I finally got my RTL2832U / R820T DVB-T stick from China for about $9.50 shipped. While I was working up a comparison between the well known RTL2832U / E4000 and the “new kid on the block” the RTL2832U / R820T, I did a little testing of ADS-B reception with the RTL2832U / R820T. While not expecting much, I was very surprised to see that the RTL2832U / R820T handily outperformed the RTL2832U / E4000 by a wide margin.
Using the stock antenna, the RTL2832U / R820T pulled in easily double the ADS-B messages than the RTL2832U / E4000 with it’s stock antenna. The frequency range of the RTL2832U is roughly from 24MHz to 1860MHz. It also appears that it is a bit more sensitive than the RTL2832U / E4000. This was especially true on 1090MHz, by a lot. The RTL2832U also has no DC offset spike in the middle of the spectrum. The down side is that the RTL2832U / R820T seems more susceptible to RFI. I did not get to try an external ADS-B antenna on this unit because the DVB-T stick has an MCX antenna jack on it and I did not have an adapter handy. I suspect with an external antenna the RTL2832U / R820T could be very impressive.
If you have been using a RTL2832U with gr-air-modes for awhile and decide to give the RTL2832U / R820T a try, you may need to update your RTL drivers since support for this chipset has only been added recently. You can order the RTL2832U / R820T from China for ~$10.00 shipped if you are willing to wait for awhile (2 to 4 Weeks). If you are in the US and don’t want to wait as long, NooElec sells them for around $21 shipped.
Newsky TV28T v2 USB DVB-T & RTL-SDR Receiver, RTL2832U & R820T Tuner, MCX Input. Low-Cost Software Defined Radio Compatible with Many SDR Software Packages
Here is a video comparing the RTL2832U / E4000 vs. the RTL2832U / R820T receiving ADS-B signals