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Author Topic: SDR setup?  (Read 11026 times)
KE2KB
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« on: January 18, 2015, 09:48:26 AM »

Hi;
I was talking to a local station on '52 last night, and he told me about his SDR setup he was using to monitor the bands.
He pointed me to the NooElec RTL-SDR, sold on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/NooElec-RTL-SDR-RTL2832U-Software-Packages/dp/B008S7AVTC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1421552844&sr=8-3&keywords=rtl+sdr+dongle.

He mentioned Zadig driver, but either he didn't tell me or I forgot which software he was using with the USB SDR. From what I have learned by researching on the web, Zadig is only the driver, and you need a software package like SDR#, or HDSR (both of which are listed in the description of the product on Amazon). He did tell me that the software he was using is free.

The NooElec SDR is only $23.95 on Amazon, so it looks like something I would be interested in trying out. I am specifically interested in getting the waterfall view of the spectrum, but I understand that the software also allows you to listen to the audio on the signal that is tuned in.
More specifically, my biggest interest in this product is to investigate signals that are causing intermod on my 2m radio. I figure I can connect the SDR to the same antenna that I am using for the 2m radio using a Tee (and not transmitting while the SDR is connected!!).

The NooElec comes with a little antenna, which I was advised to cut off and throw away, connecting a UHF or BNC for connection to my roof antenna.
I am also considering buying the UHF to MCX adapter cable for $5.40 rather than making my own using the cable from the supplied antenna (which I would cut off).

MY OS is Windows 7 Ultimate X64.

If anyone has any suggestions, advice, etc, I would appreciate it.

Thanks

Frank - KE2KB
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N5INP
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2015, 10:17:43 AM »


He mentioned Zadig driver, but either he didn't tell me or I forgot which software he was using with the USB SDR. From what I have learned by researching on the web, Zadig is only the driver, and you need a software package like SDR#, or HDSR (both of which are listed in the description of the product on Amazon). He did tell me that the software he was using is free.

Zadig is NOT the driver, but what it does is allow you to force Windows to use a specific driver for a specific USB device (when Windows thinks it knows better). You will use the Zadig app to assign the proper driver to the USB RTL dongle.

For example, for a USB dongle with a RTL device you would use the driver below and you would use Zadig to force Windows to use it with the device -

ExtIO_RTL2832.dll

https://app.box.com/s/7tpiy8r6qo2bbhdxtt4k
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N0IU
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2015, 10:21:35 AM »

Zadig is included with SDR#, but you have to run it before actually using SDR# (or any other program for that matter). The good news is that you only have to do it once!

SDR#: http://sdrsharp.com/#download
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KE2KB
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2015, 11:49:41 AM »

Thanks for clearing that up guys;
I'm going to place my order for the NooElec SDR as soon as I can get about $11 more stuff so I can get their free shipping.
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WW7KE
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2015, 12:24:47 PM »

Thanks for clearing that up guys;
I'm going to place my order for the NooElec SDR as soon as I can get about $11 more stuff so I can get their free shipping.

I just ordered 2 of them.  I'll have them tonight -- $4 more than standard shipping, which would have delivered them to me on Friday.
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He speaks fluent PSK31...  One QSO with him earns you 5BDXCC...  His Wouff Hong has two Wouffs... Hiram Percy Maxim called HIM "The Old Man..."  He is... The Most Interesting Ham In The World!
KE2KB
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Posts: 544




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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2015, 08:02:56 PM »

I have installed SDR#, and playing with .wav music files. I don't have many .wav; most of my music is either .mp3 or .aac.
I ordered the NooElec SDR device from Amazon, but I want to become somewhat familiar with the SDR# software before I receive the radio.
Is there any way I can route music from iTunes through SDR#?
The default source is other (sound card), but I don't get any display while playing music from iTunes through my sound card.
I have tried the different input and output options, but so far no luck with that. There does appear to be an option to display sound coming in through the mic jack on the sound card, but not directly from another app playing the music on the pc.

This is not really important; I just thought it would be fun to watch my music play as I listened, while getting familiar with the SDR# software at the same time.

