Buy RTL-SDR Dongles (RTL2832U)

Where to Buy RTLSDR 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/R820T2 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.

One reputable place to buy a R820T RTL-SDR dongle is at the Nooelec Store. Nooelec is good as they guarantee that their R820T dongles have an ESD protection diode, improved components, phone support and they ship fast from the USA. These dongles are usually price at around $20. Click the link below to check the price.

There is also the Nano R820T package sold by Nooelec. These have similar price and performance to the standard sized package shown above. The Nooelec branded nano models come with improved crystal oscillators and capacitors compared to generic brands. The improvements help to increase frequency stability and lower the noise floor.

nooelec_nanoClick here to buy a Nooelec ‘Nano’ dongle (Ebay)

Recently the R820T2 tuner chip has been used in some RTL-SDR dongles. The R820T2 chip has slightly better sensitivity compared to the R820T. Currently only Nooelec stock these, but we will have our own available for USA customers soon as well.

Click here to buy a Nooelec R820T2 dongle (Ebay)

Note that it is possible to also purchase lower cost R820T RTL-SDRs on Amazon and Ebay from other sellers, but these will ship from China taking up to 2-4 weeks for delivery and refunding faulty units will be difficult. However, this may be an option if you want several dongles. The lower cost R820T’s are essentially the same as the branded versions without the component improvements, support and fast shipping.

Also, 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 its 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 if you need them before they sell out completely.

Terratec E4000 DongleClick here to buy a E4000 dongle (Ebay)

Modded RTL-SDRs

There is a US manufacturer who are currently selling hand modified TCXO RTL-SDR dongles. These dongles have upgraded 1 ppm temperature compensated crystal oscillators which ensure high frequency stability.

US TCXO RTL-SDRClick here to buy a US TCXO RTL-SDR

Nooelec also sell custom TCXO RTL-SDRs and theirs come with an aluminium casing included.

Nooelec TCXO RTL-SDR DongleClick here to buy a Nooelec TCXO dongle (Ebay)

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 Female smaMaleMCX->SMA Male
BNCFemaleMCX->BNC Female BNCMaleMCX->BNC Male
UHFAdapterMCX->UHF(SO239) Female FAdapterMCX->F Female
NFemaleMCX->N Female NAdapterMCX-> 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 (Ebay)

To go with the ham-it-up Nooelec sell a metal enclosure. The enclosure can fit both the ham-it-up and an RTL-SDR dongle in it and will help reduce radio interference.

hamitup_enclosureClick here to buy a Ham-It-Up Metal Enclosure (Ebay)

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

RF Filters

Filters connect between your antenna and RTL-SDR dongle. They help to significantly reduce out of band interference and noise which is very helpful when trying to improve signal strength.

If you have strong FM band interference a good FM trap band stop filter such as this MCM one can help reduce this interference.

Fm_trapClick here to buy an FM Trap

If you are monitoring the air band for air traffic or ACARS you can buy 118 – 138 MHz bandpass filters.

Click here to buy an air band band pass filter

For ADS-B aircraft tracking a 1090 MHz bandpass filter can significantly increase the radar range and messages received.

Click here to buy an ADS-B band pass filter

Other RTL-SDR Related Purchases

Check out our book about the RTL-SDR here! It contains many tutorials and lot’s of tips and tricks to get the most out of your RTL-SDR radio.

The Hobbyists Guide to RTL-SDR: Really Cheap Software Defined RadioClick here to buy our Ebook: The Hobbyists Guide to the RTL-SDR

Nooelec also sell handy aluminum cases for RTL-SDR dongles which help with shielding from local interference.

Aluminum CaseClick here to buy an aluminum RTL-SDR case

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. We recommend cables that come with power plugs as well.

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 are using a long wire or random wire antenna with a HF modded RTL-SDR or an upconverter you should use a 9:1 impedance transformer to get good SWR.

9:1 Impedance TransformerClick here to buy a 9:1 impedance transformer

49 comments

    • admin

      Not much other than ours come with the 2x telescopic antennas which is good for beginners who don’t have any antennas to use. On the other hand Nooelecs’ have phone support and they also sell more expensive models with the R820T2 chip which has slightly better sensitivity. They also ship outside the USA which we can’t do at the moment.

      We’re restocking ours in a few weeks and ours will also have the R820T2 chip and some other small improvements applied to them.

  1. Josep

    Hi,

    I’ve tried to buy the R820T RTL-SDR in Amazon following your links, but it’s not possible for Spanish customers. I’ve find in the Amazon Spanish site and I found several vendors. While all of them have prices around 15-20 EUR, one from NooElec costs 308 EUR !!!. Where is the difference? I thought that almost these dongles where equal. All of them are RTL2832U+R820T.

    Thanks!

