Tagged: nooelec

Testing Version Two of the NooElec Balun One Nine

Over on YouTube two reviewers have just uploaded videos showing off version two of the NooElec Balun One Nine. Version one of the Balun One Nine is a balun transformer that can be used with long wire and untuned dipole HF antennas to match the impedance with a 50 Ohm SDR. Matching the impedance results in better HF reception and less noise. While it is a balun and hence designed for balanced antennas like a dipole, it is possible to convert it into an unun for long wire antennas by cutting a trace.

In the first video Corrosive from SignalsEverywhere compares version one with version two. He notes that the new Balun uses a higher quality Coilcraft component, a more sturdy terminal connector and includes mounting holes. He notes that the power rating of the balun should also allow for low power transmission. However, when comparing the two in reception there is little difference in actual results between version one and two. 

In the second video TechMinds provides a similar video and also shows the enclosure that they will be providing in a premium version.

9:1 Balun Version 2 From NooElec

New Nano 3 RTL-SDR Available from NooElec

NooElec have just released their new NESDR Nano 3 RTL-SDR dongle for $27.95 USD. This is a new iteration in their line of ‘nano’ sized dongles, which are very small and suitable for use on small devices like Raspberry Pi’s and mobile phones. These nano form factor RTL-SDR dongles are also commonly used with the Stratux project which aims to bring lost cost ADS-B and UAT capabilities to small airplane pilots.

The Nano 3 appears to have a standard nano sized RTL-SDR PCB with TCXO inside, but comes with a new fully enclosed metal case with internal thermal coupling pads for cooling. A small external heatsink is also provided for optional use with the dongle. The dongle also uses a standard MCX connector, but the kit comes with an MCX to SMA F adapter. We’re not sure if the cooling from the small metal case will be enough to solve the L-band PLL lock problem, but perhaps when combined with the modified L-band driver tweak it might be enough. Failing that the external heatsink combined with slight airflow from a fan should be enough.

The NESDR Nano 3 small form factor RTL-SDR
The NESDR Nano 3 small form factor RTL-SDR

The previous model called the Nano 2, was also redesigned from the generic nano models for better cooling and to be able to use a TCXO. However, some tests by Chris of the Stratux project seem to show that the Nano 2 is quite a bit noisier than the cheaper generic nano dongles, and actually runs about 40 degrees F hotter. Noise is a problem with these small dongles as the noisy digital and switch mode sections are much closer to the RF sensitive parts. Heat is also an issue due to the lack of PCB space for heat dissipation. Hopefully the Nano 3 resolves these issues with the metal case and improved cooling.

There are now several generations and models of these ‘nano’ RTL-SDRs available. All briefly described below:

  1. Generic Nano Dongles:
    1. $16.99 USD + shipping costs.
    2. First nano dongles designed originally for DVB-T TV use. Difficult to find now, no longer seems to be sold apart from one US seller on eBay.
    3. Still a good choice, but the lack of TCXO limits the usefulness for many applications.
  2. NooElec Nano 2:
    1.  $21.95 USD without TCXO, $23.95 with TCXO.
    2. Slight redesign of the generic dongles for better cooling and TCXO. Although cooling and noise benefits are debated.
    3. Good choice if you like the Nano form factor and want a dongle with accurate TCXO clock.
  3. Stratux Dongle (with ADS-B/UAT Antennas):
    1. Two dongles for $40 USD with antennas, or two for $35 USD without antennas. We also wholesaled a few from them and sell them on our store for intl. buyers @ 16.95 USD each incl. shipping.
    2. Redesigned for low power usage and less noise. Uses a switch mode power supply for less power wastage, but designed to be unaffected by any additional switch mode noise. Runs about 60 degrees F cooler than the Nano 2 and 16F cooler than the generic. Does not have an enclosure so is a bit more fragile. Also does not have a TCXO.
    3. Good choice for Stratux or similar projects might struggle with the power requirements of multiple dongles on a Pi3. Doesn’t have a TCXO so mainly useful for frequency insensitive applications like ADS-B.
  4. NooElec Nano 3:
    1. $27.95 USD
    2. Redesigned enclosure with thermal pad coupling and heatsinks. Comes with TCXO.
    3. Untested by us, but we think it’s probably better than the Nano 2. So a good choice if you like the Nano form factor and want a TCXO dongle.

NooElec RTL-SDR Giveaway on AmateurRadio.com

AmaateurRadio.com and NooElec are currently running a big competition to give away 50 of their new SMA RTL-SDR dongles (branded as NooElec SMArt). To enter simply go to the competition post on amateurradio.com and comment on their post (not ours!). The compeition closes on August 7 at 20:00 UTC.

They are giving away a total of 50 units: two bundles that come with their SMA RTL-SDR and Ham-It-Up Upconverter, one bundle with a Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR dongle, three double pack RTL-SDR + antenna bundles, ten double packs of RTL-SDR dongles, ten RTL-SDR + antenna sets, and ten sets of just the RTL-SDR dongle itself.

