SDR Newbie

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Ensnared

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Due to antenna issues, I will be sending my Uniden 436HP in for repairs. Hence, I am going to purchase a dongle setup to monitor and hopefully monitor a ProVoice system here in Texas. I am also going to analyzing a PV system in Temple that has no talk groups.

Please, assist me in the dongles I need to monitor and decode PV and DMR. I've heard good things about Airspy. I would appreciate any recommendations. What do I need to get started?
 

bama9999

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I use two of these with very good results: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B011HVUEM...0f-20&linkId=e6b872ce4bf757ba9f71fbd35a53742e

You will also need Unitrunker and DSD+, along with the free VB cable to route the audio to DSD+ from Unitrunker. You will also need to download Zadig to install the correct drivers for the dongles.

That's what you'll need to get started. There is a lot of helpful info on getting everything setup here: http://www.unitrunker.com/realtek2.html and also various threads about it here on RR as well.
 
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jbeen

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Hi Ensnared.

In addition to the dongle bama mentioned, I've been liking the NooElec version a bit more.
https://www.amazon.com/NooElec-NESDR-SMArt-Enclosure-R820T2-Based/dp/B01GDN1T4S/

It comes with (in my opinion) better antennas and is a smaller form factor.

Two of those dongles is an inexpensive way to get started with SDR scanning.

But, if your budget allows it, an Airspy R2 is worth considering, as you get about 8MHz of usable bandwidth.
So, depending on what frequencies the system you are monitoring uses, that might cover the full range of frequencies, which allows you to monitor multiple talkgroups at once.

The Airspy does require a fair bit of CPU power, so don't try to run it on older hardware.
(USB-3 with a quad-core CPU at minimum.)

Once you have things setup so you're receiving audio, take a look at the "Trunking Recorder" software to round out the experiment.

It can take some trial and error to get everything working, so budget some time and have fun. :)

Regards,
Josh
 

morfis

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rtl-sdr.com unit features a built in bias-t circuit to power an amp over the coax. Not a deal breaker but can be useful
nooelec smart dongle runs considerably hotter and has no built in bias-t. If you are wanting to use multiple dongles in a hub then the smaller formfactor will help. You can also use two directly with a raspberry pi3 without extra cables due to the smaller formfactor
airspy3 - I don't find this needs any more computer juice than either of the above. It's even bigger case means it runs a bit cooler than the rtl-sdr.com v3. It features a built in bias-t and is also considerably 'quieter' than either of the above...but given it's ten times the price you'd expect that.

For monitoring some specific frequencies I use a bunch of the nooelec nesdr units. For some limited scanning I also have a couple of the rtl-sdr.com v3 units.
The two Airspy V2 units I use for high speed searching
 

Ensnared

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Took Plunge

I use two of these with very good results: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B011HVUEM...0f-20&linkId=e6b872ce4bf757ba9f71fbd35a53742e

You will also need Unitrunker and DSD+, along with the free VB cable to route the audio to DSD+ from Unitrunker. You will also need to download Zadig to install the correct drivers for the dongles.

That's what you'll need to get started. There is a lot of helpful info on getting everything setup here: UniTrunker | Realtek RTL2832U and also various threads about it here on RR as well.
I am ordering the items mentioned, in time. For right now, I am ordering the dongle with the associated antenna. What I don't understand is why Unitrunker would provide a free VB cable unless Unitrunker costs.

I have successfully analyzed a VHF P25 trunking system with Pro96.Com using my GRE PSR 500. The software you mentioned looks very similar.

I have tried finding the aforementioned VB cable on Amazon to no avail.

Next, I will be buying the other components. Thanks. I went with this model since the other purchasing was a bit confusing to me. I liked one of the models mentioned by another listener. I am starting out small.

If this setup, when finished, will allow listening to a ProVoice EDACS system, I am quite impressed.

Onward Through the Fog.
 
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BM82557

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I am ordering the items mentioned, in time. For right now, I am ordering the dongle with the associated antenna. What I don't understand is why Unitrunker would provide a free VB cable unless Unitrunker costs.

