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A Python wrapper for librtlsdr (a driver for Realtek RTL2832U based SDR's)

branch: master


pyrtlsdr is a simple Python interface to devices supported by the RTL-SDR project, which turns certain USB DVB-T dongles employing the Realtek RTL2832U chipset into low-cost, general purpose software-defined radio receivers. It wraps all the functions in the librtlsdr library (including asynchronous read support), and also provides a more Pythonic API.


pyrtlsdr can be installed by downloading the source files and running python install, or using pip and pip install pyrtlsdr.

All functions in librtlsdr are accessible via and a Pythonic interface is available in (recommended). Some documentation can be found in docstrings in the latter file.


Simple way to read and print some samples:

from rtlsdr import RtlSdr

sdr = RtlSdr()

# configure device
sdr.sample_rate = 2.048e6  # Hz
sdr.center_freq = 70e6     # Hz
sdr.freq_correction = 60   # PPM
sdr.gain = 'auto'

print sdr.read_samples(512)

Plotting the PSD with matplotlib:

from pylab import *
from rtlsdr import *

sdr = RtlSdr()

# configure device
sdr.sample_rate = 2.4e6
sdr.center_freq = 95e6
sdr.gain = 4

samples = sdr.read_samples(256*1024)

# use matplotlib to estimate and plot the PSD
psd(samples, NFFT=1024, Fs=sdr.sample_rate/1e6, Fc=sdr.center_freq/1e6)
xlabel('Frequency (MHz)')
ylabel('Relative power (dB)')


Resulting plot here.

See the files '' and '' for more examples.


  • Windows/Linux/OSX
  • Python 2.7.x
  • librtlsdr (builds dated after 5/5/12)
  • Optional: NumPy (wraps samples in a more convenient form)

matplotlib is also useful for plotting data. The librtlsdr binaries (rtlsdr.dll in Windows and in Linux) should be in the pyrtlsdr directory, or a system path. Note that these binaries may have additional dependencies.


There are a few remaining functions in librtlsdr that haven't been wrapped yet. It's a simple process if there's an additional function you need to add support for, and please send a pull request if you'd like to share your changes.


  • Some operating systems (Linux, OS X) seem to result in libusb buffer issues when performing small reads. Try reading 1024 (or higher powers of two) samples at a time if you have problems.
  • If you're having librtlsdr import errors in Windows, make sure all the DLL files are in your system path, or the same folder as this README file. Also make sure you have all of their dependencies (e.g. the Visual Studio runtime files). If rtl_sdr.exe works, then you should be okay.
  • In Windows, you can't mix the 64 bit version of Python with 32 bit builds of librtlsdr.


All of the code contained here is licensed by the GNU General Public License v3.


Credit to dbasden for his earlier wrapper python-librtlsdr and all the contributers on GitHub.

Copyright (C) 2013 by Roger

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