Breaking my sacred vows

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ShiftyPotts

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After many years of mac only computing, I broke down and bought a $1,700 Dell so I could use my $10.00 dongle with SDR#. I had this thing working in about 15 minutes and was hooked immediately. Money well spent!

Now, I'm trying to figure out what to do for HF, shortwave, ham bands, etc. I've read so many reviews and blogs that my brain is turning to mush. Token likes Winradio. I think I'll get Excalibur Pro. No No, what about Elad FDM-S2? Those are highly recommended, but sadly out of stock. Maybe Apache Labs Anon, then I can also transmit (when I get my license)? On and on it goes. Whatever review I read last, that's what I want.

I realize no one can make the decision for me, I''m leaning toward Winradio Excalibur Pro, but FDM-S2 is 1/3 the price. Can anyone help me out?

Thanks,

Bob
 

SCPD

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I think the price vs. quality of the FDM-S2 is currently unbeatable.

You get a streamlined package with:
-High dynamic range HF SDR from 10kHz to 52MHz, with wide (6MHz) DDC view.
-One of *the best* performing FM broadcast front ends.
-VHF AIR, Marine, 2m, utility bands.
-Very versatile software, including RDS,WFM,DRM and all common modes.
-The only SDR program with a user definable bandplan.
-An option to control exterior devices (antennas, LNA, filters) from within the software parameters.
-The list goes on, check the manuals.

Not affiliated with the company, but the Elad folks really know what they are doing and have attention to detail and for customers.

73
Paul
PD0PSB
 

ShiftyPotts

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Paul,

Thanks for the recommendation. When I saw FDM-S2 in stock I made the order, along with the tuning knob thing. Now, I've been looking at the Pixel Tech Magnetic Loop antenna. Seems like a good match for me, I live downtown in an apartment and don't have a lot of options. Looking forward to a new toy!

Bob
 

ShiftyPotts

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Dell... From Apple to Dell... Riches to Rags!
Sad. But true. In 2008 I bought a Vista machine and after two weeks I couldn't stand it any more. I always used Mac at work and PC at home. But I thought I would buy a dedicated PC for SDR and related stuff. Never say never!

Actually this Dell XPS has been OK so far. Very quiet. I sorely miss the multiple desktops on Mac, maybe there's a way to do that on pc.

I hooked up a Bose sound system to the new Dell and the little round volume control that sits next to my mouse is very handy for SDR. It seems like you're adjusting the volume almost as much as tuning.

Bob
 

SCPD

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Now, I've been looking at the Pixel Tech Magnetic Loop antenna. Seems like a good match for me, I live downtown in an apartment and don't have a lot of options. Looking forward to a new toy!
Bob, while I don't necessarily agree with your SDR decision it is probably the best deal for the price point. That being said, their software is its weakest link. I'm not sure if it works with 3rd party SDR software but you may want to explore that option.

The Winradio G33 is not in the same league as the Elad but it's quite a different price point. I have both the Perseus and G33 SDRs and while I use the Perseus more (it's just my personal favorite) the G33 hardware is top-notch and extremely sensitive. For me personally, I like a SDR that gets me listening quick without a lot of BS. The WinRadio software is decent but some of its features are inhibiting to the user.

For a loop, the Pixel is decent but its high cost is questionable. You mentioned that you need an indoor antenna and that means some sort of compromise. If you're planning to move soon then the Pixel may be an OK choice for the time being until you move. If you're going to be in the apartment for some time, then you may want to consider the Wellbrook 5030 which is ideal for apartment users.

LA5030-2 Indoor North Amer. ver. with PSU

Wellbrook also makes a 1m loop similar to the Pixel (The 1530S+) and IMHO, it's better than the Pixel for about the same cost. (The Wellbrook should be a little cheaper.)
 

