Receiving, Decoding and Plotting AIS using a RTL-SDR

DrVarnik on YouTube has posted a tutorial video on how to receive, decode and plot AIS information. The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a system used for automatic tracking of large ships and passenger boats. It is a similar idea to tracking aircraft with ADS-B. His method uses a RTL-SDR for receiving the AIS signals with SDRSharp, decoding received signals with AISMon and plotting the decoded information with OpenCPN. He uses VB-Cable for looping the audio from SDRSharp to AISMon, but if you have a ‘Stereo Mix’ or equivalent feature with your soundcard, that will be unneeded. Best results will be achieved using a narrow-band vertically polarized antenna tuned for 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz (marine VHF). A directional antenna would also likely be a benefit. You can find some designs to try lower down the page. For safety, please only use this guide on land! Wouldn’t want you getting lost at sea.

Here are the homepages of the software used:

  • SDRSharp
  • AISMon – You may need to first join the group with a Yahoo account to gain access to the file section.
  • OpenCPN
  • VB-Cable (for looping audio from SDRSharp to AISMON)

Below is a screenshot of OpenCPN in action:


Here are some antennas designed for AIS reception:


For a tutorial with other software, check out the Cheap AIS Ship Tracking page at


SDRSharp Scanner Plugin Tutorial and Demo

Over on YouTube, user radiosification has posted a video showing how to go about setting up the SDR# Scanner plugin. This is a great way to get your RTL-SDR to function as a radio scanner so you don’t have to manually tune the bands. It assumes you already have your RTL-SDR installed and configured to work with SDR# but walks you through the rest of the process of installing and using the plugin. The download page for the plugin is in Russian but the video shows how to translate the page and find the download link. If you’ve used this plugin before, leave a comment and let us know any tips or troubles you may of had.

Radiosification has also posted another video showing the SDRSharp scanner plugin being used to scan the airband which is located between 108mhz to 137mhz.

Decoding Flex 1600 Pager Traffic with SDR# & PDW

NeedSec just posted on YouTube a video illustrating how to use a RTL-SDR to decode Flex 1600 pager traffic using PDWVB-Cable and SDR#. It is always surprising there is still pager traffic as when is the last time you can remember seeing someone with a pager in public. We’ve shared videos showing this sort of thing before, but NeedSec gives a great overview of what you need to do to accomplish successful decoding of Flex-1600.


NOAA Bay Area Broadcast – 2012 July 11 RTLSDR RTL-SDR SDR# SDRSharp

NOAA Bay Area Broadcast - 2012 July 11 RTLSDR RTL-SDR SDR# SDRSharpBroadcast from the top of Mt. Umunhum. Was very surprised at the accuracy of the RTL dongle. I am using unamplified rabbit ears to pick up the signal. Source


SDR# Rev 304 + EzTV666 RTL2832U, Commercial FM (Keyboard Tuning)

SDR# Rev 304 + EzTV666 RTL2832U, Commercial FM (Keyboard Tuning)Testing SDR# Rev. 304 Source


Weather satellite NOAA-14 – 20120530_1526_54.avi

Weather satellite NOAA-14 - 20120530_1526_54.avi Source


SDR# Rev 304 + EzTV666 RTL2832U, Commercial FM

SDR# Rev 304 + EzTV666 RTL2832U, Commercial FMTesting SDR# Rev. 304 Source


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