February 11, 2014
The BIG List of RTL-SDR Supported Software
There are now dozens of software defined radio packages that support the ultra cheap RTL-SDR.On this page we will attempt to list, categorize and provide a briefoverview of each software program. We categorize the programs intogeneral purpose software, single purpose software, research software andsoftware compatible with audio piping.
If you know of a program that is missing please leave a comment in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
13/02/2014– Added Sodira, gr-wmbus, rtlsdr-waterfall, QTRadio, multimon,sdrangelove, lte-scanner, rtl_tcp, rtl_sdr_FS20_decoder.
17/02/2014 – Updated the Linrad description.
28/04/2014 – Added Modesdeco and Trunk88.
30/05/2014 – Added RTL Panorama, RTL SDR Panoramic Spectrum Analyzer,Chrome Radio Receiver, SeeDeR, DAB Player, RTL SDR Installer, PD/MaxWrapper, SDRWeather, LTR Analyzer, softEOT/softDPU and ScanEyes.
26/07/2014 – Added PiAware, OOK-Decoder, rtl_fm_python, rtl_powerheatmap viewer, RTL Bridge, threejs-spectrum, CANFI Software, PNAIS,FLARM Decoder, Xastir, RTLSDR-Airband, SDRTrunk.
13/11/2014 – Added Touchstone, RFAnalyzer, RTL1090 XHSI Interface, Parus Decoder, PlotRTL1090, LRPT Decoder.
05/02/2015 – Added rtl_tool_kit, CubicSDR, OregonWeather, FreqWatch.
15/04/2015– Added ADSBox, YouSDR, FlightAware Flight Feeder, Frequensea, Trackyour flight EUROPE, QSpectrumAnalyzer, Doppler & Demod, Redsea,rtl_heatmap, gr-gsm, driveby, SDRecord.
General Purpose RTL-SDR Software
We define general purpose SDR software as programs that allow the RTL-SDR to work like a normal wideband radio receiver.
SDR# (Windows) (Free)
SDR#(pronounced “SDR Sharp”) is the most popular free RTL-SDR compatiblesoftware in use at the moment. It is relatively simple to use comparedto other SDR software and has a simple set up procedure. We have a fulloverview of the installation procedure on our Quick Start Page.
SDR# is a simple to use program that also has some advanced features. It has a useful modular plugin type architecture, and many plugins have already been developedby third party developers. The basic SDR# download without any thirdparty plugins includes a standard FFT display and waterfall, a frequencymanager, recording plugin and a digital noise reduction plugin. SDR#also decodes RDS signals from broadcast FM.
HDSDR (Windows) (Free)
HDSDRis based on the old WinRAD SDR program. HDSDR supports the RTL-SDRthrough use of an ExtIO.dll module. To install HDSDR, download theprogram from the link on the main HDSDR page, then to use the RTL-SDRyou will need to download the ExtIO_RTL2832.dll file an place it intothe HDSDR folder. When opening HDSDR, select the newly copiedExtIO_RTL2832.dll. The other dlls that come with HDSDR will not workwith the RTL-SDR, even though they have RTL-SDR in their filename. Theofficial installation instructions can be found here.
Alongwith a FFT display and waterfall, HDSDR has some extra advancedfeatures. Users will also find an Audio FFT and waterfall display on thebottom of the screen. The output audio can also be bandpass filtered bydragging the filter borders on the display. Bandpass filtering theaudio can really help clean up a noisy signal. The audio processing alsosupports placing of notch filters either manually or automatically.There are also noise reduction and noise blanker features and anautomatic frequency centering algorithm which will automatically centerthe signal, so you don’t need to click exactly in the center of asignal. Traditional ham radio users will also enjoy the S-units signalstrength meter and the built in frequency manager.
SDR-RADIO.COM V2 (Windows) (Free)
SDR-RADIO.COMV2 is a popular SDR program with many advanced features. As such is it afair amount more difficult to learn and use compared to SDR# and HDSDR.Be sure you install version 2 and not V1.5 as only V2 has RTL-SDRsupport.
Once sdr-radio is installed, to get it working with theRTL-SDR you will need to compile or download three .dll files(SDRSourceRTL2832U.dll, rtlsdr.dll and libusb-1.0.dll) and place theminto the sdr-radio folder. To compile your own dlls see the instructions here, otherwise download the dlls directly from the bottom of this link.If the dlls were placed in the correct folder you will be able to addyour RTL-SDR as a receiver by clicking on the +Definitions button, andthen finding and adding the RTL SDR (USB) option under the search dropdown menu.
