Software Defined Radio Suggestions

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#1
I am sure that you guys get this question a lot. I am thinking of buying an SDR. Where do I start? I am mainly interest in VHF/UHF & 800 MHz. I like having the ability to decode various digital modes, including APCO P25, DMR, YSF, etc. Should I look at an AirSpy, an SDRplay RSP2pro, or something else?
 

Markb

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#2
I think for digital decoding, an RTLSDR works well. I have a grip of them and they work great with Unitrunker, DSDPlus, etc...

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#3
Although new to the game, I have two RTL-SDR dongles and they seem to work very well for VHF and UHF. They are also inexpensive. When/if I get into lower frequencies, I will look into an up converter or maybe even a more dedicated SDR. For now, the RTL-SDR seems to work fine in the ranges discussed.

As a newbie, I recommend RTL-SDR; two of them if doing trunking type listening. Also, I use a 1' USB extension cable for each.
 
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dlwtrunked

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#4
I am sure that you guys get this question a lot. I am thinking of buying an SDR. Where do I start? I am mainly interest in VHF/UHF & 800 MHz. I like having the ability to decode various digital modes, including APCO P25, DMR, YSF, etc. Should I look at an AirSpy, an SDRplay RSP2pro, or something else?
I have an Airspy, SDRPlay RSP2 Pro, several different RTL-SDR dongles (and other radios), and other SDR radios. Why so many of these, I compare and use what I like best. I get asked this a lot and here is what I tell them.

If you are only interested in VHF/UHF, search for new things of interest, and are serious about it, I recommend Airspy. That is what I mostly use. But if you also want HF, then SDRPlay may be the better choice rather than having to use a Spyverter or other converter with the Airspy or and RTL-SDR. But if you are not sure you are serious and are not sure you want to spend over $100, buy an RTL-SDR dongle (or rather 2 of them). They will not work as well as the Airspy or SDRPlay but are still a bargain and will let you know if you want better. Note there is some software for doing particular tasks that one of the RTL-SDR dongles can do and the others cannot due to software that for some make them .

You mention 800 MHz, you will need more than one device for trunking and the cheap dongles are probably good enough for that if your signals are reasonably strong and much cheaper than 2 Airspy or two SDRPlay.

So there is not a clear answer up front until you narrow down what you will use them for and how much you want to spend--and that may not be able to say yet and may change. May be you should now buy 2 RTL-SDR dongles but realize if you want better performance or HF, you need to get an Airspy or SDRPlay.

Also, I hope you know that to decode those visible voice modes, download VBcable (which is free and I believe better than VAC which I have also used) to send the audio from the SDR to DSD+.

I suspect you may eventually end up with 2 RTL-SDR dongles and an Airspy or SDRPlay.
 

boatbod

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#5
Many of the P25 public safety radio systems have such good signal strength that you can receive them very well with inexpensive RTL hardware and just the cheap whip antennas that come free with the tuners. If you want to pull in more distant signals you will need the ability to connect a better/directional antenna, so bear that in mind when you make your purchase.
 

belvdr

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#6
I bought an RTL-SDR and while decent, I quickly opted to upgrade to the SDRplay RSP2. I bought the RTL-SDR kit with the antenna; don't make that mistake. The antenna and accessories they include are total junk. The only concern I have with the RTL-SDR dongle is the amount of heat it generates.

Frankly, the cost of the upverter and some filters will get you closer to the cost of the RSP2. What put me over the top was I didn't want to have a daisy chain of devices to get what I could have in one box. The RSP2 also includes a Hi-Z antenna input for much better reception on lower frequencies. The effective number of bits in the ADC is also higher in the RSP2.

As @dlwtrunked stated above, it really comes down to what you want to get out of your purchase.
 
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redbeard

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#7
Also, I hope you know that to decode those visible voice modes, download VBcable (which is free and I believe better than VAC which I have also used) to send the audio from the SDR to DSD+.

The VBcable mess is not needed anymore. FMP(A/24) sends the audio to DSD+ via TCP/IP now.



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bob550

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#9
A RTL-SDR USB dongle radio for $20 is a great way to get started.
Be sure to visit the RTL-SDR site for lots of articles and getting started information.
https://www.rtl-sdr.com

RTL-SDR USB radio, Amazon $20:
http://amzn.to/1Senz5I

Quick start guide:
https://www.rtl-sdr.com/rtl-sdr-quick-start-guide/
I agree! You can have loads of fun for a very small investment. Once you've "tested the water", you can upgrade to better SDR's with improved coverage and performance.
 
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#10
I would without question buy a couple of rtl receivers to get started with. You'll be able to learn how to set up the sdr programs, filters and use different modes for fairly cheap. Chances are if you do decide to upgrade to an RSP or Airspy you'll still use the rtl receivers for digital trunking or something of the like. It's not like you'll just disconnect them and it would be wasted money.

An ideal setup would be a couple of rtl receivers for local digital stuff, then an Airspy or RSP connected to say a discone for VHF/UHF and an HF antenna for 0-30 mhz on a coax switch so you could select either one.

As far as the difference between the RSP and the Airspy.. there's plenty of material on the internet to make that decision.
 

dlwtrunked

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#11
The VBcable mess is not needed anymore. FMP(A/24) sends the audio to DSD+ via TCP/IP now.



Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

There are a lot of other things you can do with VBcable other than trunked--like sending the audio to a packet/APRS decoding program or to RDSspy to look at the broadcast FM subcarrier for RDS or to look at other services also on subcarriers there. And once one adds a HF converter or has an SDR with HF, it is the best way to send signals to data or FAX decoders.

No, VBcable is not a mess (never was for me) and it or similar is still needed for a lot of interesting things. And there are other trunking programs that will need it to talk to them.
 

TD

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#12
Although new to the game, I have two RTL-SDR dongles and they seem to work very well for VHF and UHF. They are also inexpensive. When/if I get into lower frequencies, I will look into an up converter or maybe even a more dedicated SDR. For now, the RTL-SDR seems to work fine in the ranges discussed.

As a newbie, I recommend RTL-SDR; two of them if doing trunking type listening. Also, I use a 1' USB extension cable for each.
Hello
Just a question I have DVB-T-DAB+FM Dongle what software works with it. I cant find any
Thanks
 

iMONITOR

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#13
Amazon had the RTL-SDR on sale a couple of weeks ago for $13.99 (currently showing $19.99).


I bought one, and it works great! For starters I'm using SDRSharp software. It was all new to me but I was up and running in about 15 minutes. I'm running it on Windows 10, no problems.
 
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