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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Funcube Help


Reviews Summary for Funcube
Funcube Reviews: 20 Average rating: 3.7/5 MSRP: $99
Description: 64MHz to 1,700MHz all mode Software Defined Radio.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.funcubedongle.com/
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KF7YDL Rating: 2/5 Jan 6, 2013 14:38 Send this review to a friend
Budget a lot of time  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The Funcube Dongle Proplus (FCDP+) is a work in progress. A pricey work in progress. Initial set up and configuration is not easy and definitely not "plug and play". The documentation is scattered all over the internet and is less than helpful in most cases. There is no factory customer service that I could find.

After much trial and error finely got it to work with the HDSDR software. The problem was that the dll file (from the FCDP+ website) necessary for the FCDP+ to work with the HDSDR software arrived "blocked". When you download it, right click the icon, go to "preferences" and unblock it. Unlike the FCDP+ the HDSDR software is adequately documented. After I've explored a little more I'll try other software packages.

With the factory settings, audio was clear in the 2 meter ham band, NOAA weather, and local airport frequencies. AM Broadcast radio was slightly distorted and FM Broadcast much more so. The FCDP+ has a tremendous range of AF and RF adjustments so this may be a function of my ignorance rather than a design problem. And, as with all receivers, the antenna used is important. My initial experimentation was with a 2 meter ground plane and may not be optimal for all bands tried.

I believe the FCDP+ has potential, for those with the time to explore, and I particularly look forward to using it to receive satellite data transmissions.

The bottom line is be prepared to spend quite a bit of time (and in my case frustration) on setup and configuration and to deal with a lack of suitable documentation.

 
GI0ZGB Rating: 4/5 Dec 8, 2012 05:39 Send this review to a friend
Evolutionary FunCube  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My XYL bought the FunCube Pro Plus for me, an unexpected and unwanted gift. But as it was laying there I plugged it in to see what it was all about, and soon found that an RTFM session was mandatory for the novice user, followed by joining Yahoo Groups and reading the tales of woe and remedial action given.

I found the SDRSharp 1000 best suited as other similar software was not entirely compatible at the time. Also, the FunCube displayed a large frequency inaccuracy which was easily corrected by using the Configure option and adjusting the PPM reading, then, after adjusting the mic audio input down to 2, in my case, we were good to go. I used a 1.8m male/female extension lead to eliminate stress on the dongle and input port.
I found the HF/VHF/UHF all mode performance excellent, but below 40m, by comparison, the sensitivity left a lot to be desired, even with gain adjustment, but where strong signals were encountered it gave good results. It takes time and patience to learn how this device works and how to get the best out of it, a lot of people I know kicked the heels up and rubbished it because it didn't work as they expected straight out of the box.

This was my first adventure into SDR, and as a result I plan to get me a Flex 6700R in the near future. This little device has been something of an education for me, and has kindled an interest in things SDR, a concept that, hitherto, I would not have given a second glance. This little device is not for everyone, but it is well constructed and can be easily updated via firmware. It is fun to operate when you learn how to use it correctly, so I warmly recommend it to communications explorers.
 
N3HQB Rating: 5/5 Sep 15, 2012 19:28 Send this review to a friend
Simple USB VHF-UHF SDR Receiver  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The secret to success using Howard Long's original FUNcube Dongle Pro is using free SdrDx software, a preamp, and a PAR notch filter to eliminate adjacent channel pager interference. MIne works flawlessly and receives dozens of two meter repeaters 100 miles away. Also useful on SSB and CW modes. Combining the dongle with SdrDx (Mac, Windows and Linux versions available), you can program in 10 PL tone filters, fine tune the rotor direction with a handy signal strength graph, and save favorites to memories or in separate memory stacks using the VFO Suite accessory. Just pre-ordered the FUNcube Dongle Pro+, which adds built-in filtering and HF coverage. More fun on the way...
 
