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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2013
This is the second one of these sticks that I purchased and it worked even better than one I previously paid twice as much for, The antenna that comes with it is perfect if you want to use the device to monitor ADSB, which is software to track aircraft. Hard to believe that anyone could have so much fun for so little money!

Do not install the software that comes with the device, and plan on tossing the remote control too. (Please recycle the battery responsibly). The Net is loaded with links to free software. For great decoding software that runs on your local Windows machine, check out [...] Use that software to power plotting software such as ADSBScope at [...]

[Edited 12/25/2013 to correct an error in my calculations below]
The antenna is too long according to conventional wisdom to act as an optimal ADSB antenna at 1090 MHz. A quarter wave at 1090 MHZ is approximately 2.7 inches long, and this antenna is roughly 5 inches long (it's a bit hard to tell where the active element really begins).

Well, hold on there... The antenna has a magnetic mount, Stick it on top of the smallest diameter can that you can find -- and it works amazingly well! I used a 2-1/2" can of tomato paste, and an even smaller diameter can would be better. If you are a ham radio operator, see the October, 2013 issue of QST for an article that describes why. It boils down to the fact that if what you attach the antenna to is less than a full wave length in diameter, then there is some interaction between the antenna and the object.

I won't go into all the math here, but if the can diameter is this small, then the antenna *needs* to be a bit long. You can't just cut the antenna down to 2.7 inches though, unless the metal that you used for a mag mount surface is at least 11 x 11 inches.

Now I am picking up aircraft that are 55-75 miles away, which is much better than what I was able to accomplish with a custom-built collinear array antenna.

Of course the USB dongle works well (very well!) for "plain old" SDR radio too. Of course that form of SDR radio is at least as much fun as ADSB... However my comments on the antenna don't apply, because frequencies will be all over the place. Nevertheless, even with the default antenna this USB device works very well. Try SDRSharp if you run Windows. You can download it from [...] Just like the other software, this is free.
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2013
I got the cheap version, not the "brand name" - as my research showed that actually they are the same product made by the same manufacturer at the same plant with the same components. So why to pay extra? There is no need to use any of the software provided on the mini cd, not even the device drivers. Simply download the installation script kit (sdr-install.zip) from sdrsharp's website (sdrsharp.com), unzip it in a folder and run the batch file which in turn downloads the Zadig USB drivers, the RTLSDR library, and the sdrsharp application. (If you are using windows xp, download also zadig_xp_v2.0.1.160.7z instead of zadig_v2.0.1.160.7z downloaded by the install script)
The batch script then unpacks everything in a folder. That's the extent of the installation; so this is a "portable" install, not a classic windows install which modifies the registry. If you ever want to remove it you simply delete the folder. At that point you need to connect your device to an usb port on your computer and run zadig in order to get the proper device driver initialized. There is a step by step tutorial at the site where you downloaded the software. This is a one time task. Then you run sdrsharp, part of which basically looks like a software radio panel (the rest is more of a spectrum analyzer with frequency monitor and waterfall). You can quickly tune in some FM stations and verify that everything is working fine. Obviously, you've got to connect the small antenna supplied in the package. The itsy-bitsy antenna works surprisingly well. As for accuracy, I was lucky enough that my device is dead-on accurate with no frequency drift of any kind. Using a better antenna will certainly improve sensitivity and selectivity, but the beginning package is perfect for the money.
Quick end note: It is said that you can download the usb driver, the rtlsdr library and sdr sharp manually. But when you do so, there are always a few missing dlls which make the device either not recognized by windows or crash on start up. So, the install script is the best way to make things work.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2014
Got the cheaper version of the RTL-SDR (DVB-T DAB+FM for $10). Hours of learnings for $10 can't go wrong.
Heard commercial FM, ADS-B aircraft 1090MHz, and my handheld. Of course it does not have a xmtr function.
Quick summary:
The dongle receives signals with its A/D converter (RTL2832U) and its tuner (R820T). The dongle passes the digital data to the RS-232 port V2.0 where computer software is used to provide normal radio functions.

