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 your local Ham Radio Outlet Store in the US for around $150.
The SDRPlay is based on the Mirics Software Defined Radio chipset which can be found in a couple of familiar SDR receivers like the FunCube Dongle Pro and the CommRadio CR-1/CR-1a. The SDRPlay provides continuous receive coverage from 0.1MHz to 2GHz. The ADC is a 12bit processor which will be a nice step up over the typical RTL 8 bit dongles and offer more dynamic range. Also included are 6 bandpass filters which are automatically engaged depending on the selected band as well as a 12MHz low pass filter. The SDRPlay also includes a builtin LNA amplifier with 20db of gain which helps to make the SDRPlay a very capable receiver for use on the satellite bands with the appropriate antenna. The sampling rate can be adjusted from 200kHz to 8MHz which is pretty impressive for a SDR receiver in this price range. The various settings such as gain control, sample rate, and others can be manually controlled through the included ExtIO’s control panel. The SDRPlay is connected to your PC via a USB interface with a USB type B socket on the back. The antenna connector is a female SMA type connector. You can find more complete specs on the SDRPlay website.