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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 09-29-2018, 3:55 PM
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Question New to the SDR scene and need advice please.

I am looking to get into the SDR scene and I am not able to spend a lot of money to get started. I am looking at two of the NESDR dongles but I am not familiar enough with the frequency ranges that they offer to make an informed decision yet and I would appreciate some insight to help me decide which one will serve me best.

I am not considering buying the RF upconverter to start with so you will know. I would like to listen to local CB and maybe some SSB as well as local government frequencies as well as seeing what else I can find on the AM radio broadcast frequencies. I admit that I am not knowledgeable about these frequency ranges.

The two SDR dongles I am looking at are the SMArTee ( 25MHz-1700MHz ) and the SMArTee XTR ( 65MHz-2300MHz ) dongles. I also expect that I am going to need an upgrade to the included antennas as well as I live in a small town so I don't know what to expect to get out of one of these.

Any help will be much appreciated.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by graywoulf View Post
I am looking to get into the SDR scene and I am not able to spend a lot of money to get started. I am looking at two of the NESDR dongles but I am not familiar enough with the frequency ranges that they offer to make an informed decision yet and I would appreciate some insight to help me decide which one will serve me best.

I am not considering buying the RF upconverter to start with so you will know. I would like to listen to local CB and maybe some SSB as well as local government frequencies as well as seeing what else I can find on the AM radio broadcast frequencies. I admit that I am not knowledgeable about these frequency ranges.

The two SDR dongles I am looking at are the SMArTee ( 25MHz-1700MHz ) and the SMArTee XTR ( 65MHz-2300MHz ) dongles. I also expect that I am going to need an upgrade to the included antennas as well as I live in a small town so I don't know what to expect to get out of one of these.

Any help will be much appreciated.
You can get a lot out of a cheap SDR, Yes you run into some issues with having to have some computer knowledge about drivers and USB Ports.. but alot of it can be found in detail if you do some online searching.

If your wanting to listen to CB stuff you want to go with the SMArTee.. CB Starts in the 26 or 27 MHz band "I think" so if you went with the other option you would miss at lest some if not all of the CB Band.

Antennas in a lot of cases are use specific but the do make multi band antennas however you usually still suffer signal loss in one band or another with that route. One of my SDRs use the stock antenna and it dose reasonable for the system i listen to with it.

I will say if you buy a cheaper SDR "like i usually do" make sure it is one with a SMA antenna connection at lest. "Im assuming the two you mentioned are its in the name" This will make it easier to go with a larger or different antenna with bigger cable.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:50 AM
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I thank you kindly for your information and tips. Since I posted this, I have changed my mind about using an SDR dongle. After a lot of research on them, I do not think that my location would offer me enough things to listen to that would make having one worthwhile. I could be wrong and change my mind later. You suggested the SmarTee dongle which is the one I had in mind though.

Thanks again for your time and information. ;^)
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Old 10-11-2018, 9:44 AM
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Originally Posted by graywoulf View Post
I thank you kindly for your information and tips. Since I posted this, I have changed my mind about using an SDR dongle. After a lot of research on them, I do not think that my location would offer me enough things to listen to that would make having one worthwhile. I could be wrong and change my mind later. You suggested the SmarTee dongle which is the one I had in mind though.

Thanks again for your time and information. ;^)
I think you wouldn't lose much to at least trying it. There are more options for less using a RTL-SDR supported software ie HDSDR, SDR#. Doing things a scanner cant. There are some things you can monitor.

The key thing with RTL-SDR is the antenna needs a physical electrical connection to a ground plane. What I did to increase signal strength on my NooElec NESDR M3 Antenna magnet mount base is just peeling off the plastic from the bottom to reveal the metal plate and mounted it on a all metal empty coffee can. I did have to make sure the adhesive was cleared from that metal plate to ensure a clean connection. It works.
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:04 AM
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I think you wouldn't lose much to at least trying it. There are more options for less using a RTL-SDR supported software ie HDSDR, SDR#. Doing things a scanner cant. There are some things you can monitor.

