Tag Archives: RTL-SDR Dongle

New RTL-SDR dongles feature HF reception

RTL-SDR-RTL2832U-e1471375714199

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Aaron Kuhn, who writes:

[T]he newest v3 RTL2832U USB receivers now have HF reception via Direct sampling over the SMA antenna connector directly out of the box with no hardware modding required.

I think this might make it the cheapest, out-of-the-box HF SDR possible at this point.

9:1 balun for longwire puts the whole thing under $50 still

Wow! Now you’re making me wish I would’ve waited a few more months before finally purchasing an RTL-SDR. I like the folks over at the RTL-SDR blog, so I purchased their model.

Amazingly,  the V3 RTL2832U only costs $24.95 on Amazon.com. What a value!  Anyone care to write a review of the HF performance? Please contact us.

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Chris has developed an easy way to run the RTL-SDR dongle on a Mac

RTL-SDR-001

Many thanks to Chris Smolinski who writes:

I wanted to run SdrDx, and other SDR apps on my Mac with an RTL SDR Dongle. So I wrote this server app, that makes it appear like a networked SDR.

No need to install any RTL libraries, or compile any code.

Just run the app on your Mac, configure it and your SDR app, and you’re all set.

The app is free, and should work with Mac OS X 10.6 through 10.11.

Chris has kindly allowed me to share his full post here on the SWLing Post below–you can read the original at RadioHobbyist.org:


Running an RTL SDR USB Dongle On Your Mac The Easy Way With Cocoa RTL Server

I’ve had a few of the RTL radio tuner dongles for a while. These are USB devices that were originally made for use as TV tuners overseas, but it turns out that you can access the I/Q data stream, and turn them into an SDR (Software Defined Radio). They can be tuned roughly over a range of 25 to 1700 MHz, and sometimes even higher, depending on the tuner IC chip inside the particular dongle.RTL-SDR

 

I previously posted about how to get the RTL dongle working on the Mac here: An SDR for $17 – The R820T USB RTL-SDR DVB-T Dongle and here: An SDR for $17 – The R820T USB RTL-SDR DVB-T Dongle – Part 2. These posts were from 2013, and I did the installation on a Mac running OS X 10.6, using some pre-built libraries.

Fast forward to the present day. I got a new Mac running OS X 10.11 El Capitan, and I wanted to be able to use the RTL dongles with my favorite SDR software on the Mac,SdrDx. Enter Cocoa RTL Server.

Cocoa RTL Server is a stand alone app that interfaces with an RTL dongle. It does not require you to build or install any drivers or libraries. It just works. It’s based off of an open source app called SoftShell, that I heavily extended. Cocoa RTL Server also acts like a networked SDR, following the RF Space protocol. That means it works with SdrDx, as well as any other SDR app on the Mac that supports RF Space SDRs like the netSDR. You can download a copy of the app from the Cocoa RTL Server page. Source code is included, however I am not offering any support for the project or final app.

Here’s a screenshot of the app running:

Chris-Screen-Shot

Getting up and running is easy:

1. Plug in your RTL device
2. Run CocoaRTLServer 2.0
3. Select the device from the popup menu (usually it is already selected)
4. Change the rtl_tcp or tx_tcp port values if needed
5. Click Open
6. Configure your SDR app (set the correct TCP port) and run it

I’ve run it under Mac OS X 10.6, 10.10 and 10.11, It should run under 10.7-10.9 as well.

Using SdrDx, I can tune a large portion of the FM broadcast band, click to view full size:

Chris-Screen-Shot-2

 

In this case I am tuned to 97.9 MHz. To the left of the signal meter, you can see it has decoded the station ID from the RDS data. Yes, SdrDx decodes RDS.

If you look at the lower right corner, you see the scope display of the demodulated FM audio. There are markers for the portions of interest:
You can see the main audio above the green marker to the left.
The stereo pilot at 19 kHz (red marker).
The stereo subcarrier (aquamarine)
The RDS data (orange)
The 67 kHz SCA subcarrier (purple)
The 92 kHz SCA subcarrier (yellow)

Cocoa RTL Server also includes a server that emulates rtl_tcp, so it works withCocoa1090 which decodes aircraft transponders that transmit on 1090 MHz. It should also work with any other app that gets data from rtl_tcp. Here’s a screenshot of Cocoa1090 running:

Chris-Screen-Shot-3


Thanks so much for developing this app, Chris!

I think I might go ahead and pull the trigger on an RTL-SDR as it would be great to run one on my Mac. I think your app will make the process much easier.

Readers: make sure you check out Chris’ blog RadioHobbyist.org.

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Roundup of software defined radios

 

RTL-SDR

Many thanks to several readers (including Mike and Greg) who have shared a link to RTL-SDR.com’s Roundup of Software Defined Receivers. The list gives an excellent, comprehensive overview of SDRs currently on the market. I encourage you to check it out.

Indeed, while you’re at RTL-SDR.com, take a look at their active blog and forum to get the most out of your RTL-SDR dongle!

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Excellent website dedicated to the RTL-SDR

RTL-SDRSWLing Post reader, Mike, writes:

Check this website – not only does it cover RTL dongles, but others as well as Airspy…

http://www.rtl-sdr.com/

Many thanks, Mike. The depth of RTL-SDR.com is most impressive. They seem to post near daily updates on their blog.

Perhaps it’s time I jump into the RTL-SDR craze and get an upconverter as well to work HF. I’ve hesitated making this modest investment in the past because I have other top-shelf SDRs. A dongle, however, would certainly prove to be ultra-portable; especially for one bag travel.

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Video: Review of the DX Patrol SDR dongle

WideSDR2-001

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, John, for sharing this video review of the DX Patrol SDR receiver.

The reviewer gives the DX Patrol high marks on shortwave performance, but admits that there is a significant learning curve in terms of software installation and tweaking settings for performance.

At 79 € ($110 US) the DX Patrol is certainly an inexpensive wide band SDR. Unlike the $20 RTL-SDR dongles, the DX PAtrol requires no external up-convertor.  

Click here to purchase the DX Patrol online, but keep in mind that the reviewer above noted a 6 week turn-around time for shipment. 

If you have experience with the DX Patrol SDR, please comment!

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