Category: Featured

Amateur Radio Projects and Software Defined Radio

Why Apple’s iMac May be the Best PC for SDR Applications

Introduction
Most radio hobbyist these days have a PC in the shack these days. Even though convenient and sometimes necessary these PCs can be the source of annoying RFI (Radio Frequency Interference). Of course with many SDR systems, PC’s are a necessary accessory. PC RFI is not limited to affecting SDR systems but also affect analog radios also. It’s just more obvious on SDR radio systems because the RFI can been seen on the spectrum / waterfall display. What causes this? Modern PCs can generate a great deal of local noise via it’s CPU and possibly it’s power supply. The other large RFI generator is the LCD display. Between the two, they can wreak havoc on radio reception. Modern PCs now usually contain multi-core processors that can generate a good deal of RFI. It really doesn’t help matters at all that most PC manufacturers use a large amount of plastic in the cases which allows RFI to leak out more easily. LCD monitors another large source of RFI are all over the place. Some LCD monitors only generate a small amount of RFI while others generate a good deal. All this interference can be seen and heard on your SDR …

Icom 7300 Review

Introduction

Last summer Icom announced a new radio that caused quite a stir in the amateur radio community. The new Icom IC-7300 was the first SDR HF / 6M direct sampling transceiver available produced by one of the “big three” manufacturers of  amateur radio equipment. The announcement of the IC-7300 caused quite a bit of buzz, controversy, and anticipation amongst the amateur radio community. After approximately 8 months of waiting, the Icom 7300 finally landed on US shores in the later part of March of this year. The IC-7300 has made into the hands of eagerly awaiting amateurs to be put through its paces. So far the reports from early adopters have been nothing short of stellar. Some users are reporting that the  IC-7300 easily matches or bests the performance and features of their existing high end “legacy” transceivers costing 2 to 3 times more than the IC-7300. Speaking of price the US version of the IC-7300 currently comes to $1499. The IC-7300 is considered to be an “entry level” transceiver, but that is really not the best description. The IC-7300 is really more of a high end transceiver in a lot of ways that offers a huge bang for …

Elad FDM-DUO – SDR Done Right!

Introduction
The SDR-DUO has been on the bench in day to day use for about 2 months now so it’s time to talk about how it works out in “real world” use. The Italian made FDM-DUO has to be the most versatile, well designed, and well thought out SDR system currently on the market. With some of the major amateur radio manufacturers beginning to bring SDR systems to market, they would do well to take a look at what Elad has done here. The FDM-DUO can be used as a very pleasant and capable standalone transceiver as well as a very powerful SDR system when coupled with Elad’s brilliant FDM-SW2 SDR software. The FDM-SW2 software has to be hands down the best SDR programs out there featuring a wide array of useful features currently unmatched by other entries. It’s also nice to know that Elad isn’t resting on their laurels when it comes to software. Elad is continuously making improvements and adding new features to the FDM-S2 software. The FDM-DUO concept is exactly what a lot of radio hobbyist have been looking for. A pleasant easy to use standalone direct sampling SDR transceiver for times when you just want to …

Best SDR Radios of 2015 and 2016 (so far)

Looking back over some SDR Radio products that were reviewed here and some that were not. Here is our picks of the litter so far:

Best “Dirt Cheap” SDR – $25
RTL Dongle – The venerable old RTL Dongles are still hard to beat for the price. The dongles are still one of the best ways to get your feet wet in SDR for a pittance. With free software, a wide VHF/UHF coverage range, a decent sized sample rate, and tons of projects based around them, what’s not to like. However, once you do get your feet pretty wet, you will probably be ready to move up.

Best “Bang For the Buck” – SDRPlay – $149
The recently reviewed SDRPlay is the perfect step up from the RTL-Dongles. Matter of fact if you decide to skip the dongle phase you may want to go straight to this one. With very wide coverage from 0.1MHz to 2GHz you can listen to just about anything. The very wide bandwidth up to 8MHz will you to view large swaths of frequencies at once in the SDR software client or even set up multiple VFO’s to monitor several frequencies at once. Easy to set …

SDRPlay Review

Introduction
After having the SDRPlay around in daily use for a few months, it’s time to talk about this little gem. Good things indeed come in small boxes. The SDRPlay wideband receiver (0.1MHz to 2GHz) is a great example of what can be done to produce an easy to use and fun inexpensive wide coverage SDR receiver. On top of that throw in top notch customer support and you wind up with an excellent product all for the lowly sum of $150. While not entirely perfect, it’s really hard to complain too much given the cost and the hard work the SDRPlay development team has put in to continually improve the product. The SDRPlay would make a great product for radio hobbyist looking to get involved with their first SDR receiver due to it’s ease of setup or if you have been using RTL dongles and need something that packs a little more of a punch. More advanced users will find something also since the SDRPlay is pretty tweakable as well as far more sensitive on the upper end of its frequency range. The other advantage with the SDRPlay is that now you can order or pick one up from …

Anan 10E First Look

Introduction
After a month evaluating the Anan10E SDR, there is only one word to describe this little guy, “WOW’! No doubt that the Anan10E is one of the best rigs to come through the Ham Radio Science shack, if not the very best. Probably most Apache Labs SDR owners already know this, but now for those us who would like to try one, admittance to the Apache Labs club has just got a whole lot cheaper. With a street price of $965 from US dealers such as Gigaparts , Ham Radio Outlet and Cheapham, this puts the 10E in a price range that is very competitive with other entry level conventional HF / 6M transceivers. This includes such rigs as the Icom IC-7200, Yaesu 450D, Kenwood TS-480SAT, Alinco DX-SR9T, and the Elecraft KX3. Now some may argue that SDR radios do cost a little more because of the need of a computer system to use them, but then again these days computer equipment had gotten very inexpensive. Another thing to keep in mind is that Anan 10E output power is around 15 to 20W on HF and 8 to 10W on 6M. With the exception of the Elecraft KX3, …

RTL2832u – R820T VS RTL2832u – R820T2

In the world of Software Defined Radio there have not been many new products introduced over the past year. The products that have been introduced have been a little pricey for what they do. With that being said, there is not much if anything that can beat the venerable RTL2832U dongle as a great low cost introduction to the world of SDR. The R820T variant of the RT2832u dongle has turned out to be a solid performer for entry level applications over the past couple of years. Just recently a new and improved version of the RTL2832u – R820T has become available very cleverly named the R820T2. These new dongles are being made available in the US by NooElec on Amazon for around $24.95.
NooElec NESDR Mini 2 USB RTL-SDR & ADS-B Receiver Set, RTL2832U & R820T2 Tuner, MCX Input. Low-Cost Software Defined Radio Compatible with Many SDR Software Packages. R820T2 Tuner & ESD-Safe Antenna Input, Guaranteed
The first thing you may notice about the R820T2 is that the case is now bright blue and the blue power led is much brighter. Outside of that, the cases of the R820T and the R820T2 seem to be identical in size and …