Afedri SDR-Net 2.3a Review
Power Supply Flexibility
The Afedri SDR-Net can be powered on of three ways. First there is a the external power supply jack that will allow you to power the Afedri SDR-Net from an external power supply with a output voltage from 7 to 10 volts. The second way is through the USB port using a standard 5V DC USB power adapter. You can also power the Afedri SDR-Net directly from your computers USB port. We preferred powering the Afedri SD-Net via the USB port since that would allow us to move the SDR radio away from any RF interference generated by an external power supply. So, you have several ways to provide power to the Afedri SDR-Net giving you maximum flexibility for your particular application or environment.
The Afedri SDR-Net can be connected to your computer system via two different methods. You can use a USB direct connection to your computer or connect the Afedri SDR-Net via a Lan connection using an ethernet cable. The USB cable connection will provide you with a sample rate of 250k samples per second which translates into a 230KHz bandpass display in the SDR software. This actually pretty impressive since that in the past using sound card based SDR radios, we often had to purchase a relatively expensive sound card for the PC to achieve a sample rate of 192k. The real fun starts when you connect the Afedri SDR-Net via the Lan interface to your computer. You can do this one of two possible ways. Method one allows you to plug the Afedri SDR-Net directly into the Lan interface of your computer system. The Afedri SDR-Net contains an internal DHCP server that allows you to more easily connect the Afedri SDR-Net directly to your computers’ Lan interface. If your computer is plugged into a router, you can simply plug the Afedri SDR-Net into an open Lan port on your router. This will allow any computers connected to your Local Area Network to also use the Afedri SDR-Net. The big bonus of using the Afedri SDR-Net as a Lan connected device is that you now will get a sample rate up to 1333k samples per second. This translates to a 1225KHz frequency bandwidth displayed on your SDR software waterfall. Needless to say, this is hugely impressive for a SDR radio in the $249 price range.
Getting it Going
One of the issues that plaque new users of SDR radios is simply getting the radio connected and working with the computer and SDR software. The good news is that with the Afedri SDR-Net when used with the USB interface and the SDR-Radio.com V2 software, it becomes pretty much “plug and play”. Since the USB interface used by the Afedri SDR-Net is “Windows compliant”, there are no pesky drivers that have to be installed. Simply connect the Afedri SDR-Net to the computers USB port and power will be supplied and the output for IQ samples will automatically be supplied. When plugging the Afedri SDR-Net into your computers USB port for the first time, Windows should recognize the Afedri SDR-Net after a minute or so. Fire up SDR-Radio.com and select Afedri SDR (USB) from the radio selection list and click Search. SDR-Radio.com should automagically locate it. Select the start button in SDR-Radio.com and you should be good to go. Setting up SDR-Radio.com and the Afedri-SDR.net via USB is a great way to test the system, but keep in mind you are limited to a 230KHz bandwidth. It is also worth mentioning that SDR-Radio.com interfaces directly to the Afedri SDR-Net eliminating the need to run the Control Box software (more on this later). You can set the Afedri SDR-Net gain control directly from a drop down menu in SDR-Radio.com. This is good in one way, that it makes using the Afedri SDR-Net easier to use for the novice, but on the other hand, you don’t have access to the more advanced controls of the Afedri Net SDR.
To gain access to the full potential of the Afedri SDR-Nets bandwidth, you will need to connect the Afedri SDR-Net to the computer via the Lan interface. You can connect the Afedri SDR-Net directly to your computers Lan interface if you wish. Most modern PCs usually will allow you to connect the Afedri SDR-Net directly to your PC Lan connection port using a standard ethernet cable. Most newer PCs network cards have the ability to do automatic polarity detection. However, if you are using a more “vintage” PC in your shack you may require a “crossover” ethernet cable to connect the Afedri SDR-Net directly to your PCs’Lan port. You can also connect the Afedri Net-SDR into an internet router that your computer is connected to. This way you do not have to tie up your computers Lan interface when using the Afedri-Net SDR, plus the SDR is now available to any other computer connected to your network. The Afedri SDR-Net ships with a default IP address of 192.168.0.8, IP Mask 255.255.255.0, and Gateway Address of 192.168.0.1. When connecting the Afedri SDR-Net to your router, the only setting you may need to change is the IP address, but it is probably really a good idea to go over all the IP addresses used by the Afedri SDR-Net and make sure that they are in range of your Lan. This may not be totally necessary, but may save you some “head scratching” down the road. For example our network router needed an IP address in the 192.168.1.x range. The default IP of the Afedri SDR-Net was out of range and would not work on our Lan. This may not be the case for you, but if you have trouble getting the Afedri SDR-Net to be recognized by your router, you need to check the IP settings being used by the Afedri SDR-Net. If this is the case, you will need to download the latest version of the Control Box X2 software (even though the software is shipped with the Afedri Net-SDR, it never hurts to check for the latest version). Connect the Afedri Net-SDR to your computer via USB (important!).