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SDR# SDRs with Best Performance

NebraskaCoder

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I have used RTL dongles for many years now and want to venture out to see what else is out there. I have pretty good results with my RTL dongle and OP25 in the city (mostly) but when I go home it does show that it is a cheaper SDR. Now for reference, I have problems where I'm at with normal scanners and even professional radios at one point.

I use a Unication G5 with a blue antenna for the 800 MHz range and get VERY good results. Before I venture into filters and other physical means to tune out noise (because I believe the signal from the radio tower is having a harder time with the hill about half a mile away rather than just noise), I want to see what higher end SDRs are out there that work with OP25 and are comparable to a professional radio or pager. I will also use this for experimenting with other RTL dongles.

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zapman987

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Most folks say this is the best all around: https://www.amazon.com/RTL-SDR-Blog-RTL2832U-Software-Defined/dp/B0129EBDS2/ref=pd_sim_23_13?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0129EBDS2&pd_rd_r=dbaf7f9e-9155-11e9-87d9-8b31639319cd&pd_rd_w=mNlz2&pd_rd_wg=wMd8v&pf_rd_p=90485860-83e9-4fd9-b838-b28a9b7fda30&pf_rd_r=6TY8Q3SCPARZCCHRSAJ2&psc=1&refRID=6TY8Q3SCPARZCCHRSAJ2

Ive used it and also this: https://www.amazon.com/NooElec-NESDR-Mini-Receiver-RTL2832U/dp/B00VZ1AWQA/ref=sr_1_17?keywords=rtl+sdr&qid=1560813385&s=gateway&sr=8-17

Ive also used NESDR's black v1 version as well decently.

The one posted has some limited filter on it for ADSB. It will do some general SDR but is optimized for ADSB. A lot of what OP is looking for is just like he said, experimentation and tweaking filters. Some of of the SDR community have spent years tweaking things to get just right. Look at how long Boatbod and co have spent to get OP25 working on an SDR...years.
 

NebraskaCoder

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I've recently started using one of these...

https://www.amazon.com/FlightAware-Pro-Stick-ADS-B-Receiver/dp/B01D1ZAP3C/ref=sr_1_3?crid=18LA7825BNJ1Y&keywords=flightaware+pro+stick+plus&qid=1560812778&s=gateway&sprefix=flightaware,aps,161&sr=8-3

performance on VHF is good, UHF is great and 7/800mhz is outstanding. For the price, really hard to beat.
Looks like your link didn't copy correctly. I see three dots in the URL so that could be why it didn't work.

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Forts

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The FlightAware stick that I linked is not filtered, their other model (the blue one) is. The orange one has a built in 20db amp that works extremely well at higher frequencies. You do need to be able to control the gain however or it may get overdriven. This isn't at problem when using FMP24 etc...
 

NebraskaCoder

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Most folks say this is the best all around: https://www.amazon.com/RTL-SDR-Blog-RTL2832U-Software-Defined/dp/B0129EBDS2/ref=pd_sim_23_13?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0129EBDS2&pd_rd_r=dbaf7f9e-9155-11e9-87d9-8b31639319cd&pd_rd_w=mNlz2&pd_rd_wg=wMd8v&pf_rd_p=90485860-83e9-4fd9-b838-b28a9b7fda30&pf_rd_r=6TY8Q3SCPARZCCHRSAJ2&psc=1&refRID=6TY8Q3SCPARZCCHRSAJ2

Ive used it and also this: https://www.amazon.com/NooElec-NESDR-Mini-Receiver-RTL2832U/dp/B00VZ1AWQA/ref=sr_1_17?keywords=rtl+sdr&qid=1560813385&s=gateway&sr=8-17

Ive also used NESDR's black v1 version as well decently.

The one posted has some limited filter on it for ADSB. It will do some general SDR but is optimized for ADSB. A lot of what OP is looking for is just like he said, experimentation and tweaking filters. Some of of the SDR community have spent years tweaking things to get just right. Look at how long Boatbod and co have spent to get OP25 working on an SDR...years.
Your fist link copied but not the second link. Not sure if something is up with my browser but the Amazon page on the second one says it can't find the page. The first link, RTL Dongle I have.

