Information overload! (checking options)

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corbintechboy

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Hello,

I have been exploring my options for getting into SDR. I have a Softrock and an Eton E1XM. The E1 is a great radio but for my uses seems to lack a bit (utility decoding).

I have been looking at some of the offerings. The original plan was that I was going to buy an Icom R75 (daddy of utility) and a SDR-IQ to compliment the Icom.

I have since began to think it might be smarter to buy a SDR that can encompass all my uses. I have done a whole bunch of research and keep scratching my head.

Looking at QS1R and wondering about sensitivity
Looking at WR-G33DDC Reg/Pro and wondering if I need all that and sensitivity
Looking at NetSDR and wondering about the same
Looking at everything else available and wondering the same

I don't want to make an expensive mistake.

I would need something that can decode utility without issue (I own VAC), have decent MW receive (not a deal breaker E1 does fine), I want the radio that keeps on giving while being fun to use.

Does anyone have an idea? There is so much out there it is got me really confused. Software of course plays a huge part and they all look good to me. Of course the QS1R gets a slight edge because I do use Linux, at the same time I will run Windows if needed so this is not a deal breaker.
 

Token

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You said you had been thinking about the R-75 but then you said about an SDR “wondering if I need all that and sensitivity”. You do realize that the R-75 is more sensitive than any of the SDRs you listed? But, sensitivity is not all that matters, and it is only ahead of the better SDRs by a very small value as far as raw sensitivity goes.

If the ONLY thing stopping you from the QS1R is the sensitivity don’t let that be the deal killer. For many locations the noise floor is above the sensitivity of the QS1R, and an external amp will bring it in line with the others. However…I tried the QS1R, and I went with other SDRs. There were too many other shortcomings when I looked at it.

The G31DDC is the non-Pro version of the Excalibur, the G33DDC is the Pro version. The G31DDC is $900 or less (I got mine for under $850) and nothing else in that price bracket is as complete a product. It is, however, a Windows only device at this time. In the past WinRadio has released software for their products for both Linux and Mac after the product had been on the market for a while, but to date the Excalibur is only Windows. The G33DDC is $1650, but is by far the most capable, out of the box, of the SDRs you have listed.

The NetSDR has a lot of potential, but unless you are going to branch out into areas like externally locking the RX, or maybe use 2 to detect phase deltas between two antennas it brings little over the G33DDC.

You did not list the Perseus, but naturally that one is one to consider. Unfortunately at its price point it offers little over the G31DDC unless you live in a high RFI environment, if you are close to an MW or SW BC station you might want this over the others.

There are lots of others that you have not mentioned, but the ones above are the core of the genre.

What follows is my opinion.

If you just want an SDR that works very well out of the box and you do not want to break the bank the G31DDC Excalibur is the one to go with. For a little more money the same could be said of the Perseus, but the Perseus only has one performance advantage over the G31DDC, the more robust front-end, and it lags the G31DDC in many other ways.

If you want to experiment and use an SDR as a building block, getting greater performance after you add some pieces / parts, then the QS1R is a good choice.

If you want an SDR that is slightly more expensive, but one that performs very well out of the box and still has the ability to be used in experimentation and as a building block to other things, the NetSDR is the choice.

If you want the best performing, most capable right out of the box, SDR of the ones discussed go with the G33DDC Excalibur Pro.

If you want remote control, other than something like Remote Desktop, then the NetSDR and the Perseus are the answers.

Software. Well, there is a lot of software out there. SDRMax for the QS1R is pretty good. SpectraVue for the NetSDR is simple but capable. The Perseus software is the most limited and “old” feeling (fixed window size, etc) but also works very well despite that. Both the NetSDR and the Perseus can be run from HDSDR, and many people like that software. I think there is a Linux version out there, but I honestly don’t know. The Excalibur software is very well done and very capable, but the G31DDC version lacks a few features I sure wish it had, the G33DDC version I consider to be as complete as anything out there, and more capable than most.

In my opinion, of the units discussed, the G31DDC Excalibur is the best bang for the buck right out of the box. While not the absolute top performer it simply works very well and is not all that expensive.

If I was to rank the SDRs discussed, cost not being a factor at all, in my opinion and based on having used them all and what I liked and disliked about each:
1 G33DDC Excalibur Pro
2 NetSDR
3 G31DDC Excalibur
4 Perseus
5 QS1R

T!
 

corbintechboy

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Location
Corbin, KY
Thank you for the response Token. I was actually hoping you would respond since you seem to have so many radios.

I do have a local AM station. It is about 3 bird miles from me and I have had problems in the past with images and such, will anything but the Perseus present a problem?

The Perseus does look like a nice enough radio. How would utility monitoring/decoding go with the Perseus?

The Excalibur Pro looks like the one to choose. I got the "that's really expensive and you better like it" from my wife. It's the mark of approval, so if it will work close as I am to that AM station, that will be what I get.

Thank you for the reply, very much appreciated.
 
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