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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Getting Started With RTL-SDR - Software Defined Radios and Antennas

"Now, anyone with about $20 USD to spare can tune into everything from police and fire transmissions to the International Space Station." That's the Part that got me interested... Well, ok, even more interested;)


Getting Started With RTL-SDR

Tom Nardi June 25, 2012 5

The last few months have seen an explosion of activity in the field of Software Defined Radio (SDR), after it was discovered that cheap USB TV tuners based on the Realtek RTL2832U chip could be dialed into frequencies well outside their advertised ranges. What was designed and sold as a simple device for watching TV on your computer could be turned into a radio capable of receiving anything between 64 MHz to 1700 MHz with open source software.

Now, anyone with about $20 USD to spare can tune into everything from police and fire transmissions to the International Space Station.

Tuner Hardware

Before you can start exploring the airwaves, you’ll need a USB tuner supported by RTL-SDR, the software used to unlock the full potential of the Realtek RTL2832U chip. For best results, you’ll also want to get one that uses the Elonics E4000 tuner, as that will give you the broadest frequency response. The RTL-SDR project maintains a short compatibility list which can help narrow things down a bit:

Compatibility list from RTL-SDR project

I purchased the Ezcap EZTV668 from DealExtreme and can confirm it works perfectly with the latest RTL-SDR build. The only downside when ordering from DealExtreme is that shipping can often take a very long time; it was well over a month before the device arrived. You can try your luck on eBay, though it looks like the prices have gone up a bit since sellers are now realizing the market for these devices has just expanded considerably.

Antenna Upgrade


GNU Radio!


GNU Radio is a free & open-source software development toolkit that provides signal processing blocks to implement software radios. It can be used with readily-available low-cost external RF hardware to create software-defined radios, or without hardware in a simulation-like environment. It is widely used in hobbyist, academic and commercial environments to support both wireless communications research and real-world radio systems.

Read More and Download (Note, my Fedora 14 Repo's have GNURadio and several other Ham Radio Apps too. Don)...


Antenna Design Programs--With surface mount technology and micro circuitry, most hams no longer build their own equipment. One area that is still open to amateurs is in antenna building. For a hundred years the amateurs have made more breakthroughs in antenna design than the professionals. We do not know all the rules so we go ahead and build the antennas anyways, Some work, some don't. We are still looking for that PERFECT antenna that is small, easy to build and is super efficient. You may be that designer. If not, you will still have the satisfaction of working that DX with a home brew antenna.

Read More and Download Apps...

Software Defined Radios and Antennas
Getting started with software defined radio - Hack a Day
Getting Started With RTL-SDR
GNU Radio - WikiStart -
Getting Started With RTL-SDR
Ezcap EZTV668 DVB-T Digital TV USB 2.0 Dongle with FM/DAB/Remote Controller - Worldwide Free Shipping - DX
Budget TV Antenna : TV Antennas |
Improving a software defined radio with a few bits of wire - Hack a Day :: D.I.Y. Discone for RTLSDR
Discone antenna - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Antenna, VE3SQB Ham radio antenna design software programs and sstv,qha, amateur radio,sstv,antennas,j-pole,quad,dipole,discone,antenna program, super scanner, pdl, omni, rhcp, bazooka, coaxial dipole,skyhopper)
Gqrx SDR receiver
Degen Designs

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