Tagged: clones

Comparing a HackRF Clone against the Original

Over on the Great Scott Gadgets blog Michael Ossmann, the lead creator of the original HackRF has put out a post comparing his original HackRF with one of the many clones on the market. The HackRF is a low cost wideband transmit capable SDR that was released via Kickstarter crowd funding back in 2014. Even up until today it is one of the most popular SDRs for radio experimenters due to it's versatility, open source nature, and low cost.

Within the past few years Chinese clones of most SDRs including the HackRF have appeared on the market often at substantially reduced pricing. As the HackRF is fully open source hardware, copies are legally allowed, however buying a clone does not support the original developer and can put strain on their support services. The general consensus amongst clone purchasers is that they work fine, but when there are problems you take the risk of not being able to expect any sort of support or warranty from the the cloner. Also while the clones work fine, up until now we have not yet seen any performance comparisons yet.

In his post Michael Ossmann tests a clone which is even advertised to have improved upon the original design. Michaels post goes into more detail, but long story short, the clone has clear transmit performance issues above 1 GHz, and at the worst point produces 22 dB (150x) less power out compared to the original. In terms of receive performance the clone performs even worse, showing very poor sensitivity when compared to the original. Michael notes that this clone would not have passed the QC procedure used for the original.

We believe that the original HackRF has created significant value to the RF community through software, tutorials and their hardware. Over the years countless projects and research/conference papers have been enabled by the HackRF. So even regardless of potential performance and warranty issues we think it is ethical to support the original creators if your budget allows it.

HackRF Receive Performance Test. Above 5 GHz the test signal was below the noise floor.

Playing Fair with SDRplay: Discussion on Fake SDRplay Clones

SDRplay have recently released a blog post warning potential customers to be wary of the proliferation of fake and imitation SDRplay devices on various online marketplaces. SDRplay warn that these clones may not function with the latest SDRplay software such as SDRUno, and that no technical support for the clones is provided.

Over on his blog K4FMH has also uploaded a blog post titled "Ah Geez. Play Fair with SDRPlay. And If Some Don’t, Here’s What Can Be Done….". His post also discusses the clones and includes notes on how SDRplay fans can help take down clone listings on eBay by reporting them.

Of note is that ICQ Podcast Episode 344 released on Feb 14 also discusses this issue starting at 30:50 in the episode. They note that ethically these clones are problematic as they are ripping off a small company who have sunk a lot of costs into R&D and software development.

SDRplay is a UK based company that designs and manufactures low cost software defined radios which start from $109 + shipping. In the past we've posted a few times about SDRplay clones like the MSI.SDR, and about more elaborate clones of the RSP1A as well as Airspy and RTL-SDR V3 clones. As Mirics, the company manufacturing the main silicon chips used in SDRplay products is owned by most of the same people behind SDRplay it is unclear as to how their chips made it onto the Chinese markets. However, as these Mirics chips were originally used in mass market TV tuners, it is thought that they were probably desoldered from a batch of old USB TV tuners.

Reporting a fake SDRplay device