I recently brought a USB DVB-T dongle that is based on the Realtek RTL2832U chip which, with RTLSDR, can be used as a really low cost SDR. This is because it can be setup to return the raw I/Q samples to the host PC. Once you have the samples they can then be processed, I tend to use GNURadio for the processing.
There is a script available that downloads and installs everything, RTLSDR, GNURadio, and more. I recomend you try it first. I think there is also a new project from the GNURadio people that will automate building and installing. I had had some issues with building gr-audio when I wrote this so I use the manual method of building the code for now.
First of all make sure you have all of the dependencies GNURadio has, see http://gnuradio.org/doc/doxygen/build_guide.html for a list of them.
Once you have made sure you have all of the libraries that GNURadio needs you can build the code.
make && make test
sudo make install
This whole process can take a while to complete. On my work machine it took nearly 40mins! I had an issue building the gr-audio on my laptop that I still haven’t been able to resolve.
Next I built downloaded and extracted the RTLSDR source code. As with GNURadio we need to create a build directory and run cmake.
Then I ran a few commands to check that the code and the dongle worked correctly. The first tests to make sure samples are being returned at the correct rate and the second will receive and demodulate a WBFM station.
rtl_fm -f 97.1e6 -W -s 1000000 -r 48000 – | aplay -r 48k -f S16_LE
And that’s it! Now I’m going to play around with GRC and sound card I/O.build Ham Radio linux sdr