Bonito is a company that sells various active dipole and loop antennas for ham radio and DX applications. Recently they decided to test their MegaLoop FX and MegaDipol MD3000DX antennas on an SDRplay RSPduo, and compare it against a higher end WinRadio. Bonito found that the RSPduo performed well on the weaker longwave stations, but the Winradio outperformed it on the stronger ones. The differences were due to the better dynamic range of the Winradio.
The article goes on to make some recommendations for using their antennas on the RSPduo. They write that if intermodulation due to very strong signals occurs, there are some fixes that can be applied on their antennas to desensitize them and prevent overload. With the loop, a smaller loop size should be used, and the gain selector should be set to medium or min. With the dipole, they note that shortening the elements, and using it in an L-configuration with the lower radiator pointing towards the interfering signals can be used to attenuate them out. This works because a dipole configured in a L shape provides a bit of directionality.
The article also notes how grounding, very good coax shielding, good quality USB cables and galvanic isolation are all very important for reducing noise.
As the RTL-SDR and other SDRs are wideband, we recommend that people use a wideband antenna if they want to scan over all the frequencies. Normally a discone or a scantenna is suggested as the wideband antenna of choice, however there are alternative designs such as the Dressler ARA-2000 which is a type of log spiral antenna that can receive from 50 – 2000 MHz. This particular product is no longer for sale, but an article detailing the breakdown of its construction can be found online.
The article shows how to build the antenna from scratch. The active element consists of a thin copper sheet (or copper foil) in the shape of a wedge which is rolled into a cylinder around a plastic sheet. It is then connected to a low noise amplifier (LNA), which is powered through a bias tee. For the LNA something like the LNA4ALL could be used if building it yourself.
This antenna may be something to consider if you are thinking about building your own wideband antenna. It has the advantage of being much smaller than a discone and it can also be fully enclosed in a plastic radome to that fully protects it from weather elements. The author of the article also writes that he saw better performance from this antenna than when compared with a discone.
The antenna was created by F5ANN, and he used his active antenna together with an RTL-SDR dongle, the RTL1090 ADS-B decoding software and PlanePlotter, and was able to receive 194 simultaneous aircraft signals with a message rate of 556 messages a second at distances of up to 250 nm.