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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | SDRplay RSP2 and RSP2pro Help


Reviews Summary for SDRplay RSP2 and RSP2pro
SDRplay RSP2 and RSP2pro Reviews: 29 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $$170.00
Description: The SDRplay RSP2 and RSP2pro Radio Spectrum Processors are software defined receiver covering 1khz - 2Ghz. They 2 variants are electrically identical to each other apart from the RSP2pro being housed in a rugged metal case instead of a screened plastic box.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.sdrplay.com/rsp2/
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W6LBV Rating: 4/5 Jun 19, 2018 17:38 Send this review to a friend
Software Defined Progress  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This limited-scope review compares just one operational aspect of the RSP2pro with a quality analog general coverage receiver, the writer’s (original owner) Icom R8500. The comparison covers off-air signal reception, mostly in the VHF/UHF bands. Use of the RSP2pro for IF panadapter and for laboratory measurements was not done; the R8500 does not have this capability.

The writer lives in a high RF signal area. Several 50 kW broadcast FM transmitters are located within three miles of, and line of sight to his receiving location. They produce incident power levels at the receiving antenna terminals of -30 dBm. Other high-powered FMs are slightly more distant. Very high levels of ambient urban electrical power line noise and random line transients add additional reception problems.

Even under these difficult conditions, the RSP2pro does a credible job of receiving, as does the R8500. What is noticeable, however, is that the 2pro’s front end is more strongly affected by dominant off-channel received signals than is the R8500's. In the presence of very strong off-channel signals, some blocking of desired (weaker) on-channel signals is apparent. The 2pro “front end attenuator” slider control in the software suite is needed to trim front end gain to minimize the blocking. The R8500 has considerably less of a problem with this.

The 2pro has provision for calibrating its read-out frequency display using off-air WWV (or other standard frequency stations) as a reference. Calibration is a simple and quick procedure that is included in the manufacturer’s software application. However, for maximum frequency accuracy the calibration procedure really should be performed each time the receiver is started. In the R8500 performing such calibration is part of a complete bench alignment.

The 2pro hardware is self-contained with no external hardware controls available, and no hardware documentation is supplied. A service manual for the R8500, containing circuitry and troubleshooting aides, is available at extra cost.

The value of the 2pro lies in its free-to-download software application, SDRuno (other generic public domain SDR apps can also be used). This app is very much a work-in-progress, and more development will be necessary to improve its performance and to add additional features. SDRuno contains many more receiver control functions (implemented in software) than does the R8500 in its hardware. Additional features can be added to the 2pro by exporting the detected bit stream signal and using it as inputs to other post-processing applications.

The SDRplay products and applications are manufactured and sold by SDRplay, a company in Buckinghamshire County, United Kingdom. The application, especially, bears the hallmarks of its UK origins. Its “look and feel” gives the sense of an English way of doing things, rather than a more familiar American/Japanese way (and this is not intended as a criticism!). Some of the terms and abbreviations used in the application many not be familiar to a non-UK audience, but the meanings can be learned with experience.

The R8500 does have an accompanying Icom-produced radio control and programming software application (at extra cost). However, the new RT Systems memory management (only) application does a better job of this than does the Icom package.

SDRplay provides two downloadable manuals for their DSP receivers. The manuals are quite readable and well designed. Nevertheless, the two manuals are fairly basic, they overlap each other, and they still do not provide information on some of the lesser receiver functions. The omissions will have to be covered by self-experimentation and/or contacting the Web users’ groups. The user manual for the R8500 is more than adequate for its purpose.

The 2pro’s true value is its ability to provide a huge variety of control functions for optimizing receiving. It is, at heart, an experimentation platform allowing a high degree of control over received signals, and it outperforms the R8500 in versatility. The R8500, however, shines with its ease and speed of use, its sensitivity and stability, its scanning functions, and the quality of its received audio.

Bottom line, which is superior? Neither; they are different animals! The 2pro is the instrument of choice for finding difficult signals and applying a variety of techniques to achieve the best possible recovered message. At its price point, it is a good value. The R8500 shines when the desired signals are of usable strength and the operator’s need is to listen to (or to decode) signals primarily to retrieve their message content. It is a “set and forget product” for those who need/want to pay attention to the message content and not to to dwell on receiving techniques.
 
