RTL-SDR Adventures

RTL SDR with SDR#

DVB-T Dongle

DVB-T Dongle from eBay seller digitalhome88

I received my DVB-T dongle from eBay finally about a week ago.  Here’s a link to the vendor I purchased from.  After getting the drivers loaded in Windows 7 on my aging Dell D630, I was able to get the SDR running.  Using the instructions here at rtlsdr.com, I finally got things up and running.  There was one mistake that made me lose several minutes.  I missed the instruction:  If your dongle doesn’t automatically show up, select Options then List all Devices.  Read carefully!  I’ve found that in my case, SDR# is the better choice of software.  For some reason HDSDR causes the dongle to lock up after changing bands.  I’m sure I’ll find out why because I see many others having good luck with it.  The old Dell was able to keep up, but seemed a bit choppy.  I dropped the sampling rate down a bit, and everything was fine.

My first tests were a little disappointing, yet this was with the cheesy antenna the dongle arrived with, and then with MacGuyver-ing an antenna adapter together.  The DVB-T dongles have a PAL-female connector on them, and nothing in my tin-o-connectors seemed to work.  Radio Shack carries an adapter that is PAL-male on one side and F-female on the other.  I went out and picked one up, as well as an extra F-to-BNC adapter.  Then I was able to go from the dongle to my simple outdoor antenna.

With a solid connection to my outdoor wire antenna (just a wire thrown into a nearby tree, and a counterpoise out on the roof slope), I was able to get all of the local repeaters, as well as repeaters in Manhattan, and much farther.  4 different NOAA stations came in, and aircraft traffic from the whole tri-state area.  I even grabbed a couple of 2 meter USB contacts, and quickly switched over to the TR-9000 to speak with one of them.  Performance with this setup was much, much better than I had expected.

My Elmer had stopped by Sunday to deliver a rig he repaired for me on his way out to Eastern Long Island, and I gave him a quick demo.  After playing with it for about 20 minutes he said “Send me the info.  I need to get one of these!”  Here is a quick video I took of some local repeaters, including a Ham ordering coffee from a McDonald’s drive-thru.  Sorry for the shaky video.

Click here for video: RTL SDR with SDR#

–Neil W2NDG

Neil Goldstein, W2NDG, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New York, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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