RTL-SDR (Software Defined Radio)

I read some interesting stuff online before Christmas about how people had been repurposing cheap TV dongles as multi-purpose radio receivers for a few years. I picked one up off Amazon dirt cheap last month and had been meaning to write a bit about it if/when I had something interesting to share. Mostly I’ve dabbled in the shallows of broadcast FM and AM radio which may well be the limitations of the dinky antenna provided or the environment in which I’m using it.

The dongle does have a proper MCX connector allowing hobbyists to attach better ariels to it though and searching online will turn up articles where people have been able to sub them in for their more expensive equipment to do clever stuff like recognise/detect solar flare activity, pick up weather satellite images, numbers stations, etc. All for less than a tenner!

There’s a fair few free or shareware software options out there for interacting with the dongle and you just need to be happy/capable of installing a couple of dlls from an unknown source.

If I come up with any interesting uses, sites or even nail down a decent software combo/workflow I’ll chuck another post up.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Da22 says:

    Interesting, what are you hoping to find?

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    1. stevenger says:

      Nothing specific, reliable shortwave radio would be nice, some amateur transmissions maybe. Some people do still use morse code for fun apparently! It’s mainly interesting learning what parts of the radio spectrum are used for what, figuring out how to do things like receive FM the hard(er) way and getting an idea of How Things Work. Visualising the invisible world of communications all around us!

      Plus when I get bored of its/my limitations, I can always use it to watch Eastenders, haha!

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  2. Da22 says:

    I suppose there’s more room for the amateur now the big broadcasters are solely using digital? You could be like like a super hero listening in on the lapd radio.. Or not.. 😂

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    1. stevenger says:

      Ha, yeah, regular Bedroom Batman me! Suppose one could use it to overhear what taxi drivers *really* think about politics, because Heaven knows they’re reticent on that subject!

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      1. Da22 says:

        You could learn a thing or two?

        Like

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