You can get these changes from https://github.com/mutability/rtl-sdr/ (you’ll need to build from source yourself). There should be no application changes needed, just tune as normal. (gqrx needs the “no limits” option turned on) These changes work by limiting the tuner to a range of frequencies that it can reliably tune to, then allowing tuning beyond those bounds by making the 2832’s downconverter do the final bit of tuning. This can add up to 14.4MHz to each end of the range. Also, the tuner is switched to low-side mixing at the top of the range which gives a bit more range there. The practical range is limited by the width of the IF filter and aliasing effects at the extreme edges of the downconverter’s range. I’ve been able to pick up broadcast AM and amateur CW/SSB down to around 15.5MHz without too much trouble. I’d be interested to know how this works for others. Also.. these changes are likely to have broken offset tuning, direct sampling mods, and tuners other than the R820T, as it touches all those areas but I only have an unmodified R820T to test against. If you have different hardware and are willing to spend some time testing then please let me know. I expect that the range of the other tuners can be extended in the same way with not much trouble.
Over on the Reddit RTL-SDR discussion board there has been talk about this patch. Most users are reporting that it works well down to around 15 MHz, but some people are reporting that they have been able to receive signals down to around 4 MHz. Testers also report that this modified driver works much better than the no-hardware direct sampling mod patch released a few months ago.
In previous posts we have featuredMartyKN0CK’spopularmodified RTL-SDR dongles which have either a miniature built in high quality HF upconverter with amplifier and filter, or an amplified and filtered direct sampling modification applied to them. With these modified dongles you can receive the HF frequencies from 0.5 MHz to 54 MHz. These kits were previously available for sale on a webstore, however that store has since closed down.
Fortunately, Marty’s modified RTL-SDR dongles are still available at http://www.kn0ck.com/HF_SDR/. The HF upconverting dongle can be bought for $75 and the direct sampling dongle at $60. The store page also shows example videos of the performance you can expect.
Over on this Japanese language blog, ttrftech has been experimenting on a type of direct sampling front end board (Use Google Translate) for a direct sampled RTL-SDR dongle. More info about his direct sampling front end can be found on this post. Translated, it appears his board has the following feautres.
The direct sampling mod is a hardware modification to the RTL-SDR which allows it to receive HF frequencies between 0-14.4 MHz without the need for an upconverter. It works by connecting an antenna directly to the RTL2832U chip, thus bypassing the tuner. Teejez’s modification tells the RTL-SDR to bypass the tuner in software, allowing antennas to be connected to the normal antenna port. HF reception with the experimental driver is very poor in comparison to the direct sampling hardware mod or an upconverter, but even so Jengal was able to receive AM Radio, an SSB ham radio signal and an HF weather report with a simple longwire antenna.
To use the modified dll, simply download it from this link, rename it to rtlsdr.dll, and replace the original rtlsdr.dll in the SDR# folder. Then connect an HF antenna to the normal antenna port and in SDR# tune to a frequency between 0-14.4 MHz. Next turn ON the RTL AGC option in the configure menu. Jengal replaced the function of the RTL AGC option with the direct sampling mod. He found that best reception occurred when he set the gain to 48 dB.
YouTube user Superphish has posted a video showing the trick mentioned in this Reddit thread by Anonofish that enables the E4000 tuner to receive a small portion of the broadcast AM band without doing the direct sampling solder mod, or using an upconverter.
It simply involves tuning to a frequency between 3686.6 – 3730 MHz, at which point AM signals start showing up on the spectrum. It isn’t that useful as you can only tune to the very lowest AM stations, but it is still interesting.