Tagged: sdrplay

RSP1 Metal Enclosure Price Reduced to $29.95

Recently we’ve reduced the price of our RSP1 Metal Enclosure upgrade kit from $39.95 down to $29.95 USD. You can purchase the kit from our store. The kit comes with:

  • 1x Metal Enclosure
  • 1x Carry case
  • 1x BCFM Filter with SMA Male to Male Adapter
  • 1x Accessory set including rubber feet, screws, grounding post.

On Amazon USA there are less than 16 units left, and shipped from China from our store there is less than 85. We won’t be restocking this item for a few months so please get in quick if you are interested.

We brought out this kit back in March and instructions for using the kit can be found on this post.

The RSP1 metal case kit
The RSP1 metal case kit

Using the SDRuno EXTIO Edition with an RTL-SDR and other SDRs

Over on YouTube Mike from the SDRplay team has created a tutorial video that shows how to use the SDRuno EXTIO edition. SDRuno is the official software of the SDRplay line of products and can be freely downloaded from the SDRplay website. The EXTIO edition allows other non-SDRplay SDR units to freely be used with SDRuno. The only restrictions are that the maximum bandwidth is artificially restricted to 2.5 MHz and some DSP filters are missing.

In the video Mike shows how to set up the SDRuno workspace to work with an RTL-SDR dongle and demos reception of some signals. Note that the EXTIO dll file for the RTL-SDR mentioned in the video is the same one required for HDSDR, and can be downloaded from the dll table on the HDSDR website.

If you’re interested in more, Mike has a full SDRuno tutorial series available on the SDRplay YouTube channel which mostly focuses on usage with the SDRplay units, but could be applicable to the EXTIO version as well.

ARRL QST Review of the SDRplay RSP2Pro with Independent Lab Measurements

In the latest version of the ARRL QST magazine editor Steve Ford (WB8IMY) has released a comprehensive review and set of measurements for the SDRplay RSP2 / RSP2Pro. The review is also freely available online in pdf format from the SDRplay website (pdf warning).

The review initially focuses on the differences between the RSP1 and the RSP2 units, explaining how most differences occur in the front end circuitry. WB8IMY then goes on to review SDRuno, the official software package of SDRplay units. The review is fairly brief, but the most interesting part is the lab test results which are displayed throughout the review.

WB8IMY performed several benchmark lab measurements such as frequency coverage, MDS (minimum discernible signal) levels (note MDS measured at 400 Hz instead of the standard 500 Hz for some reason), noise figure, AM and FM sensitivity, blocking gain compression dynamic range, two tone IMD tests, second order intercept points, FM adjacent channel selectivity and more. The results can be useful for comparing against other SDRs.

ARRL RSP2 Lab Measurement Results
ARRL RSP2 Lab Measurement Results (see the PDF for the full set of results)

A showcase of our Metal RSP-1 Enclosure

Back in March of this year together with Mike (KD2KOG) we brought out a metal enclosure for the SDRplay RSP1. The enclosure includes a BCFM filter as well as a nice carry case. We’ve been collecting a few images of users using this enclosure, and this is simply a picture showcase of those images.

If you’re interested in the enclosure we still have some limited stock remaining over on our store at www.rtl-sdr.com/store.

18422385_314973738941602_2523967711678756945_o
18449451_1890155887930995_5251431457119185360_o
18527688_10101186672530934_4908803764409363405_n
17966679_10158486096580526_4325850276612834306_o
18556425_315635862208723_2707447106056285642_n
18451572_10101186675205574_2643916922130830875_o
18622535_10211446696621123_4189586990260915818_n
19787294_10155275349462626_3927193581428100369_o
17389022_1861905330756051_4823366988471839059_o
17759930_10210906582794438_4647678815213518413_n
17760979_1435898336432319_4519865669757756764_o
17800235_10154504927737263_5608059194014527515_n
17904492_1048603175239808_297410764935138209_n
17917744_10158486274255526_5670662272888486592_o

RSP1 Metal Enclosure Price Reduced to $29.95

Recently we’ve reduced the price of our RSP1 Metal Enclosure upgrade kit from $39.95 down to $29.95 USD. You can purchase the kit from our store. The kit comes with:

  • 1x Metal Enclosure
  • 1x Carry case
  • 1x BCFM Filter with SMA Male to Male Adapter
  • 1x Accessory set including rubber feet, screws, grounding post.

