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Author Topic: Computer Run Shortwave  (Read 983 times)

Offline mysticstar

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Computer Run Shortwave
« on: October 31, 2018, 0035 UTC »
I don't know whether you would consider this question SDR or computer controlled shortwave. I have been out of the loop since 2010. I came back into radio last month and realized that TNC's are a thing of the past and it's now software defined. My question is, where can I find something very similar to the PCR-1500 by Icom? Is there a reason why they stopped making them? I want something around the same price, not like WinRadio. Also I want something that runs off my system, my antenna. ("It's not the kill, it's the thrill of the chase") I want to do it on my own. I also checked out 2 other companies, Ten Tac and RF Space, both companies now not making those any longer. For all you experts out there, I know it is SDR but I wanted to pose this question to the Equipment Forum because even though it is SDR it is also major hardware also. One can't perform without the other. Something tells me that these companies stopped making these for a reason, whether it be cost, software glitches or maybe nobody liked them. Would love to hear some answers. 8)
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Offline Stretchyman

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2018, 0722 UTC »
There's much choice and folk will have there favourites.

I chose an SDRPLAY, mainly as it's cheap and designed in the UK.

There's much cheaper (TV dongles) and way more expensive but from a features/spec vs cost point I thought it was the best.

The ability to switch antennas was a def + for me.

Wealth of software out there too..

Good luck and let us know what you choose.

Str.
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Offline mysticstar

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2018, 1532 UTC »
Thanks. I looked it up and that is one I haven't seen and it really piques my interest. Do you have any negative feedback about it? How has it been for those late night contacts? Do you run it with Windows or Linux? Thanks so much. That's what I wanted was different ideas and examples. I want to buy something different, but I don't want to throw hard earned money away experimenting.
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Offline Stretchyman

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2018, 1541 UTC »
It's fine, I couldn't say anything negative about it and the ability to switch antennas is a real +, most other units don't have that.

I've not used it a great deal so someone else could chirp up?......

Like any (budget) RX it will overload on very large signals and you should always use an attenuator if using a large antenna.

It does have a decent set of front end (and AM notch) filters which really help.

I use windows and have tried most of the SW packages, they're all much of a muchness and suggest you try them all to find your fave.

Str.
'It's better to give than receive' so why RX when you can TX!

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Offline mysticstar

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2018, 1643 UTC »
  So I guess all models come with SDRuno and I imagine that has all the necessary things to show you frequency, signal strength etc. Is that pretty good or what do you use that you like? I understand it can run others like CAT?
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Offline Stretchyman

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2018, 1708 UTC »
Most of the SW is free so you can try different packages.

I use SDR-RADIO.

A small donation is advised!

Str.
'It's better to give than receive' so why RX when you can TX!

                            Buy one from me, NOW!

Great discounts on ALL my transmitters if purchased via HFUnderground


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Offline Josh

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2018, 1717 UTC »
I have a RSP2 and love it, however it's not the hardiest of radios for ambc or hf work. Today you can often find sdr rigs with superior dynamic range on the used market, if used will do for you. I keep looking out for a decently priced sdriq or qs1r sdr, the sdriqs often go for $150 or so on qth and are fine on hf.

If you attach a "real" antenna (say a 80m dipole or a long wire) to a RSP, you will be adjusting the various gain controls frequently to try to counter imd and spurs created because you only have so much dynamic range with 12 bits of resolution. Some operators find they have to add an attenuator between the RSP and antenna feed to get the signals low enough to keep the RSP happy. Same goes for sdrs like the RTL, wich I also adore, but anything less than a 14bit chip is asking for trouble on hf far as I'm concerned. The better sdr rigs start out at 14bit and go from there.