ShiftyPotts

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Nick,

Thanks for the reply. I'm going to study the Wellbrook vs. Pixel thing. I didn't mean to imply that I needed an indoor antenna. Although I live in an apartment, I can put an antenna outside on top of a two story commercial building next door. In fact, if I get a loop antenna, that will make 4 antennas that need to go up on top of that building. I have an Array Solutions 6 Pack sitting in a box in my workshop, so I can run 6 antennas over 2 coax. I'm guessing the Loop antenna won't work with the Array Solutions remote switch. So, that means another coax running in here.

I was looking at the Pixel Loop based on reviews on Eham. They seem to be pretty good at nulling noise in urban areas.

Despite what you're telling me about the Winradio G33, I don't think I have buyers remorse yet. If this hobby holds my attention for more than a month, I'll get the Winradio also. I've had $5,000 of fun with this $10 dongle this week.

Thanks,

Bob
 

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No worries Bob, it sounds like you know what you want to do -- and that's sometimes half the battle right there.

I prefer the Wellbrook 1530S+ over the Pixel for a number of reasons. I owned both for a short time and in general, the Wellbrook had a hot preamp compared to the Pixel. Wellbrook has recently updated their 1530S+ to the S++ and the nice thing is that the amp module on the loop is user-upgradeable now.

My S++ works quite well. I also have the ALA100LN which is a kit where you can add your own wire loop. IMHO, this is the best antenna on the market hands down -- with one caveat. The 1m loops have a smaller capture area and thus can reject some of the E-field noise (if you have any.) A large wire loop creates a larger capture area and thus that rejection is (more or less) zero. (I have 1m loop and a 60m loop.)

That being said, the amp design on the ALA100LN is incredibly good and very low noise. In a remote location the signal-to-noise-ratio is just amazing.

The kit also offers some interesting experimentation with different styles of wire loops too.


Cheers,
-Nick
 

SCPD

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Bob, if you feel like having some fun, download the Perseus software from here:

http://microtelecom.it/perseus/Perseusv41a.zip

Install the software and this will give you a 30-day trial. You can use any of the remote Perseus SDRs on the Perseus network which is worldwide. You don't even have to go out for any coffee. Just sit back and listen away.

(Be sure to open up TCP Port 8014 in your wireless router so the network feature will work.)

Enjoy!

You might even find yourself liking the Perseus SDR better! ;)

PS. Here are my active YouTube videos. I don't post any more in protest of Google's silly Google+ requirement.

https://www.youtube.com/user/cnick6/videos
 

aggie72

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I would recommend Ham-it-up for a cheap introduction to HF bands with SDR#. You will need some special connectors to hook it up to the dongle and what ever connector you have for your HF antenna but it's a lot of fun.
 

SCPD

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Bob, while I don't necessarily agree with your SDR decision it is probably the best deal for the price point. That being said, their software is its weakest link.
Please elaborate?
I have not seen a software package launched as complete and versatile as SW2.

Other SDR softs only get this far after years of user input and arguments ;-)
(or don't get at this level at all) (imho)

73
Paul
PD0PSB
 
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fourthhorseman

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I would recommend Ham-it-up for a cheap introduction to HF bands with SDR#. You will need some special connectors to hook it up to the dongle and what ever connector you have for your HF antenna but it's a lot of fun.

Ill bump this,I built a lil SDR HF box with the ham it up and the E4000 tuner,dedicated it for HF reception,Have a separate SDR box with the 820T for general use/DSD and mostly airband.

The hamitup is hooked up to a homebrew OCFD I made and I get pretty ok results.I routinely recieve cuban #'s stations,Dubai and Saudi prayer broadcasts..

I will say the hamitup is more of a basic entry level device..But still fun as hell! And for the 40USD I paid..I cant beat the price..Ill be shopping for a true HF receiver at summers end..But its great for tinkering for the time being.
 

ShiftyPotts

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Bob, if you feel like having some fun, download the Perseus software from here:

http://microtelecom.it/perseus/Perseusv41a.zip

Install the software and this will give you a 30-day trial. You can use any of the remote Perseus SDRs on the Perseus network which is worldwide. You don't even have to go out for any coffee. Just sit back and listen away.

