Hard Question: Is it worth all the headaches?

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UncleVinny
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:30 pm

Hard Question: Is it worth all the headaches?

Post by UncleVinny » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:53 pm

OK, I'll be the bummer, downer, bad guy and ask the obvious question:

Is SDR really ready for prime time? Is it worth the hassle and hoops we have to jump through?


I got mine installed after about 4 hours of false starts, rebooting, erasing everything,
re-installing, fine tuning, extra add-ons, and struggling with the new technology.
Worked FANTASTICALLY for a few hours.

Fired it up again and didn't work. Erased the files and repeated the process: Still no glory.
In the mean time, I can get a SWL radio for $30 and get about the same experience.

Got into the hobby due to promises of $30 dongles and easy set up.
Now, for anything that really delivers, they want $300 to $600!

What we NEED is a program that self-installs and walks you through the process.
We need standards, instructions that work, a guide book, timely feedback from professionals.

Please HELP!
I don't want to give up on this exciting technology, but for the Love of God,
get it to a stage where even an idiot like myself can get it working!
Does anyone know a sure-fire, solid installation process or simple hardware
that actually works?

alanzfq
Posts: 154
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:18 am

Re: Hard Question: Is it worth all the headaches?

Post by alanzfq » Mon Oct 26, 2020 4:02 pm

If your radio failed then ask for an exchange.
SDR has been around for a long time but it hardly ever is really easy. Of course a seller will say it's easy. To be fair perhaps they have forgotten the hours they spent in the beginning.
The reason is that you are expected to supply a computer and configure it. Which means you must learn how to set it up. General advice is on this site and many other places on the net but every computer is different. Even if there were a complete and full manual covering every aspect I doubt anyone would read it.
There have been complete systems sold including a computer, guaranteed to work but rather expensive. I seem to remember one that was more than 100 times the cost of a dongle. But then so is a top-range stand-alone radio.
SDR can do many things a stand-alone radio can not. But they both have a place in my life.
Alan

UncleVinny
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:30 pm

Re: Hard Question: Is it worth all the headaches?

Post by UncleVinny » Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:38 pm

Thanks for the encouragement, Alan!

hotpaw2
Posts: 155
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:07 pm
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Re: Hard Question: Is it worth all the headaches?

Post by hotpaw2 » Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:14 pm

Methinks the problem isn't with the inexpensive SDR hardware, but with overly complicated software that isn't written for humans on top of crummy OS installations. I've had better luck running rtl_tcp on a Raspberry Pi, and then use an Android or iOS app to connect.

Also, some of the cheaper RTL-SDR dongles are poorly made and overheat and die. I had one of the smaller Noolec ones apparently cook itself. Now I use 2 RTL-SDR blog v.3 units that run a bit cooler.

rtlsdrblog
Site Admin
Posts: 2783
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:54 pm

Re: Hard Question: Is it worth all the headaches?

Post by rtlsdrblog » Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:35 am

You'll need to remember that RTL-SDRs are the low end of the SDR market. Sure if you spend hundreds to thousands more you can get a SDR product with it's own custom software that might be easier to setup as they have the profits to support their own software dev and provide individual support.

If you just want to listen to SWL, then a hardware radio will defintely be more intuitive to use. However, an SWL radio isn't multipurpose. It's an SWL radio only. You can't decide that you suddenly want to decode ADS-B with it.

I'd like to know specifically what was so difficult about the setup though? We've written the quickstart guide to try and cover almost all the things that can go wrong and there are rarely people having issues these days. But there is of course an infinite amount of things that can differ between PCs, and things are constantly updating and changing over time, so it's not possible to cover everything.

qrp
Posts: 53
Joined: Wed May 22, 2019 11:16 pm

Re: Hard Question: Is it worth all the headaches?

Post by qrp » Fri Nov 06, 2020 4:49 pm

UncleVinny wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:53 pm
What we NEED is a program that self-installs and walks you through the process.
We need standards, instructions that work, a guide book, timely feedback from professionals.
all instructions are present on internet. There are a tons of instructions.

rob916
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2020 3:47 am

Re: Hard Question: Is it worth all the headaches?

Post by rob916 » Thu Nov 12, 2020 8:28 pm

You don't tell us your actual installation issue.
There are many people that can help you on here and the Facebook groups and hundreds of YouTube videos that will help you do anything with your rtl-sdr
If you want a working out of box sdr then they are available at a cost.
Rtl-sdr is cheap, we are so lucky to have all this free software to allow us to use it, maybe they don't have good customer support but hey, it's free and I would rather no customer support and better software, we as a community can work out how to get it going.
To think that what a 30 dollar sdr can do now, 15 years ago the equipment needed was tens of thousands of dollars.
If you have big pockets buy a
consumer sdr in a box, if not continue to hang out where the real fun is.
I have lost count of the weeks and sometimes months of trying to fix, or make something do what it wasn't designed for and learning every second along the way.
Don't give up.

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