GNU Radio and rtl_sdr on Raspberry Pi 22

UPDATE: Please see the updated version here.

Software Defined Radio is very cool, especially when you can use a $10 DVB-T dongle to do it on a $40 computer.

I noticed a lot of people were having problems compiling GNU Radio on the Raspberry Pi, so I’ve done this for you. Simply download the image, unzip it, write it to an SD card (you’ll need an 8GB card), and everything just works. I haven’t tried a 4GB card, it might work, but keep in mind you need a LOT of swap space for GNU Radio to do most things.

I’m using Wheezy with a 1.6GB swap file (yes). GNU Radio has been compiled (the whole suite including gnuradio companion), along with the rtl_sdr suite including rtl_fm, rtl_power, rtl_tcp etc.

Note: this only works on the model B raspberry pi, not model A.

Boot up with this image, and either plug in a keyboard, or SSH in (IP is set by DHCP).

Username: pi
Password: raspberry

Download the gareth_wheezygr.img torrent using this magnet link. Please make a note to continue seeding after download. If you can’t get the torrent to work, you can use this direct link, please do try the torrent first though.

MD5 (gareth_wheezygr.img.gz) = c8714d82658613cc26c98dfbfd96fc0d

UPDATE: I’ll be releasing a new version of this next week which will work on more SD cards, include the rtl-sdr suite as well as some other goodies like a tool to precisely calibrate your dongle by using the GSM network. Watch this space.

22 thoughts on “GNU Radio and rtl_sdr on Raspberry Pi

  1. Reply Joe jesson Jul 31,2014 2:30 pm

    Hi, great project! My torrent client, transformer, has problems downloading the Raspi img file… Do you have an alternative download site?

    The Joe Jesson

  2. Reply Joe Jesson Aug 3,2014 4:14 am

    I was able to download and extract the img file successfully although at the end of the SD memory write using Win32 Disk Imager, I received an error message – “Not enough space on disk: Size 156467720 sectors. Available 15644672 sectors. Sector size: 512”.

    Is my 8Gb Lexar drive not big enough? What SD size and mfg are you using?

    Thanks, Joe Jesson

    • Reply gareth Aug 14,2014 1:37 pm

      Hi Joe, some 8GB SD cards are slightly bigger or smaller than others, but the real problem is that I didn’t shrink the main partition down before packaging it which is something I should have done and would have avoided this error. I’ll release an update next week to address this issue.

  3. Reply Sromero Aug 14,2014 2:31 am

    Hi gareth. I try your img but rtl-sdr doesnt appear in gnuradio. Please help me.

  4. Reply Sromero Aug 14,2014 7:50 pm

    Thank you, gareth. I’ll apreciate your new version.

    • Reply Joe jesson Aug 14,2014 9:33 pm

      Gareth, did you find any Performance-enhancement
      Tricks? Last time I ran gqrx on a raspi it
      Could not handle the fat and display…was only
      Useful as a sdr server.

      BEST, Joe

  5. Reply Bob Dole Sep 9,2014 12:35 am

    This image made my life alot easier not having to compile, in return I apt-get updated and upgraded this image (didn’t break anything SDR that I tested). I also have resized this image to fit on any 8 gig card.

    Those of you having problems with the driver being active should do a “sudo rmmod” to kill the driver instance before running any SDR utilities. For those who dont know what I’m talking about type this “sudo rmmod dvb_usb_rtl28xxu rtl2832” without quotes.


  6. Reply Bob Sampson Sep 17,2014 4:08 pm


    Do you have a newer version of GNU radio on a SDR? Latest download seems to be June and you indicated in August that you would have a newer version coming shortly.

    Going to load the June version today for a trial run….


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  9. Reply Ayanda May 22,2016 8:26 am

    Is this image gareth_wheezygr.img.gz still available?
    I have tried downloading a couple from either links mentioned its just not working.
    I am in South Africa.

    • Reply gareth Aug 14,2016 9:02 am

      I stopped seeding the torrent a while ago and no longer actually have a pi or the original file 🙁

  10. Reply Robert Horton Jul 12,2016 4:16 am

    I just bought a Raspberry Pi 3 setup from Makerspot ($50!) and am hoping this will work on it… Instructions on the Net for Linux-based SDR for Pi 3’s are pretty slim. For all I know, SDR# itself may work on the Pi3 but setup images do not appear to exist. It’s been nearly two years, any chance you’ll be upgrading?

    • Reply gareth Aug 14,2016 9:05 am

      I only have an original pi (actually, no, I no longer even have that), but if you are desperate enough and want to gift me a pi 3 I will happily make a new image for you with everything you want 😉 (Caveat: rather than defacing the pi with Windows I’ll use a linux base system, which means GQRX and GNU Radio etc)

      • Reply Robert Horton Aug 14,2016 6:08 pm

        You have my email, let’s see what we can work out. For starters I’ll need your address; I am in the USA.

  11. Reply Phil Latheron May 30,2018 11:33 am

    Hi Gareth,
    I am using a Raspberry Pi to build a radio telescope. I have had software running but noticed that the Python “top block” checks that the software is “linux”, which fails. Should this be “Raspbian” instead? Could you possibly spare the time to advise me how to fix this?

    Now the bad news…

    I have never learnt “C” or “C++” and have no desire to learn now!

    Phil (Stevenage, UK)

  12. Reply Kevin Fraser Jul 17,2018 5:41 pm

    Hey Gareth have read all these old threads with great interest. Thanks for this! Did you ever develop a new image for the latest Pi(s)?

  13. Reply this Aug 28,2018 6:43 pm

    Great article! We are linking to this great article on our website.
    Keep up the good writing.

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