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Assorted ramblings from the developer


Google Turbo

Turbo, An Improved Rainbow Colormap for Visualization 

https://ai.googleblog.com/2019/08/turbo-improved-rainbow-colormap-for.html

On Tuesday, August 20, 2019 Google posted an interesting colour scheme which they named 'Turbo'. Read more about this in the blog entry (link is above). Below is the colour map in action on the 25m shortwave broadcast band. As of 3.0.13 this is a standard colourmap[ in SDR Console.

Also of interest is the use of a SNR (Signam to Noise) S Meter option.


S-Meters

After much pestering by users, I finally added an Analog S-meter to SDR Console. These will be available in 3.0.13, coming to a desktop near you soon.

Background

A few weeks previously a reasonable logic was implemented for measuring the noise floor. Purists will not be happy, but they rarely are, but it works for me.

Take the output from the SDR radio, ignore 15% of the bandwidth at the high and low end of the output to avoid the ant-alias filtering, and we're left with a healthy 70% of the signal. Now sort the FFT bins by value, take the mean of the lowest 10% and that's the noise floor.

Digital

Starting with the standard digital metere:

Analog

Here are a few screenshots of the Analog S Meter.

First a tradition meter in S units.

  • Red = peak signal
  • Yellow = current signal
  • Grey = noise floor

 

Here's a dBm meter, same colours as above.

 

And here.s a Signal to Noise (SNR) meter.


Pluto on Es'Hail 2

Here's a screenshot of my Pluto SDR on Es'Hail 2, this screenshot shows the suggested settings for pluto(bottom left-hand side).

Note the RX Gain is set to Slow Attack (Manual value is ignored) and the Visual is set to -40dB.


Windows Upgrade

Yesterday I powered on a small ATOM 330 server which was last started five years ago. Well, up came Windows 7 Professional and of course the normal zillions of updates appeared. Anyway, I wondered whether the now officially expired free update from Windows 7 to Windows 10 was still available. Google brought me to this link on www.zdnet.com .

In https://www.zdnet.com/article/heres-how-you-can-still-get-a-free-windows-10-upgrade/ the suggestion is to  go to the Download Windows 10 webpage whioch I did. then I clicked the Download too now button. Thereafter I just followed my nose and two hours later my little server was proudly running a licemced version of Windows 10.

So the free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is till available!

Toodles


Release: 3.0.12

Download here [Link].

What's new / changed in 3.0.12:

General

  • CW Skimmer bugs resolved, confirmed as working by Kurt, DF4XX.
  • Data recorder supports Range values of 48kHz and 96kHz.
  • Frequency display overflow error fixed.
  • Memory definitions > 2 GHz could crash the console – fixed.
  • Radio Calibration window changed to avoid confusion, now shows 0 PPM instead of None when no calibration is in effect.
  • Rare hang situation during program start found and fixed.

DX Cluster

See https://www.sdr-radio.com/Console/DXCluster.

  • Ribbon Bar, View, Spectrum, DX Cluster.
  •  Markers must be enabled: Ribbon Bar, View, Spectrum, Markers.
  • Comes with a list of suggested nodes.
  • Autostart option.
  • Can be docked anywhere.
  • Runs even when window is closed.
  • Cluster implements a timeout / reconnect logic:
    • If no messages are received for 60 seconds an ‘echo # keepalive’ command is sent, this will reset the reconnect timer if the cluster node is running.
    • If no messages are received for a further 30 seconds:
      1. The connection is closed,
      2. The connection is restarted.


Release: 3.0.11

Download here [Link].

What's new / changed in 3.0.11:

General

  • CW Skimmer interface updated, minor bugs fixed. [Link]
  • Audio - minor change in WASAPI feed/output logic, buffers padded with zeros.
  • More intelligent buffering of unprocessed data in the FFT threads, improves resillience when main thread is interrupted.
  • Installation kit appearance updated.
  • Very minor enhancements to the processing behind the matrix display. I spent some time working out how I would get 48 receivers running smoothly – I haven’t done this, but at least I now know what I would have to do (multi-threaded Direct2D). I was running 20 receivers at once to test the above audio driver logic and wasn’t 100% happy with the performance.
  • NR3 – slight increase in sensitivity.

CTCSS squelch

  • CTCSS is an addition to the normal squelch.
  • Signal level is measured for each CTCSS frequency using Goertzel’s algorithm (the standard for this sort of thing).
  • Selected frequency level must be 5dB or more that the average measured across CTCSS tone range.
  • Once CTCSS frequency is detected the squelch stays open until the signal is lost. This will change in a future kit, CTCSS must be detected at least every two seconds (an over modulated transmission can affect the CTCSS tone).

