RTL-SDR with Forced Air Cooling

Over on his blog, Nobu has uploaded a post showing his experiments with a forced air cooled RTL-SDR dongle (note the blog is in Japanese so use Google Translate). A tiny fan from RS components is attached to the case of the dongle and draws power from the dongles own power regulator. Nobu also replaced the crystal oscillator with a flat packaged oscillator for a better fit.

The translation is a little difficult, but it appears the fan was able to successfully stabilize the temperature. This may be an alternative to the temperature controlled oscillator (TCXO) RTL-SDR modification.

EDIT: It seems that the fan is not to improve temperature stability, but rather to improve sensitivity. Nobu has referenced this experiment which shows that improved heat dissipation improves the dongles sensitivity.

Fan Forced Cooled RTL-SDR
Forced Air Cooled RTL-SDR
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Ive got mine in an enclosure that cooled by a refrigeration air conditioning unit, I can vouch for increased stability and sensitivity. I use a array of rtl dongles to recieve ads-b data and other radio experiments. Having them sit at a stable temp of 5 – 10 degrees c over a period of time ensures accuracy and minimal degradation of signal.


I’d leave it stock. The max temp these dongles can handle is 160 Fahrenheit, Normally they don’t get that hot. Most of the time 120-140 Fahrenheit recorded. At stable temperature they don’t drift enough to worry about..


I’d be worried about electrical and RF noise from the small fan interfering with the sensitive ADC.