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Problems Using RDS Spy

Skywaves wrote:

I have been running RDSV0400 RDS software for several years but recently I heard good reports about RDS Spy and wanted to give it a try. So far I have failed to get the latest RDS Spy working on any of my three computers.

I have a desktop PC and two laptops available for RDS purposes. So far, the most success I have had was with the oldest laptop (circa 2007ish, XP Home, all updates, etc.) where the software began counting groups, but failed to display anything. The other machines are a slightly newer laptop which runs XP Pro, SP3, etc. and my main desktop PC: XP Pro & SP3, but this uses a Midiman Delta 66 professional sound card with breakout box. I don't know if this sound card is really suitable.

A common problem with all three machines is a howling/shrieking sound which suggests a feedback loop.

One laptop keeps returning error messages such as "Access Violation at address 00FD7730 (or 00FD3BcB) in module "basic.dll". Read of address 00000044" with everything I try – even when closing the programme, which has to be done with the CTRL+ALT+DEL method.

For my connections, I run the RDS from a Conrad RDS Manager, taking the clock, data and ground, feeding directly into the sound card input. I have tried all configurations of clock, data and ground, with and without the ground. Nothing works.

As an alternative, I have two Sony SA3ES tuners. I could try the same with one of those, but surely I would get the same results?

Hoping somebody can help as I am keen to get RDS Spy up and running.


John, G1VVP.

admin wrote:

Thank you for your experience. Unfortunately without posting a few seconds of recorded wav file I'm unable to make any decision. Record a few seconds of the sound (11.025 kHz, stereo, 16 bit) using any wav editor (not mp3!) and send me this sample.
The "howling/shrieking sound" you can listen is not produced by RDS Spy. It points to some problem in your sound card settings or connection that the RDS Spy cannot affect.
Currently I don't know any PC on which the app cannot work, tried more than 10 different machines. The connection is clearly showed in the pdf, don't waste your time trying any other configurations.

Skywaves wrote:

Thanks for your reply.

I did not actually get any RDS data to appear on the display so I am unable to make a recording.

Nothing is 'standard' in any of my setups and I often experience problems with all kinds of software. I am not through with trying just yet. It may indeed be something to do with the settings of my sound cards.

Just one question – should I be using the ground/screen connection when connecting via the computer's onboard sound card?


John, G1VVP

admin wrote:

If I'm writing record using any wav editor, I don't mean the RDS Spy but a software like Goldwave or another sound recording software. Only if you provide me this record I can tell you what's wrong with your sound card or connection.
Shielded cable is not required for the connection.
As I read your posts I strongly recommend to read the pdf instructions again, check all wires twice and check if appropriate sound card recording input is selected in the sound card mixer and the recording level is not zero. I have no more information about this issue as the software supplied with sound cards may differ model to model. Make the same steps like if you want to record audio – this skill is required prior to use the RDS Spy.

Skywaves wrote:

Thanks again Admin for your help again. I am pleased to report that I now have RDS Spy WORKING 100%!

The speed and the accuracy of the decoding is VERY impressive.

So how did i do it? I used my main desktop PC, the one with the non-standard (Midiman Delta 66) sound card. I simply ran the Data and Clock from the Conrad RDS Manager's internal RDS chip directly into one of the mono inputs on the sound card's breakout box. After a little configuration of the sound card settings I heard the same howling/screeching sound out of the speakers. Still no RDS forming on the default.rsw window.

I next added the 1kohm resistors as suggested in your pdf file and then some RDS data began to appear in the default.rsw window, however it was very slow. I could still hear a rough sound coming out of the loudspeaker but it was beginning to sound like some kind of data.

I replaced the 1k resistors with two variable 10k pots. Setting them both to their maximum 10k brought about a near-instant display of the RDS in default.rsw. This appears to be the optimum setting too! The audio was now sounding a lot smoother and I suspect that shrieking sound may have simply been the sound of the RDS data being overdriven into the sound card. RDS data now forms more quickly on RDS Spy than on my Sony XDR-F1HD receiver display.

I look forward to carrying out further experimentation. I have a couple of other laptops on which I will try to run RDS Spy. I also have a dual soundcard which plugs into a USB socket and a couple of other Sony SA3ES tuners. It would be nice to use three receivers for meteor scatter DXing.

Many thanks for you help again.

John, G1VVP

Skywaves wrote:

I have uploaded a sample wav file, as you requested. This may reveal imperfections, but the file looks quite smooth. There is a slightly rising leading edge.

admin wrote:

There's Data signal only in the wav file you have provided. I can decode RDS from it ("BBC R2") but I need to check the Invert option so your sound card probably inverts polarity of input signals.
I expect you are using mono audio input, which of course does not allow to feed both the Data and Clock signals. The RDS Spy allows to operate in this configuration (Data signal only, no Clock) but the performance is not guaranteed. It is preferable to use stereo line-in (separate left and right channels) and feed Data and Clock as showed in the pdf. No experiments with resistors should be required.

admin wrote:

You can monitor more tuners simultaneously. To do this copy the RDS Spy to different folders on your disk and setup each instance individually.

