What SDR should I upgrade to?

hruskacha

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I have a handful of RTL-SDR v3's from RTL-SDR Blog [5 of them, A,B,C,D,E) and I use them to scan Public safety radio with SDRTrunk. Ive been running A &B for just about 3 years 24/7, C&D for ~2 years 24/7 and E on occasions. I want to replace all of them with something better but I'm not sure what. They still work ok, only one has a crazy ppm drift, even though they all get kinda toasty.

I have an Airspy R2 that has 10MHz BW and it works great, but I want multiple cheaper and smaller SDRs because even though they have a smaller bandwidth, the ~2.4MHz is perfect to cover multiple trunked channels and cheap enough to have multiple SDRs to jump around the bandplan (which is 770MHz and 850MHz bands).

I want to stick with the "rtl sdr" because again, smaller, cheaper, etc. But what ones are best? Ideally I want improved RF components, filters, etc. I don't necessarily need any improvement with bandwidth or tuning range.

And also, would a non sdr addon be beneficial? Like a filter inline with my antenna.
 

ToddWilkinson

ScanMN
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Dec 2, 2021
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335
I have a handful of RTL-SDR v3's from RTL-SDR Blog [5 of them, A,B,C,D,E) and I use them to scan Public safety radio with SDRTrunk. Ive been running A &B for just about 3 years 24/7, C&D for ~2 years 24/7 and E on occasions. I want to replace all of them with something better but I'm not sure what. They still work ok, only one has a crazy ppm drift, even though they all get kinda toasty.

I have an Airspy R2 that has 10MHz BW and it works great, but I want multiple cheaper and smaller SDRs because even though they have a smaller bandwidth, the ~2.4MHz is perfect to cover multiple trunked channels and cheap enough to have multiple SDRs to jump around the bandplan (which is 770MHz and 850MHz bands).

I want to stick with the "rtl sdr" because again, smaller, cheaper, etc. But what ones are best? Ideally I want improved RF components, filters, etc. I don't necessarily need any improvement with bandwidth or tuning range.

And also, would a non sdr addon be beneficial? Like a filter inline with my antenna.
SDRTRUNK works great on digital!
 

boatbod

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Talbot Co, MD
You can have cheap or you can have high quality, but not both at the same time.

Personally I like the Airspy Mini for $100/ea (3Mhz & 6Mhz bandwidth), but it's hard to beat the flexibility of the cheap generic TCXO RTL for about $25-$35/ea. They all run hot, so install them on usb pigtails to give them more room to breathe.
 

dlwtrunked

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If you want the best, an AirSpy R2 for VHF/UHF and an AirSpy HF+ Discovery for HF (as good as an ICOM R9500 on HF for 1/100th the price). If you want both VHF/UHF and HF and cannot afford the AirSpys, then go with an SDRplay RSP1a but only. Only use the RTL-SDR dongles if you cannot afford better--they have limited dynamic range and dismal HF performance. Yes, I won every receiver/SDR mentioned in this post and others and have compared them.
 

dlwtrunked

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If you want the best, an AirSpy R2 for VHF/UHF and an AirSpy HF+ Discovery for HF (as good as an ICOM R9500 on HF for 1/100th the price). If you want both VHF/UHF and HF and cannot afford the AirSpys, then go with an SDRplay RSP1a but only. Only use the RTL-SDR dongles if you cannot afford better--they have limited dynamic range and dismal HF performance. Yes, I won every receiver/SDR mentioned in this post and others and have compared them.

"won" above was supposed to be "own" (spell checker go me). I wish there was some place get could win SDRs :)
 

ewh01

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You can have cheap or you can have high quality, but not both at the same time.

Personally I like the Airspy Mini for $100/ea (3Mhz & 6Mhz bandwidth), but it's hard to beat the flexibility of the cheap generic TCXO RTL for about $25-$35/ea. They all run hot, so install them on usb pigtails to give them more room to breathe.
I have mine on pigtails and I also put SSD heat sinks on them, definitely cooler to the touch...
 

rabbit108

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Clats97

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Well I use the Nesdr SmarTee XTR dongle, I have 3 of them, it has a 4.5v bias tee, the E4000-based SDR excels at sensitivity at <500MHz and >1500MHz, and is capable of frequencies up to approximately 2350MHz. There is a small gap in frequency capability near 1100MHz, however, so it cannot be used for ADS-B, you'd need an Nesdr Smart for that. It's great, and these are the specs according to the manufacturer:

