Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Software Defined Radios course review

josephdurnal

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I am sure many of us have heard about Scanner School and Phil, W2LIE. He has put out a free beginner’s software define radio course for those interested in using an SDR for scanning or monitoring. I took the course and here is my review.

Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Software Defined Radios Homepage course review.

The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Software Defined Radios is a good guide for those who have never used an RTL based SDR before and those who have not used them to create a usable alternative to a standalone scanner. It covers SDR# for analog monitoring and setting up DSD+ start to finish to monitor a DMR trunked system. You will get the most out of the course if you have a Windows computer and two RTL SDR receivers.

The course opens with about 45 minutes of what you need to have and do to follow along with the course. This is for the beginner and not all is necessary depending on how much experimenting you have already done with the SDR. If you want to follow along step by step in later modules though, the setup is recommended. There are some helpful Windows tips in this module as well.

The next 45 minutes or so are all about SDR# which is the basic tool for making sure your dongles are working. SDR# is also used as a basic analog receiver in this module and makes the connection between software and radio. It touches various adjustments that will be familiar to some, new to others, as well as plug-ins that extend the basic functionality of the base SDR# application.

The final set of modules cover how to set up a digital trunking scanner on a DMR Capacity Plus digital trunked system with multiple sites using the free version of DSD+. There is a lot of manual configuration in this module, but you will really learn a lot about what goes on under the hood. It starts by using one dongle where you get familiar with how to configure a receiver and how to start receiving information from the control channel. There is a lot of lead up to the final module where you use two dongles to monitor the control channel to control the second receiver to decode the voice channel.

The beginners course focuses on what you can do for just the cost of a few $30 RTL SDR dongles and a computer you probably already have utilizing free software. The beginners course has a lot of substance, but it is also a little bit of an advertisement for the advanced course. More expensive SDRs and paid software is mentioned a few times as material that will be covered in the advanced course. I have already registered for the Advanced Software Defined Radio online course and I am looking forward to learning a few more things.

Joe
 

ka3jjz

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As I mentioned in his email on another server, Phil has numerous other podcasts, such as an intro to DMA, DMR, NXDN and object oriented programming, just to mention a few. I've begun entering links to these in our wiki, but to find them quicker, just go to the Scanner School homepage. There's well over 200 of these there...Mike
 

w2lie

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Mike,
If you need help with the podcasts and wiki entries, let me know. I can provide a spreadsheet for every episode, title, and link.
Or I can help with the wiki additions of you would like.

Joe,
Thanks for your feedback and review on the course!
 

ka3jjz

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We're good, Joe. Not quite finished with all the updates, but will be shortly. I'm concentrating on the hot button topics for now such as the ones I just mentioned.

Mike
 
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