Recently Sivan Toledo wrote in wanting to share an academic paper he wrote together with Itamar Melamed, both from Tel-Aviv University in Israel. The freely available paper describes the design and evaluation of a second-generation front-end for wideband software defined radios. Their front-end helps SDRs optimize reception by providing filtering, a bias tee for mast head amplifiers and also protects the radio against damage from strong signals with an RF limiter. The abstract reads:
In this paper, we describe the design and evaluation of a second-generation front-end unit for wideband sampling radio receivers. The unit contains a surface acoustic wave (SAW) filter to protect the receiver from strong out-of-band signals, an RF limiter to protect both the filter and the receiver from physical damage due to strong signals, and a bias tee with a DC limiter to provide DC power to a masthead low-noise amplifier, if one is used. The unit allows receivers such as those of the universal software radio peripheral (USRP) N-series type to be effectively used in RF environments with weak signals and strong in-band and out-of-band interferences.
Although the front-end is designed for the USRP SDR, it should also work well with RTL-SDR dongles and other SDRs. The authors also write that their design is uploaded and available for PCB printing on CircuitHub.