Remote SDR listening has become both easier and more necessary over the years. Now, with software defined radio, it’s a joy. Give it a try.
Imagine a noise-free listening location without any switched-mode power supplies or plasma televisions. Set up your SDR and a simple antenna. Connect the radio to the Internet. Sit back in your home and listen to the world, or if you are a ham, transmit, too.
Remote SDR listening with online software defined radio is easier than ever before.
When I first developed my ERGO radio control software in the late 1990’s, I included a remote server in the package. My beta testers told me that the feature would have limited adoption. And, they were right. At least, initially. Over the first ten years, very few of my customers made use of the remote feature. Part of the problem was the technology involved. I used COM to pass control and audio data across the network, and setting up authentication and security in Windows was not for the faint of heart.
Nevertheless, for many years I enjoyed listening to my shortwave radios remotely, from the office downtown, or from hotel rooms while traveling on business.
Three things have increased the popularity of remote listening over the past twenty years. First, high speed internet has become ubiquitous. Second, connecting your radio to the internet is now a piece of cake. Many radios even contain servers which also stream audio, panoramic display and control.
But for me, the third driver for remote listening is critical. Reducing or eliminating local radio frequency interference. And this leads to the potential gains from not only remote listening, but also a remote station location. If you can set up your radios more than 100 meters from neighborhood RFI, you might discover the pleasure of low-noise reception we used to enjoy decades ago.
Remote SDR Listening – Getting Your Feet Wet
Before we talk about setting up your SDR remotely, let’s consider all the things you can do to get started.
There are two ways that you can serve your radio to the world. The easiest is to use a radio with an Ethernet connection on the back panel. For example, my FlexRadio 6300 is actually both a radio and a server. It’s designed to be remotely operated from the ground up. I can receive and transmit from anywhere in my house over the LAN. With port forwarding or better yet Version 2 of SmartSDR, it is fully network accessible from anywhere.
Alternatively, many radio control programs such as SDR-Console, also contain servers. With SDR-Console, I can remotely use by RTL-SDR, SDRPlay or Perseus receivers. One you get a handle on setting up remote operation in your home, you can think about how to do it from a remote location.
Finally, there are a ton of web sites serving up SDR that you can use right now. A good starting point was described in my article on WebSDR.
Later in this series, we will explore some of these alternatives and more. In the meantime, you might enjoy the article on Web-Hosted Software-Defined Radios in January 2018 QST.