Data Recording

As I use this a lot I attacked a few features which I didn’t like very much:

  • Recording Selection
    • Added [_] Reload on open which reloads the current folder when the Select Recording window is opened, rather than displaying the previous values which are stored in an XML file. As I use SSDs for the recordings the reload is fast, but an aged HDD may not be, hence the default which is to restore the previous values from a cache.
  • Playback
    • Added Gain (main toolbar only).
    • Slight change to the logic used to determine the display bandwidth when a file is opened.
    • Change to the layout of the Navigator window.
    • Added Show/Hide time button.
    • Dynamic positioning of the navigation grid based on available room in the window.

Display/UI

  • Fixed error displaying waterfall, spectrum and receiver markers where the radio was tuned close to 0 Hz.
  • Corrected redraw issues if the spectrum high value is automatic (Ribbon Bar, View,  Spectrum Scale, High) and the colour scale (right of display) is adjusted.
  • Tuning Bar
    o    Clicking the mouse in the unused area to the side of the tuning bar (bottom of display) now centres the tuning indicator at the click position, previously there was no action.
    o    Clicking << or >> at either end of the tuning bar now increments the offset by the zoom factor – 1 (was just zoom factor).
  • The new smoothing algorithm (One Euro Filter) now made symmetric.

Favourites

  • Updated Favourites Organiser:
    • Tree is collapsed by default,
    • Added Expand and Collapse buttons.
  • When a Favourite is added a default title is suggested.
  • Tooltips now show the frequency and mode for the first three receivers.

Radio

  • Airspy HF+ update API library. Recommended that the latest firmware is installed, this is 3.0.0 or newer.
  • Airspy R2 small change in decimation processing.
  • Added initial support for WiNRADiO Sigma.
  • Lime:
    • Calibration updated:
      • Rx Calibration and TX Calibration buttons have icons which show whether the RX / TX is calibrated.
      • TX Calibration prompts to disable any PA before the calibration proceeds. Calibration must use the current TX antenna at a relatively high gain.
      • Calibration values are stored in XML files for each band.
      • Calibration always performed at the recommended internal gain of 64dB.
    • Logfile optionally sent to the system debugger (DebugView).

Spectrum Markers

  • Initial implementation: Ribbon Bar, View, Spectrum, Markers.
  • Intergration with DX Clusters will be the main focus of 3.0.12.

Servers

  • Only one definition per server.
    • When you select the server a list of available radios is displayed.
    • If the remote server is using this kit you will see ‘ X In use’ if the SDR is in use. Earlier servers will always assume it is available.
    • Your list of server definitions should upgrade automatically.
    • Test with my server: 81.174.138.141 port 50101 .

Startup

  • When starting the console / applying a favourite only one receiver opens the audio output device at a time. Although there shouldn’t be a problem with multiple threads simultaneously opening an audio output at the same time it’s just better to do it this way, it’s cleaner and places less stress on the Windows mixer / driver logic.
  • Sanity improved when starting the program:
    • Ensure any floating panes are actually visible and not off the screen.
    • Rewrote some of the code for easier maintenance in the future (replaced fixed tables with dynamic logic).

DRM in SDR Console

I'm often asked to incorporate a Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) receiver into SDR Console. The reasons why I haven't done this are:

  1. Patent / royalty issues with the audio codec, and
  2. The Dream project works well.

Brendan Wahl, WA7HL, co-Moderator, of the DRM North America Newsgroup explained the lagal minefiled recently. The text below is reproduced with his permission.

Hi all, got some background here for you. I've been following DRM since the beginning,  and still admire it for its broadcast quality and capabilities.

The DRM system was originally written by the Frauenhofer Institute in Germany, with the first software for personal use requiring a license key that cost the individual listener somewhere around ~€49/$49. I've got one somewhere, but I haven't had to use it since the freeware "DReaM" came out. No key needed when using that software package, which is still available on Github IIRC. The original commercial software still works, but it's very simple and doesn't provide a lot of bells and whistles. I'm not sure it's available anymore.

What happened was that the AAC codec (and it's variants, esp. XE-AAC...) was developed some years after the receiving software was first published with older codecs already available freely. The Frauenhofer Institute in the meantime had sold its work and code already done on that codec to Dolby Inc., who didn't want to give anything away. Hobbyists went from being able to receive all codec forms of broadcast DRM with little to no cost, to technically having to remove the FAAD.DLL file and receiving nothing, period. Since all DRM broadcasters switched to the XE-AAC codec due to it's efficiencies, hobbyists got left out in the cold with that shift. That .DLL file has been known to circulate privately, since even Dolby admitted that trying to get people to delete a file that they already had was like screaming in the wind.