    • admin

      Our branded ones are currently only available in the USA due to Amazon restrictions. All dongles are almost all the same, the Nooelec ones have slightly better component tolerances and better support, but not worth 308 EUR, they must have made a pricing mistake there. Go for any reasonably priced R820T.

  2. Leopoldo

    Hi! I am close to buy my first SDR hardware but I have not decided yet between NooElec RTL-SDR kit (with Ham It Upconverter) and the DX Patrol Ultra Wide Receiver. My last due dilligence to finally decide is about tuning of ISDB Digital TV (the standard for most of Latinamerica).

    Usually RTL2832U R820T is offered like DVB-T tuner (standard for Europe) but there is no mention for ISDB TV nor ATSC (North America standard for digital television). In the white paper of Rafael Micro R820T (http://www.rafaelmicro.com/downloads/R820T.pdf) one can read that this chipset is also for ISBD and ATSC but my confusion comes from the advertisement of this dongle which is always as DVB-T shown on its plastic case, the antenna and the tiny remote control…

    Some days ago I did ask to DX Patrol manufacturer about if its dongle could tune ISBD TV and he said me that “by changing the software, you change the type of (SDR) receiver. You can still receive TV with it, but you will have a drivers conflict. You would need use different PC or so, but would be possible”. Unfortunately his answer was no so clear for a SDR beginner like me :s

    By the same way a sales representative at NooElec told me that she believes “the R820T has to be configured to receive ISDB and a slightly different circuit board is required. As such, I do not believe you can use these for ISDB”.

    What advice can all you folks give to me about this conflict :p ?

    Thank you all in advance!

    Leopoldo

    • admin

      EDIT: I’m not 100% sure on this, but I think the RTL-SDR R820T based dongles are compatible with ISDB-T, assuming you install the correct drivers for TV watching.

      The DX patrol guy was just warning you that you cannot have the SDR drivers and the TV drivers installed at the same time.

      • Leopoldo

        Hi again admin!

        Such driver’s conflict may be the reason why some SDR hobbyst recommend not to install the software that comes in the CD package if I will not use this device for TV purposes? In my case is very obvious that I won’t because DVB-T is not the standard in Latinamerica (but ISDB), so the CD and the remote control is useless for me.

        Regarding the white paper of Rafael Micro R820T which mention that this chip features for DVB, ISDB and ATSC standards, so it appears to be a driver design issue as you (admin) mentioned. But certainly it is very rare that northamericans, latinamericans or japanesse SDR enthusiasts didn’t have created any drivers to take advantage of ISDB/ATSC USB TV dongles… (?) Why the DVB-T dongle is so advertised and associated to SDR?

      • Leopoldo

        Hi again admin!

        Such driver’s conflict may be the reason why some SDR hobbyst recommend not to install the software that comes in the CD package if I will not use this device for TV purposes? In my case is very obvious that I won’t because DVB-T is not the standard in Latinamerica (but ISDB), so the CD and the remote control is useless for me.

        Regarding the white paper of Rafael Micro R820T which mention that this chip features for DVB, ISDB and ATSC standards, so it appears to be a driver design issue as you (admin) mentioned. But certainly it is very rare that northamericans, latinamericans or japanesse SDR enthusiasts didn’t have created any drivers to take advantage of ISDB/ATSC USB TV dongles… (?) Why the DVB-T dongle is so advertised and associated to SDR?

        • admin

          Yes the conflicts are why you can only use one driver at a time.

          The RTL2832U chips SDR capabilities are kind of an accident which hasn’t been able to be replicated in ATSC dongles as they do not use the RTL2832U.

          DVBT and ISDB are pretty similar which leads to believe that the DVB-T dongles are the same as the ISDB ones, but Nooelec might be right that there are small differences in the circuitry which could cause it to not work on ISDB.

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  8. 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

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  10. 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

  11. 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 . .

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  14. 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.

    • Enic

      Just Install Kali linux (free with almost all sdr tools preinstalled) at VMWare Player 6.x (free).
      Look at my comment under the topic of GSM decoding with the single script for Kali.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

          • Leopoldo

            Hi!

            When you say to look at 3.2 MHz of spectrum you mean that at maximun zoom out of spectrum you will only see signals between two frequencies B – A = 3.2MHz ? (at maximum zoom out). For example: at the websdr.org, the server of JO32KF (http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/) allow me to see from 0kHz to 29,160kHz —> this imply that the bandwith of his SDR receiver is almost 30Mhz (or 29.16MHz)?

            • Leopoldo

              Hi!

              When you say to look at 3.2 MHz of spectrum you mean that at maximun zoom out of spectrum you will only see signals between two frequencies B – A = 3.2MHz ? (at maximum zoom out). For example: at the websdr.org, the server of JO32KF (http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/) allow me to see from 0kHz to 29,160kHz —> this imply that the bandwith of his SDR receiver is almost 30Mhz (or 29.16MHz)?

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