Skywaves wrote:

Thanks Admin.

The resistors were necessary otherwise the input was being overloaded. I wonder if the chip in the Conrad RDS Manager has a higher output, hence the need for the extra attenuation.

The sound card only has 6.35mm mono inputs. Two mono inputs make one stereo. I had to disable the onboard soundcard due to conflicts. Nothing is straight forward with my equipment.

I will try to reactivate a couple of older laptops, both of which which use Windows XP. Maybe these will be more straightforward.

Thanks again. I will report more soon.

John, G1VVP

M3EMB wrote:

I down loaded the 13 pages about getting started and just to say the reading is very interesting, if you have not got these pages you should have them there very good to the nervous type like myself who likes to do things slowly due to not always understanding just what to do, thank you ADMIN as I think there are your pages. M3EMB.

Skywaves wrote:

I got the data and clock connected, one on each channel (two mono jacks) and everything worked perfectly. I could see exactly what was happening. See the URLs below. (wav) (jpg image of sample)

I re-installed Windows XP Home on an old laptop earlier today intending to use this as a dedicated RDS machine. I had 'some' success, but RDS was slow and I could not get lower than about "15 to 20 BER". I think there is an issue with the cable/sound cardsocket connections.

I will look at this more closely in a day or two when I have more time.

Thanks again Admin for your help. I will report back again soon but I am sure the problems I have had with my other computers must have been with my cable connections and soundcard settings.


John, G1VVP

Skywaves wrote:

Althought I got RDS Spy working well on my main desktop PC, I cannot get 100% results on the laptop – the "BER" reading never goes below 5 or 6% on my strongest local station, whereas on my main PC it constantly runs at 0%. This is irrespective of how I wire the stereo jack plug. I have tried every combination once again.

If I cannot get 0% on my strongest local staion I presume the software is not functioning 100%. Am I correct?

It is not practical for me to use my main desktop computer for RDS Spy so I am at a loss to know what to do next.

I wonder if the laptop soundcard software is too basic and needs a higher level of configuration. I hear the sample rate lower when I make changes to the soundcard volume control, but nothing improves the performance of RDS Spy.

John, G1VVP

admin wrote:

Quality of some laptop sound cards is terrible. Low cut-off frequency is sometimes around 1 kHz, sampling frequency sometimes differs more than a few percents! However this still has a solution.
Please make a wav record using the connection that gives the 5% BER and I can tell you more. Make sure you are recording at nominal 11025 Hz sample rate.

Skywaves wrote:

Looking at the controls of my laptop soundcard I only see very basic functions.

I took a wav file again, here:

Thanks again.

John, G1VVP

admin wrote:

1) Looking at your file first time I have found this:


Is that an one or zero? Or noise? Or what? Your sound card generates a lot of these artifacts that have no interpretation.

2) Another issue is that I don't see that the Data stays in logic high for more than one bit. In fact, there's Clock signal only that is present only when Data are high or low. You probably didn't connect ground or made some similar mistake in the connection! Or maybe the sound card input is mono, so disconnect Clock and put Data only.

The reason also may be that the sound card input is overloaded but I expect the reason above.

These issues cannot be solved in the RDS Spy, any user must know his hardware and make correct connection. Unfortunately the sound card documentation is often very poor or completely missing…

Skywaves wrote:


Thank you once again for your help. It must be a problem with cheap sound cards on the laptops.

I tried THREE other laptops today. Two of which had Realtek soundcards and one which had something else (I forget) but none of them had useful mixers where I could check the sample rate and levels. All three exhibited the same problems.

Finally, I re-connected the Conrad RDS Manager to my desktop PC (with the professional grade soundcard) and RDS Spy works perfectly once again. I have reconfigured the mixer settings so I can hear audio from the tuner while the data and clock go into two other channels and work quietly in the background.

Thank you once again for your help and for your patience while I got to the root of the problems.

An excellent programme. Many thanks for this.

Best wishes.

John, G1VVP

M3EMB wrote:

It has been said that one should test there sound card and so I am thinking the following might be a good tip if your a HAM operator why not try using echolink if you can record a qso and log then surely your know that the sound card is working both ways and that the firewalls are down, but what do I know being a M3 and 68 years old.
The point is I have not installed echolink on this PC but found no problems when I did on my laptop, this maybe OT but it could act as a guide as to my problems,there is also if I recall some form of audio anolizer on echolink as well. M3EMB