New to TN, RTL-SDR, Scanning & Radio

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Premium Subscriber
May 18, 2021

Newbie here & looking for any tips 'n tricks that could be helpful in setting me up.
I've always had a CB in any of my vehicles, a weather radio for storms 'n such. One thing I've never had (until recently is a scanner). I purchased a whistler handheld scanner a few years ago with the intent to listen to local police/fire/ems. However, I couldn't get it to function properly & lost interest.

Recently moved to middle Tennessee & due to some projects related to the 7 Raspberry Pi's that I have been working on I came across a few tutorials on the RTL-SDR setups made with them & it's rekindled my interest in radio scanning. However, I'm looking to get set up with my extra Windows 10 PC.

My goal is to be able to use the 4 RTL-SDR's I've purchased to listen to local PD/FD/EMS/AIR (non-encrypted & Trunked systems).

What I've purchased is the following:
2x (1 on hand & 1 on the way for trunk listening) - RTL-SDR Blog V3 R820T2 RTL2832U 1PPM TCXO HF Bias Tee SMA Software Defined Radio with Dipole Antenna Kit

1x Nooelec NESDR Smart v4 Bundle - Premium RTL-SDR w/Aluminum Enclosure, 0.5PPM TCXO, SMA Input & 3 Antennas. RTL2832U & R820T2-Based Software Defined Radio

(on the way)
1x -
FlightAware Pro Stick Plus ADS-B USB Receiver with Built-in Filter
& an antenna onelinkmore 1090Mhz Antenna MCX Plug Connector 2.5dbi Gains ADS-B Aerial with Magnet Base RG174 1M+MCX Female to SMA Male Adapter Connector

The RTL-SDR blog v3 that I have on hand I've so far used to only be able to receive FM & Weather station signals. I believe this is due to at the moment I can only place the antenna by a window. Renting a home & the nearest exterior exit is 150 ft away. It's an older home & the windows are old & in pretty bad shape, enough so that I'm afraid to even open them for fear of them breaking.

I've used an AmazonBasics USB 2.0 Extension Cable - A-Male to A-Female - 9.8 Feet (3 Meters) cable to get the RTL-SDR stick away from the PC's (3)

Currently, I'm still looking for solutions to get the antenna's outside somehow but honestly, I don't think it's possible due to rental restrictions. An in-home solution (non-permanent, no hole drilling, attic access not an option etc., etc.). The only thing I can think of is something I saw years ago & don't know if they even still make is a magnetized or stick-on antenna (glass mount) the wired end on the inside of the window & the antenna portion "sticks" to the glass from the outside (is this an option with RTL-SDR?).

If any other Middle Tennesseans (or anyone) use an RTL-SDR ADS-B setup I'd appreciate some input on frequencies that can be picked up by the setup I'm looking to do.

Currently, I've installed SDR#, Unitrunker & SDR-Trunk to sort of play around with. SDR# is only able to get FM/Weather station (162.5) signals. SDR-Trunk is able to pick up a control "Traffic" channel on one of these freq (Control):
851.075c 851.9375a 852.3375a 852.7125a 853.1375 853.475 853.725. Same thing with Unitrunker. I'm not sure exactly what/who it's picking up though.

Edit: I'm not looking to be able to listen to the ISS (although that would be cool but there are websites for that (I think) or listen to freq's states away. Just looking to be able to listen to local PD/EMS/FD/AIR (within range of my home) signals. If I can hear at least that I'll be satisfied. If I could listen to stuff maybe a county or 2 out then that's just a bonus.)


Premium Subscriber
Jul 5, 2011
Knox / Roane / Loudon counties, Tennessee
glass mounts for vehicles are terrible. 150' seems awfully long; most rooms are adjacent to an exterior wall. Look closely - were there holes in the floor drilled for cable or satellite? Are there wall outlets for a deprecated telephone system (you could try and follow those wires out)? What about a chimney, or hvac registers?

I have some experience with the RTL's, but only in portable setups. I have had 20 foot USB 2.0 active repeater cables, they were used to talk to simple devices. I wonder if they would work in this instance? Get a high speed hub, put it outside with the RTL's, run the cable back to where you want to monitor... ? Or a wifi connection? Figure a way to run the RTL's into some kind of wireless hub, then put the other hub where it can 'see' the outside hub, then...

Depending on where you are geographically, you may or may not get some signal inside. Also depends on what you're wanting to listen to. 700mhz isn't a strong penetrator (I don't know what your locals are using). You may want to set up a test rig with a tablet and rtl with an antenna, and 'walk' it around each room, perhaps there might be a sweet spot? I know with my portables, especially with weaker signals, one foot in one direction makes a complete difference.

Space station can be heard on a whip sometimes, but there are plans on here for better, directional antennas.

Best bet is to hit the radioreference library and look at what frequencies are in use around you; that will dictate antennas to a large extent.

Good luck!
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