Tagged: shortwave

Portable Shortwave Spectrum Capture with an Airspy + Spyverter and Tablet

Over on his blog London Shortwave writes how difficult it can be trying to listen to shortwave radio stations when you’re indoors and in a big city filled with RF noise. His solution is a portable lightweight shortwave travel kit that he can take to the park. The kit that he recommends using includes an Airspy SDR with SpyVerter upconverter, a Toshiba Encore 8″ Tablet and an OTG USB adapter. His antenna is a portable dipole made from two pieces of 6m copper wire connected to a balun, then connected to the SDR with 3m of coax. The whole kit easily fits into a small metal brief case.

For the software London Shortwave uses SDR# and he enjoys capturing large chunks of the HF spectrum for replay later using the base band recorder and file player plugins for SDR#. In his post he also shows how he runs the Airspy in debug mode to restrict it to 6 MHz which is the maximum bandwidth that his tablet’s CPU can handle.

His post shows various example videos of his setup receiving some nice shortwave signals.

London Shortwave's SDR Kit.
London Shortwave’s SDR Kit.

SWSCAN – A Console Based Shortwave Broadcast Scanner for the RTL-SDR

Over on the Reddit discussion boards user gat3way has posted about his newly released software project called swscan. Swscan is a Linux console based program that can be used to scan and listen to shortwave broadcast stations. It has a built in database of shortwave station frequencies as well as their broadcast schedules and it will even show you the stations power level and distance you are from the transmitter. Swscan is based on GNU Radio 3.7, so you will need to have that installed first.

As shortwave stations exist at frequencies below the normal tuning range of the RTL-SDR, you will need an upconverter or be using the latest R820T experimental driver which can tune down to around 1 MHz.

Swscan can be downloaded from http://www.gat3way.eu/poc/swscan.tgz.

Console GUI for swscan.
Console GUI for swscan.

RTL-SDR + Upconverter vs. Portable Shortwave Receiver

Akos from the SDR for Mariners blog has put together an article doing a comparison between the RTL-SDR + ham-it-up upconverter and a Grunding G8 Traveler II Digital conventional portable hardware shortwave radio.

His results show that the RTL-SDR and portable receiver are comparable in terms of performance, with a slight edge to the RTL-SDR. He adds that software tweaks available in SDR# can improve the voice quality for the RTL-SDR. However his final recommendation for general shortwave listening is that the portable is still the better option due to it’s ease of use.

RTL-SDR + Upconverter vs. Portable Shortwave Radio
RTL-SDR + Upconverter vs. Portable Shortwave Radio

Comparison Between Portable Shortwave Radios and the RTL-SDR

YouTube user mutezone has uploaded a video showing a comparison between several portable shortwave radios and the RTL-SDR. His results show that the portable radios performed better than the RTL-SDR dongle at shortwave-dxing, however we are unsure of what method he used (direct sampling or upconverter) to get access to the shortwave bands on the RTL-SDR.

Shortwave Performance test: Portable Radios vs RTL-SDR