Mid-Priced Hardware Gets Serious About Software Defined Radio

Regular Hackaday readers are accustomed to seeing hacks that use a cheap USB TV dongle as a software-defined radio (SDR). There is a lot of software that will work with them, including the excellent GNU Radio software. However, the hardware is quite bare. Without modifications, the USB key will not receive lower frequencies.

There are many other SDR radios, but they have a much higher price. But we noticed recently SDRPlay RSPand already have distribution in the United States. The manufacturer says it will receive signals with 12-bit resolution in the range of 100 kHz to 2 GHz with 8MHz bandwidth. The USB cable provides power and connection to the computer. The best part? Open API that supports Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and will even run on Raspberry Pi (and has GNU Radio supportalso).

If you’re like us, your brain is already spinning, thinking about the hacks you can make with a pretty cheap (about $ 150) receiver that has such a range. Of course, you can only use it as a receiver, but maybe much more. For example, the second video below shows a ham that uses the device as a panadapter (a ham tool that is a spectrum analyzer that visually monitors the entire activity bandwidth).

The device has eight different filters at the front, which it selects depending on the selected frequency. We haven’t had a chance to try one yet (watch out for that), but the specs look impressive– Especially for the price. When you think we’ve seen cheap SDRs test equipment and even passive radar, you can only imagine what the community will dream of using these boxes.