SDR (Software Defined Radios or Software Radio) is probably one the cheapest way to get into radio scanning. (I'm going to start at the lower end of the scale). Normally, a radio scanner relies on the hardware (i.e the scanner itself) to receive and display the frequencies it receives. A SDR Radio uses computer software to do the work instead
You can listen to Shortwave, Amateur Radio, FM Radio, and even Aircraft band (listening, tracking etc) on a SDR Radio.
There is 3 parts to set up a SDR.
1 = TV Dongle
2 = Software (Computer possibly running X64 bit, 32 Bit is OK but can get glitchy at times depending on software), also make sure you have Microsoft Net Framework 4.6 or higher (Download Here)
3 = Antenna (an outdoor antenna would be perfect)
To start, you will need a small TV tuner dongle (see below), they sell on Ebay for around $20-50. The RTL-SDR (Realtek RTL2832U) is the most popular and best value for money (as shown below). You can also spend several hundreds of dollars to get better equipment but this is more to get you started.
Thirdly, don't install the software that came with your dongle... The idea is, that although the dongle is built for TV tuning, it also receives a huge bandwidth capable of receiving a whole lot more and with the right software, that is what SDR is all about.
2. SOFTWARE... The magic that make everything works.
There are 2 parts to the software
The DRIVER... To recognize your dongle
You can download the driver from HERE
Then follow the steps below (or Here)
- Plug in the RTL-SDR. (dongle)
- Run Zadig as administrator by right clicking it and choosing run as administrator.
- Go to Options -> List all devices and make sure it is checked.
- In the drop down box choose Bulk-In, Interface (Interface 0). This may also sometimes show up as something prefixed with “RTL28328U”. That choice is also valid.
- Make sure that WinUSB is selected as the target driver and click on Download Driver / Reinstall Driver.
If you get stuck, check out links below (the driver and info link)
The SOFTWARE... Receives the frequencies coming from your dongle.
The most popular (and easy to use) would be HDSDR software.. (see below) but the fun thing is, that if you don't like a particular software program, just change to another till one suits your needs.
Some other software thats available for SDR (below)
http://zadig.akeo.ie/ (driver and information)
http://www.hdsdr.de/ (The most popular software of SDR)
http://airspy.com/download/ (Sdr Sharp)
http://fyngyrz.com/?p=2539#more-2539 (SdrDx - Windows and Mac) http://fyngyrz.com/
http://www.sm5bsz.com/lir/sim1/sim1.htm#SDRMAX (SdrMax) also https://rz3dvp.ru/software
http://microtelecom.it/perseus/software.html (Sdr - Perseus)
http://www.winrad.org/ (Sdr - Winrad)
http://www.sdrapplications.it/ (Sdr - StudioOne)
http://genesisradio.com.au/GSDR/ (Sdr - Genesis)
http://www.rtl-sdr.com/ (Information, links)
http://sdr.osmocom.org/trac/wiki/rtl-sdr (info - inc Linux)
https://sourceforge.net/projects/acarsdec/ (ACARS Decoder)
http://lz2hv.org/node/3 (Amateur radio)
As you can see, there is a plethora (i love that word) of software available (just google SDR Software) and prepare to be amazed...
Any type of antenna is good for SDR but an outdoor antenna is best.
Antenna's like the Discone, a longwire (shortwave) or a multiband whip up a pole will work the best.
Inside antennas tend to pick up too much interference inc computers, air cond, led lights, etc
GETTING IT ALL TO WORK
Once you get your dongle, download the driver from the link above (Zardig) and run the software, also be prepared to plug your dongle into your computer. (problems? click here)
Next, fire up the software program and check settings so that your dongle is active and start the software program.
May take a bit of time and a bit of a learning curb but can be fun listening to some interesting frequencies.
What i have written here is just the tip of the iceberg, as you get more into SDR Radio, you can upgrade to a factory made SDR unit that is actually made for SDR Radio. (Lots to choose from here)
I'm not a huge user of SDR Radio and don't claim know everything about this form of radio. (please don't ask really technical questions because i simply don't know)...
I will leave comments section open in case i have missed something or you can add some more information on SDR Radio so others can benefit.
Spam will get the comments section closed..
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