Simple DVB with Gstreamer and GNU Radio

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This article describes a simple video broadcasting setup based on Gstreamer, GNU Radio and the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP). It does not (yet) provide any DVB-T or DVB-S compatible system — just a simple way to get your webcam on the air!


The objective is to create a simple digital video broadcasting setup using easily available components as illustrated on the figure below. The long term goal is to get a similar setup up to near space by the end of 2010 and LEO by the end of 2011.


UVC Webcam
An UVC compliant webcam is used as a cheap but efficient video source. Current webcams can provide video at HD resolutions, though the image quality is not as good as with a good HD camcorder. Nevertheless, UVC cameras are very easy to capture via USB and are thus excellent for functional and performance testing purposes.
Gstreamer is used for everything related to video processing. This includes capturing the video frames from the camera(s), adding text overlays, compressing, encoding and multiplexing into a transport stream.
GNU Radio
GNU Radio is used to create the software defined radio transmitters and receivers.
The Universal Software Radio Peripheral provides the necessary transmitter and receiver hardware to get our signals on the air (bits and bytes can not fly)

Conceptual prototype (DVB Mk0)

This is the very first muck-up that I used to get my Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 webcam on the air. Gstreamer and GNU Radio are connected using a named pipe.







This simple, full duplex transceiver was created to allow using one computer and one USRP for both transmit and receive. By default, both the receiver and the transmitter are set to use the same frequency so that the receiver will receive what the local transmitter transmits; however, it can also be used to make two way video contacts.


This transceiver has been running well on a 13" 2.4GHz MacBook Pro for more than 4.5 hours (video of the setup).

GmskTrxSetup.jpg GmskTcvrScreenshot.png


This simple simulator was used to test the idea before it was put on the air. It simply sends the video through a GMS modulator, mixes it with noise, the a GMSK demodulator.

Insert flowgraph

A video demo of the simulator in action is available here.

Problems / TODOs

  • The MPEG-TS muxer in Gstreamer does not currently support CBR and the only way to get close to CBR is via the H.264 encoder, which is not constant enough.
    • Fix the MPEG-TS muxer
    • The MPEG-TS muxer in the mplayer repository has been updated to support CBR




  • 2010.07.25: GStreamer / GNU Radio video transmission simulator - first signals: YouTube.
  • 2010.08.03: DVB with GNU Radio and Gstreamer - Test stream: YouTube.
  • 2010.08.03: DVB with GNU Radio and Gstreamer - Webcam: YouTube.
  • 2010.08.07: DVB with GNU Radio and GStreamer - GMSK Transceiver: YouTube.

Related articles

  1. Embedded Video Processing and Radio Unit