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NebraskaCoder

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The FlightAware stick that I linked is not filtered, their other model (the blue one) is. The orange one has a built in 20db amp that works extremely well at higher frequencies. You do need to be able to control the gain however or it may get overdriven. This isn't at problem when using FMP24 etc...
Ok, so maybe I need to look at gain control and also filters. I didn't know if I could find any that were as sensitive as a professional radio is.

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Forts

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Strange...works for me..

Just search "FlightAware Pro Stick USB ADS-B Receiver" over at Amazon.
 

Forts

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Don't forget that sensitivity and selectivity are two separate and important details. Many radios/receivers will have great sensitivity but super crappy selectivity which leads to poor performance due to images, overloading etc. I doubt you'll find a cheap dongle that will match the performance of a purpose built receiver, but it also depends on what you're trying to listen to etc...
 

Forts

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If you do want to look at a higher end dongle I'd suggest the Airspy or Airspy Mini. Lots of reviews and Youtube videos out there you can check out too.
 

NebraskaCoder

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Thanks, I was wondering if the Airspy would be my next hop. I'm fine with having a smaller selectivity as I knew my G5 and public safety radios do that. I'll be using it to monitor a trunked system on 850 MHz using OP25. Since I'm a programmer, I'm hoping eventually I can put whatever to good use. My RTL Dongle is great but I'm narrowing down my issues to it being on the fringe and getting a small amount of interference. I can't be too hard on it as I noticed some glitching using OP25 right after I made this thread.

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jjbond

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the SDR Play, I have the duo and while I'm still learning it, it's great and gets great reviews... including this one comparing it to a Harris RF-590:

Milspec Communication | Software Defined Radio

More reviews can be found here: Reviews – SDRplay

And they're great with doing videos and updating the documents and downloads on their website, this is an example of a video they posted this week:
 
Last edited:

NebraskaCoder

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the SDR Play, I have the duo and while I'm still learning it, it's great and gets great reviews... including this one comparing it to a Harris RF-590:

Milspec Communication | Software Defined Radio

More reviews can be found here: Reviews – SDRplay

And they're great with doing videos and updating the documents and downloads on their website, this is an example of a video they posted this week:
Awesome suggestion! Thank you! I'll look at buying it as well.

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jjbond

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Plus SDR Play has the Duo (two tuners), so you can be monitoring two different services, frequencies, bands ec or you can have one tuner listening to the voice ATC air frequencies while at the same time tracking them with ADSB.

 

Forts

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I have 2 of the RTL-SDR branded dongles as well and they do work very well. However at higher frequency (especially 7/800) the orange FlightAware dongles are the clear winner. From my location I'm approx 60 miles from the nearest MPSCS simulcast tower in Michigan. Using an 800mhz yagi with good conditions the RTL-SDR will pull it in adequately. I've found with the flight aware dongle I can now see the control channel in FMP24 (and decode in DSD+) on days the RTL-SDR dongle doesn't see anyting at all. Of course YMMV, but it works very well for me.
 

NebraskaCoder

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I have 2 of the RTL-SDR branded dongles as well and they do work very well. However at higher frequency (especially 7/800) the orange FlightAware dongles are the clear winner. From my location I'm approx 60 miles from the nearest MPSCS simulcast tower in Michigan. Using an 800mhz yagi with good conditions the RTL-SDR will pull it in adequately. I've found with the flight aware dongle I can now see the control channel in FMP24 (and decode in DSD+) on days the RTL-SDR dongle doesn't see anyting at all. Of course YMMV, but it works very well for me.
I'll also look at getting some flightaware dongles too.

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boatbod

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Any sdr hardware that is supported by the osmocom driver for gnuradio can be used with op25. I've personally used the old (non-tcxo) rtl dongles, newer Newelec rtl dongles and most recently an Airspy Mini. Personally I think for best performance in marginal signal conditions you need to look at better antennas (and antenna positioning) before you worry too much about better dongles. A while back I needed to pull in a weak TRBO system and found that I got similar results between the Airspy and Noelec when fed by comparable antennas, but as soon as I switched over to a loft mounted antenna the signal boomed in and was much more stable.
 
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