NooElec NESDR SMArt Bundle Review

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Aug 8, 2017
St. Paul, MN
This is the USB unit I bought for my first venture into SDR radio. Unlike some others, it's packaged in a metal housing, which is slim enough to allow two dongles to fit in adjacent USB sockets. It comes with three antennas, including two fixed-length and one telescopic which screw onto a magnetic based. A 2-meter cable lets you put the antenna a little farther away than some others.

An SMA coaxial female mini RF input connection really simplifies antenna connection and low-cost adapters are available for all typical RF cables, for use with outdoor antennas. Frequency coverage is 25MHz to 2 GHz in normal mode. There's also apparently a Direct mode antenna connection available that extends the lower end of the spectrum farther into the HF range, but I haven't messed with that.

Installation with SDR# on a Dell Windows 10 PC with 8 GB of RAM, went smoothly, although I was unable to get the X64 of SDR# version to run, so I downloaded the AirSpy software package with its additional add-ons. I followed the typical installation process, as described in several places online. No problems.

Using the telescopic antenna, with the SDR# RF gain set at 35, hundreds of signals appeared as soon as I fired up the software. Long story short, I was amazed at the system's sensitivity with nothing but a telescopic antenna mounted indoors. All bands perform very well, including aircraft, weather, the 450 MHz business comms segment and many others.

The dongle runs warm, but not hot, even after hours of operation. Frequencies were exactly correct, as measured with some known signals. All reception modes worked flawlessly, and the software was relatively easy to figure out, with a little help from online resources.

I know I'm being long-winded here, but a lot of people who are new to this, like I was, come here to look for information, so I hope this review is helpful. All in all, I can't imagine a better choice than this unit, combined with SDR# for Windows users. It's a quick, simple way to get up and running for around $25.
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