On Amazon USA there are less than 16 units left, and shipped from China from our store there is less than 85. We won’t be restocking this item for a few months so please get in quick if you are interested.

We brought out this kit back in March and instructions for using the kit can be found on this post.

The RSP1 metal case kit
The RSP1 metal case kit

Using the SDRuno EXTIO Edition with an RTL-SDR and other SDRs

Over on YouTube Mike from the SDRplay team has created a tutorial video that shows how to use the SDRuno EXTIO edition. SDRuno is the official software of the SDRplay line of products and can be freely downloaded from the SDRplay website. The EXTIO edition allows other non-SDRplay SDR units to freely be used with SDRuno. The only restrictions are that the maximum bandwidth is artificially restricted to 2.5 MHz and some DSP filters are missing.

In the video Mike shows how to set up the SDRuno workspace to work with an RTL-SDR dongle and demos reception of some signals. Note that the EXTIO dll file for the RTL-SDR mentioned in the video is the same one required for HDSDR, and can be downloaded from the dll table on the HDSDR website.

If you’re interested in more, Mike has a full SDRuno tutorial series available on the SDRplay YouTube channel which mostly focuses on usage with the SDRplay units, but could be applicable to the EXTIO version as well.

ARRL QST Review of the SDRplay RSP2Pro with Independent Lab Measurements

In the latest version of the ARRL QST magazine editor Steve Ford (WB8IMY) has released a comprehensive review and set of measurements for the SDRplay RSP2 / RSP2Pro. The review is also freely available online in pdf format from the SDRplay website (pdf warning).

The review initially focuses on the differences between the RSP1 and the RSP2 units, explaining how most differences occur in the front end circuitry. WB8IMY then goes on to review SDRuno, the official software package of SDRplay units. The review is fairly brief, but the most interesting part is the lab test results which are displayed throughout the review.

WB8IMY performed several benchmark lab measurements such as frequency coverage, MDS (minimum discernible signal) levels (note MDS measured at 400 Hz instead of the standard 500 Hz for some reason), noise figure, AM and FM sensitivity, blocking gain compression dynamic range, two tone IMD tests, second order intercept points, FM adjacent channel selectivity and more. The results can be useful for comparing against other SDRs.

ARRL RSP2 Lab Measurement Results
ARRL RSP2 Lab Measurement Results (see the PDF for the full set of results)

A showcase of our Metal RSP-1 Enclosure

Back in March of this year together with Mike (KD2KOG) we brought out a metal enclosure for the SDRplay RSP1. The enclosure includes a BCFM filter as well as a nice carry case. We’ve been collecting a few images of users using this enclosure, and this is simply a picture showcase of those images.

If you’re interested in the enclosure we still have some limited stock remaining over on our store at www.rtl-sdr.com/store.

18422385_314973738941602_2523967711678756945_o
18449451_1890155887930995_5251431457119185360_o
18527688_10101186672530934_4908803764409363405_n
17966679_10158486096580526_4325850276612834306_o
18556425_315635862208723_2707447106056285642_n
18451572_10101186675205574_2643916922130830875_o
18622535_10211446696621123_4189586990260915818_n
19787294_10155275349462626_3927193581428100369_o
17389022_1861905330756051_4823366988471839059_o
17759930_10210906582794438_4647678815213518413_n
17760979_1435898336432319_4519865669757756764_o
17800235_10154504927737263_5608059194014527515_n
17904492_1048603175239808_297410764935138209_n
17917744_10158486274255526_5670662272888486592_o

Our Review of the Airspy HF+: Compared against ColibriNANO, Airspy Mini, RSP2

Over the last few months we’ve been posting and getting excited about the Airspy HF+, an upcoming high dynamic range HF/VHF receiver designed for DXing. The Airspy team were kind enough to supply us with an early pre-production unit for review.

Long story short, the Airspy HF+ is probably one of the best low cost SDRs we’ve seen for DXing or weak signal reception out there. So far few details on the availability of the HF+ have been released, but we’re aware that preorders are due to start soon, and the target price is expected to be $149 USD from iTead Studio in China. 