Like HDSDR, not only does sdr-radio have a RF FFTsignal and waterfall display, but also an optional audio spectrum FFTand waterfall display. Built in are also several DSP features like anoise blanker, noise reduction filter, notch filter and squelch options.The EMNS noise reduction filter is particularly good at automaticallycleaning up and clarifying voice signals.
To add to the featurelist, sdr-radio also has built in PSK, RTTY and RDS decoders, and alsocomes with a satellite tracker. Furthermore, sdr-radio has an excellentremote server which will allow you to easily set up and connect to aremote RTL-SDR server over a network or the internet. Finally, sdr-radiois capable of listening to up to 6 signals in the same chunk of visiblespectrum at a time.
Linrad (Windows/Linux/Mac) (Free) (Related Post)
Linradis a free advanced SDR program with a steeper learning curve comparedto most other SDR programs. Many users prefer to use Linrad as it can beset up to have a very high amount of information density on the screenand it also has an advantage with receiving signals with the E4000 tuneras it can be made it run in a special linearity mode whichsignificantly improves the dynamic range.
Linradalso has some very advanced features not found in most other SDRreceivers. It has multi-frequency interval I/Q correction, a verypowerful “smart” noise blanker, multicast output, weak signal optimizedwaterfall, settings to aid in taking performance measurements, two RFchannel input, superior AGC and an adaptable automatic frequencycontroller (AFC). Linrad is probably the software most superior in termsof actual signal processing performance.
To install Linrad onWindows first download and run the setup-dll installer, and thendownload and extract the actual Linrad program. You will need to gothrough a text based set up at the very beginning.
GQRX (Mac/Linux) (Free)
GQRXis a free simple to use SDR receiver which runs on Linux and Macsystems. It is similar to SDR# in terms of features and simplicity ofuse. GQRX comes with a standard FFT spectrum and waterfall display and anumber of common filter settings.
CubicSDR (Linux/Windows/Mac) (Free)
A new cross platform SDR receiver which is based on the liquid-dsp libraries.
Studio1 (Windows) (Paid)
Studio1is a non-free commercial SDR receiver with advanced DSP capabilities,and is claimed to have the lowest CPU usage of any general purpose SDRsoftware. Studio1 supports the RTL-SDR through use of an ExtIO.dllmodule.
Studio1’s main selling point is that it claims that itsspur/alias free dynamic range is greater than 130 dB compared to the 70dB that most free SDR software programs have (spurious free dynamicrange influences the capability of the receiver to resolve small signalsin presence of in-band strong signals). It also claims that it has avery efficient DSP engine that can run well on older Pentium 4 machines.
ShinySDR (GNU Radio) (Free) (Related Post)
ShinySDRis an SDR application built in GNU Radio with a web based interface. Itis currently in a usable state, but is still undergoing majordevelopment. Since ShinySDR is controlled via a web interface it caneasily be controlled over a network or the internet. It also has aplugin type development feature which allows demodulators to be easilywritten and integrated.
The current main technical advantage toShinySDR is that it has a persistent waterfall, meaning that thewaterfall can be moved, zoomed and re-tuned without loss of any historylike in other SDR software.
WebRadio (Linux) (Free) (Related Post)
WebRadiois a Linux based application that is attempting to build an open sourcesystem for the RTL-SDR and other software defined radios similar to theclosed source WebSDR . The WebSDR system allows for multiple publicusers to connect to a radio over the internet and tune to variousfrequencies. WebRadio is currently functional but still underdevelopment.
Sodira (Windows) (Trial/Paid)
Sodirais a Windows application that is capable of decoding AM and FM+RDSradio as well as DRM/DRM+ and time signals DCF77/HBG. It supports theuse of the RTL-SDR through use of the ExtIO_RTL2832.dll module. The sameExtIO_RTL2832.dll module that is used with HDSDR and whose download islinked to in this HDSDR tutorialcan be used with Sodira. Just place the dll in the same folder asSodira, and then under Configuration->Receiver select the dll fileand then click on HW Init + Start to activate the RTL-SDR.
SDR Touch (Android) (Trial/Paid) (Related Post)
SDRTouchwas the first Android based RTL-SDR software receiver available. Thereis a free restricted trial version and the full version can be boughtfrom the Google Play store. To run SDR Touch you need a modern Android4.0+ device with decent processing power and USB OTG support. You willalso need a USB OTG cable to connect to the Android device to an RTL-SDRdongle.
SDR Touch has several standard features such as FFTspectrum and waterfall displays, WFM/FM/AM/SSB tuning and a frequencymanager.
Wavesink Plus (Android) (Trial/Paid) (Related Post)
WavesinkPlus is another Android based RTL-SDR receiver with a free trial andpaid full version. Wavesinks main feature is that it is capable ofdecoding DAB+ and DRM+ digital radio signals. As well as the digitalradio signals, it can also receive standard FM and do FM-RDS decoding aswell. To use Wavesink, like SDR Touch you will need a decently powerfulAndroid 4.0+ device with USB OTG cable.
