Airspy Mini: $99 USD, 24 – 1800 MHz, 12-Bit RX SDR Now Available for Preorder

Over the last few months we’d constantly heard hints that the Airspy team was working on a miniaturized version of their popular Airspy SDR. Today the Airspy Mini has been released for preorder.

The Airspy Mini has similar high performance specifications to the Airspy R2, but comes in a USB dongle sized enclosure and only costs $99 USD – half the price of the $199 USD Airspy R2. The only difference in specification appears to be that the Airspy Mini has 6 MHz of spurious free bandwidth, versus 9 MHz in the Airspy R2, and that it lacks the external clock input and some of the expansion headers which are mainly useful only for advanced experimenters. The other features including its 24 – 1800 MHz operation, 12-bit ADC and 0.5 PPM TCXO all remain the same. The Airspy team also write that the Mini still supports a 20 MSPS mode for ADS-B decoding with the ADSBSpy decoder, which should place its ADS-B decoding performance at an identical level to the Airspy R2, which is very good.

The Airspy Mini SDR Dongle
The Airspy Mini SDR Dongle

To receive the HF frequencies the Airspy team are also releasing an Airspy Mini + SpyVerter bundle which will cost $149 USD. The SpyVerter is an upconverter designed to work with Airspy products, but has also been found to work well with the RTL-SDR. 

At these prices the Airspy Mini competes heavily with the $149 USD SDRplay RSP which is a similarly specced SDR. In a previous review on this blog that compared the SDRplay RSP and Airspy R2 we found that the Airspy generally performed better in the presence of strong signals.

In the future we hope to review the Airspy Mini and check to see if its performance is similar to the Airspy R2. If its RX performance is at least the same as the R2, then it probably will be the best value SDR for those wanting to upgrade from an RTL-SDR.

The inside of the Airspy Mini.
The inside of the Airspy Mini.

26 comments

  1. Kevin McCormick

    I am really disappointed I have not received mine yet. I just contacted the seller to see what happened.

  2. Trevor

    After playing with my mini for a few hours last night I retract my initial assessment that it is the same performance as previous Airspys. For example, while analyzing the local 4G band at 930MHz I found a strong birdie with sidbands right in the middle of the 4G band with the Mini. The old Airspy one does not have this birdie. I could not get rid of it by changing the gain controls. It was not possible for me to take a waterfall of 4G band activity with the Mini, I had to revert to doing it with the Airspy One.

    • XP is not supported!

      http://airspy.com/quickstart/ says clearly:

      Installation on Windows Server or Windows XP:
      Please don’t. They are not supported.

      So, I just wait for a review from someone who is using it like intended and not using some fucked up driver from a internet-graveyard…

  3. Trevor

    My Mini arrived from ITEAD. The Airspy USB driver for Windows XP does not work properly with the Mini. If the Mini is plugged in right after boot it is not recognized. But if my normal Airspy One is plugged in first, then it is recognized and works. Plugging the Mini after the Airspy One allows the Mini to be recognized by XP and work. But if you plug the mini in before the fullsize Airspy then neither of them works.

    Are there any alternative Airspy USB drivers floating around the web? I have v6.1.7600.16385 but it looks as though the old Airspy One Serial number is embedded in the driver… Strange…

    • Trevor

      I reinstalled both the full size and mini Airspy with ZADIG and everything is working well. The mini has less spurious responses visible, and at least the performance of my Airspy-one. I put a washer and nut on the SMA connector, to make sure it was connecting well to the aluminum case. I am a happy camper, thanks for the new device, Design Team!

    • Marty

      Windows XP – RIP April 8th 2014.

      Please do everyone on the Internet a favour and bury the corpse. Which is now, with 99% certainty, if it is on the Internet part of some giant botnet you are merely the person who is providing free electricity and network bandwidth to some hacker so that they can spread spam, launch Denial Of Service attacks and add new bots to their botnet.

      XP is dead move on.