Currently, as I understand it and as Simon indicates, radio manufacturers and developers must pay a license fee upfront to use the now-Dolby owned codecs. The listeners no longer have to pay, but the commercial party 'pays' on their behalf. This would include Simon of course, since he is both a commercial and hobbyist software developer, working as one entity.

Simply put, DRM is a minefield for someone like Simon. It's not only a bit of a coding time-suck, the potential legal exposure is horrible. It is a big enough issue that most radio manufacturers are simply avoiding the whole issue by not making DRM capable receivers. A Chinese manufacturer, Gospell, and a couple of Indian companies have stuck their financial necks out for DRM, since it is being introduced in both countries, but actual production of quality consumer equipment has been difficult, to say the least.

I should note that SDRC works wonderfully with the DReaM software being fed via a virtual cable. Was listening to Radio New Zealand International just the other night while they were doing some DRM testing, had perfect reception using my HF+. Can't wait for my Discovery to get here!

I'll back Simon on his choice of not including DRM. I use SDRC more than any other radio software, and I appreciate all of his his hard, SOLO, work on it. No wonder he needs our beer money...and of course, the canine is always hungry. I know, I have one too.

73,
Brendan WA7HL
Co-Moderator, DRM North America Newsgroup

So there you have it. Thanks Brendan. If you want to listen to DRM use Dream and a virtual audio cable.
 

 


Spectrum Markers

Now that I'm spending more time on 2m (144.5 MHz) I decided to add spectrum markers as it makes beacon identiciation easier.

Here's a 2m screenshot taken today, as you can see there's not a lot happening.

A simple window for adding definitions:

And another for the appearance:

When time permits I'll add support for adding data from a CSV file.


WiNRADiO Sigma (G65DDC)

Nils Schiffhauer dk8ok has helped me a lot in the past, so when he asked me to support the WiNRADiO Sigma aka G65DDC how could I refuse?

This is a beast of a radio, I've not encountered anything like it before. There's one problem - I don't have one, so testing could have been a nightmare. However, the API is very clear and well documented. After just two days exchanging code with Nils he has now reported that the Sigma is working, and working well with the features in SDR Console that he needs.

This is the first time I've added support without ever seeing the hardware, so kudos to the team at WiNRADiO. The SDK's API is here: https://www.winradio.com/home/g65ddc_sdk.htm .

I'm so impressed, I may add support for more WiNRADiO radios if there's demand.

Here's an example of the Sigma running with a 33.3MHz sample rate and we see the whole of HF!

Support will be in version 3.0.11 of SDR Console which at the time of writing has not been released.


Release: 3.0.10

Download here [Link].

What's new / changed in 3.0.10:

General

  • Audio device dropdown now shows a check mark next to the current device and L/R channel selection.
  • SDRplay radios – sanity check that the default frequency is valid – must be in the range 10 kHz to 2 GHz. previously a user started with the default frequency of 10Ghz which is not supported by the SDRplay library.
  • FM Stereo RDS logging was not working properly with multiple active receivers.
  • Fixed a long-standing bug in the tuning bar at the bottom of the main waterfall; this was an error which existed since the code was originally written over four years ago. A determined fool-hardy user could expose the problem and crash the program.
  • Scrolling at 8.333 kHz with rapid middle wheel spinning works properly.
  • Identity title now optionally shown in the program title bar.

DSP

  • More taps available for filters.
  • Corrected DSB filter editor.
  • Narrow FM de-emphasis redesigned to avoid audio pumping.
  • NR3 reworked. Threshold changed to Level, working much better.
  • Filters:
    • Changed appearance of the Filter design window.
    • Added more windowing options.
    • (I may add Remez design methodology later.)

Favourites

  • Sorting favourites by frequency is now reliable.

Installation

  • Slight change to installer appearance, kit now has updated images.
  • In previous kits an extra folder SDR-Radio.com was being created in the user folders, this extra folder was not used.

Memory

  • Applying a memory now restores the original center frequency and bandwidth if the memory frequency would not otherwise be visible.

Pluto

  • Pluto visible gain range changed to -60dB to 30dB.
  • Digital filter opened up to 0.95 and the offset tuning range increased to +/- 200kHz.

    Looking at the code I was enabling the Transmit Digital Filter with a normalised bandwidth of 0.2, so at 550kHz that’s 110kHz and with 128 taps not very sharp. This is why we were seeing lower outputs with greater offsets because offset tuning means just that – tuning at an offset from the center frequency.

    SoTo test, I set the digital filter to 0.95 of normalised bandwidth and this did not change the signal(s) seen on the remote receiver (Airspy HF+ Discovery). I was testing on 144.300 and the Discovery was picking up signals 60dB above the noise.