RFAnalyzer (Android) (Free/Paid)
Androidapp similar to SDR Touch. Originally for the HackRF, but now alsosupports the RTL-SDR. Still under heavy development. Available for asmall price on the Google Play store, or for free from the GitHub.
cuSDR (Windows) (Free)
An SDR receiver intended for use with the HPSDR project SDR hardware, but can be used with the RTL-SDR through use of the RTL_HPSDRtranslation server program. One advantage to cuSDR is that it cansupport up to seven simultaneous RTL-SDR dongles. cuSDR is stillcurrently under development.
PowerSDR (Windows) (Free)
PowerSDRis an SDR receiver intended for use with the FlexRadio SDR hardware. Itis compatible with the RTL-SDR through use of the RTL_HPSDR translation server program. PowerSDR is capable of supporting up to four simultaneous RTL-SDR dongles.
QtRadio (Windows/Linux) (Free)
QtRadiois an open source SDR receiver that is based on a client-serverarchitecture from the ground up. It is designed so that multiple clientscan connect to a single server. QtRadio comes with a special RTL-SDRserver which you will need to download and run.
Multimode (GNU Radio) (Free)
A simple GNU Radio based “multi mode” receiver which can receive AM, FM, SSB, WFM, and TV-FM.
Sdrangelove (Linux) (Free)
Sdrangelove is an SDR receiver primarily designed for the OsmoSDR hardware but also supports the RTL-SDR.
SeeDeR (Windows) (Free)
SeeDeR Software Defined Radio GUI
SeeDeris a general purpose SDR GUI that has a focus on decoding data fromsatellites. Legality Note: SeeDeR may be an illegal clone of SDR#. Ifthis is proven in the future we will remove links to SeeDeR on our site.
Single Purpose RTL-SDR Software
Herewe list single purpose RTL-SDR supported software. By single purpose wemean an application that decodes a single protocol, or performs asingle function.
RTL SDR Installer (Windows) (Free)
A script that can be used to aid in installing the RTL-SDR. Works on XP and abov
RTL_FM (Windows/Linux) (Free)
RTL_FMis a command line based FM receiver for the RTL-SDR which is bundled inthe official RTL-SDR release. It is extremely useful in Linux as it canbe used to pipe decoded FM audio to decoder software.
SoftFM (Linux) (Free)
SoftFMis a command line FM receiver for the RTL-SDR that is similar toRTL_FM. The difference is that SoftFM claims to get much better audioresults compared to RTL_FM.
RTL_UDP (Windows/Linux) (Free) (Related Post)
RTL_UDP is a modification of RTL_FM which allows FM audio to be broadcast over a network or the internet via UDP.
RTL_TCP (Windows/Linux) (Free)
RTL_TCPis used to stream IQ data from the RTL-SDR over a TCP network. Manyprograms can connect to this, for example in SDR# there is theRTL-SDR/TCP option.
RTL_FM_PYTHON (Windows/Mac/Linus) (Free)
A Python program based on rtl_fm that allows you to tune to any station using a web interface.
RTLSDR Scanner (Windows/Linux/Mac) (Free) – Wideband Frequency Scanner
RTLSDRScanner is a simple cross platform python based wideband spectrumanalyzer for the RTL-SDR. It can scan an arbitrarily large frequencybandwidth. The scanner also has an auto calibration feature which canhelp find the PPM offset of a dongle. Newer versions also have a GPSfeature, which allows you to interface a hardware GPS receiver to thesoftware and do signal mapping experiments.
RTL-SDR Wide Spectrum Analyzer (Windows) (Free) – Wideband Frequency Scanner
RTL-SDR Wide Scanner
Similar to the RTLSDR scanner but written in the basic for gambas programming language. Essentially a front end for rtl_power.
RTL Panorama (Windows) (Free) – Wideband Frequency Scanner
Anotherwideband RTL-SDR scanner but based on the command line softwarertl_power. Essentially a GUI interface for rtl_power. Scans much fastercompared to RTLSDR Scanner.
RTL SDR Panoramic Spectrum Analyzer (Windows) (Free) – Wideband Frequency Scanner
Another GUI interface for rtl_power. Similar in function to RTL Panorama.
SDR-J (Windows/Linux) (Free) (Related Post) – DAB
SDR-Jis a free program that is split into two different programs. There isthe SDR-J DAB/DAB+ receiver program and the SDR-J FM decoder program.The DAB decoder is the most popular of the two. To install the SDR-J DABreceiver go to the SDR-J website and download the dabstick-radio.zipfile, unzip it and run dabreceiver.exe. If your RTL-SDR is plugged inyou’ll be able to click the start button and begin choosing the DAB bandin your country using the left drop down box.
