With software defined radio generating a lot of interest in the commercial and hobbyist radio communities at the moment it was only a matter of time before we started to see software applications that would allow us to adapt this streamlined technology for use with mobile devices.
With the continued release of android powered devices our mobile phones and tablets can be run like any other computer giving a higher degree of customization than ever with more direct routes into the core of the operating system. Android also gives a cross platform compatibility that was never possible when each manufacturer was shipping new products with the own specially tailor operating system and now opening the door for developers to a healthy expanding market of new customers.
Although its early days with SDR the amount of open source software and information available is really starting to steamroll and this must be a precarious time for producers of “physical” radios in any section of the communications industry.
Where We At?
Even though the android OS has given a common platform across mobile devices for an army of code monkeys to exploit, with the actual SDR hardware being in a largely experimental stage it is a long way off from having some sort of harmonized standards. This leaves any apps developed at a disadvantage when trying to by more universal and accepting as many different SDR systems as possible.
The cheapest way into the world of SDR is by using one of the RTL2832U tuner dongles giving a very wide coverage across the VHF/UHF radio spectrum.
Unfortunately there isn’t much in the way of reliable SDR software available for the android OS but the one that seems to be making some progress is a package called SDR Touch. Designed for use with RTL2832U dongle chip set SDR touch does a good job of syncing phone and tuner together and taking a look at the makers website it certainly looks like constant improvements are being made to the software.
SDR touch is free to download but does have some limits built in unless you buy the full version, because the software is only compatible with certain makes of dongles with the right tuner chip we advise that you try the free version with your hardware to make sure the dongle is connected. If all goes well and you are happy with the interface, sure that its something you will find useful and can use the software then that might be the right time to go for the paid version.
Things are moving very fast in the SDR world meaning there will be plenty of viable options for android SDR in the near future and if this software isn’t for you we are positive you want have to wait long for another application.