Thanks for your help

Frank - KE2KB
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K4ISR
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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2015, 01:16:49 PM »

No, SDR is for displaying and listening to the signals converted from RF, not digital files like music, VERY different systems. You may hear music from the speakers, but that is via digital file/bits to analog processing. SDR is essentially RF to digital audio processing (which is converted by the PC into analog audio out to your speakers), a very different process.
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de K4ISR
KE2KB
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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2015, 07:21:36 AM »

No, SDR is for displaying and listening to the signals converted from RF, not digital files like music, VERY different systems. You may hear music from the speakers, but that is via digital file/bits to analog processing. SDR is essentially RF to digital audio processing (which is converted by the PC into analog audio out to your speakers), a very different process.
Thanks for the info. I was able to see the spectrum and waterfall displays while playing an audio (.wav) file, and the music actually sounded pretty good when I had the bandwidth up to 30Khz and the radio set to RAW mode.
What I was really doing was trying to get accustomed to the software before I receive my NooElec SDR dongle. I found that iTunes has a visual display for music that is more appropriate for that purpose.
I should be receiving my SDR tomorrow. First thing I will do is cut off the antenna that is supplied, and attach a BNC to it, so I can connect my Ringo Ranger to it.
The Ringo won't do too well for the lower freqs, but what I am most interested in is the 2m band.

Frank - KE2KB
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VE3TMT
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2015, 03:56:45 AM »

Most of the dongles tune ~ 24 MHz to 1.7 GHz. You will not be able to monitor any HF bands below 12m. They also sell an "upconvertor" that will allow you to listen to the lower bands. I believe there is a setup available now that tunes something like 100 KHz up, but it may just be both kits together.

There is apparently a mod out for the dongle where you bypass something on the board and hook your antenna directly to this new point and it widens the lower receive range quite a bit. I tried it and it didn't work. You mentioned a $23.95 cost so I think that is just the stock model, the same as what I use.

Using SDR#, I find the performance very inferior compared to a good scanner. It will work but don't expect miracles. Where these little gems really shine is in their use as a panadapter for your HF radio. By tapping the IF, you feed that signal into the antenna jack. Set up HDSDR according to the IF you use and you get a great panadapter display. Look me up on QRZ and you'll see what I mean.

Max
VE3TMT
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KE2KB
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Posts: 544




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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2015, 09:59:29 AM »

Most of the dongles tune ~ 24 MHz to 1.7 GHz. You will not be able to monitor any HF bands below 12m. They also sell an "upconvertor" that will allow you to listen to the lower bands. I believe there is a setup available now that tunes something like 100 KHz up, but it may just be both kits together.

There is apparently a mod out for the dongle where you bypass something on the board and hook your antenna directly to this new point and it widens the lower receive range quite a bit. I tried it and it didn't work. You mentioned a $23.95 cost so I think that is just the stock model, the same as what I use.

Using SDR#, I find the performance very inferior compared to a good scanner. It will work but don't expect miracles. Where these little gems really shine is in their use as a panadapter for your HF radio. By tapping the IF, you feed that signal into the antenna jack. Set up HDSDR according to the IF you use and you get a great panadapter display. Look me up on QRZ and you'll see what I mean.

Max
VE3TMT
That's a real nice setup you have. Unfortunately, I do not currently have an HF setup. I have an old Heathkit HW-101 that may or may not still function, but then I don't have room for any lowband antennas.
I suppose that if I were to tap into the if in the HW-101, I would need an isolation device (I would use an optocoupler) to prevent the relatively high voltage from getting into the converter. If you're not old enough to know the HW-101, it is a vacuum tube rig.

Sure, the performance of the SDR is seriously inferior to a good scanner. I have a VX-150, an FT-60R, and a FT-530, and the SDR can't compare to the radios. I was trying to watch adjacent channel activity on the SDR using SDR# while listening on the FT-60R, but the SDR was picking up so much crap that the FT-60R was ignoring that I couldn't really get any useful data from it.
This is with the SDR and the FT-60R both connected to the roof antenna, a Ringo Ranger ARX-2B.
Still, watching the display of SDR# is fun, and interesting. It is certainly worth the $23 I spent on it.

