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Building libbladeRF for Windows

Rey Tucker edited this page Sep 20, 2018 · 9 revisions

Table of Contents

A warning

Be advised that building libbladeRF for Windows is a somewhat difficult process with a lot of manual steps, and this documentation may not be up-to-date with all of the necessary preparations.

Unless you specifically need to modify libbladeRF itself, it is strongly recommended to use our pre-built, signed installer. See Getting Started: Windows for information on getting and installing this. If you have already installed it, you can proceed to Getting Started: Verifying Basic Device Operation.

Tools and Dependencies

Installing git for Windows

  1. Download and install Git for Windows from their Downloads page.

Installing Visual Studio Community 2017 for Windows Desktop

  1. Download Visual Studio Community 2017 for Windows Desktop from Microsoft, which can be found at
  2. Follow the installation instructions, including any post-install updates.
Note: Visual Studio Community 2017 is also known as Visual Studio 15.2.

Tip: You can download time-limited virtual machine images from Microsoft with the latest Windows 10 and Visual Studio builds from

Installing libusb

  1. Download the latest Windows binary release of libusb, which also include development headers. As of this writing, version 1.0.22 is the latest.
    1. Note: download the libusb-1.0.xx.7z file from the GitHub release
    2. Note: you may need to download and install 7-zip from to open this file.
  2. Extract the contents to a location of your choice. Make note of this location so that you can later provide it to CMake. The default configuration assumes that files will be in C:/Program Files (x86)/libusb-1.0.22, but if you wish to change the directory, you can change the LIBUSB_PATH in CMake.

Installing and configuring zadig

  1. Get the device driver installer (zadig): (older versions:
  2. Open Zadig.
  3. If the bladeRF is not already listed in the dropdown box, go to Device->Create New Device, type a device name (i.e., "bladeRF") in the text box, and specify the VID/PID (2cf0/5246 for bladeRF x40/x115, 2cf0/5250 for bladeRF xA4/xA9, 04b4/00f3 for any bladeRF device in bootloader/recovery mode) in the USB ID fields.
  4. In the driver spinbox, select libusbK.
  5. Click "Install Driver"
  6. Open Device Manager. A new device called bladeRF should show up. If there is a yellow bang next to it in device manager:
    1. Right-click on the bladeRF entry and select "Update Driver Software...".
      1. Choose "Browse my computer for driver software"
      2. "Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer".
      3. Click "Have Disk..." and point it to the location that Zadig installed the driver to (C:\usb_driver).
      4. Select "bladeRF" and continue through the wizard.
  7. Device Manager should now show bladeRF under libusbK USB Devices.
  8. Repeat the Create New Device steps for any other bladeRF VID/PID combinations you expect to encounter.

Installing pthreads-win32

Using pre-built pthreads-win32

The pthreads library is required to build libbladeRF and its utilities. A few steps are required to install this pthreads implementation. See the pthreads-win32 website for more information.

WARNING: pthreads-win32 version 2.9.1 does not work with newer versions of Windows / Visual Studio. See the "pthreads-win32 patch and recompile" section just below for a workaround.

  1. Download the latest release. Currently this is version 2.9.1.
  2. Extract the contents of the release zip.
  3. Copy the contents of the Pre-built.2 directory to C:\Program Files (x86)\pthreads-win32

pthreads-win32 patch and recompile

If you are using a newer version of Windows / Visual Studio and/or are getting error C0211: 'timespec': 'struct' type redefinition when trying to build bladeRF, you will need to rebuild pthreads-win32. The below process works with pthreads-win32 2.9.1.

  1. Get full source tree from the pthreads-win32 website, and unpack someplace convenient
  2. In Visual Studio, open pthreads-w32-2-9-1-release\pthreads.2\pthread.dsw (if prompted, a one-way upgrade is OK)
  3. Right-click the solution, select "Retarget solution", hit OK.
  4. Change "Solution Configurations" dropdown to "Release" ("Debug" doesn't work, but that's OK)
  5. Edit pthread.h to add #define HAVE_STRUCT_TIMESPEC and #define PTW32_ARCHx64 near the top, just below the include guard
  6. Build the solution
  7. Copy the contents of the pthreads.2 directory to C:\Program Files (x86)\pthreads-win32.

Installing CMake

Download and install CMake for Windows:

Building with CMake and Visual Studio Community 2017

Cloning the bladeRF git repository

  1. Right click on the Desktop and select "Git GUI Here"
  2. Select "Clone Existing Repository"
  3. Paste into the Source Location field.
  4. Select your preferred directory to clone the repository to, in the Target Directory field. This must be a directory that does not yet exist.
  5. Click "Clone" and let it run. When it's done, close the Git Gui window. The bladeRF code is now on your computer.

Configuring with CMake

  1. Run the CMake GUI utility.
  2. Under "Where is the source code", browse to [preferred_directory]/bladeRF/host.
  3. Create a new directory, [preferred_directory]/bladeRF/host/build.
  4. Under "Where to build the binaries", browse to the newly created [preferred_directory]/bladeRF/host/build. Click the Configure button.
  5. Select your appropriate version of Visual Studio. For Visual Studio 2017, select "Visual Studio 15" or "Visual Studio 15 Win64". Select "Use default native compilers", then click "Finish".
  6. If the configuration fails, double check the values for LIBUSB_PATH and LIBPTHREADSWIN32_PATH, and re-run the configuration.
  7. Click on the Generate button.
  8. A Visual Studio solution should now be available, host/build/bladeRF.sln.


  1. CMake has created a bladeRF.sln file. Open Visual Studio, and open this file. (You can also click "Open Project" in CMake)
  2. A number of projects should show up in the Solution Explorer, including:
    1. bladeRF-cli
    2. bladeRF-fsk
    3. libbladerf_shared
  3. Select Debug or Release build from the drop down menu at the top
  4. Run Build -> Build Solution
  5. After the build completes, you should see a host/build/output directory in the build directory, containing either a Debug or Release subdirectory. These directories will contain generated executables, libraries, and will contain copies of the required DLLs.
Note: If the build fails with error C0211: 'timespec': 'struct' type redefinition, see "pthreads-win32 patch and recompile" above. You may need to delete the [preferred_directory]/bladeRF/host/build directory and restart from the "Configuring with CMake" step.

Verifying basic functionality

Open up a cmd.exe window and navigate to the output directory associated with your build:


10/19/2013  05:36 PM           122,880 bladeRF-cli.exe
10/19/2013  05:36 PM           139,776 bladeRF.dll

... Snipped out some other items ...

10/19/2013  05:35 PM            92,160 libusb-1.0.dll
10/19/2013  05:35 PM            55,808 pthreadVC2.dll

Note the presence of the libusb-1.0.dll and pthreadVC2.dll in this directory. These are placed here so that the bladeRF-cli and other tests may be run from this directory.

From here, you can continue on with the Getting Started: Verifying Basic Device Operation wiki page. If you encounter any errors or warnings, please see the Troubleshooting guide.

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