What follows is the full review and comparisons against other similarly priced SDRs. The Airspy team want us and readers to understand that our review unit is a pre-production model, and apparently already the matching and thus SNR has already been improved by about 2-4 dBs, so the sound samples we provide in the review below should sound even better with the newer revision.

Disclaimer: We received the HF+ for free in exchange for an honest review, but are not affiliated with Airspy. We’ve been in contact with the Airspy team who have helped clarify some points about the architecture and technology used in the design.

Introduction

The Airspy HF+ is designed to be a HF/VHF specialist receiver with a frequency range of DC to 31 MHz, and then 60 to 260 MHz. It has a maximum bandwidth of 768 kHz. So the question is then, why would you consider buying this over something like the regular Airspy R2/Mini or an SDRplay RSP2 which both have larger frequency ranges and bandwidths? You would buy the Airspy HF+ because has been designed with DXing and weak signal reception in mind. Basically the main idea behind the HF+ is to design it so that it will never overload when in the presence of really strong signals. Combined with it’s high sensitivity, weak or DX signals should come in much clearer than on the other radios especially if you have strong blocking signals like broadcast AM/FM around.

Aside: What is overloading, intermodulation and dynamic range?

Basically strong signals can cause weak signals to be drowned out, making them not receivable, even though they’re there at your antenna. This is called overloading or saturation. Intermodulation occurs when the SDR overloads and results in images of unwanted signals showing up all over the spectrum.

A simple analogy is to think about what happens when you are trying to drive, but there is sunstrike. The road is very hard to see because the sun is so bright and right in your eyes. The human eye does not have enough “dynamic range” to handle the situation of sunstrike. Dynamic range is a measure of how well a radio (eye) can handle strong (bright) and weak (dark) signals at the same time. The same analogy applies to radios which can struggle to ‘see’ weak signals if there is a very strong signal nearby on the frequency spectrum. There are a few ways to solve this:

  • Filtering: Block the strong signals that you don’t want using LC filters.
    • Eye analogy: using your sun visor to block the sun.
  • Attenuation: Reduce the strength of all signals.
    • Eye analogy: using sunglasses or squint.
  • Increase dynamic range: Get a better SDR with better design/technology and more bits in the ADC.
    • Eye analogy: upgrade your eyes.

Technology and Architecture

The HF+ uses a typical Filter->Tuner ->ADC architecture. So it is not a direct sampling receiver like most of the more expensive SDRs. Direct sampling receivers directly sample the analogue spectrum, without the need for a tuner so they avoid losses and the intermodulation problems that usually come from the mixing stages. But there are some major cutting edge technology differences in the HF+ architecture that should make its performance even better than direct sampling receivers.

Tuner: The tuner on the HF+ is one of the first to use a “Polyphase Harmonic Rejection” architecture. Essentially this means that harmonics produced in the mixing stages are naturally rejected, making the front end filtering requirements much more relaxed. So unlike the tuners used in other SDRs, this one is extremely unlikely overload in the mixing stage.

An additional benefit to this architecture is that the mixer is very low loss, so the LNA in the tuner only needs to use low gain, giving it a very high IIP3 value. So the first LNA which is typically another point of saturation and imermodulation, is very unlikely to saturate in the HF+ design. Most of the amplification only occurs after the mixing stage with the filtered narrowband output of the tuner.

Analogue to Digital Converter (ADC): The ADC is 16-bits and uses a “Sigma Delta” (ΣΔ) design. Basically a Sigma Delta ADC has a natural filtering ability due to its narrowband nature. Instead of seeing say a 30 MHz signal, it only sees 1 – 2 MHz, thus increasing dynamic range and reducing the likelihood of out of band overload.

Digital Down-Converter (DDC): Then after the ADC is a DDC which decimates the output from the ADC, increasing the effective number of bits. The more bits the larger the resolution of the digitized RF signal, so weak signals are less likely to be lost when converted from analogue to digital.

The HF+ Block Diagram
The HF+ Block Diagram

So the block diagram flow goes like this:

A weakly filtered signal enters the tuner, is weakly amplified by the tuner LNA, mixed down to baseband and filtered to 1-2 MHz. It is then amplified and sampled with the sigma delta ADC into 16-bits. The DDC decimates the output into 18-bits which is then sent to the microcontroller and PC via USB.