W5NG Rating: 5/5 Jun 4, 2018 03:00 Send this review to a friend
Incredible performance  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I now have the RSP1A, RSP2pro, and just added the RSPduo. The performance of these receivers is incredible! For a small price you can have a radio that competes with the big boys. I have had all the great receivers (eg. WJ-8711A and others), and these small boxes will stand toe to toe with the best of them. The ability to control all parameters and dial in reception is amazing. You have so much more control over the settings than any conventional receiver, it is stunning. Sensitivity is off the chart. Software for control is now straightforward enough for me to use, so you should have no problem. (I am not a computer expert at all!). Skipping up and down the bands is a blast. If you don't have good sensitivity, something is set wrong, perhaps by default (like gain). Seriously worth the effort to learn the operation, and never buy an expensive receiver again. I am more enthused about radio than I have been in decades. These SDRplay guys have something going on here!
 
K3MG Rating: 5/5 Feb 23, 2018 10:19 Send this review to a friend
RSP2pro  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just purchased a SDRplay RSP2pro due an article in
the October 2017 issue of QST.The unit is well built and this model has a steel cover with well built SMA connectors. I have used spectrum analysis in my career in telecommunications and this unit, for the cost, far exceeds my expectations. The software of SDRUNO is easy to navigate, provided you read the manual first.I didn't do that...The RSP2pro goes a long way and definitely a step forward in a spectral adventure. The waterfall display and with all the options is fantastic.
 
KE0OHO Rating: 5/5 Feb 14, 2018 15:58 Send this review to a friend
Kiss the Sky  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought the Play pro after using a RTL SDR. Using it as a spectrum analyzer its un-fathomable how this is able to provide performance close to Mega Buck analyzers. For use in amature radio, on a spare big screen, its stunning........
 
K1VCT Rating: 4/5 Jan 13, 2018 09:04 Send this review to a friend
Does its job  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The backstory -- (if it bores you, skip down to the review)
My day job is great. I get to play with radios a good deal of the time. My longtime SWL and amateur activities have only helped in my professional application of commercial radio - which for me is low power UHF telemetry.

One of the things that always effects the installations falls into the customer's complaint of "it won't communicate", and then I've got to try to find out the issue. Most of the time, its not broken or damaged equipment, but some sort of reception issue like a new building blocking what was once a clear path, or trees grown, or that sort of thing. Sometimes we have another operation using the same licensed frequency. All sorts of issues.

Recently, the trend has been moving from "analog" or conventional FM to "digital" over FM. Confound my test gear, because the digital burst cannot be observed and measured with it. So, I decided to try thinking outside the box a little, and requisitioned an RSP-2/pro.

The Review ---
First I have to say, that the build quality of the RSP-2/pro is fantastic. Its build like a proverbial shick brithouse. The connectors are robust, not flimsy. It has some weight to it! The SMA connectors appear to be truly gold plated, and the Hi-Z connector, ironically, is the same exact Molex connector that I use for my wired telemetry. Go figure! By the way if anyone needs a spare connector, just drop an email and we can work something out, like a SASE. I think I've got a couple dozen spares sitting here that need a good home.
I'm new at SDR radio, but what I immediately figured out is that the radio is no better than the software that runs it. I've tried SDRuno and HDSDR, and so far, I like SDRuno better for my own purposes. It appears that if you were using the RSP-2/pro to tune your transceiver (or receiver) HDSDR might be better, but then again, that's just my take on things from an amateur perspective.
The RSP-2/pro got wired up with two antennas, for a quick test run. One was a piece of 22g cord salvaged from a garage door switch. The other wa a rubber duck for 450-470mHz, with an SMAmale-BNCfemale connector. Regarding those connectors, there are one piece and two piece units. Get the one piece, very sturdy, nothing to bust. I split the garage door switch cord and formed it into an 12 foot or so "random length" antenna.
Gotta say, even on these two-bit down and dirty test antennas, I did ok.
Reception on 80, 40 and 20 meters was pretty darn good, better than my ICOM IC-R75 on a similar antenna. That made be think a bit!
FM broadcast was terrible, but I did manage to get two local stations. I'm sure that its my antennas, not the RSP-2/pro.
AM broadcast was equally poor, but again, a few local stations were just fine. In that instance, with the same antenna, the ICOM IC-R75 does much better on AM broadcast stations.
Switching to VHF and UHF, I found that VHF was silent. To be expected with the antenna. But, UHF did pretty well, considering the little unit is a foot and a half from a computer. Local commercial and govt. chatter was picked up. Whoever's using pagers these days, I picked up what was obviously pager bursts. Down a bit lower on the UHF frequencies I did manage to pick up one amateur, who came in great. I'll have to check out the local repeaters and see what's being used, but... I don't think there will be an issue for any 420-450mHz use.
I did manage to pick up the WWV signals on 5, 10 and 15mHz. The best reception was on 10mHz and I'm hesitant to "calibrate" the RSP-2/pro, since it seemed to be spot on the frequency.

