Author Topic: $15 RTL-SDR for Radio Monitoring on your PC  (Read 678 times)

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Offline Ford289HiPo

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$15 RTL-SDR for Radio Monitoring on your PC
« on: April 04, 2014, 01:48:35 PM »

This post is of interest to ham radio operators, and also anyone who wishes to monitor NOAA weather radio, police, fire, EMS, aircraft, marine, and other radio traffic using a $15 receiver plugged into your laptop.

The Chinese USB "dongles", originally intended to receive the Far East mobile television service, are being re-purposed as VHF/UHF receivers for many different modulation schemes and protocols.  The software to re-purpose them runs either on a PC (Win/Mac/Linux), or on a single-board computer like a Raspberry PI (Raspian Linux).

At about US$15, Ol' Backwoods just had to have one.

The RTL-SDR receives on 50 - 2200 MHz.    It is possible to receive HF; more on that in a bit.

Order your RTL SDR dongle from eBay or Amazon.
Then, use the instructions here to help you download the SDRsharp software; I used it on Windows 7.

The RTL-SDR can receive HF through the use of an upconverter you can buy on Amazon.

There is also a special direct-sampling RTL-SDR dongle available from Easy-Kits that receives 120kHz-54MHz, with an internal preamp to help sensitivity at HF.  It also works with the SDRsharp software described below.   At US$75, it's a bit pricey, but no more than the VHF/UHF RTL-SDR with an upconverter.  I understand the regular RTL-SDR can also do direct sampling to receive HF, but without an external preamp, the sensitivity is not good enough to receive shortwave signals.

Ol' Backwoods wants to use an HF-capable RTL-SDR to be able to capture PSK31 conversations from a dipole antenna at home, and push them through to my iPhone, even when I am not in front of the rig.


This is an excerpt of a long, but informative article. It looks like it has possibilities in an emergency situation.

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Re: $15 RTL-SDR for Radio Monitoring on your PC
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2014, 04:26:41 PM »
Does look neat!

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