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 Use Utilite with RTL-SDR Software Defined Radio Dongle 
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:16 am
Posts: 351
Post Use Utilite with RTL-SDR Software Defined Radio Dongle

In around 2010, it was discovered that widely available DVB-T, USB television tuner dongles could be used as inexpensive, yet very capable software defined radios. Since that time, quite a few software packages have been developed which make very good use of the RTL-SDR's capabilities. The available applications include aircraft trackers, fm radios, spectrum analyzers, rf-scanners, etc.

Fortunately, Utilite works well with the RTL-SDR system.


Required Hardware
1. Utilite
2. RTL-SDR (DVB-T), USB dongle
3. Antenna.

Nooelecnanosdr.jpg [ 245.59 KiB | Viewed 7776 times ]

Suitable DVB-T dongles use the Realtek RTL2832U, DVB-T COFDM demodulator ic in conjunction with a suitable wide range tuner ic such as the Elonics E4000 or Rafael Micro R820T.

For this project, I am using the Nooelec NSDR Nano dongle which is available for $18 US including shipping. The Nooelec Nano uses the Rafael Micro R280T tuner which provides a tuning range of 25 - 1700 MHz. The Nano reportedly includes component upgrades designed to provide improved performance as compared to other generic DVB-T dongles.



Required Packages
1. git
2. cmake
4. build-essential
5. rtl-sdr

The packages git, cmake, libusb-1.0-0-dev, and build-essential, if not already installed on your Utilite, are available from the Ubuntu package manager. Rtl-sdr, however is not available in the package manage, so it must be downloaded and installed from source.

The rtl-sdr package includes the required librtlsd library and a variety of command line utilities including rtl_test, rtl_sdr, rtl_tcp, and rtl_fm. The command line utilities allow you to test your rtl-sdr setup and implement items such as an fm radio.

Software Installation

To obtain and install sdr-rtl using cmake, execute the following commands in your terminal.

git clone git://
cd rtl-sdr/
mkdir build
cd build
sudo make install
sudo ldconfig

Installation Notes
1. I executed the above commands in /usr/local/src in keeping with somewhat common source installation convention.
2. Running cmake with the with the -DINSTALL_UDEV_RULES=ON argument allows you to use the RTL-SDR dongle as a non-root user.
3. ldconfig generates the warning /sbin/ldconfig.real: /usr/lib/ is not a symbolic link which can be corrected by executing the command unlink /usr/lib/; ln -s /usr/lib/ as a root user.
See: viewtopic.php?f=60&t=1722 for the fix.

Installation Testing

To test your rtl-sdr installation execute the command rtl_test in the terminal. For a successful installation, the results should be:

rtl_test.png [ 46 KiB | Viewed 7771 times ]

If however, rtl_test returns something like "Kernel driver is active, or device is claimed by second instance of librtlsdr", your installation is using an existing kernel DVB driver instead of the correct driver installed with rtlsdr.

For a temporary fix, unload the incorrect driver using the command:
sudo modprobe -r dvb_usb_rtl28xxu.

For a permanent fix add the line
blacklist dvb_usb_rtl28xxu
to the file /etc/modprobe.d

Projects Using RTL-SDR

Stay Tuned !

For Aircraft Tracking Project see: ... =77&t=1976

For RF Spectrum Analyzer Project see: ... =77&t=1977

For Home Weather Station Project see:


1. The Noolec Nano works well with Utilite.
2. Utilite demonstrates its versatility - yet again.

Further Reading ... erver.html

Sun Aug 17, 2014 5:56 pm
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