✔ RTL2832U Demodulator/USB interface IC
✔ E4000 tuner IC
✔ Integrated, always-on bias-tee (4.5V, 250mA max)
✔ 0.5PPM, ultra-low phase noise TCXO
✔ 2 RF-suitable voltage regulators
✔ Shielded primary inductor
✔ Integrated custom heatsink
✔ 2 silicone pads
✔ Female SMA antenna input
✔ High-quality silver brushed aluminum enclosure
✔ Frequency capability approximately 50MHz-2400MHz, with small frequency gap near 1100MHz and ability to monitor as low as 25mhz with modifications
✔ Frequency stability: 0.5PPM (max)
✔ Phase noise @1kHz offset: -138dBc/Hz (or better)
✔ Phase noise @10kHz: -150dBc/Hz (or better)
✔ Phase noise @100kHz: -152dBc/Hz (or better)

It's a great sdr. I also have an Adalm Pluto SDR, which has a range of 325mhz-3.8ghz and 20mhz of bandwidth, and does half or full duplex transmission. So it's not really for scanning, it's more for spectrum analyzation, gnu radio, and stuff like that because the lowest frequency is in the 300s which you'd miss VHF frequencies. But for what it's for, it's great.

Id try out the SmarTee XTR. You won't be dissapointed. Get an antenna kit that has a telescoping antenna so you can create a 1/4 wave for most frequency ranges, and a RaTLsnake M6 stubby kit, which have antennas for 100-500mhz (telescoping) as well as one for 800mhz+ and one for 1000-1300mhz (both stubby).

However, if you can, hook it up to a discone, you get fantastic reception with discones that have a vertical whip.
 

iMONITOR

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However, if you can, hook it up to a discone, you get fantastic reception with discones that have a vertical whip.


That's interesting! prcguy always tell people to remove the vertical whip. He said with the vertical whip attached it's not a true discone design and leaving it on might degrade performance except for VHF/Lo. At what bands/frequencies do you find your discone with the vertical whip on top performing well? I ask because I temporarily removed the top vertical whip on my Diamond D-130NJ and I'm not impressed with it's performance on VHF/UHF aircraft or the 700-900 MHz.
 

Clats97

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That's interesting! prcguy always tell people to remove the vertical whip. He said with the vertical whip attached it's not a true discone design and leaving it on might degrade performance except for VHF/Lo. At what bands/frequencies do you find your discone with the vertical whip on top performing well? I ask because I temporarily removed the top vertical whip on my Diamond D-130NJ and I'm not impressed with it's performance on VHF/UHF aircraft or the 700-900 MHz.
Vertical whip gives you low band coverage but if you don't need it you simply take it off lol
 

thunderr10

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That's interesting! prcguy always tell people to remove the vertical whip. He said with the vertical whip attached it's not a true discone design and leaving it on might degrade performance except for VHF/Lo. At what bands/frequencies do you find your discone with the vertical whip on top performing well? I ask because I temporarily removed the top vertical whip on my Diamond D-130NJ and I'm not impressed with it's performance on VHF/UHF aircraft or the 700-900 MHz.
I have that exact antenna in my attic, connected to my SDS100, and it is better, at least for me, with the whip on.
 

BM82557

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Berkeley Co WV
That's interesting! prcguy always tell people to remove the vertical whip. He said with the vertical whip attached it's not a true discone design and leaving it on might degrade performance except for VHF/Lo. At what bands/frequencies do you find your discone with the vertical whip on top performing well? I ask because I temporarily removed the top vertical whip on my Diamond D-130NJ and I'm not impressed with it's performance on VHF/UHF aircraft or the 700-900 MHz.

My manual just has this about the vertical whip, see # 5 --

Screenshot - 6_16_2023 , 6_52_10 AM.png
 

Clats97

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That's interesting! prcguy always tell people to remove the vertical whip. He said with the vertical whip attached it's not a true discone design and leaving it on might degrade performance except for VHF/Lo. At what bands/frequencies do you find your discone with the vertical whip on top performing well? I ask because I temporarily removed the top vertical whip on my Diamond D-130NJ and I'm not impressed with it's performance on VHF/UHF aircraft or the 700-900 MHz.
I am receiving well on CB, VHF, UHF, 800+, Marine, and Airband. And my setup isn't even optimal, it's on my balcony which means it's surrounded by metal. But it still pulls in signals from 250km away when monitoring
 
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