SEARS SDR Talk May 2016

The May 2016 club night at the South Essex ARS (SEARS) was on the topic of budget software defined radios, and was presented by Paul 2E0DNQ, an avid fan of these powerful and flexible little devices.

Paul 2E0DNQ giving his budget SDR dongle talk at SEARS in May 2016
Paul 2E0DNQ giving his budget SDR dongle talk at SEARS in May 2016

In his talk, Paul featured the Realtek SDR dongle, which is available for between £8 and £12 (see link later in this article if you want to get one). Paul covered what the dongles can do, how they work and how to install the software.

The dongles themselves are capable of doing far more than designed to do – originally, they were sold to allow people to receive Freeview digital TV, but using the right software, they can be used to monitor a sizeable chunk of the radio spectrum, track aircraft, decode data modes, listen to FM and DAB radio, and experiment with.

Paul 2E0DNQ with the Realtek dongle
Paul 2E0DNQ with the Realtek dongle

Key to getting the most out of these from an amateur radio perspective, is the software – Paul talked through the pros and cons of three packages, SDR#, HDSDR (Paul’s favourite) and SDR Console 2. For Linux users, Paul 2E0SET in the audience recommended GQRX.

Paul wrapped up with talk about some extras, such as a low noise amp, up and down converters to cover a greater area, plus filters (which are missing from the core RTL SDR)

Paul 2E0DNQ demonstrating SDR software
Paul 2E0DNQ demonstrating SDR software


Thanks to Paul for an interesting talk on what the RTL SDR of capable of.

Pete’s kindly offered to come along to the Essex Skills Night on Monday the 16th of May to demo some of the software discussed at the SEARS meeting.


Handy SDR Links


Realtek RTL2832U SDR Dongle Availability

Realtek RTL-SDR DongleHere’s where to get the original RTL-SDR dongle (R820T chipset), or the second generation blue model with the R820T2 chipset offering slightly better performance:


Related Links

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  1. M0LMR 11 May 2016 Reply
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    • M0LMR 15 May 2016 Reply
  3. 2E0SET 12 May 2016 Reply

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