Recordings

  • Fixed a problem with audio recording of Broadcast FM when in mono, previousy a new file was created every time the mode switched between mono and stereo.
  • When the playback of a file starts the display bandwidth is set to the bandwidth of the recording. A more intelligent algorithm will be developed in 3.0.11.
  • ELAD files which are not valid WAV format are supported.
  • IQ recording now has a Range option, specify the center frequency and the bandwidth.

Ribbon Bar

  • Memory editor now supports 11 digits – frequencies up to 99.9GHz.
  • Adding a dropdown entry to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) now does not inhibit correct initialisation of the original dropdown. The dropdown in the QAT does not work though, this is being investigated. An example of a dropdown is Ribbon Bar, Home Bandwidth.
  • Entries added to the ribbon bar’s QAT (Quick Access Toolbar) are removed when starting if they contain dropdown entries. This is related to random crashes in the console.

RX

  • When a new receiver is added the default frequency is no longer the center of the display, rather an unused frequency in the visible display.
  • Adding a new receiver now clones the currently active receiver. It was working this way when 3.0 was released but was broken in a previous minor update.

Satellites

Spectrum

  • Implemented the One Euro Filter as default in the Spectrum Smoothing. This is much better than the other options, it preserves the peaks while reducing noise.
  • Fixed a slightly obscure bug only seen while scrolling the receiver frequency.

Transmit

  • Added Serial Port PTT.

  •  


Recent Posts

  • Google Turbo Posted 1 days ago
    Turbo, An Improved Rainbow Colormap for Visualization  https://ai.googleblog.com/2019/08/turbo-improved-rainbow-colormap-for.html On Tuesday, August 20, 2019 Google posted an interesting colour scheme which they named 'Turbo'. Read more about this in the blog entry (link is above). Below is the colour map in action on the 25m shortwave broadcast band. As of 3.0.13 this is a standard colourmap[ in SDR Console. Also of interest is the use of a SNR (Signam to Noise) S Meter option.
  • S-Meters Posted 1 days ago
    After much pestering by users, I finally added an Analog S-meter to SDR Console. These will be available in 3.0.13, coming to a desktop near you soon. Background A few weeks previously a reasonable logic was implemented for measuring the noise floor. Purists will not be happy, but they rarely are, but it works for me. Take the output from the SDR radio, ignore 15% of the bandwidth at the high and low end of the output to avoid the ant-alias filtering, and we're left with a healthy 70% of the signal. Now sort the FFT bins by value, take the mean of the lowest 10% and that's the noise floor. Digital Starting with the standard digital metere: Analog Here are a few screenshots of the Analog S Meter. First a tradition meter in S units. Red = peak signal Yellow = current signal Grey = noise floor   Here's a dBm meter, same colours as above.   And here.s a Signal to Noise (SNR) meter.
  • Pluto on Es'Hail 2 Posted 2 weeks ago
    Here's a screenshot of my Pluto SDR on Es'Hail 2, this screenshot shows the suggested settings for pluto(bottom left-hand side). Note the RX Gain is set to Slow Attack (Manual value is ignored) and the Visual is set to -40dB.
  • Windows Upgrade Posted 2 weeks ago
    Yesterday I powered on a small ATOM 330 server which was last started five years ago. Well, up came Windows 7 Professional and of course the normal zillions of updates appeared. Anyway, I wondered whether the now officially expired free update from Windows 7 to Windows 10 was still available. Google brought me to this link on www.zdnet.com . In https://www.zdnet.com/article/heres-how-you-can-still-get-a-free-windows-10-upgrade/ the suggestion is to  go to the Download Windows 10 webpage whioch I did. then I clicked the Download too now button. Thereafter I just followed my nose and two hours later my little server was proudly running a licemced version of Windows 10. So the free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is till available! Toodles
  • Release: 3.0.12 Posted 2 weeks ago
    Download here [Link]. What's new / changed in 3.0.12: General CW Skimmer bugs resolved, confirmed as working by Kurt, DF4XX. Data recorder supports Range values of 48kHz and 96kHz. Frequency display overflow error fixed. Memory definitions > 2 GHz could crash the console – fixed. Radio Calibration window changed to avoid confusion, now shows 0 PPM instead of None when no calibration is in effect. Rare hang situation during program start found and fixed. DX Cluster See https://www.sdr-radio.com/Console/DXCluster. Ribbon Bar, View, Spectrum, DX Cluster.  Markers must be enabled: Ribbon Bar, View, Spectrum, Markers. Comes with a list of suggested nodes. Autostart option. Can be docked anywhere. Runs even when window is closed. Cluster implements a timeout / reconnect logic: If no messages are received for 60 seconds an ‘echo # keepalive’ command is sent, this will reset the reconnect timer if the cluster node is running. If no messages are received for a further 30 seconds: The connection is closed, The connection is restarted.
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