The Airspy team also compiled this comparison chart for us to understand the differences in architecture between the current SDRs on the market (click to enlarge). This shows that the HF+ is a different type of design compared to other SDRs. Generally the best SDRs out the market right now are direct sampling receivers with many filter banks. The HF+ approaches the problem in a different way, and according to the specs seems to match or better the performance of heavily filtered direct sampling receivers.

Performance from the Airspy HF+ product page is stated as:

  • -141.0 dBm (0.02 µV / 50 ohms) MDS Typ. at 500Hz bandwidth in HF
  • -141.5 dBm MDS Typ. at 500Hz bandwidth in FM Broadcast Band (60 – 108 MHz)
  • -139.5 dBm MDS Typ. at 500Hz bandwidth in VHF Aviation Band (118 – 136 MHz)
  • -139 dBm MDS Typ. at 500Hz bandwidth in VHF Commercial Band (136 – 174 MHz)
  • -138 dBm MDS Typ. at 500Hz bandwidth in the upper VHF Band (> 174 MHz)
  • +26 dBm IIP3 on HF at maximum gain
  • +13 dBm IIP3 on VHF at maximum gain
  • 110 dB blocking dynamic range in HF
  • 95 dB blocking dynamic range in VHF

Continue reading

Listening to July’s Arecibo Observatory Ionospheric Heating Campaign

During July 24-31 the large Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico (the big dish antenna that you may be familiar with from the movie ‘Contact’) ran an Ionospheric heating experiment which involves transmitting 600kW of net power up into the Ionosphere. This type of experiment is used for researching plasma turbulence in the ionosphere and upper atmosphere.

“The new Arecibo ionosphere HF heater nominally transmits 600 kW net power and has a unique Cassegrain dual-array antenna design that increases gain of three crossed dipoles for each band, using the signature 1000-foot spherical dish reflector,” explained Chris Fallen, KL3WX, a researcher at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks HAARP facility. He has reported that Arecibo would use 5.125 or 8.175 MHz, depending upon ionospheric conditions, but emphasized that these are estimates and frequencies may be adjusted slightly. On July 25, Arecibo was transmitting on 5.095 MHz.

Over on YouTube Mike L. used his SDRplay RSP1 together with our BCAM HPF to record some transmissions from the observatory.

SDRplay RSP1 Price Reduced to $99.95 USD

SDRPlay have just announced that their RSP1 unit has just been reduced in price to $99.95 USD. Their press release reads:

SDRplay are pleased to announce a price reduction for their entry-level SDR receiver, the RSP1 to $99.95 USD making it the most competitive mid-range SDR to include reception down to low frequencies without the need for an upconverter. The RSP1 provides general coverage receiver and panadapter capability from 10 kHz to 2 GHz. As well as providing SDRuno SDR software, support for popular 3rd party packages like HDSDR, SDR-Console and Cubic SDR is provided. Recent availability of an SD Card image makes for easy set up on a Raspberry Pi.

Over time we’ve seen the RSP1 reduce in price originally from $299 USD, to half price at $149 USD in March 2015 and then to $129 USD in September 2016, and now finally down to $99 USD. The newer RSP2 remains at a price of $169.95 USD.

The SDRplay RSP1
The SDRplay RSP1

Receiving Jupiter Noise Bursts with an SDRplay RSP1

Over on YouTube user MaskitolSAE has uploaded a video showing him receiving some noise bursts from Jupiter with his SDRplay RSP1. The planet Jupiter is known to emit bursts of noise via natural ‘radio lasers’ powered partly by the planets interaction with the electrically conductive gases emitted by Io, one of the the planets moons. When Jupiter is high in the sky and the Earth passes through one of these radio lasers the noise bursts can be received on Earth quite easily with an appropriate antenna 

In his video MaskitolSAE shows the 10 MHz of waterfall and audio from some Jupiter noise bursts received with his SDRplay RSP1 at 22119 kHz. According to the YouTube description, it appears that he is using the UTR-2 radio telescope which is a large Ukrainian radio telescope installation that consists of an array of 2040 dipoles. A professional radio telescope installation is not required to receive the Jupiter bursts (a backyard dipole tuned to ~20 MHz will work), but the professional radio telescope does get some really nice strong bursts as seen in the video.

The UTR-2 Radio Telescope. Photo Attr. Oleksii Tovpyha (Link)