G6KQS Rating: 2/5 Feb 10, 2012 01:46 Send this review to a friend
Cheap SDR ?  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Try as I might, after several days of tinkering around with this, I could only get masses of noise,In the time I had it, I could not decipher one signal, this needs more work. Personally, I feel its not ready for market.If you have hours of time to spend, tweaking software, adding band pass filters,digging through guides, finding free front end software, then this is for you.

Fact is I didn't understand it, and the documentation , does not seem to take beginners into account.

The Yahoo groups seems to be full of user who claim its easy to use and it must be me.

One or two tried to help, but after a couple of weeks of messing about with it, Id had enough.

They did on the positive side accept a return and gave me a full refund , so I only lost 7.00 in postage.

Foe some it may be a great toy, for others a massive disappointment
 
N5ALE Rating: 5/5 Feb 9, 2012 07:17 Send this review to a friend
Pro version works great  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just got the latest version of the funcube and really like it. It works very well with HDSDR, WERPLUS SDRADIO and other software packages. I primarly use HDSDR as it has a memory function [crude but it works] I have not noticed serious over load problems with mine but that may be due to my location or antenna. The receiver is sensitive and can be balanced very easily. It is a wide band device so it can be overloaded with a nearby transmitter, but I haven't noticed many problems. I have tried this receiver on several computers and found that to get consistent proformance I need to use an external usb sound card. This is more an indication that I have old computers and laptops than a problem with the funcube dongle. HDSDR also includes the ability to decode FM Wide broadcast band stations and they sound just fine in stereo. Rather expensive FM receiver but it will work. I have used it to receive two meters ssb nets and it works very well for that, also 800 mhz analog signals do well. All in all a very good receiver that covers a very large frequency range.
 
KE5JPP Rating: 2/5 Jan 30, 2012 12:54 Send this review to a friend
Pass  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I picked up a Funcube to try out. After digging through the information scattered on the web about configuration and set up, I was able to get it working receiving NOAA weather on 162.55 MHz. It appears that there is absolutely no filtering in the front end so it overloads very easily in an urban environment. I put it on the signal generator and found it overloaded at around -38 dBm in the VHF band which is not very good at all. It appears to have very little dynamic range. Bottom line: it is a neat idea with poor execution and is not worth the price. Unless you want something to tinker with and have a lot of free time on your hands, I'd pass.
 
KK7WM Rating: 3/5 Jan 30, 2012 11:32 Send this review to a friend
Best for experimenters  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The Funcube Pro is a software defined radio contained in a USB dongle. The specified frequency coverage is 64 MHz - 1,700 MHz. However, there is a gap in coverage between 1,100 MHz and 1,270 MHz. On the other hand, most units will work down to about 55 MHz and up to over 2 GHz.

The Funcube Pro does not need USB drivers, but it is not a plug and play device. There are two main issues. One issue is that the set up information is scattered over several different documents, and assumes at least a little bit of background knowledge of SDR architectures and software. Another issue is that the unit has very high gain before the first mixer, and almost no RF filtering. As a result the front end is easily overloaded, which leads to desensitization and apparent deafness. Experienced users can work around the issues, but less experienced users who want a plug-and-play experience are likely to be disappointed.

Having used a Softrock and a FLEX-1500, I found the setup of the Funcube Pro to be reasonably easy. I went to the download page at funcubedongle.com and obtained the first three of David Barber's user guides. I then followed the instructions for downloading and installing the basic FCHid (Funcube human interface device) software, and confirmed that FCHid was communicating with the dongle. I then downloaded and set up the latest version of the Spectravue SDR software. This is downloaded from a different site than the one specified in the Spectravue user guide, but there is a link from the old site to the new site. After following the detailed instructions for setting up Spectravue the noise floor was 50 dB higher than I was expecting, and I could not receive anything. The cure was to change the microphone gain in Windows 7 from a setting of 100 down to 1. At this point the noise floor dropped to a reasonable value and I could receive several NOAA stations just above 162 MHz. (I could receive the nearest station, without any antenna all.) I could also receive local FM stations, but the audio was distorted because the spectrum of the signals of these stations is wider than the 80 kHz bandwidth of the Funcube Pro. Having established that everything was working, I did the frequency and I-Q adjustments. I then followed the step-by-step instructions on how to upgrade the FCHid firmware to a more recent version that provides greater functionality. The process went flawlessly.

