for as little as $15, (a bit more now..) make great little software defined radios and can receive from around 50 MHz to sometimes as high as 2200 MHz.

They are a bit noisy and prone to signal overload, but, for $20- who cares..

But, anyway, these are digital radios and they can receive digital modes, like AIS, using gnuradio.

Anyway, I invite you to check them and it out and join the fun and maybe eventually you will be able to add native support to openCPN so you all can get AIS with it and - that's a good thing because doesn't AIS notify you when a nearby ship is in distress? Or it should.

"If one life is saved, because of this, its all worth it!!"

*sob sob*


Here are the basic links that I think a programmer would need to get a good idea of what I am talking about. Its not often that such a great hack comes along.. these little things are great, not a day goes by that I don't figure out or read about some fun new thing to do with mine..

You can listen to satellites, download weather maps.. you name it.

My name is 'christ0ph' on reddit.. if you come by the "rtlsdr" reddit, say hi!


RTL-SDR community on Reddit

The osmocom-sdr Archives

RTL2832U - SpenchWiki

rtl-sdr

http://www.gnuradio.org
(huge ecosystem of FOSS software defined radio/comms tools)

https://github.com/bistromath/gr-ais.git

(AIS receiver in software for gnuradio, via git, so you can see how AIS works with an SDR)

RTL-SDR compatibility list v.2 [work in progress, please help!] : RTLSDR /rtlsdr_compatibility_list_v2_work_in_progress/

https://www.cgran.org/browser/projec...k/multimode.py

(general purpose receiver 50-2200 MHz)

https://github.com/bistromath/gr-air-modes (ADS-B software receiver)

There are lots of video on youtube, just plug in "rtlsdr" or "rtl-sdr"

If you all already know about all this and are on top of it already, thats great! please accept my apologies, I am not trying to spam you.
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Old 26-06-2012, 02:11   #2
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wetduck View Post
But, just tonight, I realized something I knew I really should tell you folks about. (of course, you all probably know about this already, but if not..check it out!)

Around three months ago one of the developers of the Linux DVB-T driver made a chance discovery that some of the very cheap DVB-T dongles that (at that time) were selling for as little as $15, (a bit more now..) make great little software defined radios and can receive from around 50 MHz to sometimes as high as 2200 MHz.
Huge THANKS!!!! for taking the time to post. Just ordered one from amazon.

Have you tried feeding the signal into something like wxtoImg to receive weather sat images?

Wonder of a raspberry pi would be powerful enough to run the software.

Thanks again!
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Old 26-06-2012, 06:38   #3
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

I just got mine a few days ago. Right now I just have the default antenna so I can only pick up the local radio stations. It takes a bit to configure it correctly. I hope to get a better antenna so i will be able to get the satellite image feeds and even listen in on SSB.
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Old 26-06-2012, 06:55   #4
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

Very good post!

I like this idea. I have an AIS Class B already, but it would be really cool with a low cost option for a Class A so that many more sailors could have access to AIS information.

Would be possible to use the existing code base and make a plug in or is that a major undertaking?
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Old 26-06-2012, 08:51   #5
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

What a cool idea!

(but Dam*it- bad luck my Hauppage 950 doesn't use the RTL2832 chip ! so it stays in the UselessDoofunny-drawer... )
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Old 26-06-2012, 10:22   #6
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

They are really great, they are almost too much fun!
dsmith, you should look into both the coaxial collinear and "infinite balun" +"archimedes spiral" antennas. Armed with just those two search strings, Google, a bunch of coax, a piece of foam poster board, a long piece of cheap PVC pipe, and a soldering iron and a roll of solder, you are all set!
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Old 26-06-2012, 10:37   #7
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

The person to ask would be Nick Foster in the Gnuradio community. "bistromat" or "bistromath"

I see no reason whatsoever that would stop the two communities from cooperating to make that possible. That's the beauty of open source.

Many Gnuradio apps can be compiled to run as Python scripts (using wxwindows!)

Seems like a good match to me!


Quote:
Originally Posted by jonasaberg View Post
Very good post!

I like this idea. I have an AIS Class B already, but it would be really cool with a low cost option for a Class A so that many more sailors could have access to AIS information.

Would be possible to use the existing code base and make a plug in or is that a major undertaking?
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Old 26-06-2012, 10:47   #8
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

I have to try this, good info, thanks.
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Old 26-06-2012, 11:36   #9
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappySeagull View Post
What a cool idea!

(but Dam*it- bad luck my Hauppage 950 doesn't use the RTL2832 chip ! so it stays in the UselessDoofunny-drawer... )
If I were you I would buy at least one or two of the dongles that do work now, while they still can be had, elonics, the manufacturer of the e4000 wonder tuner is for some insane reason, in bankruptcy, (just as their chip has almost gained a cult following!)


There's a good investment for somebody! Seriously.

Kind of like that scene in "The Graduate"

"elonics"

(Maybe somehow their chip got counterfeited.. that might be the reason. I don't know.)
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Old 27-06-2012, 07:48   #10
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

Love this kind of thing. As with most things linux some products are better supported then others. Can your recommend a specific dongle and will grab a couple to start playing with.

Thanks...love this kind of thing.

/ch
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Old 27-06-2012, 08:14   #11
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

There is a list on reddit which has the current listing of dongles known to be supported in the rt2832 software.

There is also a different kind of USB SDR, the Fun Cube Dongle, which works more like the sound card like SDR and is more widely supported in SDR programs.

It has a 12 bit ADC and a built in LNA.

But it is only narrow band FM, not so great for some digital modes.

The ones known to have the e4000 rt2832u combination are the ezcap 668 and 666, some models by Hama like the Nano the unikoo p160, and one by Newsky, the TV28t.

And a *lot* of generic, no-name devices..but there is no way to tell by their appearance from outside the box if they will be supported.
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Old 27-06-2012, 08:46   #12
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

Has anyone built a working AIS from it yet? I going to Fry's for lunch to pick a couple up.
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Old 27-06-2012, 14:34   #13
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wetduck View Post
There is a list on reddit which has the current listing of dongles known to be supported in the rt2832 software.

There is also a different kind of USB SDR, the Fun Cube Dongle, which works more like the sound card like SDR and is more widely supported in SDR programs.

It has a 12 bit ADC and a built in LNA.

But it is only narrow band FM, not so great for some digital modes.

The ones known to have the e4000 rt2832u combination are the ezcap 668 and 666, some models by Hama like the Nano the unikoo p160, and one by Newsky, the TV28t.

And a *lot* of generic, no-name devices..but there is no way to tell by their appearance from outside the box if they will be supported.
DO any of these have the right chip set?

AverMedia
HP K52761972
Haupauge 850
Haupauge WINTV Aero
Kworld USB ATSC TV
Pinnacle PCTV

????
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Old 27-06-2012, 14:36   #14
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

I see alot of the Realtek chipset advertised on E-bay for TVB, but not compatible in the USA ATSC. If these things are programmable isn't it just a matter of getting the right software?
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Old 27-06-2012, 20:15   #15
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Re: Fast cheap AIS using $20 rtl-sdr DVB-T SDR dongles!

This is the one I bought.

EZCAP USB *DVB-T Stick Dongle with FM & DAB, RTL-SDR with RTL2832U /E4000 | eBay
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