In the world of Software Defined Radio there have not been many new products introduced over the past year. The products that have been introduced have been a little pricey for what they do. With that being said, there is not much if anything that can beat the venerable RTL2832U dongle as a great low cost introduction to the world of SDR. The R820T variant of the RT2832u dongle has turned out to be a solid performer for entry level applications over the past couple of years. Just recently a new and improved version of the RTL2832u – R820T has become available very cleverly named the R820T2. These new dongles are being made available in the US by NooElec on Amazon for around $24.95.
NooElec NESDR Mini 2 USB RTL-SDR & ADS-B Receiver Set, RTL2832U & R820T2 Tuner, MCX Input. Low-Cost Software Defined Radio Compatible with Many SDR Software Packages. R820T2 Tuner & ESD-Safe Antenna Input, Guaranteed
The first thing you may notice about the R820T2 is that the case is now bright blue and the blue power led is much brighter. Outside of that, the cases of the R820T and the R820T2 seem to be identical in size and construction. They both even share the same antenna connector, so you can continue to use any aftermarket adapters or antennas that you may have purchased for your older R820T dongle. Speaking of antennas, you now get a much improved magnetic whip antenna versus what was shipped with the older R820T. The older antenna was a fixed whip at around 5.5 inches where the new whip is extendable from 3.75 inches to around 12 inches. The new antenna also includes a magnetic mount as well as a tilt mount. The RTL820T also ships with the same somewhat useless remote. just incase you are interested.
When it comes to a low cost SDR QRP Transceiver W0MKA has the right idea. The mcHF QRP transceiver is a project that W0MKA has been working on for awhile and we are starting to see more of a finished product begin to emerge. W0MKA’s project is pretty much a DIY endeavor at this time. Can you buy it? Kinda sorta. W0MKA makes limited quantities of the unpopulated boards available from time to time as well as the display. This is a project that we would certainly like to see become available as a complete kit in the future or even better a preassembled model. So head over to W0MKA’s website and give him a little encouragement!
If you are thinking about getting involved with SDR radio or just want to add a new one to you shack, here are what we consider the three best values in SDR radio equipment available today. The operative word here is “low cost”. These SDRs are not necessarily the best you can buy, but offer a lot of value for your money and make a good entry point into the world of Software Defined Radio.
The latest version of Ham Radio Deluxe as added CAT support for the DX-SR9 as well as the DX-SR8. This will allow HRD to control such things as tuning, transmit, power settings, mode, and other supported features of the Alinco radios. The Alinco transceivers have a much smaller command set available for computer control, but HRD appears to pretty much support all of them. If you are not familiar with Ham Radio Deluxe, the software covers a wide range of applications from logging and transceiver control to digital operations. HRD can be pretty much a complete software solution for the needs of a the amateur radio operator.