Help with my first RTL-SDR setup

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Noodlebear
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 3:24 am

Help with my first RTL-SDR setup

Post by Noodlebear » Mon May 02, 2016 3:55 am

Hello! I have recently been learning about SDR and I am very interested in purchasing my own RTL-SDR setup. However, I have a few questions that I would like to ask you guys before I make any purchases. I have decided to spend ~$100 on a setup, and I think I would like to buy a dongle from this website. I would like as large of a frequency range and receiving range as possible.

Please answer as many questions as you can, and thanks for reading! :D
  • Should I purchase an upconverter? (Ham-It-Up or Spyverter)
    If not, would a Direct Sampling mod and a filter be worth the time/effort?

    Should I purchase a LNA? (LNA4ALL, with a Bias-T mod)
    If I get both an upconverter and a LNA, and they can both be powered over Bias-T (the Spyverter and LNA4ALL), can this dongle power both at the same time?

    Would this antenna work well?
    Would it cover the frequency range of this dongle?
    Would it cover the frequency range of an upconverter?

    Also, what components could I power with an OTG cable plugged in to an Android device?
Thanks again for reading!

rtlsdrblog
Site Admin
Posts: 2765
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:54 pm

Re: Help with my first RTL-SDR setup

Post by rtlsdrblog » Wed May 04, 2016 1:17 pm

Noodlebear wrote:Hello! I have recently been learning about SDR and I am very interested in purchasing my own RTL-SDR setup. However, I have a few questions that I would like to ask you guys before I make any purchases. I have decided to spend ~$100 on a setup, and I think I would like to buy a dongle from this website. I would like as large of a frequency range and receiving range as possible.

Please answer as many questions as you can, and thanks for reading! :D
  • Should I purchase an upconverter? (Ham-It-Up or Spyverter)
    If not, would a Direct Sampling mod and a filter be worth the time/effort?

    Should I purchase a LNA? (LNA4ALL, with a Bias-T mod)
    If I get both an upconverter and a LNA, and they can both be powered over Bias-T (the Spyverter and LNA4ALL), can this dongle power both at the same time?

    Would this antenna work well?
    Would it cover the frequency range of this dongle?
    Would it cover the frequency range of an upconverter?

    Also, what components could I power with an OTG cable plugged in to an Android device?
Thanks again for reading!
If you want to listen to HF frequencies then yes an upconverter is a good choice. I'd choose the Spyverter as 1) It seems to be the best on the market at the moment, and 2) It will future proof you against buying an Airspy in the future if you decide to upgrade.

Direct sampling can give you good results, but the upconverter route is usually much better, and much more hassle free.

An LNA will help with long runs of coax cable, and will also help to reduce the NF of the dongle, so yes it is good. You can only power one thing with the bias tee, unless you find a way to pass the power through the spyverter. The LNA4ALL will not work properly on HF frequencies, that is a VHF/UHF LNA. Adam also sells the LNA4HF which is a better choice for HF, and I don't think the LNA4HF even has a bias tee input option available.

Planardisk antennas work well for wideband scanning. But if you want better performance you'll need an antenna tuned exactly for the frequencies you want to listen to. THe planar disk can probably cover most of the range of the RTL-SDR, depending on how large you make it.
It probably would not work well on HF unless you made it very big.

With an OTG cable you can use the RTL-SDR on Android. It would depend on the device and its current limits to know if it could also power an LNA at the same time.

Noodlebear
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 3:24 am

Re: Help with my first RTL-SDR setup

Post by Noodlebear » Thu May 05, 2016 8:47 am

rtlsdrblog wrote: If you want to listen to HF frequencies then yes an upconverter is a good choice. I'd choose the Spyverter as 1) It seems to be the best on the market at the moment, and 2) It will future proof you against buying an Airspy in the future if you decide to upgrade.

Direct sampling can give you good results, but the upconverter route is usually much better, and much more hassle free.

An LNA will help with long runs of coax cable, and will also help to reduce the NF of the dongle, so yes it is good. You can only power one thing with the bias tee, unless you find a way to pass the power through the spyverter. The LNA4ALL will not work properly on HF frequencies, that is a VHF/UHF LNA. Adam also sells the LNA4HF which is a better choice for HF, and I don't think the LNA4HF even has a bias tee input option available.

Planardisk antennas work well for wideband scanning. But if you want better performance you'll need an antenna tuned exactly for the frequencies you want to listen to. THe planar disk can probably cover most of the range of the RTL-SDR, depending on how large you make it.
It probably would not work well on HF unless you made it very big.

With an OTG cable you can use the RTL-SDR on Android. It would depend on the device and its current limits to know if it could also power an LNA at the same time.
Thank you very much for your reply! Do you think that purchasing the dongle with two provided antennas would be a good all-around option (at least until I can purchase or build more purpose-built antennas)?

rtlsdrblog
Site Admin
Posts: 2765
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:54 pm

Re: Help with my first RTL-SDR setup

Post by rtlsdrblog » Fri May 06, 2016 12:08 am

Noodlebear wrote:
rtlsdrblog wrote: If you want to listen to HF frequencies then yes an upconverter is a good choice. I'd choose the Spyverter as 1) It seems to be the best on the market at the moment, and 2) It will future proof you against buying an Airspy in the future if you decide to upgrade.

Direct sampling can give you good results, but the upconverter route is usually much better, and much more hassle free.

An LNA will help with long runs of coax cable, and will also help to reduce the NF of the dongle, so yes it is good. You can only power one thing with the bias tee, unless you find a way to pass the power through the spyverter. The LNA4ALL will not work properly on HF frequencies, that is a VHF/UHF LNA. Adam also sells the LNA4HF which is a better choice for HF, and I don't think the LNA4HF even has a bias tee input option available.

Planardisk antennas work well for wideband scanning. But if you want better performance you'll need an antenna tuned exactly for the frequencies you want to listen to. THe planar disk can probably cover most of the range of the RTL-SDR, depending on how large you make it.
It probably would not work well on HF unless you made it very big.

With an OTG cable you can use the RTL-SDR on Android. It would depend on the device and its current limits to know if it could also power an LNA at the same time.
Thank you very much for your reply! Do you think that purchasing the dongle with two provided antennas would be a good all-around option (at least until I can purchase or build more purpose-built antennas)?
Yes the two antennas are a good starting point, but any outdoor antenna will of course blow them away. The small one is for higher frequencies and the large one for lower freqs (the longer the antenna, the lower the frequency it can receive well). Put the magnetic base on something metal to act as a ground plane and mechanically stabilize the antenna, and get it up as high as you can using a USB extension cable (ideally outside on the house roof or something).

Noodlebear
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 3:24 am

Re: Help with my first RTL-SDR setup

Post by Noodlebear » Sun May 08, 2016 8:07 am

rtlsdrblog wrote:Yes the two antennas are a good starting point, but any outdoor antenna will of course blow them away. The small one is for higher frequencies and the large one for lower freqs (the longer the antenna, the lower the frequency it can receive well). Put the magnetic base on something metal to act as a ground plane and mechanically stabilize the antenna, and get it up as high as you can using a USB extension cable (ideally outside on the house roof or something).
Okay, sounds great! I would like to thank you very much for your time and effort! I can't wait to start using the radio.

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