The NooElec SMART is NooElec’s latest RTL-SDR variant which like ours comes with an SMA coax plug and metal enclosure.

NooElec SMArt giveaway on amateurradio.com
NooElec SMArt giveaway on amateurradio.com

RTLSDR4Everyone: Review of the Nooelec SMArt SDR, Direct Sampling and Generic vs Premium Dongles

RTL-SDR enthusiast and blogger Akos has recently uploaded three new articles. In his first article he discusses what he believes is the differences and advantages of Generic vs Premium branded RTL-SDR dongles.

In his second article he shows how easy it can be to perform the direct sampling mod on newer dongles, as most have the direct sampling break out pads. He shows how it can be as easy as sticking a wire into these holes. Please note that if doing this we would caution you to take decent ESD precautions as these pins are not ESD protected.

In the third article he reviews the recently release Nooelec SMArt dongle. The SMArt is a new RTL-SDR variant which comes in a smaller black case, cooling via thermal pads and with an SMA connector. With these modifications it is very similar to our RTL-SDR.com units, however the one advantage of the SMArt is that it is small enough to fit two side by side on closely spaced USB ports, like on the Raspberry Pi. In the post he shows what is inside the SMArt and discusses various points such as heat generated, included antennas and performance.

Inside the new Nooelec SMArt RTL-SDR dongle.
Inside the new Nooelec SMArt RTL-SDR dongle.

New Products from Nooelec: Cheaper E4000 Dongles and a 9:1 Balun

The online store Nooelec has recently started selling two new RTL-SDR related products.

The first product is a lower cost RTL-SDR dongle with the E4000 tuner (ebay). The E4000 tuner was one of the original tuner chips used in RTL-SDR dongles when they were first discovered. Unfortunately Elonics, the company that owned the rights to the chip went under and the production of E4000 chips stopped, making them rare and expensive. The E4000 tuner has a tuning range of approximately 55 MHz – 2300 MHz, compared to the R820T tuner which has a range of around 24 – 1766 MHz. The cheaper R820T is better in most cases, but if you need the higher frequencies the E4000 may be an option. The new E4000 dongle is currently selling for around $50 USD, compared to the other E4000 models which went for around $100 USD.

E4000 Dongle from Nooelec
E4000 Dongle from Nooelec

They have also begun selling a low cost 9:1 balun for about $10 USD (ebay) which can be used with a long wire (or random wire) antenna when receiving HF on the RTL-SDR with an upconverter. The impedance of a long wire antenna is approximately 450 Ohms (very approximate, impedance varies with frequency and length). A 9:1 balun allows a match with a 50 Ohm receiver, which is close enough to the 75 Ohm input of the RTL-SDR.

Nooelec 9:1 Balun
Nooelec 9:1 Balun

Amateurradio.com RTL-SDR Giveaway

The guys at the AmateurRadio.com blog have teamed up with Nooelec to bring everyone a worldwide competition giveaway of 20 RTL-SDR prizes. The top prizes include the rare E4000 chip tuners, ham-it-up upconverters, adapters and aluminium enclosures while the regular prizes include an R820T2 RTL-SDR set.

To enter the competition all you need to do is leave a comment on their competition post. The competition is open for one week from 11 December 2014 to 18 December 2014. The complete list of prizes are quoted below.

Three (3)
Complete NESDR XTR HF SDR packages including:
NESDR XTR SDR Set (E4000 chip)
Ham It Up upconverter
Upconverter Enclosure (silver)
Male MCX to male SMA pigtail (SDR cable)
Male SMA to female BNC adapter (antenna adapter)
Estimated $129.95 value

Five (5)
Complete NESDR Mini 2 HF packages including:
NESDR Mini 2 SDR set
Ham It Up upconverter
NESDR Mini 2 enclosure (silver)
Upconverter enclosure (silver)
Male MCX to male SMA pigtail (SDR cable)
Male SMA to female BNC adapter (antenna adapter)
$111.95 value

Twelve (12)
NESDR Mini 2 SDR sets
$25.95 value

AmateurRadio.com and NooElec Giveaway
AmateurRadio.com and NooElec Giveaway

Nooelec RTL-SDR Giveaway on AmateurRadio.com

AmateurRadio.com has teamed up with Nooelec.com to give away RTL-SDR packages to 10 hams. To be eligible to enter the competition, you must be a registered amateur radio operator, and you must comment on the competition page. The prizes are

Two (2)
Complete HF sets including:
NESDR Mini receiver
Ham It Up upconverter
SMA to MCX cable
SMA to BNC adapter
SMA to PL259 adapter
SMA to F adapter

Two (2)
Complete Touch SDR sets including:
NESDR Nano receiver
SDR Touch license (for Android tablets)
USB OTG micro & mini cables

Three (3)
NESDR Mini receivers

Three (3)
NESDR Nano receivers

The competition runs until the 11th of December.

Nooelec AmateurRadio.com Giveaway Prize
Nooelec AmateurRadio.com Giveaway Prize