Here's a thread re "real" antennas and RSP dynamic range;
http://www.sdrplay.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=3436
« Last Edit: October 31, 2018, 1737 UTC by Josh »
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Offline mysticstar

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2018, 1826 UTC »
Looked at that thread you sent me and it makes alot of sense. Damn! After while your setup could look like a PLC with all the different terminal blocks, etc! But I imagine that if you address all the issues that you find, you could have a very comparable piece of equipment that equals a standard table top rig, am I correct? Or is this SDR2 already comparable to a rig? Josh, what sdr rigs are you talking about that you are looking for?
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Offline Josh

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2018, 1844 UTC »
I don't mind used because as long as it works that's all I need. Used is going to be cheaper than new obviously. I'd really like to have a Perseus, but even used those are more than I care to spend on a sdr. So I'll settle for a sdriq as they have 14 bits of resolution and typically sell for around $150. There are a number of newer sdr rigs out there that employ a 14bit adc or higher so don't limit your choices to my ideas. Many of the guys here roll sdr rigs and have experience with them so ask around and see what they think about their rigs. I must admit that thread I linked to in my post above gets very technical and it's easy to get lost in the numbers if you don't have a basic understanding of what is being discussed, so learning about sdr rigs is a worthwhile effort. Long story short, they're amazing even if lacking knobs.

As to comparing sdr rigs to table top rigs like HAM hf rigs or Icom R75s and whatnot, I feel once a sdr has 14bits of adc they will be as hardy or hardier than typical HAM rigs and table top shortwave sets.
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Offline mysticstar

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2018, 2140 UTC »
I don't know what i'd do with a brand new rig. I have only ever bought used. :)
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Offline mysticstar

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2018, 2345 UTC »
Well I did a little research and I was amazed, but I didn't expect to find a whole list of SDR's in Wikipedia. I'm impressed! According to them, there are not that many manufacturers of ADC 14 or 16 bit SDR's. The companies that I saw on Amazon like Nooelec don't say what they are but after further investigation, I found that they are probably only 8. Elad has a nice product and I believe they are manufactured in Italy. Unfortunately they are a bit pricey too, and not all list how many bits. I really appreciate the help. I'll probably end up getting a SDRplay product. Computers are my comfort zone. I've been messing with computers since 1984, worked for Intel for awhile programming PLC's, and I would probably really enjoy an SDR for a change. Do you use yours much Stretchyman and Josh? Also, I love running utilities. Since everthing SW based anymore, is there any problems with software integration?
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Offline Stretchyman

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2018, 0724 UTC »
I have to be honest and don't use mine much but I would rather TALK than LISTEN but I don't do much or either as too busy designing or working (I work away from home) so have very limited spare time.

I was however somewhat impressed when I first fired it up as it works a treat!

TBH it's almost not worth buying one at all as there's so many online now you can just borrow one with a much better antenna etc but Yes I understand that kinda takes the fun out of it!

Anyway...You wont regret getting an SDRPlay and I'm chuffed that others have recommended it.

Sure there are better units but cost way more and there are many far worse.

14 bit with switchable filters and selectable antennas makes for a good combo.

Let us know what you decide upon!

Str.
'It's better to give than receive' so why RX when you can TX!

                            Buy one from me, NOW!

Great discounts on ALL my transmitters if purchased via HFUnderground


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Offline Josh

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2018, 1859 UTC »
The RSP2 is used every day, sometimes to cover a single voice or digital mode channel, but often as a multi vrx sdr with either SDRuno or SDR Console v3, SDR Console v3 is pretty much my goto for vrx work as it seems to employ more decimation than HDSDR and does vrx while HDSDR doesn't do vrx at all. HDSDR is about the lowest cpu use sdr app worth running. What I really want is a winrad internal pci sdr, installs on the pci bus. I'm not a fan of usb radio at all, nor firewire radio as in the case of the flexradios.

Vrx is virtual receiver, you can deploy more than one rx detection and demodulation mode as well as different filters, For example, I have 3 vrx in use on two hfdl channels and one ale channel in the low 11mHz zone. Then I set up decoders for hfdl, ale, and the ale channel often carries Mil 110A so have a decoder up for that too. One sdr rig, one sdr control app, multiple reception instances.