DAB Player (Windows) (Free) – DAB
RTL2832U DAB Player
DAB Player is software for listening to DAB radio. It requires use of the official manufacturer RTL2832U drivers.
RTL-SDR Radio Receiver for Chrome (Chrome)(Free) (Related Post) – FM Receiver
Chrome RTL-SDR App
An RTL-SDR WBFM receiver app for Chrome. Runs in the Chrome browser and works on Chrome Books too.
ADSB# (Windows) (Free) (Related Post) – ADS-B Decoder
ADSB#is a Windows Mode S ADS-B decoder for the RTL-SDR written by the authorof SDR#. Use this program to broadcast data via TCP/IP locally via TCPto a graphical radar program such as Virtual Radar Server, Planeplotteror adsbSCOPE.
RTL1090 (Windows) (Free) (Related Post) – ADS-B Decoder
RTL1090is another Windows Mode S ADS-B decoder for the RTL-SDR. As with ADSB#you need to use this program to broadcast data via TCP/IP to a graphicalradar program. The latest installation program known as the RTL1090 IMUsimplifies the installation by automatically downloading some required.dll files. The current series 2 beta version aims to improve decodingand also has a built in radar display.
dump1090 (Windows/Linux) (Free) (Related Post) – ADS-B Decoder
Dump1090is a lightweight command line Windows and Linux based Mode S ADS-Bdecoder. It also has a built in web service which can display thedecoded aircraft positions on Google maps. Many people report thatdump1090 has the best decoding performance.
ADSBox (Linux) (Free) (Related Post) – ADS-B Decoder
AnADS-B decoder similar to dump1090, with built in web interfaceand Google maps interface. Also has a Google Earth interface. Link is inRussian, see the Related Post for extra info about compilation. The ADSBox web interface
Modesdeco (Windows/Linux/Mac/RPi) – ADS-B Decoder
Amultiplatform command line based ADS-B Mode S and Mode A/C decoder forthe RTL-SDR. Can feed Basestation natively without the need for com portconverters. Can also decode Mode S and mode A/C simultaneously.
cocoa1090 (Mac) (Free) (Related Post) – ADS-B Decoder
Cocoa1090 is a Mac based Mode S ADS-B decoder. It connects to the RTL-SDR via rtl_tcp.
gr-air-modes (GNU Radio) (Free) (Related Post) – ADS-B Decoder
gr-air-modes is a GNU Radio based program which performs Mode S ADS-B decoding.
ADS-B on USB SDR RTL (Android) (Paid) (Related Post) – ADS-B Decoder and Radar
ADS-B Decoding on Android
ADS-Bon USB SDR RTL is an Android app that can help receive, decode anddisplay on a map ADS-B aircraft positions with the RTL-SDR. To run thisprogram you will need an Android 4.0+ device with a decent processor, aUSB OTG cable and an RTL-SDR dongle.
PiAware (Raspberry Pi) (Free) (Related Post) – ADS-B Data Sharer
PiAwareis software for the Raspberry Pi which allows data coming from dump1090to be shared with the FlightAware.com public servers.
FlightAware Flight Feeder (Android) (Free) (Related Post) – ADS-B Decoder, Radar and Data Sharer
An Android app that not only decodes ADS-B data, but also plots it on a map and shares the data with the FlightAware network. FlightAware ADS-B App
Track your flight EUROPE (Android) (Free) (Related Post) – ADS-B Decoder and Radar
Android based ADS-B decoder with offline maps for Europe.
FLARM Decoder (Raspberry Pi/ARM/x86 Linux) (Free) (Related Post)
A decoder for FLARM, a protocol similar to ADS-B but used for smaller aircraft like gliders and helicopters.
SDRWeather (Android) (Paid) – Weather Radio
AnAndroid app for listening to weather radio in the US and Canada. Canalso decode EAS alerts. To run this program you will needan Android 4.0+ device with a decent processor, a USB OTG cable and anRTL-SDR dongle.
rtl_acars_ng (Linux) (Free) – ACARS
rtl_acars_ngis an improvement of the old rtl_acars command line based Linux ACARSdecoder. It is capable of scanning multiple frequencies and has a builtin airline database. See this post for some more information.
Acarsdec (Linux) (Free) – ACARS
Acarsdecis a mulithreaded, multi channel (up to four simultaneous channels canbe monitored) ACARS decoder with error detection.
PNAIS (Windows) (Free) (Related Post) – AIS
Software that connects directly to the RTL-SDR and decodes AIS data. Outputs NMEA data via UDP.