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#