(Be sure to open up TCP Port 8014 in your wireless router so the network feature will work.)

Enjoy!

You might even find yourself liking the Perseus SDR better! ;)

PS. Here are my active YouTube videos. I don't post any more in protest of Google's silly Google+ requirement.

https://www.youtube.com/user/cnick6/videos
I downloaded the software but couldn't overcome the Port 8014 thing in my wireless router. I finally plugged directly into the cable modem and got it working. Very cool. Thanks for the suggestion.

Bob
 

ShiftyPotts

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I would recommend Ham-it-up for a cheap introduction to HF bands with SDR#. You will need some special connectors to hook it up to the dongle and what ever connector you have for your HF antenna but it's a lot of fun.
Aggie, I was looking at the upconverter. I was also looking at getting another dongle and play with trunking. I need to spend some time putting up some antennas on top of the building next door. But I don't like ladders, so I've been putting it off.

Bob
 

aggie72

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Antennas are the limiting factor if you go with the up-converter. Nice to have an incredibly small radio but it doesn't work without a good antenna. I would start with a long wire first; experiment with 20 or 30 feet and see how the WWV freqs sound. I put my up-converter on my work bench along side my freq-gen and was able to see a signal down to 60 KHz which is incredible. Even so, I could not pick up WWVB; I've read about special ferrite antennas that should work but I've got a few other projects going on now. I definitely want to get back to the VLF range to see just how good the up-convert really is.
 

4nradio

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Wellbrook vs Pixel Loops

Nick,

Thanks for the reply. I'm going to study the Wellbrook vs. Pixel thing. I didn't mean to imply that I needed an indoor antenna. Although I live in an apartment, I can put an antenna outside on top of a two story commercial building next door. In fact, if I get a loop antenna, that will make 4 antennas that need to go up on top of that building. I have an Array Solutions 6 Pack sitting in a box in my workshop, so I can run 6 antennas over 2 coax. I'm guessing the Loop antenna won't work with the Array Solutions remote switch. So, that means another coax running in here.
Hi Bob,

A few years ago I wrote a very detailed review that compared the Wellbrook ALA1530 against Pixel's RF Pro-1A. A Perseus SDR receiver was used as an accurate S/N measuring device to compare "apples to apples".

Here's a link to the article: http://www.dxing.info/equipment/ALA1530-vs-RFPRO-1AReview.pdf

Note that this review compares the earlier "A" model of the Pixel loop; I have not had experience with the "B" version.
 

ShiftyPotts

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Hi Bob,

A few years ago I wrote a very detailed review that compared the Wellbrook ALA1530 against Pixel's RF Pro-1A. A Perseus SDR receiver was used as an accurate S/N measuring device to compare "apples to apples".

Here's a link to the article: http://www.dxing.info/equipment/ALA1530-vs-RFPRO-1AReview.pdf

Note that this review compares the earlier "A" model of the Pixel loop; I have not had experience with the "B" version.
Yes, I already read that fine article recently. But I can't lie, I ordered the Pixel anyway (sorry Nick). I just don't have the patience to wait for shipment from overseas. I've been waiting several weeks for a 6 element beam from England and I decided I didn't want to wait for the Loop. In the case of the beam, I knew when I ordered it, that it would take a while and in no way am I complaining. I can't put it up until September, so I'm not in a hurry for that antenna. My new FDM-S2 arrives tomorrow (I'm tracking) so I'm most anxious to get things hooked up in the coming week. I have only a poor antenna location, on top of a two story building, surrounded by transformers, street lights, building lights and e-noise from every direction. So we'll see how these things work.

Thanks,

Bob
 

n2pqq

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I would suggest you join the Elad english group on yahoo groups.

I also have the Elad FDM-S2 with the pixel antenna.

You made a great choice.

Don't forget to update the software .
 
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