RTL-SDR dongle: Review

 

In this post we will be reviewing the RTL2832U dongle, available at Gearbest for only about 8 €.

 

 

What it is

This is a portable SDR which looks a bit bigger than a USB memory stick.  It’s got an RTL2832U chipset, which allows capturing and recording DVB-T, FM, AM and DAB Digital signals. You connect it to your PC through the USB port and plug the antenna into the dongle to receive those signals. Then, you can process this signals in your PC with open source programs (see the Performance section below).

In addition, you can use it as a TV Tuner and the set comes with a remote controller.

Technical Specifications:

1)Interface: USB 2.0 standard
2)FM radio: 87.5 – 108 MHZ
3)DAB radio: L-Band-1452960 – 1490624 KHZ, VHF174928 – 239200 KHZ
4)TV system: Full DVB-T and DAB compliant
5)Bandwidth: 6 / 7 / 8 MHz auto select for DVB-T
6)Power supply: USB bus
7)System require: Microsoft Windows XP / 2000 / Vista / 7 /8 /10

 

 

Delivery

The delivery to Spain was for FREE and took about 2 weeks, so not bad at all, specially because Gearbest tells you when you’ll receive approximately.

 

Packaging

All the pieces you see in the previous picture came in a kind of cute little board box which it’s cool to carry it where you want. Also, each piece comes in an individual small plastic bag.

 

 

Performance

To check the performance you can use the CD that comes in the set (we haven’t try it yet) or download a free software from Internet. We did a bit of research on Google and we found the HDSDR which is free and very intuitive to use.

All that you need to do is to set your center frequency,

the bandwidth,

and record your signal, which will be saved in a .wav format.

 

Also, here is a demo listening to the local FM radio using the dongle:

 

Considerations

 

  • Bandwidth: we recommend you select a high enough bandwidth if you are not sure what your signal’s bandwidth would be. While you are receiving the signal, you can see its spectrum and adjust the bandwidth with the cursors:

  • The .wav file can be loaded and processed in Matlab or other software which is able to read a .wav file and allow you to process it (Audacity can be a good open source alternative).
  • When you are receiving a signal in your desire signal, you will listen a beeep sort of noise (if it’s an FM radio signal, of course, you’ll listen the music or whatever content they are delivering 🙂

 

Conclusion

Some pros are the price (it’s really cheap), how easy to use it is , the cool things you can do (have a look at RTL-SDR.com), the small size and the fact that it’s compatible with mostly all operative systems (including Windows 10!)

The main con is the background noise you receive when recording a signal in an specific frequency. However, this can be removed in a posteriori signal processing software.

We hope you like this post and we will be glad to receive new ideas to use our RTL-SDR dongle 🙂

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