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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nooelec also sell custom TCXO RTL-SDRs and theirs come with an aluminium casing included.
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.
|MCX->SMA Female||MCX->SMA Male|
|MCX->BNC Female||MCX->BNC Male|
|MCX->UHF(SO239) Female||MCX->F Female|
|MCX->N Female||MCX-> N Male|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are monitoring the air band for air traffic or ACARS you can buy 118 – 138 MHz bandpass filters.
For ADS-B aircraft tracking a 1090 MHz bandpass filter can significantly increase the radar range and messages received.
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.
Nooelec also sell handy aluminum cases for RTL-SDR dongles which help with shielding from local interference.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.