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RTL-SDR has changed the face of radio, but there is still much to do. Help fund a coding sprint.
Kyle Keen
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
United States
1 Team Member

Goal: ($3000)

Like rtl-sdr?  Want more features, more bugfixes, more performance?  Want to help direct the development?

About the Dev

I'm Kyle Keen, the primary author of rtl_fm, rtl_power, rtl_adsb and the just-released rtl_sdl.  I maintain most of the software defined radio (SDR) stack provided by Arch Linux.  My training is as an electrical & computer engineer, with almost a decade of low-level programming and twice as much experience in mixed-signal design.

Back when I first started working for the rtl-sdr project, I had a whole month free and put together rtl_fm in one giant sprint.  At the time my goal was to make something efficient enough to run on an Atom CPU - rtl_fm overshot the mark a little and ended up working fine on low-end ARM cores.  With your help, I'd like to do another month-long sprint.


What are we going to accomplish with this sprint?  The RTL-SDR is already an amazingly capable radio receiver - you will not find better for $10.  This project is all about making rtl-sdr run faster on weak computers and with even more features.  If you are using Windows XP on an Atom CPU or Linux on a headless ARM board, your only option is to use the various simple utilities such as rtl_fm (a generic demodulator and scanner), rtl_power (a flexible CSV waterfall) and rtl_tcp (a pipe that networks your radio).  Or if you have a powerful computer, you'll be able to run more SDRs simultaneously without dropping a beat.

All of these utilities can be enhanced with more features and optimizations.  But the utilities are meant to be used by people.  To that end, all of my code is GPL licensed so that everyone has access to it.  They are optimized, because if your only computer is extremely low-end, you should still get to enjoy SDR.  Dependencies are minimal and "easy to build" is an explicit design goal, so you can be up and running faster.  Configuration attempts to hit the sweet spot between flexible and simple, while designed around real use cases.

Crowd Directed

We're also going to try out something new: this is a crowd-directed project.  This means that everyone who contributes at the "Voter" level will get a voice in the direction of the project.  You'll be able to place your vote on which features should be completed next.  You can read more about the voting system at the Featuritis github page.

Want to see how the sprint is progressing?  Visit the live Featuritis status page.  Want to put your company's name at the top of that page?  Support this project at the "Commercial" level and you can.  Want to do even more?  Help spread the word about this campaign.

Frequently Asked Questions

"What was that link to the status page again?"

"I can only give $0.  Is there a reward level for $0?"

Certainly.  Because rtl-sdr is GPL software, even without sponsoring you are qualified to be a pre-release tester.  You'll be able to get the latest code at my github repository.  Additionally, anyone can request a feature to be added to the voting ballot.

"How do I claim my $0 rewards?"

Visit github repo to get the latest stuff I am hacking on.  And hang out in ##rtlsdr on Freenode if you want to suggest a feature.

"How do I claim and use my Voter reward?"

You'll be emailed with the exact details, but you can get a head start by registering an account at Freenode and joining the ##rtlsdr channel.  Once you are set up, you can vote for as many features as you want.

"So like, if I get the 'Featured' level then you must do whatever I say?"

No.  If you plan to support at that level, please get in touch with me beforehand.  There are a couple of cases that would make me decline to work on your request.  Your request might already be finished and sitting in git, unreleased.  Or your request might be impossible.  So please, before you contribute, ask me if the feature is tenable.  And while your request will have priority status, there is always the risk that I will underestimate the difficulty and not be able to complete it in a timely fashion.

"When will I be able to download this from the official Osmocom repo?"

Possibly never.  I am not a member of Osmocom and do not have commit access to the official rtl-sdr repository.  Around 80% of my patches are accepted, so it is likely much of this will become official after some review.

"I don't use any of your rtl_foo applications.  What can you do for me?"

The software you are using calls down to (and is fundamentally shaped by) the rtl-sdr driver.  If something is difficult in your software, maybe that is from a limitation of the driver.  For example, managing multiple dongles was nearly impossible until I added the functions to select a dongle by their serial label.  Email me or chat with me on Freenode and we'll see if there isn't something I could do.

"Why aren't there any physical reward levels?"

Because this is all about getting as much code written as possible.  If you really want a physical item, I suggest you buy a dongle or upconverter from NooElec or one of the other people making rtl-sdr accessories.  Your purchase lets them continue to develop new hardware for the community.

"But I really really want a t-shirt!"

Okay, you can pick one up from Spreadshirt.  The sales are not restricted to backers and will continue to be offered after the sprint.  (I put that design up and get $8.50 from it.)

"Is any of my cash going back to Osmocom?"

Yes.  I've asked Osmocom about the best way to do a donation, but have yet to hear back from them.  More details about this as they come in!

"What if we don't meet the target?"

My time will scale proportionately.  Half the target, half a month.

"Does that work the other way too, if we exceed the target?"

Yes.  I'll just keep on coding for a proportionate time.  If it reaches $6k, then I will put in 60 days instead of 30 days.

raised by 88 people in 1 month
152% funded
No time left
$3,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on August 20, 2014
Select a Perk
  • $10USD

    For the price of just one dongle, you can make the difference to this developer.

    19 claimed

    Early Bird Voter

    Vote early, vote often! For the duration of the project you will be able to vote on every feature.

    10 out of 10 claimed

    Early Bird Voter 2

    IGG won't let me increase the numbers of a perk, but I want to give you all more of these.

    20 out of 20 claimed
  • $25USD
    Late Bird Voter

    Be a part of the "crowd directed" experiment! For the duration of the project you will be able to vote on every feature.

    8 out of 20 claimed
  • $50USD

    Be a part of the "crowd directed" experiment! For the duration of the project you will be able to vote on every feature.

    16 out of 200 claimed
  • $250USD

    Request your very own feature. Includes the Voter perk. Comes with some risks, please read the FAQ.

    4 out of 5 claimed
  • $1,250USD

    Get an advertising slot on the top of the feature-tracking website. First come, first serve. Does not include any other perks.

    1 out of 2 claimed
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