Tagged: metal case

Instructions and a Review of the SDRplay RSP1 Metal Enclosure Upgrade Kit

Mike (kd2kog), our partner on the SDRplay RSP1 Metal case upgrade kit has recently uploaded an instruction set that shows step by step how to perform the upgrade (pdf). It shows how to dismantle the RSP1 from the plastic case, install the included broadcast FM filter, mount the PCB and shows where all the nuts and washers go.

The metal case upgrade is something we brought out back in March. It allows owners of the SDRplay RSP1 SDR to upgrade the default plastic case to a sturdy metal one for improved ruggedness and RF shielding. It also comes with an included broadcast FM filter to help reduce strong FM images which are often a problem on some bands with the RSP1. It also comes with a handy travel case. If you want to purchase the enclosure we have it available on our store at www.rtl-sdr.com/store, and also on US Amazon, both with free shipping.

Also, over on his blog K5ACL has posted a short review of the case.

Image of the RSP1 Metal Case from K5ACL's review
Image of the RSP1 Metal Case from K5ACL’s review

Enclosing two RTL-SDRs in a metal box to reduce noise

Over on his blog, Twitch has uploaded a post showing how he mounted two RTL-SDR dongles into a single metal case in order to reduce noise. Twitch used a $2 aluminium metal case that he obtained from a local surplus shop and cut it down to size and added holes for switches and BNC plugs. He then mounted two RTL-SDR dongles in the case and used two MCX -> BNC pigtails to get a case mounted coax connector.

He also removed the USB plugs on the RTL-SDR’s and wired them into a USB B plug mounted to the case, making sure to wind the USB power cables through several turns of ferrite core in order to reduce USB noise. Finally he also added a power switch to the USB connections, to be able to easily power off the units when not in use.

The two RTL-SDR’s placed into a aluminium case.

New RTL-SDR Dongles with Metal Case Available in our Store

Currently we at RTL-SDR.com are selling upgraded RTL-SDR dongles on our store. We’ve worked hard to reduce the most common issues that the cheapest generic dongles have, whilst trying to not significantly increase the retail price so that these devices stay ubiquitous. In each batch that we’ve produced so far we’ve tried to make some improvements over the last. Previously we’ve added a TCXO, SMA connector, and bias tee and now in the latest batch we’ve added a metal case and passive cooling.

The new units have been in stock at our Chinese warehouse for almost a month now, and they are now back in stock at Amazon USA as well (shipping soon). They are priced the same as before: $24.95 USD for the unit with antennas and $19.95 USD for the dongle only. If you order from the Chinese warehouse all units come with free registered air mail shipping (1-4 week delivery), and free shipping is available on Amazon for USA customers (<1 week delivery) if you are a Prime member or spend over $35.

To purchase please see our store page at www.rtl-sdr.com/store.

New features in this version:

  • Aluminium case. We’ve upgraded from a plastic case and now all units come with an aluminium case standard. The aluminium is 1mm thick and is treated with an anti-anodizing coating to improve conductivity. However, some natural anodization still occurs. The dimensions are similar to the plastic case at 69 mm x 27 mm x 13 mm.
The new RTL-SDR dongle design with aluminium case.
The new RTL-SDR dongle design with aluminium case.
  • Ground tracks on the PCB. The PCB size has been increased slightly to accommodate side ground tracks. These ground tracks should make contact with the aluminium and provide ground conductivity to the case.
New RTL-SDR PCB with side ground tracks.
New RTL-SDR PCB with side ground tracks.
  • Passive cooling. As the case is now metal we can apply a thermal interface material between the PCB bottom and case wall. The interface material we’ve chosen is a 3mm thermal pad. This is a soft silicon pad with high thermal conductivity. This appears to provide adequate cooling to ensure the dongles run properly at above 1.5 GHz.
Thermal pad on the bottom of the PCB for improved heat dissipation.
Thermal pad on the bottom of the PCB for improved heat dissipation.

The metal case and side ground tracks should reduce the amount of interference received by the dongle through sources other than the antenna. The passive cooling should also be enough to ensure that the dongles run properly at above 1.5 GHz, though we still would recommend running them in a cool shady place, rather than out in the direct sun if monitoring L-band signals. If you find that the conductivity between the PCB and case is not good enough, then you can try thickening the side ground tracks on the PCB with a layer of solder – we will be trying to increase the thickness by default in subsequent batches.

Soon we will also have the metal cases for sale by themselves for those who want to upgrade from a previous batch (EDIT: Now on sale!). Though please note that although the older SMA PCBs fit in this case, the previous batches PCB’s are a little smaller than what this case takes so it may fit a little loosely. The old PCB’s also don’t have the side ground tracks for improved conductivity, but even with no ground conductivity it is still possible for the case to work as a Faraday cage. These cases will be available on the store page in a few days at a very low cost and they will only be available only from the Chinese warehouse.

Once again we hope people will enjoy these changes, and feel free to let us know what you think and what you might like to see in the future.