|After owning a FuncubeDongle Pro+ for some time, my appetite for SDR receivers had been well and truly 'wetted'. I liked the FCDP+ for it's HF, VHF and UHF receive capabilities but the limited bandwidth of 196Khz and the tuning gaps around the military satellite frequencies was always a bit of a drag and left me wanting more.|
Then, along came Airpsy with it's 8Mhz wide panoramic display, continuous 24-1800Mhz tuning and it's excellent dynamic range.
I was in heaven..
The Airspy receiver does work very well on the bands it covers (misses out on the most interesting parts of HF sadly), however, there are still one or two issues that people need to be aware of.
Firstly, to obtain that nice 8+Mhz display & 12bit ADC, you need a fast USB3 serial connection and a moderately powerful CPU. Not all computers seem capable of handling the serial bandwidth that the Airspy can produce. Problems in this area result in choppy/broken audio. You can however choke the bandwidth down to 2.5Mhz and this will run on a standard USB interface.
Secondly, despite the 12bit ADC and 80dB Dynamic Range, it is still relatively easy to overload the Airspy. Local, very strong signals that exceed the dynamic range of the receiver will still cause unwanted spurs, alias's and images.
To reduce the chances of this occurring, it is possible to manually adjust the gain of the receiver's LNA and IF sections. I highly recommend doing this and not using the default 'Auto' gain function.
Thirdly, and this is probably my biggest gripe about the Airspy, is the use of a surface mounted micro USB socket for the PC interface. There is very little strain relief provided by the external case of the Airspy and so virtually all the stresses of the interconnecting cable, are placed on this tiny, SMD socket. After only a few weeks of use, I went to plug the USB cable into the Airspy only to see the micro USB disappear inside the case! The USB socket had come right off the PCB. Fortunately, I have access to a hot air re-work station and was able to replace the now broken socket with another. I have to say though, that even with the right SMD rework equipment, replacing this socket is very difficult.
For the price, Airspy is very good.
Once you use something like this, you will never go back to the cheap and nasty RTL dongles.
But, be very, very careful with that rather fragile micro USB socket!