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Driver for USB radios for the Silicon Labs Si470x FM Radio Receivers
Copyright (c) 2009 Tobias Lorenz <>
Information from Silicon Labs
Silicon Laboratories is the manufacturer of the radio ICs, that nowadays are the
most often used radio receivers in cell phones. Usually they are connected with
I2C. But SiLabs also provides a reference design, which integrates this IC,
together with a small microcontroller C8051F321, to form a USB radio.
Part of this reference design is also a radio application in binary and source
code. The software also contains an automatic firmware upgrade to the most
current version. Information on these can be downloaded here:
Supported ICs
The following ICs have a very similar register set, so that they are or will be
supported somewhen by the driver:
- Si4700: FM radio receiver
- Si4701: FM radio receiver, RDS Support
- Si4702: FM radio receiver
- Si4703: FM radio receiver, RDS Support
- Si4704: FM radio receiver, no external antenna required
- Si4705: FM radio receiver, no external antenna required, RDS support, Dig I/O
- Si4706: Enhanced FM RDS/TMC radio receiver, no external antenna required, RDS
- Si4707: Dedicated weather band radio receiver with SAME decoder, RDS Support
- Si4708: Smallest FM receivers
- Si4709: Smallest FM receivers, RDS Support
More information on these can be downloaded here:
Supported USB devices
Currently the following USB radios (vendor:product) with the Silicon Labs si470x
chips are known to work:
- 10c4:818a: Silicon Labs USB FM Radio Reference Design
- 06e1:a155: ADS/Tech FM Radio Receiver (formerly Instant FM Music) (RDX-155-EF)
- 1b80:d700: KWorld USB FM Radio SnapMusic Mobile 700 (FM700)
- 10c5:819a: Sanei Electric, Inc. FM USB Radio (sold as PCear)
Testing is usually done with most application under Debian/testing:
- fmtools - Utility for managing FM tuner cards
- gnomeradio - FM-radio tuner for the GNOME desktop
- gradio - GTK FM radio tuner
- kradio - Comfortable Radio Application for KDE
- radio - ncurses-based radio application
- mplayer - The Ultimate Movie Player For Linux
- v4l2-ctl - Collection of command line video4linux utilities
For example, you can use:
v4l2-ctl -d /dev/radio0 --set-ctrl=volume=10,mute=0 --set-freq=95.21 --all
There is also a library libv4l, which can be used. It's going to have a function
for frequency seeking, either by using hardware functionality as in radio-si470x
or by implementing a function as we currently have in every of the mentioned
programs. Somewhen the radio programs should make use of libv4l.
For processing RDS information, there is a project ongoing at:
There is currently no project for making TMC sentences human readable.
Audio Listing
USB Audio is provided by the ALSA snd_usb_audio module. It is recommended to
also select SND_USB_AUDIO, as this is required to get sound from the radio. For
listing you have to redirect the sound, for example using one of the following
commands. Please adjust the audio devices to your needs (/dev/dsp* and hw:x,x).
If you just want to test audio (very poor quality):
cat /dev/dsp1 > /dev/dsp
If you use sox + OSS try:
sox -2 --endian little -r 96000 -t oss /dev/dsp1 -t oss /dev/dsp
or using sox + alsa:
sox --endian little -c 2 -S -r 96000 -t alsa hw:1 -t alsa -r 96000 hw:0
If you use arts try:
arecord -D hw:1,0 -r96000 -c2 -f S16_LE | artsdsp aplay -B -
If you use mplayer try:
mplayer -radio adevice=hw=1.0:arate=96000 \
-rawaudio rate=96000 \
Module Parameters
After loading the module, you still have access to some of them in the sysfs
mount under /sys/module/radio_si470x/parameters. The contents of read-only files
(0444) are not updated, even if space, band and de are changed using private
video controls. The others are runtime changeable.
Increase tune_timeout, if you often get -EIO errors.
When timed out or band limit is reached, hw_freq_seek returns -EAGAIN.
If you get any errors from snd_usb_audio, please report them to the ALSA people.
Open Issues
V4L minor device allocation and parameter setting is not perfect. A solution is
currently under discussion.
There is an USB interface for downloading/uploading new firmware images. Support
for it can be implemented using the request_firmware interface.
There is a RDS interrupt mode. The driver is already using the same interface
for polling RDS information, but is currently not using the interrupt mode.
There is a LED interface, which can be used to override the LED control
programmed in the firmware. This can be made available using the LED support
functions in the kernel.
Other useful information and links