Cheapo Software Defined Radio – Getting Started With RTL-SDR

(thepowerbase.com) 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:

VID PID tuner device name
0x0bda 0x2832 all of them Generic RTL2832U (e.g. hama nano)
0x0bda 0x2838 E4000 ezcap USB 2.0 DVB-T/DAB/FM dongle
0x0ccd 0x00a9 FC0012 Terratec Cinergy T Stick Black (rev 1)
0x0ccd 0x00b3 FC0013 Terratec NOXON DAB/DAB+ USB dongle (rev 1)
0x0ccd 0x00d3 E4000 Terratec Cinergy T Stick RC (Rev.3)
0x0ccd 0x00e0 E4000 Terratec NOXON DAB/DAB+ USB dongle (rev 2)
0x185b 0x0620 E4000 Compro Videomate U620F
0x185b 0x0650 E4000 Compro Videomate U650F
0x1f4d 0xb803 FC0012 GTek T803
0x1f4d 0xc803 FC0012 Lifeview LV5TDeluxe
0x1b80 0xd3a4 FC0013 Twintech UT-40
0x1d19 0x1101 FC2580 Dexatek DK DVB-T Dongle (Logilink VG0002A)
0x1d19 0x1102 ? Dexatek DK DVB-T Dongle (MSI DigiVox? mini II V3.0)
0x1d19 0x1103 FC2580 Dexatek Technology Ltd. DK 5217 DVB-T Dongle
0x0458 0x707f ? Genius TVGo DVB-T03 USB dongle (Ver. B)
0x1b80 0xd393 FC0012 GIGABYTE GT-U7300
0x1b80 0xd394 ? DIKOM USB-DVBT HD
0x1b80 0xd395 FC0012 Peak 102569AGPK
0x1b80 0xd39d FC0012 SVEON STV20 DVB-T USB & FM
Tuner Frequency range
Elonics E4000 52 – 2200 MHz with a gap from 1100 MHz to 1250 MHz (varies)
Rafael Micro R820T 24 – 1766 MHz
Fitipower FC0013 22 – 1100 MHz (FC0013B/C, FC0013G has a separate L-band input, which is unconnected on most sticks)
Fitipower FC0012 22 – 948.6 MHz
FCI FC2580 146 – 308 MHz and 438 – 924 MHz (gap in between)

Read more : http://www.thepowerbase.com/2012/06/getting-started-with-rtl-sdr/

Useful links:
More technical – compatibility list, known apps, gnuradio: http://sdr.osmocom.org/trac/wiki/rtl-sdr
http://www.rtlsdr.com/
http://gnuradio.org/

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3 comments
  1. my advice is to start w/ the osmosdr page, a neat step by step guide there: http://sdr.osmocom.org/trac/wiki/rtl-sdr

    a modified-modified multimode receiver fo GNURadio (added variable bandwith FM mode+restored point and click tuning w/ the FFT) download: http://omkamra.hu/ua/gnuradio/multimode.zip

    also for low cpu usage the basic rtl command line tools work just fine
    http://kmkeen.com/rtl-demod-guide/index.html
    http://sdr.osmocom.org/trac/wiki/rtl-sdr

    or try these applications, if u are looking for out-of-the-box solutions:

    http://sdrsharp.com/

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/gqrx/

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