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Going to purchase cheapo dongle- need advice

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frazpo

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I want to purchase a cheapo SDR dongle. I am seeing a few versions among amazon and ebay and want some feedback from some experienced users of this product. I am seeing good reviews of Noolec?

Thanks
 

br0adband

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NooElec seems to be the go-to company at least here in the US, definitely. I got two of their sticks from their Amazon storefront for $9.75 each (+ $2 shipping for each, ordered separately) which is basically half price compared to ordering them directly from NooElec's own website. Same hardware, just half the cost:

Amazon.com : RTL-SDR, FM+DAB, DVB-T USB Stick Set with RTL2832U & R820T. Great SDR for SDR#, HDSDR, and Other Popular SDR Software Packages! : Electronics

The price has apparently gone up a bit as they're now $13.95 each (+ shipping), but it's still considerably less than ordering direct (where they're $17.95 + shipping).

No problems so far with either stick, they both work just fine. Got an MCX-to-BNC pigtail a few days ago (that took nearly 3 weeks to get delivered from New Orleans but the delivery was delayed because of all the Christmas shipping delays, typically it would have been here in 3-5 days most likely), works fine as well and highly recommended since the included antenna is effectively worthless for any serious monitoring. You're going to want or need to get some kind of adapter/pigtail and an extension cable of some kind to attach a "real" antenna, be it BNC, SO-329/PL-259, whatever.
 

SCPD

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1. Get one with the R820T tuner chip. They're the cheapest (see Scott's example) with best band coverage.

2. Do not order only one. I made that mistake. Shipping takes around two weeks. If your stick breaks - you're out of commission for another two weeks.

Order at least two RTL sticks. At $10 bucks USD per RTL stick, this is a no-brainer.

3. Get a USB extension cable. This is particularly useful on laptops where the USB ports are close together. Plugging the stick directly into the port partially blocks the other port.

4. Like br0adband says, order some MCX to SMA or MCX to BNC adapters so you can use other antennas. The stock antenna is okay at 760 to 940 Mhz but not so much below 512 Mhz.

5. FM "trap" filter.
 

IC301

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Try to find a 'hot' Thread or other Discussion Group that has 'realtime' info on Stock and current shipping Practices of wherever you choose to do business (if it seems sketchy) (IE: they may run out and not ship for an extra month, thinking you do not mind waiting without so much as an email).

A lot of places are jumping on the 'SDR Wagon' with "USB Sticks for cheap". Be sure to check 'Buyer Feedback' to ensure that the Device actually works for EXACTLY what YOU want it for (DSD ?). If it "works" but not with DSD that is not their problem since most make no claims of any particular Software compatibility.

I tried to lookup "NooElec". From what I can tell there was such a Company, but it went out of Business. Whether the person restarted it, simply took the name, or it never 'really' closed is something I do not know. It seems fishy but apparently he ships when he has Stock (and does not answer mail when he runs out, but PP refunds promptly).


Do not be surprised if a lot of these places take your money, run next door, buy a bunch of Stock, stick them in a Box and charge you double (which is a big profit, if it is a poorer Country).

I live in North America, if you want to pay $7 (less if you want to pay more for Shipping) for a Laser Pointer I can buy them for less than a dollar ... That is how it works.

Despite the 'sketchy basement-backdoor Businesses' some of these places are it does not affect the honesty of the person nor the fact that is IS in their benefit to fulfill Orders and continue to have cash come into that account (as opposed to being burned in the Forums and getting no more Orders to that PayPal Account).

Always pay by some means that you can complain and get your money back. That helps assure you get your Order in the first place without actually complaining (others will AND if you get nothing you can ask PP for your $ back).


I would order a few (if they have Stock) and get a deal on Shipping.

Reports are these things are cheap, break easily and often (buy a Soldering Iron or try to find a Package Deal - LOL); despite the poor quality (and you getting your $10 worth) they could only be upgraded by spending considerably more (so they are a great way to get started).
 

N0IU

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I would order a few (if they have Stock) and get a deal on Shipping.
The place where I ordered mine includes shipping in the price so you won't get a better deal on shipping by ordering more units than you actually need.

I do agree that if you buy off of eBay or Amazon, the main thing to look at is the dealer's feedback rating. The place where I ordered mine has a 99.7% positive rating. I didn't think I was taking too big of a chance with a .3% negative rating!

As far as shipping, I ordered mine on Dec. 24... probably the worst day to conduct business with anyone! I paid PayPal, btw. I received the dongle on January 3rd... which was sooner than the earliest shipping date that had been promised.

I also like Unitrunker's suggestion to get a USB extension. My PC sort of sits in a corner and this also makes it easier to get to in addition to not being jammed in with the other cables. And even though it uses a fairly small gauge antenna cable, having an extension relieves some of the pressure on the USB connector.
 

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fxdscon

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I tried to lookup "NooElec". From what I can tell there was such a Company, but it went out of Business. Whether the person restarted it, simply took the name, or it never 'really' closed is something I do not know. It seems fishy but apparently he ships when he has Stock (and does not answer mail when he runs out, but PP refunds promptly).

NooElec - Home page

.
 

PACNWDude

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I bought mine from dealextreme.com and then went to the US warehouse area. Still took a week to ship, but these are almost always in stock. Then it was on to find the software for each type of computer I use.

One working on a MacBook Pro and another on an Asus Win7 Home computer right now. Each dongle cost less than $10 and free shipping.
 

Pyr8

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Jan 30, 2006
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Mandalore system :|]
I bought mine from dealextreme.com and then went to the US warehouse area. Still took a week to ship, but these are almost always in stock. Then it was on to find the software for each type of computer I use.

One working on a MacBook Pro and another on an Asus Win7 Home computer right now. Each dongle cost less than $10 and free shipping.
Do you have the link?
 
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