Two YouTube videos just crossed my path which sparked the question.
The brothers allegedly recorded transmissions from failed Russian Manned Space flights before the successful flight of Yuri Gagarin. I remember reading about these when I was growing up. The second video contains a snippet of a voice recording from a supposed female cosmonaut as she reports rising cockpit temperatures before she died.
As you might know, Dave Ivey, KE4EA, and I have been teaching Ham Radio classes in Greer, South Carolina (under the sponsorship of the Greer Amateur Radio Club – and Greer Parks and Recreation). We are completing Technician and General classes later this month.
What might be of interest to your readers, if they have ever thought about getting their own Ham Radio license, is that we have recorded the classes, and posted them online at my YouTube channel. Anyone can view the videos and prepare for the amateur radio exams at home. License Tests are given by a variety of Volunteer Examineers all over the United States.
This was all new to us this year and the first videos are pretty basic. But we’ve made improvements along the way, and hope to continue with the effort. We will have Technician and Amateur Extra classes starting in January and will continue to record and edit the videos for each new class session.
Ham Radio is the best hobby in the world! Dave and I enjoy teaching the classes and helping others into this great hobby.
Thank you so much for sharing this, Gary!
Readers, what Gary didn’t mention is that I’ve checked out his ham radio classes in person–he invited Vlado (N3CZ) and I to do a presentation on my favorite topic: field portable radio! The class was packed with students and all of them were enthusiastic. Gary and Dave have really put their labor of love into a proper class, with peer support and interactive hands-on demonstrations. I was amazed with the diverse group of students in his Technician class last year.
Again, thanks for sharing, Gary and keep up the good work!
He primarily uses Apple computers, however, and the software selections for Apple’s IOS recommended at the RTL-SDR Quick Start Guide (http://www.rtl-sdr.com/rtl-sdr-quick-start-guide/) don’t install easily (I understand they refuse to install due to security issues or restrictions).
What could you or your readers recommend for my friend (doesn’t have to be free)?
Thanks for sharing your question, Gary. I would also love to know a way to use my MacBook Air with the new RTL-SDR without having to run a dual-boot of Windows.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary Wise (W4EEY), who shares the following guest post:
It’s funny how much we radio folks share in common. The recent posts on Arvin radios made me smile because I have an Arvin radio too. An Arvin transistor was my very first radio, and here she is:
This is the Arvin Model 61R35 in Ice Blue (it also came in black). My parents bought it for me in roughly 1962 or 63. It was the first radio that was mine (though we did have an older Crosley tabletop in the living room of our house in Midland, Michigan that we all used). Mine had seven Germanium (!) transistors (as silicon transistors were not yet in wide production in the early 60s).
And Made in America! Arvin was an Indiana company as I recall.
It used a Round 9V battery. They were hard to find even back then, and I expect impossible to find today.
I used to love to put my fingers on the PC board while the radio was on and listen to the buzzes and noise that I could create. Unfortunately, I think this is what killed the radio and required my folks to mail it off to the big city (Flint, Michigan) to have it repaired. No one in my “little” town could fix solid state radios back then.
I was fortunate not to lose this radio in my many moves throughout the years. I display in proudly in my ham shack.
Thanks for the memories!
And thank you for sharing your memories and the great photos of your Arvin Model 61R35, Gary! What a cute little radio–I’m glad you’ve taken care of it all of these years.
I used the RTL-SDR Quick start guide at RTL-SDR.com/qsg. While I did not see any mention of Version 3, I hoped that the software that was linked would be adequate. As I am using a Windows 7 laptop, I downloaded the Zadig driver installer, along with copies of SDR# and HDSDR.
Getting the dongle going was pretty straightforward. And right away I was receiving VHF and above signals. The I/O driver defaults to Quadrature demodulation and this was what is used to receive VHF. But what about HF?
It took me awhile to figure out that you select Direct Sampling in the setup screen for the driver. In SDR# software this is found by clicking on the gear wheel icon.
Under sampling mode select Direct Sampling (Q branch).
In HDSDR you select the EXTIO icon.
Here you select the Q Input under Direct Sampling.
Note that with both you must use the Q input.
With the telescoping antennas included with the dongle, I received very few signals (of very poor quality). But I had read that the unit can only receive HF with a substantial antenna, so I moved the laptop to my hamshack.
I use an ELAD antenna distribution amplifier for my HF receive antennas.
It was easy to use a spare output from the ELAD ASA15 to drive the antenna input of the RTL-SDR V3.
Wow, what a difference!
First up was international shortwave. Here’s a shot from my Alinco General Coverage receiver on 9955 kHz this morning using my 260′ beverage antenna (pointed toward Europe). S9 on the Alinco S Meter.
And here’s the same signal on SDR#.
There was a delay in the audio coming from the PC versus from the receiver, but other than that, reception was identical. Audio quality was very good.
I then moved to the 20M Amateur Radio band. USB audio demodulation.
The little dongle worked! It is not what I would call my first choice in receivers, but it will demodulate AM and SSB just fine.
I did not try it on CW as I ran out of time.
I also tried the HDSDR software, which worked equally as well (but I think I prefer SDR# for ease of use).
All in all, if you have or can put up a good antenna for HF, the little $25 dongle is in, my opinion, worth trying out.
Thank you, Gary, for not only giving a quick evaluation of the RTL-SDR’s HF performance, but for describing how to setup HF reception via SDR# and HDSDR.
Over the years, I’ve gotten probably hundreds of emails from readers who would like to try their hand at SDRs, but were cautious about investing. For many years, a 3rd generation SDR would set you back at least $300-400. At $25 shipped, the RTL-SDR V.3 is an SDR receiver that is accessible to anyone who can afford a fast food meal or a few cups of Starbucks coffee. My how times have changed!
Once I get a few transceiver reviews off of my table, I might do some side-by-side HF comparisons between the RTL-SDR and a few of my other SDRs.