Currently we at RTL-SDR.com are selling upgraded RTL-SDR dongles on our store. We’ve worked hard to reduce the most common issues that the cheapest generic dongles have, whilst trying to not significantly increase the retail price so that these devices stay ubiquitous. In each batch that we’ve produced so far we’ve tried to make some improvements over the last. Previously we’ve added a TCXO, SMA connector, and bias tee and now in the latest batch we’ve added a metal case and passive cooling.
The new units have been in stock at our Chinese warehouse for almost a month now, and they are now back in stock at Amazon USA as well (shipping soon). They are priced the same as before: $24.95 USD for the unit with antennas and $19.95 USD for the dongle only. If you order from the Chinese warehouse all units come with free registered air mail shipping (1-4 week delivery), and free shipping is available on Amazon for USA customers (<1 week delivery) if you are a Prime member or spend over $35.
To purchase please see our store page at www.rtl-sdr.com/store.
New features in this version:
- Aluminium case. We’ve upgraded from a plastic case and now all units come with an aluminium case standard. The aluminium is 1mm thick and is treated with an anti-anodizing coating to improve conductivity. However, some natural anodization still occurs. The dimensions are similar to the plastic case at 69 mm x 27 mm x 13 mm.
- Ground tracks on the PCB. The PCB size has been increased slightly to accommodate side ground tracks. These ground tracks should make contact with the aluminium and provide ground conductivity to the case.
- Passive cooling. As the case is now metal we can apply a thermal interface material between the PCB bottom and case wall. The interface material we’ve chosen is a 3mm thermal pad. This is a soft silicon pad with high thermal conductivity. This appears to provide adequate cooling to ensure the dongles run properly at above 1.5 GHz.
The metal case and side ground tracks should reduce the amount of interference received by the dongle through sources other than the antenna. The passive cooling should also be enough to ensure that the dongles run properly at above 1.5 GHz, though we still would recommend running them in a cool shady place, rather than out in the direct sun if monitoring L-band signals. If you find that the conductivity between the PCB and case is not good enough, then you can try thickening the side ground tracks on the PCB with a layer of solder – we will be trying to increase the thickness by default in subsequent batches.
Soon we will also have the metal cases for sale by themselves for those who want to upgrade from a previous batch (EDIT: Now on sale!). Though please note that although the older SMA PCBs fit in this case, the previous batches PCB’s are a little smaller than what this case takes so it may fit a little loosely. The old PCB’s also don’t have the side ground tracks for improved conductivity, but even with no ground conductivity it is still possible for the case to work as a Faraday cage. These cases will be available on the store page in a few days at a very low cost and they will only be available only from the Chinese warehouse.
Once again we hope people will enjoy these changes, and feel free to let us know what you think and what you might like to see in the future.