Category: Radio

Softrock SDR with DSP Radio

Mac OS software for Softrock SDR receiver


Download from:

Use with “Softrock USB-Controller app:

Note: After some experimentation with various audio interfaces and sample rates, I found it difficult to get clear audio on higher sample rates, like 192k and also there doesn’t seem to be any way to adjust the IQ balance.

Remote controlled shortwave radio system

Under construction…

The first in a series describing a system for internet remote control of a shortwave radio station. Its not something new. There are commercial products that provide remote operation of amateur radio transceivers. The purpose of this project is to make it possible to use shortwave radio sounds in musical performance, without the need of an antenna system.


  • Max/MSP for USB serial control of radio, OSC remote interface, user interface, Midi device handling, and an SQLITE database of preset frequencies.
  • Low latency, good quality audio using Soundjack by Alex Carot.
  • Hardware control of radio using Midi controllers (CDJ-101 and Launchpad)
  • Bi-directional OSC and VOIP using Logmein Hamachi VPN
  • Additional hardware control of AC power and antenna selection using Arduino and a WeMo switch.
  • TouchOSC Ipad audio mixer control using MOTU Cuemix
  • TeamViewer remote desktop software for logging into to base station compuer
  • Optional radio user interface control with Ipod TouchOSC, Griffin Powermate dial, and Korg Nano-kontrol.
  • Optional VOIP backup using Mumble.

System diagram

base station:


remote control:








Hamlib and rigctl

Hamlib provides a linux command-line API for amateur radios.



On Mac OS you can install using Mac Ports:

sudo port install hamlib


Get a list of “rig numbers” for supported radios:

rigctl -l

Find available serial ports:

ls /dev/tty.*

Set the frequency to 7.2 MHz and mode to LSB on a Tentec Eagle transceiver:

rigctl -m 1608 -r /dev/tty.usbmodem14531 -s 57600 F 7200000 M LSB 0

Use a rigctl command with no commands at the end to start an interactive command shell.

Network control with TCP/IP

First start the daemon. It uses port 4532 by default, but here we are setting it explicitly:

rigctld -m 1608 -r /dev/tty.usbmodem14531 -s 57600 -t 4532 &

Then in another window, send commands to the daemon using netcat. For set example, to set the frequency to 14.247:

echo “\set_freq 14247000” | nc -w 1 localhost 4532


This patch uses the mxj tcpClient object from by Arvid Tomayko to communicate with rigctld over TCP/IP. The patch below is a modified help file that connected to the radio using rigctld as configured above.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 2.47.10 AM

Notes on grig and rpc.rigd

grig is a graphical rig front end for hamlib by Alex Csete. rpc.rigd is a daemon that allows multiple clients. I was able to get both of them sort of working together (use -m 1901 from grig) but the daemon starts streaming error messages “read_string timeout without reading a character”. Also the latency with grig over the LAN is high. Its possible that there are problems with the rig CAT file. I am using the file for the Tentec Orion – as I haven’t figured out how to add new devices. At any rate, the above methods (UDP or TCP command line) are way more responsive.



Internet shortwave radio using Max, Hamachi, and Mumble

How to control an amateur radio transceiver over the internet, using Osc (Open Sound Control), VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and VPN (Virtual Private Networks).

What problem does this solve?

Using a shortwave radio receiver in a  live performance without installing a large antenna system.

This method gives low-latency real-time access to audio, and radio control using a laptop computer from anywhere. I suppose it could also remote-control a synthesizer, if you’re into that kind of thing.


Modern ham radio receivers can be controlled using serial commands using the CAT (Computer Aided Transceiver) protocol. Usually this is done via a USB port. There are hardware solutions for remote controlling radios over the internet, like RemoteRig But there is also a free, or low cost, solution using software.

System diagram

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 1.23.10 AM

The ‘base’ computer is connected to the radio/antenna. The ‘remote’ computer is a laptop that could be anywhere connected by WiFi

For this experiment we used a TenTec Eagle transceiver connected to a MacBook USB port. The audio output of the radio connects to the audio input of the MacBook. The MacBook is directly connected to an internet WiFi router using an ethernet cable.


A mumble client runs on the base computer,  and also on the remote laptop. Both clients are connected to a Mumble server (Murmur) at You could also run your own server. I set the audio to the best quality and muted the microphone on the remote laptop. We are only using the laptop as a receiver. For transmitting, you could simply open up another channel on the Murmur server. Mumble has very low latency (compared to Skype) and decent audio quality.

