A very inexpensive Software Defined Radio based on the RTL2832U

DE_DVB_T_1Many thanks to Benn (AK4AV) for passing along this article from the IEEE which describes how a $20 USB digital TV antenna tuner can be transformed into an impressive, flexible software defined radio:


The article incldes the following embedded video from the IEEE:

Here is another informative video via YouTube:

This year at the SWL Winterfest we had a presentation on the topic of $20 SDRs configured like those above. Some scanner enthusiasts had used them to receive satellite and many other VHF/UHF communications. I’ve heard of some devices being nearly plug-and-play easy to install and configure; others may take some minor tweaking. All of the SDR applications and drivers are either open source or free.

This page contains a wealth of information on the topic of RTL2832U based SDRs–it makes for a great starting point.

If you have experimented with thRTL2832U USB SDR, please comment below.

11 thoughts on “A very inexpensive Software Defined Radio based on the RTL2832U

  1. Neil G

    I have an RTL-SDR system up and running. I have done 2 demonstrations for my local Ham Radio club. One on the basic setup and use of the dongle, using both SDR# and HDSDR. The other presentation showed the remote receiver capability using a Raspberry Pi as the receiver with the dongle attached and a remote SDR# computer decoding the stream over a network connection. Once I compensate for some minor frequency discrepancies it’s a pretty good receiver. The only issue I have noticed with mine (one of the early E4000-based models) is a tendency to overload in the presence of a strong signal. We have a pretty powerful 2 Meter repeater less than a 1/4 mile from our home, and when it’s active it causes some strange results with the RTL-SDR setup.

    I have yet to try one of the HF converters they make for these. I hope to do that soon.

    Another project I was reading about today that I may try out is using 2 of the dongles at once to create a trunk-tracker scanner.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Neil,
      Wow–I had never thought of using two SDR dongles for trunking, nor of remote access.
      We have a very strong AM station on 1010 kHz–I do wonder if these receivers would be overwhelmed by it if adapted for HF listening. Not too many FM powerhouses, though. Of course, I suppose I could try various band filters to help.

  2. Pingback: Using the RTL2832U $20 SDR for HF & trunk-tracker scanning? | The SWLing Post

  3. Jack

    I have one of the Dongle rcvrs but can’t seem to get the drivers to work right.
    Wish they had a plug and play software that I just installed with a install feature.

  4. John G8SEQ

    I’ve just got going yesterday with a DTV300 device & SDR# software. had to use Zadig to install libusb Win32 driver to make it work. I’ve been experimenting its receive range. The lowest frequency appears to be about 19-20 MHz. ( I can only Tx locallly at 21.0 MHz and 18.58 MHz – doesn’t hear the latter. Started investigating upper limits this morning. It apears to work as high as 2.5 GHz. I get a comb of signals all the time and very strong burst occasionally from what I think is my WiFi ( Not frequent or long enough to be a leaky microwave oven. Not frequent enough to be a harmonicor image response to 1.2 GHz radar ( haven’t looked for that yet.) Can anyone else receive this high? de John G8SEQ

  5. Thomas

    By adding a 3 pole double throw switch and a toroid balun, the device covers LF/MF/HF/VHF/UHF to beyond 1.7GHz. It does AM/FM/SSB/CW/DIGITAL VOICE AND SSTV.



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