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Author Topic: An SDR for $17 - The R820T USB SDR DVB-T Dongle  (Read 5352 times)

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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An SDR for $17 - The R820T USB SDR DVB-T Dongle
« on: January 12, 2013, 2000 UTC »
My RTL SDR dongle arrived today, here are my first experiences with it:  http://www.hfunderpants.com/?p=1220

Maybe even Fansome will approve of this SDR.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2013, 2100 UTC by ChrisSmolinski »
Chris Smolinski
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eQSLs appreciated! csmolinski@blackcatsystems.com
NRD 545 / netSDR / AFE822x / AirSpy HF+ / KiwiSDR / 670 ft horizontal loop / 500 ft northeast beverage / 58 ft T2FD / 300 ft south beverage / 43m / 20m / 10m  dipoles / Crossed Parallel Loop

Offline skeezix

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Re: An SDR for $17 - The R820T USB SDR DVB-T Dongle
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2013, 2048 UTC »
Last fall, I picked up a Newsky DVB-T (with the E4000 tuner).

It gets the job done and for its price, can't complain. Does seem like there's images all over the place with it, but could be overloaded by the GP-15 on the roof.

Have listened from the FM BC band up through 900 MHz. Not much to listen to on the 800 MHz around here since the large public safety system is APCO-25 and of the few services on FM 800MHz, they're trunked.

« Last Edit: January 12, 2013, 2100 UTC by skeezix »
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Offline Pigmeat

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Re: An SDR for $17 - The R820T USB SDR DVB-T Dongle
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2013, 2122 UTC »
My RTL SDR dongle arrived today, here are my first experiences with it:  http://www.hfunderpants.com/?p=1220

Maybe even Fansome will approve of this SDR.


Sorry Chris, no knobs on that thing. You know how Al loves knobs.

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: An SDR for $17 - The R820T USB SDR DVB-T Dongle
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2013, 0046 UTC »
Sorry Chris, no knobs on that thing. You know how Al loves knobs.

Good point. This should be more his style:
Chris Smolinski
Westminster, MD
eQSLs appreciated! csmolinski@blackcatsystems.com
NRD 545 / netSDR / AFE822x / AirSpy HF+ / KiwiSDR / 670 ft horizontal loop / 500 ft northeast beverage / 58 ft T2FD / 300 ft south beverage / 43m / 20m / 10m  dipoles / Crossed Parallel Loop

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: An SDR for $17 - The R820T USB SDR DVB-T Dongle
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2013, 0039 UTC »
Short update - i've compiled rtl_tcp and dump1090 on osx as a console app, and have it displaying ADS-B aircraft transponders.
Chris Smolinski
Westminster, MD
eQSLs appreciated! csmolinski@blackcatsystems.com
NRD 545 / netSDR / AFE822x / AirSpy HF+ / KiwiSDR / 670 ft horizontal loop / 500 ft northeast beverage / 58 ft T2FD / 300 ft south beverage / 43m / 20m / 10m  dipoles / Crossed Parallel Loop

Offline skeezix

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Re: An SDR for $17 - The R820T USB SDR DVB-T Dongle
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2013, 0230 UTC »
Have dump1090 running as well on my MBP.

Now decoding the a/c. Although having only their ICAO address is not all that interesting.

Searching for one of them finds that A8B848 is N661DN, a Delta Airlines 757.

In watching his reported altitude, looks like he's arriving here at KMSP. Looked up arriving Delta 757s around this time and there's one from Los Angeles and one from Phoenix. Welcome to Minneapolis, enjoy the cold.

« Last Edit: January 14, 2013, 0314 UTC by skeezix »
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Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: An SDR for $17 - The R820T USB SDR DVB-T Dongle
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2013, 1158 UTC »
Have dump1090 running as well on my MBP.

Now decoding the a/c. Although having only their ICAO address is not all that interesting.

Searching for one of them finds that A8B848 is N661DN, a Delta Airlines 757.

In watching his reported altitude, looks like he's arriving here at KMSP. Looked up arriving Delta 757s around this time and there's one from Los Angeles and one from Phoenix. Welcome to Minneapolis, enjoy the cold.

I've been running dump1090 in interactive mode --interactive where displays the received aircraft in a table that updates a few times a second. It keeps track of what ICAO codes have been heard, as well as other info, and eventually, if it gets enough packets, updates the aircraft's flight number, position, etc. I could have sworn adsbScope on Windows was displaying the tail number (presumably from the ICAO code via some database file) but perhaps I was imagining it.

Maybe I'll try to make a nicer cocoa app from dump1090. Any suggestions as to what you'd find useful?

I'm using a discone antenna, what are you using for an antenna?

Here's my misadventures in getting rtl-sdr built on the Mac: http://www.hfunderpants.com/?p=1236
« Last Edit: January 14, 2013, 1320 UTC by ChrisSmolinski »
Chris Smolinski
Westminster, MD
eQSLs appreciated! csmolinski@blackcatsystems.com
NRD 545 / netSDR / AFE822x / AirSpy HF+ / KiwiSDR / 670 ft horizontal loop / 500 ft northeast beverage / 58 ft T2FD / 300 ft south beverage / 43m / 20m / 10m  dipoles / Crossed Parallel Loop

Offline skeezix

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Re: An SDR for $17 - The R820T USB SDR DVB-T Dongle
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2013, 0138 UTC »
The ideal thing would be a map of the local area (zoomable) with live plotting of received aircraft and their track and an arrow of direction. Have them plot in some color (green?). When nothing is heard from an a/c in some amount of time, it turns yellow then a little bit later goes away. Some vertical tracking would be nice too. The aircraft icon could have the same data to look like an ATC radar.

Haven't looked at the other s/w packages and see what they have.


The antenna I was using was a little UHF stub that came with the radio. At the moment, have it stuck (magnetic) to my NC-183D in the basement (of a split level house, so about right at ground level). Also tried a horiz FM BC dipole which worked fine too. Not sure if one was better than the other.

Did notice a few aircraft coming into KMSP disappeared from my view under 7500'. But will have to watch that better.




Minneapolis, MN

Offline cyberflexx

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Re: An SDR for $17 - The R820T USB SDR DVB-T Dongle
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2013, 0444 UTC »
I ordered a cheap SDR off ebay, still waiting for it, its coming from China.  I'll let you know the model when it comes in..
Was going to use it like another police scanner..