I have successfully analyzed a VHF P25 trunking system with Pro96.Com using my GRE PSR 500. The software you mentioned looks very similar.

I have tried finding the aforementioned VB cable on Amazon to no avail.

Next, I will be buying the other components. Thanks. I went with this model since the other purchasing was a bit confusing to me. I liked one of the models mentioned by another listener. I am starting out small.

If this setup, when finished, will allow listening to a ProVoice EDACS system, I am quite impressed.

Onward Through the Fog.

VB cable is at this website - VB-Audio Virtual Apps
 

bama9999

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I am ordering the items mentioned, in time. For right now, I am ordering the dongle with the associated antenna. What I don't understand is why Unitrunker would provide a free VB cable unless Unitrunker costs.

I have successfully analyzed a VHF P25 trunking system with Pro96.Com using my GRE PSR 500. The software you mentioned looks very similar.

I have tried finding the aforementioned VB cable on Amazon to no avail.

Next, I will be buying the other components. Thanks. I went with this model since the other purchasing was a bit confusing to me. I liked one of the models mentioned by another listener. I am starting out small.

If this setup, when finished, will allow listening to a ProVoice EDACS system, I am quite impressed.

Onward Through the Fog.
Yes, it does fine on ProVoice. I normally listen to my local ProVoice system with my Uniden 536, but sometimes I'll use it for something else and monitor the Provoice/EDACS system using Unitrunker and DSD+, and it seems to work pretty much flawlessly.

As noted above, the free VB audio cable is a virtual software only cable, and not a physical item that you would need to purchase anywhere. Everything that I listed, other than the dongle itself, is a free download, so it really keeps costs low when going this route.
 

spongella

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RTL-SDR.com has released the most recent version of their dongle, it is version 3 (v3) so when buying one make sure you are getting version 3 and not 2 or older ones. The differences between the two may or may not make a difference to you now but later on might.

As was mentioned RTL-SDR.com is a great site for dongle users. Also check Nooelec's website, they are a reputable dealer and have several models available. Be careful when ordering dongles especially on Ebay as there are unscrupulous sellers, some charging as much as $300 for a cheap $20 dongle.

Like all radios, a good antenna will make all the difference. Outside is better, higher is better and bigger is better, generally.

Good luck and have fun with SDR.
 

Ensnared

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Virtual Cable

Yes, it does fine on ProVoice. I normally listen to my local ProVoice system with my Uniden 536, but sometimes I'll use it for something else and monitor the Provoice/EDACS system using Unitrunker and DSD+, and it seems to work pretty much flawlessly.

As noted above, the free VB audio cable is a virtual software only cable, and not a physical item that you would need to purchase anywhere. Everything that I listed, other than the dongle itself, is a free download, so it really keeps costs low when going this route.
Ok, this is rather new for me and quite confusing. I've never ever heard of such. At present, I am attempting to analyze Baylor University PD. Will one dongle analyze or do I need two? I was under the assumption that hearing the transmissions required on dongle to pick up the system and the other to decode. In the absence of the 2nd dongle, which I will get later, will one dongle help me out?

Do you know of an "Easier To Read" reference manual on DMR systems? Perhaps, mine should be in large print as well, with plenty of illustrations, LOL.
 

Ensnared

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bama9999

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Yes, one dongle will do it for analyzing it. Voice following can be done with just one dongle as well, if all the freqs used, including the control channel, fall into the 2mhz band spread of the dongle. If the freqs are farther apart, then a second dongle is required.

There is a program called OP25 that I have never used, because it's for Linux only, and from what I've read it does a great job on P25 phase 1 and 2, and only uses one dongle.

As far as knowing an easier guide to DMR, I have no idea. I have the DMR upgrade to my scanner, but have very limited experience with anything DMR myself. Hopefully someone else can chime in with info on that.
 

Ensnared

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Package Delivered

I greatly appreciate the feedback. This weekend, I will attempt to play around with this system and possibly analyze Baylor PD DMR. Thanks.
 
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