SDS100: SDS100 barely receiving anything

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Hi all,

I’ve got a SDS100 (purchased in 2018) and trying to figure out if it’s defective — or if I’m doing something wrong.

I’m in Nassau County, NY and able to receive NYPD/FDNY signals which aren’t great but certainly have given me plenty of listening.

But for the most part, I can’t hear anything else. I’ve taken the radio planespotting a few times and near zilch....even being within a mile or two of the airport with no interference from buildings, I can’t hear the controllers or really anything else. Even parking my car at JFK/LGA with tons of ATC and other frequencies I can barely hear a thing - with my antenna pointed right at the control tower.

I have the entire RadioReference database for the area on the radio, and few if any stations are even receivable. I’ve swapped out the SDS100 stock antenna for a few others with limited success. I’ve played with the filters, again only limited improvement. The only really clear station is NOAA on 162.550.

In a moment of frustration, I bought an Icom R30 and spent the entire day yesterday in my backyard, pulling in pretty good quality airband with only the stock antenna. So I know it’s not the location.

Any chance this is the SDS100 cold solder problem I’ve read about on here? Some other setting I’ve got wrong?

Any tips would be much appreciated!
 
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tvengr

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Unless you are on top of the transmitter, it is unlikely you would be able to receive the weather if you had the cold solder joint problem. I would go with trentbob's suggestion to make sure that all of the service types are turned on. Check the Profile Editor in Sentinel to see that they are enabled. Also, check if the the attenuator is turned on.
 
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bob550

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How long have you had this reception problem with your SDS100? I would think a cold solder joint would affect all frequencies and not just a selected range.
 

jonwienke

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Solder joints (at least the ones on the SMA and J401 connectors) don't care what frequency is tuned. If they're causing a problem, they will affect all reception.
 

trentbob

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They’re on...wasn’t that...
Mmm... well it just so happens you have the attention here of some people who are the best ones to problem solve this issue.

You also have the Icom as a control. Let's do a little inventory here... What part of Nassau County are you in specifically?, how familiar are you with the database and the Nassau County TRS systems? You know Nassau County Police is encrypted full-time right?

Using the R30 find a active aviation frequency... Whatever local Airport you pick should be kind of busy today. Not sure what antennas you are playing with but for now the standard antenna should be okay. With the 100 sit on an active aviation frequency the R30 is picking up well. While holding on that frequency on the 100 toggle function 7. See if there's any Improvement or it causes you to actually start receiving transmissions. If it makes no difference toggle It Off.

As suggested... What is your range set at? Is it 10.0 or 50.0? And that only matters if you are searching the database only otherwise it's immaterial.

As suggested, you're sure ATT is off?

The more information, the easier it will be to troubleshoot as folks take shots in the dark.
 
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Thanks everyone for all the feedback so far.

To answer: in Port Washington, SDS100 range set to 10mi, all services/types enabled, ATT is off, and I know local/county PD is encrypted.

I have 120.8 (NY approach) tuned on both radios. The R30 is rather impressively pulling in every single transmission (both pilot and controller). The SDS100 is catching every 5th or 6th transmission, and only the aircraft side. I’ve toggled Function 7 (IFX) but can’t get any improvement. Same results whether both radios set to Squelch 2 or full open.

Any chance there’s something mechanically wrong with the SDS100? If nothing else I’m really happy to be hearing more on the R30.
 

trentbob

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The R30 is a superior receiver. It doesn't trunk track however but we know all that and it's irrelevant here. So I'm not going to go into a long dissertation about filters unless we have to but for now let's use the option of global filters which is not a permanent application it is just there to sample a filter quickly. When you find a filter that is superior you put Global filter back to default which is normal. We know that normal is not working well here. Your application here of a Global filter is going to affect every object on the radio but we don't care we're only going to monitor the one test frequency. We are not permanently going to set filters now oh, you need to be on a favorites list to do that but we can use Global filters temporarily just to see if we can find an improvement.

If you do find a filter does improve things you will need to start a favorites list and apply that filter to the department options that the conventional frequencies you want to improve are under.