My reception of ham repeaters was poor. Heard signals on my handheld but not on the SDR#. Strange because the 1090MHz reception worked fine but the 144/440MHz didn't. Will try outdoor antenna and the more expensive RTL-SDR dongle to see if that makes a difference. Basic SDR# does not have scanner. Programmable memory channel is provided.

Here's how to make it work:
I first tried installing SDR software on an old Windows XP machine. Too many problems; required older .NET Framework and RS-232 v1.0 ports were too slow to capture data. After about 4 hours I gave up on the XP and went to Windows 7 machine.

Installed on Windows 7.0 went well:
1. install driver first (Zadig.exe, from www.zadig.akeo.ie)
2. download and unzip www.SDRsharp.com/downloads/SDRinstall.zip (this contains the SDR# and ADS-B applications)
3. For ADS-B aircraft usage need the RTL-SDR driver (Zadig), the ADS-B decoder (ADS-B app) AND a display application (like Virtual Radar or ADSBScope) See the excellent guide: http://rtl-sdr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/ADSBSharpQuickStart.pdf
4. For general purpose 30MHz to >1GHZ reception there is a good ref at: http://rtlsdr.org/softwarewindows.
a. Install the Zadig driver, if not installed.
b. Install the SDRSharp app

Helpful hints:
A. To test if the RTL-SDR dongle and ADSB is decoding aircraft data use the Telnet application. Telnet has to be loaded into by: Windows 7 ControlPanel>Program>WindowsFeatures> and check Telnet client
B. Convert the MCX connections to something useful. I converted MCX to SMA for use with my 2m whip.
C. Add extension SMA cable moved 2m whip out the window.
D. I got a lot of spurious signals because of computer noise. Separate RTL-SDR dongle from computer (RS-232 extension cable)
E. Identify modes on the waterfall with this helpful video http://hfradio.org.uk/html/digital_modes.html
F. ADSB aircraft data doesn't report all flight numbers, equipment, and route info. Virtual Radar allows user to update route info and share with web users. But plane position was more up-to-date then flight tracker or Flight Aware.

Bottom line - so much fun for $10 has to be illegal. Next step to try plug-ins to SDR# for digital modes and try to improve repeater reception.
73s
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2014
Using this Dongle together with SDR# and DSD is a lot cheaper than buying a $400 Digital Trunking Scanner. Keep in mind, If you're using this to pick up public service trunking radios, You will need TWO of these. One to constantly listen on the control channel, and the other dongle hops to whatever frequency the control channel tells it to. If this doesn't make sense to you, Please read up on how p25 Digital trunking works. I LOVE this product!!!!!!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2013
The software-defined radio in this unit can be reprogrammed with custom firmware to enable receiving of 1090MHz ADS-B broadcasts from aircraft overhead. Included antenna is surprisingly good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2014
This thing is VERY cool! :)

If you don't know what SDR is, see the review mentioned below. I bought it solely to see ADS-B 978MHz UAT air traffic for aviation using the free open source Avare app on my Android phones and Nexus 7 tablet. That probably means absolutely nothing to most people thinking about buying one of these. For them, here's some info that might be helpful:
1. With the addition of a cheap OTG adapter, this SDR works perfectly on my Google Nexus 7 (1st gen) Android tablet. I haven't yet got it working on my Mac laptop.
2. The CD in the photo wasn't included, but wasn't needed in the slightest because there are tons of fascinating free and inexpensive apps for PC, Linux, Mac (not iOS) and Android devices.
3. Though the antenna worked fine for me you might want to investigate antenna alternatives once you settle on what you'd most like to do with this cool toy. Each thing you can do will work much better with an antenna designed for that purpose (scanner, ham radio, weather, aviation, fire, police, etc...).

