Buy RTL-SDR Dongles (RTL2832U)

Buying RTL-SDR RTL2832U DVB-T Tuner Dongles

There are several RTL-SDR RTL2832U dongle variants available for purchase due to different tuner chips and packages, with the R820T and E4000 variants being the best choices.

Reputable sources of dongles and related accessories are shown below.

R820T RTL-SDR

The R820T RTL-SDR is currently the cheapest, most common, and most performing in terms of general sensitivity. The R820T has a frequency range of  24 – 1766 MHz.

A reputable place to buy a R820T RTL-SDR dongle is at the Nooelec Amazon Store. Nooelec is good as they guarantee that their R820T dongles have an ESD protection diode, which some dongles from other sellers can lack. They also provide excellent installation support should you need it. These dongles are usually around $20. Click the link below to check the price.

Click here to buy a Nooelec R820T dongle

There is now also the Mini R820T package. These have similar price and performance to the standard sized package shown above, but are known to have slightly poorer frequency stability.

minir820tClick here to buy a Mini R820T dongle

Take note of the uncommon Micro Coax (MCX) plug on these dongles. Check out the most commonly used MCX adapters further down the page. 

E4000 RTL-SDR

The E4000 is more expensive as it has become rare since it has gone out of production. It has a frequency range of 52 – 2200 MHz with a gap from 1100 MHz to 1250 MHz.

The E4000 RTL-SDR dongle can still be bought from Nooelec Amazon as well. Due to it’s rareness, the cost of the E4000 is slowly rising. These dongles used to go for $20, but are now going for around $70-$100! Best to get them now before they sell out completely. These use the more common PAL (aka Belling-Lee) TV plug.

Terratec E4000 DongleClick here to buy an E4000 Terratec Dongle

MCX Adapters

Most R820T RTL-SDRs use an MCX connection. To connect to antennas with different connectors you can use an adapter. MCX adapters are fairly cheap and most can be found on Amazon for under $10. Some common ones are listed below.

smaFemaleMCX->SMA FemalesmaMaleMCX->SMA Male
BNCFemaleMCX->BNC FemaleBNCMaleMCX->BNC Male
UHFAdapterMCX->UHF(SO239) FemaleFAdapterMCX->F Female
NFemaleMCX->N FemaleNAdapterMCX-> N Male
PALAdapterMCX->PAL Female


Ham-it-up Upconverter

Nooelec also sell the Ham-It-Up Upconverter. The ham-it-up is a quality upconverter that allows the RTL-SDR to receive HF (0-30 MHz) signals. It also works with other SDR’s such as the HackRF. The Ham-It-Up uses SMA Female connectors, so you will need an MCX->SMA Male adapter for the dongle.

Click here to buy a Ham-It-Up Upconverter

Antennas

The optimal antenna to use is highly dependent on the frequency you want to listen to. However, for general purpose scanning across all frequencies, we recommend using a Discone or Scantenna.

The Scantenna is a general purpose antenna with a frequency range of 30-1300Mhz and excellent reviews on Amazon. Most people find that the Scantenna outperforms a Discone in many situations. Scantennas go for around $50.

scantennaClick here to buy a Scantenna

The Discone is the ‘classic’ RTL-SDR antenna as it covers a wide range of frequencies like the Scantenna. A decent Discone can go for as little as $50.

disconeClick here to buy a Discone

Other

You may also want to get an active USB extension cable so that you can put the RTL-SDR dongle as close to the antenna as possible to reduce coaxial feed line losses and decrease RF interference from your PC.

ActiveUSBClick here to buy an active USB Extension Cable

A Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized computer that runs Linux. With it you can connect an RTL-SDR, run a server, and then remotely send a signal or processed data such as ADS-B aircraft locations back via WiFi or Ethernet cable.

raspberrypi Click here to buy a Raspberry Pi

A USB on-the-go (OTG) cable is required to use the RTL-SDR on Android phones with software like SDR Touch and Wavesink.

usbotgClick here to buy a USB OTG Cable

If you have long runs of coaxial cable, a low noise amplifier (LNA) may aid in helping to ‘push’ weak signals through. We recommend the LNA4ALL LNA.

LNA4AllClick here to buy an LNA4ALL

Noise can appear on the USB cable which can show up in the RF spectrum quite easily. To stop this noise use clip on ferrite cables on the USB cable.

ferrite_clip_onClick here to buy clip on ferrite cores

If you have strong FM band interference an FM trap band stop filter can help reduce this interference.

Fm_trapClick here to buy an FM Trap

25 comments

  1. Pingback: Hacks all the way down | Dolske's blog
  2. dani

    Hai Admin… i want to buy a SDR. I have some doubts about it
    1,All DVB SDR same? ( multiple RTL SDR on ebay&Amazon)
    2, What is different R820T&E4000?
    Thanks
    dani

  3. Pingback: A Programmer, Scientist, and Engineer Walk Into A Bar - STEAM Power Podcast
  4. René WELTER

    Nooelec has now a nano usb stick and they say that he is better than the normal USB stick

    Did any one compare ?

    Tnx for info

    René

  5. René Welter

    There is now a Nano stick awailable at Nooelec.
    They say even that he is better than the normal stick.

    Has anyone compared . .

  6. Pingback: Software Defined Radio Tutorial For The Beginner | The Cyber Daily
  7. Pingback: SDR Dongle Turns Computer Into Receiver | KI4KQD BLOGGER
  8. 9V1SV

    I have bought a E4000 Terratec t stick+ and Ham it up converter from Nooelec. My PC Windows 8, i7
    After I realised it is not compatible for Windows 8. Now I don’t know what can do with this device.

  9. Rolf

    I have just bought a dongle and have the software installed.but can not find the stick name in the field next to Play.
    Have find in the AUDIO tag the Input that shows MME ,s two with a REALTek name but can not reciev ant radio station can you advice me Cheers Rolf

  10. ik3ery

    The plugin “Auto Tuner” does not exist in the file “Release-latest.zip” how to download Plugin of this site.
    Where can I find this “Auto Tuner” ?
    Help me
    Sergio

    • admin

      Hi, I just tested that download and it’s there, but a little hidden. You need to scroll down on the left menu, and click the [+] next to the Auto Tuner button.

  11. Hao Doan

    RTL-SDR can get spectrum upto 2200 MHZ ?and How many tolerance of rtl-sdr ?I want get spectrum of range 2110 -2170 Mhz of a RF generator,Can i do ?Thanks!

    • admin

      Only the E4000 RTL-SDR can go up to 2200 MHz maximum, so make sure you get one with the E4000 tuner chipset. RTL-SDR has 3.2 MHz maximum bandwidth, so you won’t get the entire spectrum all at once. The oscillator PPM tolerance is usually somewhere between 10-100 PPM error.

      • Hao Doan

        Thank you ! I can question more .Have type other of rtl-sdt that bandwidth about 100Mhz ? If with bandwidth 3.2Mhz and range measure frequency is 2110-2170 Mhz software can indentify start and end frequency that needn’t display spectrum all on screen ?Thanks!

        • admin

          All RTL-SDR’s have 3.2 MHz max bandwidth. Sorry, I don’t quite understand the final question, but you can tune to any frequency between 2110-2170 MHz and look at 3.2 MHz of the spectrum.

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>