SDRPlay Review

Introduction
After having the SDRPlay around in daily use for a few months, it’s time to talk about this little gem. Good things indeed come in small boxes. The SDRPlay wideband receiver (0.1MHz to 2GHz) is a great example of what can be done to produce an easy to use and fun inexpensive wide coverage SDR receiver. On top of that throw in top notch customer support and you wind up with an excellent product all for the lowly sum of $150. While not entirely perfect, it’s really hard to complain too much given the cost and the hard work the SDRPlay development team has put in to continually improve the product. The SDRPlay would make a great product for radio hobbyist looking to get involved with their first SDR receiver due to it’s ease of setup or if you have been using RTL dongles and need something that packs a little more of a punch. More advanced users will find something also since the SDRPlay is pretty tweakable as well as far more sensitive on the upper end of its frequency range. The other advantage with the SDRPlay is that now you can order or pick one up from your local Ham Radio Outlet Store in the US for around $150.

Hardware
The SDRPlay is based on the Mirics Software Defined Radio chipset which can be found in a couple of familiar SDR receivers like the FunCube Dongle Pro and the CommRadio CR-1/CR-1a. The SDRPlay provides continuous receive coverage from 0.1MHz to 2GHz. The ADC is a 12bit processor which will be a nice step up over the typical RTL 8 bit dongles and offer more dynamic range. Also included are 6 bandpass filters which are automatically engaged depending on  the selected band as well as a 12MHz low pass filter. The SDRPlay also includes a builtin LNA amplifier with 20db  of gain which helps to make the SDRPlay a very capable receiver for use on the satellite bands with the appropriate antenna. The sampling rate can be adjusted from 200kHz to 8MHz which is pretty impressive for a SDR receiver in this price range. The various settings such as gain control, sample rate, and others can be manually controlled through the included ExtIO’s control panel. The SDRPlay is connected to your PC via a USB interface with a USB type B socket on the back. The antenna connector is a female SMA type connector. You can find more complete specs on the SDRPlay website.

SDRPlay USB Connector

SDRPlay USB Connector

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12 Responses to SDRPlay Review

  1. Andy K3UK says:

    Thanks, nice useful review

  2. Roger EA7JGW says:

    I have been looking for a receiver to start in the owrld of SDR and this review convinces me that the SDRPlay is very good value and the way to start. Thanks very much

  3. Dennis says:

    Nice review and I have the SDRPlay SDR, the only problem I am
    finding is the availability of Linux software that is currently
    available. GQRX works good for the RTL2832 dongle and currently
    it is not useable on the SDRPlay device. Hopefully in the future
    it will be available for Linux Mint without the problems of
    doing a compile and finding dependency files missing and
    coding bugs.

    • Buster says:

      I ordered the SDRplay from Ham Radio Outlet and received it within 3 business days.

      Quite prompt!

      I am a SDR newbie so learning as I go.

      My SDRplay has worked flawlessly with HDSDR.

      I also would like more Linux (Mint) software for the SDRplay.

      Buster

    • I have CubicSDR, follow the links from SdrPlay linux plattform.

  4. David Spector says:

    Your review doesn’t say if anything else is needed to make this receiver work (a valid issue in the SDR world). For example, is a 9:1 balun ($14), a male SMA connector, or an antenna tuner ($150+) needed when connecting an ordinary long wire antenna to the SDRPlay?

    • sdrcurious says:

      David, the RSP doesn’t differ from any other receiver in this regard. Depending on your location and frequency neighborhood and antenna you may or may not need an extra tuner, you will likely need connectors to attach it to whatever you have already and whether or not you need a balun depends mostly on your antenna. You also need a computer and a table to put it on and a roof would be nice too so it doesnt get wet, they never tell you that in those goddamn reviews either. Last time I bought an SDR I found myself standing in the rain with a loose wire in one hand and the box in the other, bloody reviewers!

    • SkipF, NT1G says:

      When I connected my LWAdapter to my SDRplay, I could
      only get the local 50KW station. But when I used a 5′ wire connected to a 5′ piece of coax, I could ALSO get another 15 AM broadcast stations…so I made a 10,20,40DB pad and now get around 40 detectable stations.

  5. David Spector says:

    Thank you! I actually laughed aloud.

  6. Michael Mickelson says:

    Thanks for the review and comments. I try to stay out of the rain with electrical devices in hand. I have read a number of other reviews and they are also positive and in somewhat more detail. For instance, take a look at the ones on eHam.

    Mike, kd8dz

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