Sunday, March 1, 2015

Software Defined Radio FUN!

How technology has changed. It was not too long ago that at work I used a spectrum analyzer, O Scope, recorder, sonograph, high end receiver, simple computer, converters etc coupled to a rhombic antenna.... All in the name of Signals Analysis.

Now I can do all that and more from home. I recently picked up a NooElec R820T2 & DVB-T NESDR Mini 2 dongle from Amazon like this one.

It is not exactly plug and play. After not being able to get it to work I found and the read the instructions which I linked here.

After reading and installing everything correctly it worked great. For an antenna I have it hooked to my scanner discone which covers the freq range of the dongle (24 MHZ to 1.7 GHZ). Now I have the functionality of an analyst station in the ham shack for around 20 dollars.

If you want to learn more here are a few good resources.
RTL-SDR Website
NooElec website

The dongle is slightly bigger than a USB Stick

Antenna Port

Screen Shot, I am listening to a weather broadcast

I was not sure how useful this would be and thought if it does not work like I want no big deal. I was pleasantly surprised and have had fun listening to the spectrum I do not normally monitor. I know the software is very capable and need to read about it more and play with the settings.

Here is a youtube that I found useful when researching this particular dongle.

72 Frank


  1. Hi Frank,

    I went from a NooElec to a FunCube Pro+ an, just 2 weeks ago, an Anan-10E from Apache Labs. The difference between DXing with a traditional “knobbed” rig like the K3 and DXing with the Anan SDR is amazing.

    With the K3, to find the proper TX freq in a split pile-up was an often frustrating exercise of tuning and listening. I say frustrating because quite often, other stations would be transmitting along with the station currently being called by the DX.

    With the SDR, I can see the entire pile-up’s response simultaneously. And even though multiple stations may be transmitting while the intended station responds, I’ve found that by watching the pan display carefully, I can discern the QRM from the intended station based on when his trace becomes active (visible).

    This greatly speeds up and simplifies the process of finding exactly where to call in a pile-up.

    I’m in the process of making a YouTube video to demonstrate what I’ve described above.

    Have fun with your NooElec and consider the possibilities of an SDR transceiver in your future!

    73 de John AE5X

    1. John, thanks for the comment and thanks for reading. Yes, I have been looking at the FunCube Pro+ but wanted to try something cheap first to see if I like it. I do.

      Funny, I have noticed the same thing using the K3 and found the second receiver (along with the P3) has made it much easier to filter out the people calling in the blind and causing QRM. I am able to find the station the DX is listening to and quickly zero beat and call. This helped me get ZD8D on the first call (5 watts to a dipole) yesterday on 12 meters. What fun...

      I look forward to seeing your video. BTW: I am going to miss your Blog John.

      73, Frank K0JQZ

  2. Hello Frank. I purchased one of these a couple of months ago along with the up converter for HF reception. I have been busy getting set up in a new ham shack and have not taken the time to hook it up yet. I bet you will have a blast with the dongle. I am also looking forward to using one here. 73 Dave K5MQ

    1. Dave, thanks for reading and for leaving a comment. The dongle is just one of the neat aspects of our hobby. I will most likely get the FunCube Pro next pending some research. BTW: I enjoyed your web site and good luck on the ham shack. 73 Frank