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Old 05-15-2018, 12:34 PM
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Default SDR dongle reception

Hi ... I got my first SDR dongle (just a cheap $10 thing off ebay), and to my surprise I successfully installed the SDR# on the pc, as well as SDR Touch on the phone. My question is .. I've only been able to pick up a couple FM stations, nothing on MW and the weather station (barely) so far. Is it definitely the antenna? Even my 50,000 watt local AM station didn't come in. Not sure if I'm doing something wrong, or if I just need a larger antenna. I can't do outdoors where I am, so it would have to be telescopic or something like that.

Thanks for any info ... I've attached a photo of the cheap kind of dongle package I bought.
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Old 05-15-2018, 5:01 PM
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I've been a fan of the cheap SDR dongle for a few years now. With the tiny little antenna that come with them, strong FM broadcast stations are about all that you can receive. However, with the proper adapters, you can connect an external antenna for the band or bands that interest you and they work pretty well. I would also point out that many of the software applications incorporate a gain control. Make use of it as that will help you out as well.

I have dongles that use either an MC or SMA connector. I purchased some pigtails that adapt the dongle antenna connector to a female BNC connector and connect various antennas accordingly. The pigtail adapters can be found on Amazon.
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Old 05-15-2018, 5:28 PM
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I cant do outside antenna either so I have a low noise amp with bnc to sma and I use the rs 800mhz antenna right on top. Little suction cup is holding the amp and ant to the window at the moment. I have other antennas tuned for different bands that I use when needed. I have 2 china dongles, 2 noo elec smart dongles and an airspy mini.
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Old 05-15-2018, 11:38 PM
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Those antennas are decent at UHF, too, as they are pretty much a quarter wave.
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Old 05-19-2018, 9:38 AM
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About these SDRs, I've seen some are PAL vs NTSC at least for the DVB part... plus it's ATSC in the USA. Should I even care if it's truly a SDR, I would think that it can be changed in software if it truly is an SDR?

Are most of them only tunable to specific bands too? Or are they capable to tune across a very large swath?

I don't run Windows so this will be another problem: Linux compatibility?
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Old 05-19-2018, 9:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needairtime View Post
About these SDRs, I've seen some are PAL vs NTSC at least for the DVB part... plus it's ATSC in the USA. Should I even care if it's truly a SDR, I would think that it can be changed in software if it truly is an SDR?

Are most of them only tunable to specific bands too? Or are they capable to tune across a very large swath?

I don't run Windows so this will be another problem: Linux compatibility?
Everything said here is wrong. PAL, NTSC, ATSC are all decodable with the right software. The dongle converts RF to bits. The software is what turns the bits into audio or video. The cheapest dongles can tune from about 25-1700MHz. And they have Windows and Linux drivers.
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Old 05-19-2018, 1:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonwienke View Post
Everything said here is wrong. PAL, NTSC, ATSC are all decodable with the right software. The dongle converts RF to bits. The software is what turns the bits into audio or video. The cheapest dongles can tune from about 25-1700MHz. And they have Windows and Linux drivers.
Then why are some RTL2832U "SDR" tuners advertised "DVB-T" when they should be generic - accept DVB-T or ATSC, since it shouldn't matter as it's done in software, and should be marked with both or neither.

Also some seem to have gaps in the tunable range despite being an "SDR"...

Are pretty much any RTL2832U based USB sufficient to be used as a generic SDR?
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Old 05-19-2018, 1:32 PM
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Originally Posted by needairtime View Post
Then why are some RTL2832U "SDR" tuners advertised "DVB-T" when they should be generic - accept DVB-T or ATSC, since it shouldn't matter as it's done in software, and should be marked with both or neither.

Also some seem to have gaps in the tunable range despite being an "SDR"...

Are pretty much any RTL2832U based USB sufficient to be used as a generic SDR?
Because the CD that comes with them has the software for DVB-T. Not because of anything to do with the SDR stick itself.

There is one tuner chip discontinued a few years ago that has a frequency gap. Most do not.

Yes.
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Old 05-19-2018, 2:48 PM
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Because the CD that comes with them has the software for DVB-T. Not because of anything to do with the SDR stick itself.
Not true. TV signals are decoded in the dongle. There is not enough USB bandwidth to pass raw TV signals to a PC.
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Old 05-19-2018, 4:25 PM
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1 thing i had to do was turn the gain up on it to pick up much more than broadcast fm
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Old 05-19-2018, 11:31 PM
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I did find long ago that if you loaded the software for the DVB-TV systems and then tried to load the SDR software it wouldn't work. A simple "Remove software" didn't work either, I had to dig really deep into the system files to find the culprit.
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Old 05-20-2018, 4:40 AM
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Not true. TV signals are decoded in the dongle. There is not enough USB bandwidth to pass raw TV signals to a PC.
Wrong, there is enough USB bandwidth to pass the entire 2+MHz slice of bandwidth the dongle can sample at once. There are other SDR units capable of sampling over 6MHz of bandwidth that still manage to pass that data through a USB connection. The cheap SDR sticks don't do any decoding, all they do is sample and digitize a slice of spectrum, and then pass that data to the computer.
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Old 05-20-2018, 6:48 AM
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In short, that included antenna will not be sufficient to receive broadcast band AM or even the HF (2 - 30 MHz) band, even with the RF gain on max.

If you can attach a longer antenna, best would be outside, you'll see a major difference in what you can receive.

The rule, as far as antennas is ,bigger is better, higher is better, and outside is better. That doesn't mean you need the largest antenna at 60 feet for your purposes. I use a discone at 22 feet and hear everything I want from 25 MHz and up. Below that I use a ground mounted vertical.

You have to experiment. First try putting that little antenna outside to see the difference. Or you could make yourself a simple dipole or a 30 foot wire and see how that works.

Good luck and have fun with your SDR-dongle, it packs a lot bang for the buck.

Check out the RTL-SDR.com website for additional tips, and of course this great site.
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