In order to understand the overload problem it is necessary to know that the tuner chip used in the Funcube incorporates a low noise amplifier (LNA) that provides up to 30 dB of gain but has a noise figure of 4 dB, which is undesirably high for ham radio applications. The designers appear to have addressed this issue by adding a silicon MMIC amplifier that provides around 20 dB gain and lowers the noise figure to around 2.3 dB, which is much more respectable. However, there is now up to 50 dB of wideband RF gain before signals reach little CMOS mixers that provide up to 14 dB of additional gain! Using FCHid it is possible to set the gains of the LNA and mixer to lower values. I start off with 0 dB for the LNA and 4 dB (the lowest specifiable value) for the mixer, and only increase the gains when conditions warrant it. Relatively expert users will understand the interplay between antenna characteristics, narrow-band passive and active filtering, preamplification and passive attenuation. Less expert users may become frustrated trying to use the Funcube effectively.

There are a few other potential issues associated with noise pickup from computers (use a USB extension lead), mechanical stress on the SMA connector (use an SMA to connector-of-choice extension cable) and so on. The yahoo users group and the yahoo developers group for the Funcube are excellent sources of additional information. The yahoo users group contains more information and downloads than the funcubedongle.com web site.

Overall, I am very glad to have a Funcube to experiment with. It gives me coverage of frequencies that I want to be able to receive using an SDR system but without the costs associated with having several different narrow band converters. However, I can see why other people can have different reactions.
 
HAMMYGUY Rating: 0/5 Jan 23, 2012 19:50 Send this review to a friend
Very poor sensitivity  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'll have agree with the previous reviewer. This receiver has extremely poor sensitivity. No way around it. I have a scanner that receives on its built in antenna at least three NOAA weather stations. The Funcube with the same length antenna can't even hear the strongest local one. I then hooked it up to my outside VHF antenna and it finally managed to hear the strong station, but with no trace on the panadapter of the others! Two meters was a complete joke on the outside antenna with very strong local repeaters way down in the noise. And for those of you thinking it might have had some desense going on, there wasn't anything on the panadapter indicating an interferring signal. I live 25 miles from the nearest town so I rarely have interference issues.

I question if even a preamp would help it unless it was in the 20-30 db range.

Thankfully they're popular enough that I was able to unload it quickly enough, but I had to take a $40 hit on it.

Save your money. This is the reason so many of them appear on eBay after their owners only having them a few days.

 
VA6GC Rating: 0/5 Jan 15, 2012 07:42 Send this review to a friend
More on my garbage  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I tried to edit my last post but could not.
Well this is by far the biggest waste of money I spent on radio equipment.
With different antennas, numerous level adjustments, gain adjustments and every other adjustment I cannot get this to even receive an AM radio station!
I switched back to my SDR-IQ and guess what? It works perfect! So not the program, computer, antenna or operator makes the FunCube Dongle total garbage! If I could rate this -10, I would!

Glen
VA6GC
 
KD7RDZI2 Rating: 5/5 Oct 31, 2011 09:37 Send this review to a friend
Little gem  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
In fact it costs as much as a gem! 99 pounds plus shipping for a receiver that weights just few grams.

The receiver is sensistive. However, the front-end overloads easily, so the first thing to do is to put some physical front-end filtering in case you need. Using pass band filters the receiver is very good. Still if there is a station within the band strong as much as S9-50db you still might have some problems. You can control any stage of IF amplification by means of its software control so in the end you can tailor sensitivity and tackle the issue of fron-end overload.

The receiver is broadband and all modes. It works very well with HDSDR but I more often use SDR Console by SDR-RADIO.com. Both are free.

Image rejection with these two software is excellent. Image rejection does not depend on your soundcard. The Funcube does the soundcard. You only need a souncard to listen to it.

Overall I am all way satisfied. So much that I am now neglecting HF!

 
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