For anyone interested in aviation (including non-aviators who'd just like to know the positions and flight numbers of those jets you see flying over when outside), check out the reviews on the non-profit Avare website and Forum:
http://apps4av.com/news/

Set up from opening the package to watching airliners moving across the free Avare aviation charts on my Nexus 7 took less than 10 minutes. Of course, I already had Avare and the local chart installed so you might need to add a few minutes for the free chart download and learning your way around Avare. I'll actually be using this in flight over the LA basin, and am *very* excited to see the other ADSB channel added to the free app so I can also get the same free weather updates and extra air traffic info already available on Avare now with the $1,000 aviation portable ADSB receivers. Quite a price difference for basically identical performance! :)
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
If you plan to use this for SDR (Software Defined Radio) then plan on using a different antenna then what came with it. Many people make their own and it doesn't have to cost that much. I hooked the one I bought to a HAM radio antenna I already had. These are not as nice as "Real" software defined radios that were built for that purpose. That being said the "Real Deal" will cost at least $200 (usually more) based on my research. This dongle does quite a lot for it's price. I have listened in to Aircraft and Ham radio so far. I get excellent Broadcast FM radio reception. This could work well for people that want to record a favorite radio program. It does not appear to receive below 25mhz but I don't know if that is a limitation of the hardware or the software I'm using. Installation is not difficult but with the vast library of software and settings available you should set aside a whole afternoon.
The two accessories I recommend for this are
USB 2.0 A-Male to A-Female Extension Cable
and a mcx antenna adapter of some sort.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2014
You cannot beat this for the money. This is probably the most fun I have had for under $20 in a long time.

I live about 60 miles from the metro area and I can receive commercial FM great. On higher frequencies I was able to find some aural feeds from Christian network stations.

This unit has the newer 820T tuner and patching my linux box with the newer tuner drivers sure improved my reception. I am just using the included antenna mounted a few feet up on the wall. This makes me want to get a better antenna.

The tuner is so sensitive I can pick up the carrier signals from the cable TV coax.

The linux drivers and software are pretty messy at this point. The remote works and the dongle picked up my TV remotes and other remotes fine. However, using the rtl-sdr library I have to unload the kernel driver that uses the remote so I can't listen to the radio and use the remote at the same time. I will probably get a USB extension cable because the IR sensor is on the top of the dongle and if I am sitting down at or near my computer I have to lift the remote to weird angles. The dongle needs to be turned 90 degrees it seems to pick up the remote like a set top box or TV would.

Note the range. CB is about as low as this will go and without modding the product AM and ham frequencies cannot be tuned. But I was able to pick up CB channels well and GQRX has nice filter width and squeltch so I only hear the channel when people are talking.

I hear these tuners drift, but there are no GSM bases around here to calibrate the tuner with kalibrate. I am in 4G territory and the tuner doesn't go that high. The range is fine for TV, CB, FM, FRS, GMRS, NOAA Weather Radio, satellites, and radio astronomy.
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22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2013
I've been using this for the past few weeks to listen to VHF/UHF commercial communications, VHF Air Band and the 1090MHz ADS-B info used by air traffic control. I didn't expect much since there were no filters or pre-amp on the front end, but each iteration of my listening set-up has brought in weaker and weaker signals. Getting the unit in to it's own metal box and shielding the incoming USB cable cut out a lot of the computer noise, then putting a BNC antenna connector on the back let me connect the unit to a radioshack dis-cone antenna for even better sensitivity. ADB# and GQRX are both excellent free programs that work well with this unit. I'm using a cf-29 toughbook computer with windows XP... the audio was spotty at first, but then I added a USB 2.0 PCMCIA card and with the dongle plugged in there, the audio is great!

Anyway, if you want to play with Software Defined Radio, you can't go wrong with this jewel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2014
Took less time to ship from China than they said it would. The antenna is a joke, a random bit of wire works better, a bit of wire cut to the proper wavelength Works quite well, but you'll prolly want to pick up a mxc to uhf pigtail.http://www.amazon.com/coaxial-cable-SO239-female-connector/dp/B00C20FV78/ref=pd_bxgy_e_img_y so you can hook up a real antenna to it.
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