SDR On The Cheap
July 9, 2012 6 Comments
I’ve done a follow up post Pt. 2 HERE
and the latest post Pt.3 HERE
but read this post first.
There is a bit of confusion around the web regarding this about licences and SDR#, I would keep an eye on what is happening through this subReddit thread HERE.
The latest SDR# installation info (Windows) HERE ( file link below)
An excellent guide to SDRSharp HERE
Links on main post updated 23rd Aug ’12
Update near the bottom of page….
I’d been closely following this after the ongoing discussion of this subject on Reddit and also on the ‘Hack A Day’ blog and was eventually tempted to see if I could set up it myself. I checked the usual sources of information and decided on dealextreme to buy one of these dongles. I chose the EzTV USB 2.0 DVB-T Stick with the Realtek RTL2382U chipset and the Elonics E4000 tuner as this was the recommended chip and tuner. I duly paid and waited on the dongle winging its way to me from the Land with a Great Wall. Tracking indicated it has passed through Shanghai International Airport three days after buying and 7 days later it arrived quicker than I thought as I was expecting a longer delivery time.
I unboxed and looked but in my reading Reddit the previous night I had noticed that some of these dongles sent out were not the EzTV 668 but a substitute EzTV 645 using another tuner chip the FC 0013, I checked the box and it said on a sticker that it was the 668 but I was to find when I prised apart off the plastic covers it was a 645…. naughty ! I did think of contacting the supplier pointing this out but if taking the return postage into consideration, would it be worthwhile ? plus I thought if this becomes a more common used tuner then just keep it and see what transpires. I can always revert to using it for its original purpose.
I had already downloaded what software I would need to run this SDRSharp, I got the SDR.dev version (the file name is sdr-nightly.zip) HERE and the Zadig driver HERE, I was intending to first use this on a laptop which runs Windoze 7. I fired up the laptop and as per instructions HERE I first ran the Zadig file and then placed the dongle in a USB port and then went through the process.
Ready to go!
I ran SDRSharp then chose my dongle type from the ‘Open’ options, choose WFM and pressed play, typed in a Band 2 Radio frequency and voilà, traces on the waterfall. I spent some time looking at the controls and getting to see how they worked. The antenna supplied is a small but obviously useless one but I’ve plans for an adapter and something more suitable is being worked on. I have only used it initially in the FM radio band and I look forward to exploring other modes as the antenna situation improves but its me isn’t it? I’ll be saying this in six months time.
You may see I have used SDRSharp with an Autotune patch..just to test.
Thanks to all the ‘developers’ who incidentally not all hams and Richard WFR for me linking to his set up guide.
Sites to visit
Reddit (subreddit) HERE
RTLSDR Windoze guide HERE
RTLSDR Wiki HERE
SDRSharp with pre installed Autotune HERE
Unitracker ‘How To Guide’ HERE (SDRSharp )
I’m sure there are many other guides and what else is online. If you find any helpful sites , feel free to post in the ‘Comments’ section of the blog.
More to follow…..This post is ongoing and may be updated occasionally. Click on the featured images and they will open up full size…
Gallery images..right click.
Found and bought a Newsky dongle with the elusive 4000 tuner.
Finally attached a 2m colinear vertical antenna to the dongle (the Newsky with the E4000 tuner) via a home made adaptor and the results were decent compared to the slightly better signal reception on my Yaesu. I’m sure a bit of tweaking will be in order.
I received at good strength a SOTA activator on 2m SSB, strong and with remarkably good audio plus other stations on 2m FM. Overhead aircraft on the airbands are in clear audio as well. I have installed the SDRSharp with the Autotune patch HERE and have just added the Unitrunker extension but will have to spend more time exploring how to use this add-on. I use as mentioned before.
The noise floor level using the EzTV 645 is slightly higher but I still received the same stations as the Nevsky dongle but with tweaking the noise levels lower, there seems no noticeable reduction in audio/signal received. Easiest thing is just hook onto a strong station on a known frequency and try using the ‘Shift’ option, I find around 100 – 150 mhz that the Nevsky needed a minus 18,000 but the 645 is more accurate ( I haven’t worked the exact ‘shift’ needed).
I have got the Unitrucker program linked in with the SDRSharp and have found a sound conflict which I must fix. Unfortunately too much going on elsewhere in the hobby, I must find time
Unitracker ‘How To Guide’ HERE (SDRsharp )
I have found what seems to be a lack of sensitivity in the Newsky,I can see no obvious problem but I am just experimenting with the 645 for the present, the higher noise floor is a slight disadvantage but still pulls out the signal as good. More to follow
If you can pass any hints on, please post in the ‘Comments’ section.