Frank - KE2KB
« Last Edit: January 24, 2015, 10:35:30 AM by KE2KB » Logged
K4ISR
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2015, 11:21:54 AM »

What I did for mine is bought this set: http://amzn.com/B00RF15070

It has 7 adapters, although so far I've only used the SO239 version. With a base load CB mag mount antenna sitting up on the gutter, I can tune in and hear all kinds of AM CB frequencies (usually the LIDs with over powered megawatt systems purposely bouncing off the atmosphere), 10m CW and SSB, as well as the local FM commercial broadcast radio stations. Because it is on the back side of my house and not above the peak, reception of anything higher is very limited, I have to really turn up the gain to pick up VHF and UHF frequencies. Still, for a temporary setup it has been picking up a lot more than I expected, interesting listening to some 10m SSS stations out in AZ, AK, CA and mostly out west, as well as one or two stations from South America.
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de K4ISR
KC5YSQ
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2015, 06:44:46 PM »

wished I had saw that grab bag 0' fittings b4 last night !  After much research-youtube vids-drooling/dreaming I also bit the bullet and ordered the nooelectric dongle and upconverter, got fittings/cable from another seller and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. I am about to move to where I can plant an antenna farm with no interference from anyone. Been at this since gradeschool days in cb land/high school learned about ham...now is the day when anyone can become a ham for cheap(relatively speaking). It was only through gracious elmers that I was able to participate as a boy growing up. With these sdr sytems you can now listen to everything! Sitting here all excited and wondering what to do first hihi. PK-12 and AEA-232, numerous 2m-440mhz handhelds, mobile 2m, and a quadbander mobile now 440mhz,2-4-6m and a drake tr4c all working and a ts-440s to replace all the components in the pll boards soon as I get moved/shop set up. I am looking forward to getting back in the hobby FULL TIME now. Just had to holler at you fellows, keep us updated!
 KC5YSQ
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WE6BB
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2015, 04:29:43 PM »

I have been several RTL-SDR dongles and contemplating purchasing a special one made by NooElec due to inaccuracies of the cheapies. The cheap RTL-SDR dongles use a low-quality 28.8 MHz oscillator crystal that allows some drift. They sell a modified RTL-SDR dongle that replaces the cheap low-quality oscillator with a temperature-compensated crystal oscillator

I may tune to a weather radio channel at 162.550 Mhz and get a pretty poor signal. Looking on a waterfall display, I see that I'm off of the strong frequency, that seems to be centered on 162.524. I make corrections in the software to realign this strong signal to now be known as 162.550 MHz instead of 162.524 MHz. After I leave this on over a period of time, I may find that it has drifted some. This is because the crystal sucks. The TCXO modification allows for consistent results.

I have used Windows software but I am now playing with a Linux machine, using Gnuradio or GQRX. Gnuradio is quite awesome once you learn how to use it. You build a radio essentially from libraries of all the functions of a traditional radio. It is built using a graphical flowchart process and when complete, it gets compiled as a Python script, running like a stand-alone program. I am still very new at it, but having fun with it. I've found a cool receiver script that walks you how to tune into a broadcast FM radio; isolating left plus right and left minus right to isolate left and right channels for stereo. It also picks up the RDS data from compatible stations, so you can see station name, artist and song title if given. I didn't create the script but it works and I can look through the flowchart to see HOW it works.
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K4ISR
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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2015, 02:02:12 PM »

Yeah there is a little drift....

Lately I have been listening to 10m SSB, as well as using an audio patch cable (audio out to mic in) and letting fldigi decode PSK31 from 28.120
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de K4ISR
VE3TMT
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« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2015, 06:11:48 AM »


Still, watching the display of SDR# is fun, and interesting. It is certainly worth the $23 I spent on it.

Frank - KE2KB

Agree 100%, getting a panadapter like that for the cost of the dongle is fantastic!
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