Category Archives: rtl-sdr

USB device cable shield connection – grounding it or not?

Colinb, an user from forum post this here:

I have been trying to understand how to ideally handle the cable shield
on a USB device. (Full Speed USB, in this particular instance.)

As seems to be the case with many signal integrity issues,
contradictory recommendations abound, each with its own unsupported
claims. Even authoritative-sounding sources such as Texas Instruments,
Intel, FTDI, and Cypress Semiconductor seem to disagree on the correct
way to handle the cable shield on USB devices.

Contrary to my initial supposition, the purpose of the USB cable shield
is not to protect the USB data lines from outside interference, but
rather to prevent the USB device from radiating EMI.

Here are some of the options that have been recommended.
Note that (2)—series capacitor to pass high frequencies only—seems to
directly contradict (3)—series ferrite bead to block high frequencies

(1) Connect shield directly to signal ground.

– “Full speed devices use a shielded cable which requires that the
connector shell be tied to the ground plane.”
Intel. EMI Design Guidelines for USB Components. Sec 5.4 (p. 9).​

(2) Connect shield to signal ground through a capacitor.
(Possibly with high-value parallel resistor approximately 1 Mohm.)

– Connect shield to signal ground with 0.01 µF to 0.47 µF capacitor.
FTDI. Debugging FT232BM and FT245BM Designs. Section 3.2 (p. 11).​


– Cypress recommends a 1 Mohm resistor in parallel with a 4.7 nF capacitor.
Steve Kolokowsky & Trevor Davis (Cypress Semiconductor). Common USB Development Mistakes – You Don’t Have To Make Them All Yourself! Figure 7 (p. 7).​


– “Tying the shield directly to ground would create a direct path
from the ground plane to the shield, turning the USB cable into
an antenna. To limit the USB cable antenna effect, it is
recommended to connect the shield and ground through an RC
filter. Typically, R = 1MΩ and C = 4.7nF in Figure 3-5.”
Atmel AVR1017: XMEGA – USB Hardware Design Recommendations. Section 3.3.3 (p. 8).​

(3) Connect shield to signal ground through a ferrite bead.

– “Place a ferrite in series with the cable shield pins near the
USB connector socket to keep EMI from getting onto the cable
Texas Instruments Application Report. USB 2.0 Board Design and Layout Guidelines. Sec 2.2.4 (p. 3). SPRAAR7 – December 2007.​

(4) Do not connect cable shield to ground on the device at all.

– As referenced in the AAC thread where to terminate usb cable shield?, Hardware Book says USB devices must
not connect the shield to their own ground.
Hardware Book. Universal Serial Bus: Shielding.

Whether or not the device has a metal chassis, and the handling
of chassis ground and signal grounds, (as well as how the USB cable
ground is connected to either one) is certainly important as well, but
this isn’t clearly discussed in most of the writings on USB cable shield

The device I’m developing is a bus-powered device which will likely be
in an unshielded plastic enclosure.

Thanks in advance for any bits of wisdom on this topic full of
contradictory information. I recently posted this question on si-list,
and even there I got little in the way of answers.



RTL-SDR Meets Radio-SkyPipe and RS Spectrograph

Eureka… sort of.

I have written an application that allows you to use inexpensive RTL dongle radios to feed my strip chart program, Radio-SkyPipe (RSP), and my Radio-Sky Spectrograph (RSS), with wideband data.  The program is called RTL Bridge.  I have never claimed to be an imaginative program namer. It works like this:

I consider this experimental as of now, and invite others to test RTL Bridge with RSS and RSP.  If you think you want to try it read the help file here. You will need to install RSS if you have not done so and if you already have it installed, you will need the new update.  It is all in that help file. RSS is free by the way.  This could be the start of a nice hydrogen line study for very little money.


Triangulation of a VHF signal with RTL-SDR !!!

Locating the source of a signal

Privacy and security is a big topic in today’s society. With the advances made in technology, the commercial and military techniques of the past is suddenly becoming available for everyone.
With almost everything being wireless today anything and anyone can be tracked.

With this in mind I decided to try and track a signal with easy to buy equiptment.
I started with a cheap TV tuner known as RTL-sdr and the the stock/cheap supplied antenna.
Scanning the VHF band I noticed a strong permanent encrypted signal. Judging from the Norwegian frequency plan this looks to belong to either “Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection” or the local police that is known to operate in the same area provides an interesting subject for this exercise. The signal strength was higher than commercial FM radio stations in the area suggesting the transmitter would be very close by.

Equipment used:

  • RTL-SDR TV dongle (
  • GPS receiver (NMEA or GPSd compatible)
  • rtlsdr-scanner (

Using the software and data collecting from a 15 min ride in my car I was able to track the source of the digital signal broadcasting with reasonably accuracy. The signal originates from a modern residential area. For security reasons this test is done with a cheap antenna and a low sampling rate. Enough to show the approximate area, but will not show what building.

Heatmap overlayed on Google Earth