A ExtIO DLL for the rtl_tcp SDR network server
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ExtIO_RTLTCP.dll
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README.md

ExtIO_RTLTCP.dll

Now you can use quality SDR software written for Windows on Linux with your RTLSDR! HDSDR runs well in WINE (the Windows software emulator) but all the ExtIO DLLs that directly access the USB port crash it. The ExtIO DLL presented here, however, does not crash HDSDR in WINE since it uses networking.

Discussion

This repo contains a ExtIO DLL client implementation for the rtl_tcp RTL2832U SDR network server. I have used it in HDSDR under WINE on Ubuntu.

The DLL has been compiled for 32 bit Windows like HDSDR. Initially HDSDR rejected the DLL until I installed HDSDR using:

WINEARCH=win32 wine HDSDR_install

The implementation does not connect to the rtl_tcp server until after the start hardware button is pressed in HDSDR. So the hostname and port number of the server can be configured in the ExtIO GUI beforehand.

At the beginning of the connection to the rtl_tcp server, all the other ExtIO GUI settings such as sample rate and gain are next set through the server. Anything set in the ExtIO GUI after that does not take affect until after the hardware is stopped and restarted.

Remember, when rtl_tcp is run on a remote host, rather than on 'localhost', it needs to be passed its IP address or 0.0.0.0, otherwise rtl_tcp will not appear on the network.

rtl_tcp -a 0.0.0.0

Configuration Options

The ExtIO GUI does not provides a 'combo box' to select values from for sample rate and other options.

I recommend the following sample rate values to start.

  • 2400000
  • 1800000
  • 1200000
  • 600000
  • 300000

The other options are gain, frequency correction in ppm, and direct sampling mode.

A blank value for an option (other than sample rate) will cause that configuration option not to be set when the connection with the rtl_tcp server is started.

For the direct sampling GUI option, a 0 means disable direct sampling, a one means use the I channel input, and a two means use the Q channel.

Issues

A sampling rate of 300000 seems to be too small for HDSDR, causing it to chug. The ExtIO DLL probably needs to send the samples to HDSDR faster when the RTLSDR is running at slower sampling rates. A GUI option could be added to set this manually. At the moment this value is hardcoded.

I have been having issues with threading. Sometimes when quitting HDSDR, WINE crashes with a page fault. The threading code is now wrapped in a critical section.
The DLL process detach event is also caught. When fired the thread is told to close.

FYI

Reception is great using a netbook, all the interference lines that dominate the waterfall on my desktop are gone on my netbook.

CubicSDR is an amazing piece of software. It seems to find extra sample bits somehow. It runs on my x86_64 Ubuntu desktop. It also compiles for Crouton under ARM, but the display is slow since Crouton is unaccelerated. However CubicSDR cannot use rtl_tcp or any other network server yet.

There is a rtl_tcp like server for SDRPlay. I have not tried it. However the software has to down convert the Mirics chipset's samples from 12 bits to 8 bits to serve them. It would be nice to provide a GUI option in this ExtIO DLL for 16 bit samples.

It would also be nice to know what other software works under WINE using this ExtIO DLL.
Does the SDR software Studio 1 work in WINE with it? Unfortunately I know of no other SDR software that works under WINE besides Spectravue (which does not support ExtIO DLLs) and HDSDR.