We host a semi-annual Intro to SDR class. Watch our blog and meetup to see when we next start up the class. We always follow this format:

Week 1: We will make sure everybody’s system is working. We will decode some basic signals just for test purposes. If you are sure your Linux system is working with the tools mentioned below you can skip this session.

Week 2: We will cover the various modulation types and digital encoding schemes. This will include learning to listen for digital signals, and visually identify them on the waterfall.

Week 3: We will practice decoding several different types of signals. We will also touch on how to use the GNU Radio Companion.

Week 4: We will look at reverse engineering some FSK and ASK/OOK type signals. We will use different tools such as Baudline and Waveconverter

Please bring the following hardware items:

An SDR capable of receiving between 50MHz and 1GHz (almost all RTL-SDRs cover this range, and any of the more expensive SDRs will cover this range as well, except for the BladeRF)
An omni-directional antenna
“Aux cable” (3.5mm “headphone” connector on both ends)
A fairly powerful laptop or desktop (At least 2 cores clocked over 2GHz, 4GB RAM) Sorry, that old laptop you got for $50 at the hamfest won’t cut it.

Please have the following software installed BEFORE class:

Your favorite Linux distro on a dedicated partition. NO virtual machines! Linux beginners, please install Ubuntu.
Any drivers necessary to run your SDR
GNU Radio
pulse audio volume control

There are resources for how to install all of the above software online. Please have it installed before class, the network cannot handle everyone downloading that stuff all at once.