Shielding the SDRplay RSP with Copper Tape

The SDRplay RSP is a $149 USD software defined radio that many consider as a next step upgrade from the RTL-SDR. See our recent review for a comparison between the Airspy, SDRplay RSP and HackRF.

One problem with the SDRplay RSP is that it comes in an unshielded plastic enclosure. This means that strong interfering signals can pass through the enclosure and cause interference, making any filtering done on the antenna less effective. Recently Tom Naumovski wrote in to us to let us know that he has been experimenting with a simple fix that involves shielding his RSP with adhesive copper tape. (Tom carefully notes that doing this may void the warranty). Tom simply wraps the plastic enclosure with conductive copper tape, making sure that electrical contact is made between the copper shielding and RSP ground (e.g. making sure the RSP USB and SMA ports make electrical contact with the copper tape)

Copper tape shielding for the RSP.
Copper tape shielding for the RSP.

After shielding the RSP, Tom tested the shielding effectiveness by using his shielded RSP with no antenna connected to try and pick up an interfering tone transmitted by his HackRF SDR. He collected the results in a pdf file. The results clearly show that the shielded RSP does not pick up, or significantly reduces the power of the HackRF’s interfering tone.

If you want to try this yourself, Tom writes that this copper slug barrier tape found on eBay is the tape he used. Tom also points out the discussion on the Facebook SDRplay group thread he posted where other users have been using aluminium tape or alternative copper tape products.

We note that this same shielding technique can also be used to improve unshielded RTL-SDR dongles.

8 comments

  1. Anonymous

    There is a metal case available on eBay which is made of aluminum, and will not violate your warranty. It’s another option for you to improve your receiving performance without warp your device with copper tape.

  2. Alan

    What if you place the wrap on the outside of the box?
    That shouldn’t void the warranty, but I’m not sure how it would impact the shielding effect.

    • Liam Kelly

      I opened mine took a picture of the pcb and emailed it to SDRPlay (it had an issue with the board), They made no comments about warranty. I don’t think they would ding you for shielding the case. They just want people to enjoy their device.

  3. Trace

    BTW They make a conductive metallic spray on shielding paint. David Clark uses in all of their modules. Would probably work well in this application.

  4. Skip Flem, nt1g

    I would imagine that aluminum foil would work, too…I just TWIST it at the SMA connector.
    A ‘tie-wrap’ would do if you really want a mechanical connection.

    • Ari

      Aluminum is also a lot cheaper – you can get aluminum adhesive tape at the hardware store. It’s used for sealing ducts and is much easier to apply owing to the sticky stuff being already on the material.

  5. AD5NL

    Never experimented with it myself, but I’ve heard that copper tape can be used for antennas as well. So, copper slug tape may possibly be a “twofer.”

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