Some sdrs do vrx, some don't. Some sdrs cover 10MHz swaths of spectrum, some only offer the bandwidth of your soundcard. The sdrs that offer multiple vrx can have those vrx anywhere in their passband. The usual trade off is the wider bandwidths typically suffer from imd and dynamic range issues but sure make for an impressive display.

Here's some reviews of the lower priced and lower bitrate sdrs;
http://www.udxf.nl/The-RTL-SDR-V3.pdf
http://www.udxf.nl/SDRPlay_RSP2_SDR.pdf
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Offline Token

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2018, 1714 UTC »
Something tells me that these companies stopped making these for a reason, whether it be cost, software glitches or maybe nobody liked them. Would love to hear some answers.

The dedicated computer controlled, traditional superhet, radio was relatively short lived, but that probably just has to do with timing, technology moving forward and changing customer expectations and wants.

If you look at Icom you will see they no longer make any low cost mobile / base use receivers, like the PCR-1500.  Or for that matter the R-75.  Right now the only receivers you can buy from Icom are hand held or relatively expensive desktop models.  The same can be said of TenTec, unless you want a high end 340 or commercial 331 you are out of luck.

Winradio, however, still makes a computer controlled radio (CCR), as well as SDRs.  Yes, their CCRs are called SDRs in their sales literature, but things get a little muddy there.

The WR-305, 313, and 315, use a DSP in the final narrow IF (25 kHz width).  So while it can be argued they are "SDR", the same could be said of many radios that are often just called "DSP".  For example, the Yaesu FT-2000 digitized the final IF (30 kHz width), just like the WinRadios, but no one ever really called that an SDR.

WinRadio also makes true, DDC, (Direct Digital Conversion) SDRs, like the WR-G31DDC, G33DDC, and G35DDC.

So what is the line between SDR and DSP radios?  I don't think there really is one, it is just marketing.  In my opinion anything that uses a DSP before the audio section could be called an SDR.  However, people in the hobby community have become used to SDRs being tied to a computer to operate.  But SDR radios not tied to a separate computer, like the Icom R8600, Elecraft KX3, or the upcoming Yaesu FT-DX101D, are no less SDRs than things like the RFSpace NetSDR, the WinRadio G31/33/35, SDRPlay, Flex-6700, etc.

SDR, both external computer tied and stand alone, are the way things are going.  The day of the purely superhet traditional radio, computer controlled or stand alone, is passing.  And that is OK.

I jumped on the computer interfaced SDR bandwagon eagerly, once it became somewhat affordable at the hobby level, since I was exposed to similar devices in professional service way before they were available for hobby use.  For listening I basically have been primarily computer interfaced SDR based for about 10 years now.  I mean, my main receivers in the shack have been SDRs that long, with waterfalls and interfaces on computer screens.  I still use traditional receivers also, but mostly just to set on a given signal and watch / record it.

On the ham side of things I still use more traditional configuration radios.  I mean, yes, I have a Flex 5000a, but I prefer to spin the dial on my Yaesu FTDX 5000.  But then, both of those are arguably SDRs, however one can stand alone without being tied to a computer.

T!
« Last Edit: November 02, 2018, 1717 UTC by Token »
T!
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Offline Josh

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Re: Computer Run Shortwave
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2018, 1902 UTC »
After you know your way around a low cost sdr rig and are considering getting a more capable one (ie it has greater dynamic range) you might consider one that has native support in your favorite decode suite if you like decoding digital modes. Many decoders offer direct or indirect support for a given sdr. Most of the decoders I use will talk to sdriq, Perseus, Icom, and many others.

Its nice to save on cpu cycles and memory footprint by having the decoder control the sdr rather than a decoder and sdr control app running concurrently. This will help out on battery life for laptops and might even offer a performance improvement in the decodes. That being said, some decoders state in their manual that while they can control an sdr it's better to use the control app.
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