Bi-directional commands using VPN and OSC

CAT commands go in both directions – to and from the radio. For example, you would send a command to the radio to change frequency. The radio would send acknowledgements back to the remote laptop.

This is a problem for networks that use NAT (Network Address Translation) because local IP addresses are private, hidden behind routers. The solution that eventually worked was using a VPN called Hamachi on both the remote and base computers. Hamachi servers are setup on both computers and connected to each other. This allows the computers to ‘see’ each other as if they were on a local network.

Max and Osc

Max patches are run on both the base and remote computers. The Max patch on the base computer connects to the radio using the serial object and passes commands back and forth over the internet using udpsend and udpreceive (which use Osc).

The Max patch on the remote MacBook sends and receives commands from the base computer using updsend and udpreceive. With the Hamachi VPN, Osc works just like it does on a LAN (local area network).

Automatic reconfiguration of clients

The main advantage of this system is that when you move the remote MacBook to a new location – for example, a coffee shop with public Wifi – both the Mumble and Hamachi clients automatically reconfigure for the location. So you don’t need to know the actual IP address of your computer in the coffee shop. The reconfiguration usually happens within seconds after the Wifi connection is made.


If you are just working across a LAN, you don’t need a VPN. Osc will run on a local network using private IP’s.

You could also try Ross Bencina’s Oscgroups Although I was not able to get Oscgroups to work, other than in a LAN.

For uni-directional Osc communication from remote to base, in a WAN (wide area network) you can use a static IP address for the target.

Skype is another (free) solution for transmitting VOIP audio. Set the base computer in auto-answer mode and call it from the remote computer. Skype will process the audio more than mumble, with noise gates and such. And the latency is higher. But its very easy to set up.


The next step is to build a remote interface for the radio that uses Midi/Osc controllers, so for example you can turn a dial on the Midi controller to change frequency or filter settings on a base radio.

to be continued…

SSTV in Max

Slow scan television simulation using Jitter.

See this Cycling 74 forum post for an explanation of how frame rate is limited by audio sample rate and  horizontal resolution:


Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 7.24.11 PM

Folder: sstv


  • raster-scan4.maxpat (original)
  • raster-scan5.maxpat (better frame rate by lowering screen resolution to 160 x 120)
  • raster-poly-wrap5.maxpat (even better frame rate – up to 15 fps – by up sampling to 384 KHz)

Note – set your audio sample rate to 96KHz if possible, to get the results described above.

RF converter circuits

Notes and links.

down converters (shortwave to medium wave)

HF to CB/AM Broadcast Receive Converter kit, great for QRP!

Vectronics VEC-101k

Shortwave converter for AM radio:

40 meters to CB by vk3ye (includes BFO):


kf7lze roundup of up converters:


W9RAN Ranverter Pi:

ct1ffu upconverter:

IF converters

455kHz -> AF Converter (DRM):

Any SDR that will receive 455 KHz (or whatever the IF is) plus a R-Pi would work. The Pi would need to  boot automatically into an SDR app with the frequency set to the IF.

455 kHz BFO Kit – Receive ssb and cw on an am receiver!



IQ converters and panadapters

FST3253 is a commonly used chip for Tayloe mixers.

Babel Fish IF SDR Radio 1st IF I /Q software conversion module:

A Binaural IQ Receiver by Rick Campbell:

QSD By Ray Ring:

Thomas Nylund Tayloe detector and SDR

Softrock Lite II 06 mixer:


1KHz to 33MHz Adjustable Oscillator Module, LTC1799

RF mixer simulation in Max

Audio simulation of an RF circuit.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 4.49.36 PM

The simulation serves no purpose, but its fun. There are 4 versions. I think the third one sounds best (rf-mixer-sim3.maxpat). Its interesting to hear how much spectral distortion happens from multiplying sawtooth waves.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 4.46.55 PM


folder: rf-mixer


Note: please set the signal vector size to 1 (or as low as possible) and enable overdrive and audio interrupt

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 5.22.30 PM

Four versions:

  • rf-mixer-sim.maxpat (initial attempt)
  • rf-mixer-sim2.maxpat (uses sah~ and rate~ objects)
  • rf-mixer-sim3.maxpat (uses gate~ objects with a phasor~ clock)
  • rf-mixer-sim4.maxpat (bandpass filter on RF input)