The key thing with RTL-SDR is the antenna needs a physical electrical connection to a ground plane. What I did to increase signal strength on my NooElec NESDR M3 Antenna magnet mount base is just peeling off the plastic from the bottom to reveal the metal plate and mounted it on a all metal empty coffee can. I did have to make sure the adhesive was cleared from that metal plate to ensure a clean connection. It works.
I appreciate your information and suggestions. I still have to wonder about what I could find to listen to in my area. I do not live near any large cities or towns. I can hardly find anything to listen to with my Pro 43 scanner or my Realistic DX-392 receiver. The fact that the SDR software can scan a much broader spectrum is appealing but there again, will I find anything interesting enough to listen to that will make using an SDR worthwhile. Since the price of the SmarTee bundle is under $50 I am thinking that it would be interesting to have and use. Being that I am retired, I do have the time to use it.
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by graywoulf View Post
I appreciate your information and suggestions. I still have to wonder about what I could find to listen to in my area. I do not live near any large cities or towns. I can hardly find anything to listen to with my Pro 43 scanner or my Realistic DX-392 receiver. The fact that the SDR software can scan a much broader spectrum is appealing but there again, will I find anything interesting enough to listen to that will make using an SDR worthwhile. Since the price of the SmarTee bundle is under $50 I am thinking that it would be interesting to have and use. Being that I am retired, I do have the time to use it.
That's part of the fun of these things. . . finding interesting new stuff. If you live out in the country you'll have less trouble with man-made noise than those of us who live close to or in a metro area, so you might be surprised at what you can hear.

Because even an inexpensive dongle ($20-25) is able to show at least a 2 MHz slice of spectrum on the waterfall display at the same time, you can see active signals throughout that slice of spectrum. Once you learn what certain signals "look" like you can investigate further just to see what's out there.

If you get one of the better devices that covers the spectrum from about 100 kHz to 1 GHz or so (such as the SDRPlay series of devices which retail for around $100-125) you can see up to 10 MHz of spectrum from medium wave all the way up to high UHF or better with no gaps.

Loads of fun, especially in the winter when atmospheric noise is lower.
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Old 10-12-2018, 1:41 AM
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That's part of the fun of these things. . . finding interesting new stuff. If you live out in the country you'll have less trouble with man-made noise than those of us who live close to or in a metro area, so you might be surprised at what you can hear.

Because even an inexpensive dongle ($20-25) is able to show at least a 2 MHz slice of spectrum on the waterfall display at the same time, you can see active signals throughout that slice of spectrum. Once you learn what certain signals "look" like you can investigate further just to see what's out there.

If you get one of the better devices that covers the spectrum from about 100 kHz to 1 GHz or so (such as the SDRPlay series of devices which retail for around $100-125) you can see up to 10 MHz of spectrum from medium wave all the way up to high UHF or better with no gaps.

Loads of fun, especially in the winter when atmospheric noise is lower.
Where he is at I think SDR Play (RSP) will be better because it has a better ADC chip with deeper resolution. That is essential for weak signals. I think if he set it for 3msps it will do 32bit which is awesome for DX-ing.
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Old 10-12-2018, 9:56 AM
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[QUOTE=simpilo;3008886]Where he is at I think SDR Play (RSP) will be better because it has a better ADC chip with deeper resolution. That is essential for weak signals. I think if he set it for 3msps it will do 32bit which is awesome for DX-ing. [/QUOT]

I am sure that it would be a great choice if only it was in a price range that I could afford on a fixed income.

You did however touch on one of the reasons that I am hesitant to buy an SDR. I am not an expert when it comes to the tech aspects of the sensitivity of these things and I have no way of installing and using an external antenna of any kind as well. As far as my location goes, (28651) I barely can find an AM or FM station that I can receive with good clarity with my DX-392.
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