The Three Best Low Cost SDR Radios You Can Buy Today

Amateur Radio Projects and Software Defined Radio

The Three Best Low Cost SDR Radios You Can Buy Today

If you are thinking about getting involved with SDR radio or just want to add a new one to you shack, here are what we consider the three best values in SDR radio equipment available today. The operative word here is “low cost”. These SDRs are not necessarily the best you can buy, but offer a lot of value for your money and make a good entry point into the world of Software Defined Radio.

 

19 Responses

  1. Paul PD0PSB says:

    Don’t forget the Funcube Pro Plus !
    A very capable receiver from HF to UHF.

    73
    Paul
    PD0PSB

    • Ball says:

      The FCD range is excellent. Howard himself is a rather agreeable chap also. He’s done a lot for our group at AMSAT-UK

  2. Danny Mullins AB4TI says:

    Purchased an AFEDRI after reading your review. It was well written and informative. Would like to see articles more often.
    Thanks,

  3. Jon Hudson says:

    The new ‘Radio Spectrum Processor’ from SDRplay offers 8MHz bandwidth bewteen 100KHz and 380MHz and 43MHz to 2GHz. It is currently selling for $299

    • Jon hudson says:

      There’s a good review of the SDRplay RSP on the worldwide FM-TV DX association website

      • Phillip Williamson says:

        Late to the post party, seeing how this article is from June of 2014, but SDRPlay is now selling for $150. I picked one up at the local HRO store. I’m very impressed with it. Unfortunately, SDR# isn’t playing well with some SDR radios, but I use SDR Console and HDSDR mostly these days.

  4. Tim Bucknall says:

    yes Excellent article, i think i’ll go for the afedri too for simplicitys sake- i never managed to get my RTL2832 dongle working as an SDR- don’t mind though- it was very cheap and i can still watch TV and listen to DAB on it.

    is FCD any easier to set up than the RTL2832 dongle?

    the Alinco SDR handheld which i had working initially (i even posted some Wav files) now doesn’t work due to some stupid software update from microsoft affecting my system.
    i had the same problem with spectrum lab,
    when funds allow i’m going to go back to having 2 laptops -one for dxing which i never connect to the web and one for work stuff

    will be following ‘Radio Spectrum Processor’ from SDRplay with great interest- seems perfect for FM broadcast dxing

  5. “THESE RTL-SDR USB KITS ARE REALLY COOL! I LOVE THE COOL LOOKING GRAFIC COLOR SCREEN ON THESE NEAT UNITS!!

  6. Jon Hudson says:

    It would be good to update this article – especially now the SDRplay is only $149 for a 12 bit ADC.

  7. Jon hudson says:

    The frequency gap has been removed! The latest API/driver and EXTIO software releases enable coverage from 0.1MHz to 2GHz – more info on http://www.sdrplay.com

  8. Jon hudson says:

    Apologies for duplicate posts. They came back as “failed” the first 2 times! Jon

  9. Jon says:

    We are pleased to announce release 1.8.0 of the API for the SDRplay RSP. This is a major upgrade to the API with new features and an improved gain map which should result in improved performance over a key portion of the gain control range. Currently this API is available for Windows only, but versions for Linux and Mac OS and Android will follow shortly.

    The API now incorporates automatic post tuner DC offset correction and I/Q compensation. This will almost completely eliminate the DC centre spike that was previously present in zero IF mode and also correct for amplitude and phase errors in the I/Q signal paths that can lead to in-band images when strong signals are present.

    There is a new gain map for the RSP which should help improve the receiver noise floor for gain reduction settings in the range of 59-78 dB. To achieve this, the IF gain control range has been increased from 59 to 78 dB. In addition, the user can now turn the LNA on or off at any point within the IF gain control range. This means that the LNA can remain on for gain reduction settings of up to 78 dB, whereas previously the maximum gain reduction that could be attained whilst the LNA was on was only 59 dB. Being able to leave the LNA on will result in improvements in the receiver noise performance for gain reductions in the range of 59 to 78 dB. The upper 19 dB of the IF gain control range have now been disabled. In practice this part of the gain control range was useless as trying to operate within this region always lead to receiver overload even when signals were very weak.

    To fully exploit the features of this new API release, we have also issued release 3.5 of the ExtIO plugin. This plugin will work with HDSDR, SDR sharp (releases 1361 or earlier) and Studio 1. Automatic I/Q compensation and DC offset correction will work with later versions of SDR sharp, but we will need to update the native plugin for users of these later versions to be access the new gain map.

    Similarly, users of SDR Console will gain the benefit of automatic DC offset compensation and I/Q correction, but will not yet be able to access the new gain map. We hope that a version of SDR console that unlocks this feature will become available in the near future.

    Until a new release of SDR-Console is available, you can copy the API into the SDR-Console installation directory…

    from C:\Program Files\MiricsSDR\API\x64\mir_sdr_api.dll to C:\Program Files\SDR-RADIO-PRO.com\mir_sdr_api.dll

    The API installer has also contains an extra certificate to be more user friendly for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 users.

    The new API and ExtIO plugin can be downloaded from our website at: http://www.sdrplay.com/windows.html

  10. Sandro says:

    Hi
    I have got both , RSP and AFREDI.
    From side dirver ,RSP is more complete and have the best compatiblity with all software.
    Afredi have less bandwidth but a signal more strong and clear.
    Extio.dll of AFREDI aren’t so complete like RSP.

    Now i use AfREDI with first IF of my icom 7410 and i can say that i prefer to listen signal by HDSDR

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