      • Trevor

        Dear Marty,
        I am a security professional. I have given conference lectures on securing computers and networks. I use a copy of Windows XP that I have spent 15 years securing. It has never been penetrated. Windows 10 has completely open doors, and a recent Windows 7 MS update propagated a UEFI backdoor. Please keep this discussion on topics you know something about.

    • Marty

      I asked and yes it works on the mini, as well as the other tools that work on the R2:
      SDR# – intuitive application for Software Defined Radio
      ADSB Spy – High Performance ADSB Decoder
      Spectrum Spy – Spectrum Analyzer
      Astro Spy – Radio Astronomy Utility for Hydrogen Line Spectroscopy

  4. Keith

    What does “compatible” with Raspberry pi and others mean? It does not meet the minimum stated specs. Will this run on a Raspberry pi?

    • Marty

      If you look at the data on their website it supports 6MSPs and 3MSPS which will probably work better on hardware with an overloaded single real USB 2.0 port that has a 5 port USB hub and a 10/100 USB NIC plugged into it.

      https://airspy.com/airspy-mini/

        • Marty

          The RPi has one real USB 2.0 port that can in theory handle 40MB/sec. But it has a 5 port USB hub plugged into it has a 10/100 Mbit/sec (12.5MB/sec) USB NIC plugged into the hub. So if the NIC was in use there would probably be about 20MB to 35MB of spare capacity in the single real USB 2.0 port available depending upon the level of network traffic on the NIC. Now if you plugged in a keyboard and a mouse. you would probably loose another MB/sec to that.

          An Airspy running at 10MSPS, 12 bits samples, I+Q channel, uncompressed (no packing) would generate 40MB/sec going across a USB 2.0 bus it would basically mean that no other hardware could use the USB 2.0 bus and if any other device did try to use the USB bus data would be lost.

          The Airspy mini running at 6MSPS, 12 bits samples, I+Q channel, uncompressed (no packing) would generate 24MB/sec there is about 16MB/sec spare capacity on the single real USB 2.0 port in a raspberry Pi. Enough spare capacity that a 10/100Mbit/sec (12.5MB/sec) NIC should work and maybe a keyboard and mouse.

          The Airspy mini running at 3MSPS, 12 bits samples, I+Q channel, uncompressed (no packing) would generate 12MB/sec there is about 26MB/sec spare capacity on the single real USB 2.0 port in a raspberry Pi. Enough spare capacity that a 10/100Mbit/sec (12.5MB/sec) NIC should work and maybe a keyboard and mouse.

          Now does it make sense ?

          • Keith

            Thanks for that clarification. What I really need to know is will airspy mini work on the rPI model B as a remote spectrum server? Is there software doing so?

            • Marty

              Lets look at the amount of data that would need to flow in real time.
              6MSPS will generate 24MB/sec
              3MSPS will generate 12MB/sec
              The very most that you can in theory squeeze through a 100Mbit/sec NIC, once you factor in 4% overhead TCP/IP packet headers*, is 11.46MiB/sec.

              Notice any problem with using RPi hardware for anything that requires moving large amounts of data about ?

              * MTU of TCP/IP packets is usually 1514 bytes, TCP/IP header can vairy depending on option from anywhere between 20-60 bytes. So 1.32% to 3.96% headder overhead on each packet, it is always best assume the worst.

    • Marty

      My guess would be that swotch is to put the mini Airspy into DFU mode.

      There is a P5 jumper on a normal Airspy R2 (and the older R0)

      P5
      Pos 2-3 Boot SPIFI(Flash)
      Pos 1-2 Boot USB0(DFU)

      My guess is that this switch does the same fuction as that jumper.

      So it’s default position is 2-3, but if a firmware upgrade failed (power outage or whatever) then you could flick that switch (1-2), boot up the device from USB (with the right software) instead of from its internal storage and get it back into a working state without having to unscrew the covers.

  5. Mario

    Wow, with all the new SDR radios coming out these days, one can suffer from option paralysis as to which one to purchase, but I am not complaining, I love it! Thank you for the great posting.

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