I tried out the AFC control, and its interesting to watch it work on SDRuno, as it does overshoot and hunt a bit, then lock on solid. The hunting doesn't surprise me, but watching it do so was really neat.

For my intended use, as a receiver of digital FM for my little niche of work.... well good golly, there are signals there! The waterfall shows intensity (with a bit of careful fiddling of the waterfall "gain" and "contrast" in SDRuno). Its very clear to see both sides of a digital transmission, and importantly, observe the rest of the spectrum at the same time. I can easily see interference, or just plain old "bad reception".

Working the RSP-2/pro from the field on a laptop was no problem (except my screen is none too bright, but can't fault the radio for that).

Some caveats: I've got a slightly wandering birdie at 456.000000 to 456.000012. I'm not sure what that is, but I've tried the RSP-2/pro on three computers and they all had the same result. Any antenna on ports A or B do the same thing, including plugging the wire of my "random wire" into the SMA connection, or, even using no antenna at all. I'm not sure if this is something common to say, USB ports and lack of ferrite beads on my cable, or part of what drives a common circuit in a computer... or what. To me, its a birdie until I can eliminate it (or not).
Another "down side" is the software. Neither packages I tried were very intuitive, although SDRuno was about as easy as learning a complex Android app (with a few rechecks of the manual for clarity). The manual, by the way, is incomplete as of SDRuno 1.21 - there are buttons, controls, and settings that are not mentioned at all. The manual was probably written by the same gent who does all SDRplay's YouTube videos. He knows much, assumes you do too! Thank's for the confidence, but the reason I'm watching the video, or reading the manual is because I don't know as much as you do! ;)

Conclusion ---
All in all, a great little receiver. It has uses and capabilities far beyond my own uses, dependent on the software, of course.
Its well made, and performance is pretty darn good, if not excellent. Lots of folks have raved about its performance, and I'll defer to those who hooked it to a proper antenna. Sadly, my PC is not close to my shack, and I didn't bring the laptop home to test the RSP-2/pro on my amateur antennas.
Its a good value, meaning you get lots for the price paid.
I'm giving it a 4 instead of a 5 because of the birdie issue (which I may be able to resolve) and for features generally found to be wanting in software (which may be corrected with updates).

73 - K1VCT

 
W7LDG Rating: 5/5 Dec 27, 2017 17:39 Send this review to a friend
Great  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Got one of these for xmas and it seems to work great. I am surprized at how good it picks up signals.
 
KC9KUH Rating: 5/5 Dec 10, 2017 08:21 Send this review to a friend
Great   Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Took a little bit to get the hang of but after I got the hang of it works just fine can't ask for anymore a lot better than the dongles but if you want run big band with have a newer up-to-date computer with lots of speed cuz it will eat up a lot of CPU other than that I have not had any issues with SDR play Works flawless
 
SV5DKL Rating: 5/5 Dec 7, 2017 22:54 Send this review to a friend
Far more advanced than I needed!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Well, this little "devil" has been my first touch with SDR receivers. I only required something to feed into CW skimmer and have my own skimmer for CW contests. A good friend of mine suggested the RSP2, due to faster speed and 14-bit conversion. Until now, I cannot assess its performance accurately, since I don't have any other SDR RX to compare it to, but from what I've operated so far, it does the job fine and I feel it can offer me many more uses, from satellite reception to beacon monitoring. I am in awe in my mind as to how to take better advantage of its infinite applications. For sure, I don't require another SDR receiver to suit my needs; the RSP2 is already overwhelming!
 
NJ3B Rating: 5/5 Dec 7, 2017 17:47 Send this review to a friend
RSP2 a better receiver than my TS570S  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've been a ham since the mid-80's. I've had any number of HF radios. The other night I did a side by side comparison of the RSP2 with my Kenwood TS570S while listening for foreign broadcast stations. I tested them both on the same Alpha-Delta DXCC antenna. I was stunned that the RSP2 out performed my Kenwood hands down. I can't even begin to think where this kind of technology will be 5-10 years down the road.
 
OH5YU Rating: 5/5 Dec 2, 2017 03:03 Send this review to a friend
Good value  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
SDRplay RSP II works as specified and I feel it gives you good value for money. It hears everything my TS-590 hears. You can pick the software that best suits your needs; I have tried SDRuno, HDSDR, and SDR Console. SDRuno has the highest learning curve but then it is very flexible. You need to pay attention to the RF gain setting, more or less depending on the software used. I am a happy customer and would buy again.
 
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