I live in Philly and grew up in Philly but I lived in Roslyn down the street from you for about 15 years after college at Long Island University, when I lived there Port Washington was on 155.61. I got my first degree in 1975 and my second degree in 1978 LOL. I worked at North Shore University Hospital for 11 years full time before moving back to the Philadelphia area. I was also a newspaper photographer at Newsday newspaper in a Stringer capacity at that time.


Stay on 20.8 be sure you're on the detailed display that shows RSSI and noise level. You want to do this on the radio so you have real-time results that you can see on the display.

Go into menu, go to settings, go to Global filters, go to wide normal then back out of menu and monitor your test frequency against your control of the R30. You want to see a lower RSSI number. You want to see your noise level lower and not bouncing around as much as before. Write the numbers down if you have to. After a while go back to the menu and settings and Global filters and try invert, after you've done that for enough time go to wide invert, your last attempt will be no filter at all. Avoid the auto filters, when scanning they apply every filter every time and slow scanning way down and you never know what filter did the trick anyway.

After you have conducted this test as described on 20.6 get back to me and let me know how you did.
 
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trentbob

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If you manually program a frequency in, you have got to put it somewhere so it's going to end up on a favorites list but you then need to apply a quick key oh, now you have started a favorites list and you can apply a individual customized filter to a site in a simulcast system or to Department options covering a conventional frequency independent of global filters which should be returned to normal as a default as it will affect every object on the radio you have not gone in and manually changed. If you alter the global filter to accommodate one frequency you will compromise many other objects that are optimal on normal... It's default for a reason.
 

buddrousa

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Depends on if the Signal Meter is reading low could be the SOLDER JOINT ISSUE.
 

trentbob

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Depends on if the Signal Meter is reading low could be the SOLDER JOINT ISSUE.
Yes of course budd... check the posts from the beginning, that was brought up very quickly, Jon chimed in... The poster is picking up New York City fire and police, he is also picking up 162.55 pretty well, it was felt that if he's getting reception on those items it may not be SJI... trying to establish now if filters are going to help, ifx didn't.

I'm thinking along the same lines as you, it could be some kind of a operational defect... Then again if he's only using database scanning with a 10 mile range and there really isn't a whole lot in that area of Long Island, being that the police are fully encrypted, to hear. He has the advantage of an R30 to pick up Aviation, Marine and other services to compare with.
 

buddrousa

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My sds100 would pick up digital p25 nxdn dmr from 10 miles no signal level on the meter analog was dead the most recent video Jon posted was mine and that was a Uniden repair job.
 

trentbob

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Hey Josh I just noticed I referred to your test frequency as 20.6 , I realize it's 20.8 New York approach, just a typo on my part... Should stay pretty busy on a Sunday night. Look forward to how your filter sampling goes.
 

trentbob

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My sds100 would pick up digital p25 nxdn dmr from 10 miles no signal level on the meter analog was dead the most recent video Jon posted was mine and that was a Uniden repair job.
I have luckily never had the issue but have read everything I can on it... Putting it that way with that kind of evidence / experience SJI might very well be the problem. I would certainly defer to your experience here. The o p suspects the same and is looking for some kind of definitive proof or evidence that is the problem. Again, living through it, you know. His unit is from 2018.
 

Ubbe

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Has it been like that since 2018 or did it start to receive poorly just recently? The front end could have blown and given you a very poor sensitivty. NOAA are usually the strongest thing you can receive on a scanner. That cold solder joint connector are transfering gain settings to the receiver so it could use the lowest setting now, making it a 100 or 1000 times worse in reception. But most probably it is that preamplifier that are blown and only a fraction of the signal are coming thru to the receiver chip.

/Ubbe
 
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It’s always been this way, I’ve just never been home so many months to play with it. I will spend some time this week running the radio tests that trentbob suggests, but the huge spread between SDS100 and R30 reception is staggering. Even on NYPD, the R30 is so much crisper/clearer - from my basement with just the stock antenna. Only sorry I didn’t try and troubleshoot this sooner!
 

buddrousa

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No Problem just note what the signal bar is showing.
Also you could also add RSSI in detailed conventional and trunk and look at the signal numbers and report back.
 
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