Most helpful positive review
154 of 155 people found the following review helpful
Not sure how something so cheap can work so well!
on April 27, 2013
I actually bought mine from NooElec's website directly, but it's the same exact product they're selling here.
I bought this as an SDR (Software Defined Radio) instead of as a DVB-T receiver. I'm in the United States where we don't have DVB-T stations, so I can't comment upon its performance there. However, as an SDR, it's quite amazing. And that's before you realize it's twenty bucks! I'd gladly pay $100-$200 for this thing. I've only had mine for 4 days, but so far I've been able to pick up local HAM radio repeaters, a few 2-way radio conversations, FM radio stations, NOAA weather radio, and am currently using it for ADS-B reception and am uplinking to FlightRadar24.
A few tips for beginners:
1) This comes bare-bones. Hardware only. That's good in a way, as if you're using it for SDR, you DO NOT want to use the DVB-T drivers.
2) This is an off-label use for this device. It was NEVER intended to be used as an SDR. Keep in mind that prior to February 2012, all these USB sticks were good for was watching TV in Europe. The drivers and software are a work in progress. This is what I call bleeding edge technology. Some of the software is very refined & polished; other parts have been cobbled together & borrowed from other devices. With patience, you can get a very reliable and very functional rig from this.
3) When in doubt, Google is your friend. Search for RTL-SDR + whatever terms you're having trouble with or curious about. We're all still learning what these devices can do.
4) FWIW, you can use multiple USB sticks on one computer. Why would you want to do this? UniTrunker, running ADS-B + ACARS simultaneously, monitoring multiple frequencies, you name it. I don't know of anything out there this flexible. Running multiple is beyond the scope of this review. See #3 above.
For Windows users: (Please note: Amazon won't let me post links in the review....BUT I've posted them in the comments section.)
1 Go over to NooElec's website and download the drivers there. Just look for this product there and on the product page will be a Product Download page. Their download includes the driver installer (Zadig) and SDR Sharp (SDR#).
2) Run the Install.bat which is inside the installer. It'll download everything and leave you a SDR Sharp folder.
3) Plug in the USB stick. When Windows prompts to install drivers, cancel. It might prompt to do this twice. Cancel both attempts.
4) Run Zadig.exe. It should have WinUSB selected by default. Click Install Drivers. Close Zadig when it's done.
5) Run SDR Sharp. When it loads (it can take awhile), next to the Play button, select RTL-SDR/USB in the drop-down. Click PLAY. If everything works as planned, it'll come alive. Valid frequencies are ~24MHz-1800MHz. When in doubt, try a local FM station (mode WFM) and see what happens.
For Mac users:
As usual, software support is a bit thin on the Mac side of things. Despair not though! Getting this device to work is easier in MacLand, even if software support is limited. Google around for gqrx_7.dmg or GQRX Mac. You're trying to find a pre-built version of GQRX. Once you get it, plug the USB stick in, run GQRX, and you should be up & running.
**Update after 3 months**
These are still the best USB SDR tuners. I have a couple of these NooElec USB sticks which have been running 24/7, some outdoors in the Florida heat and so far they're still going. I've also since bought other ones from other sources (eBay & the like) for less money, BUT so far every single one of those has developed problems due to overheating, loose connectors, or a blown front-end. I've actually bought a few of these and given them away as gifts to a few techie & ham radio/scanner types. At this price, you can't go too wrong.
**Update after 12 months**
Still using these USB SDR sticks all over the place. From listening to broadcast radio stations to ham radio to 2-way radio to receiving aircraft ADS-B signals, they're still my go-to device. I have a few which have been running 24/7 since purchasing these a year ago and no ill effects on them. So far no issues with static electricity or lightning taking out the front ends either, and that's with some very close lightning strikes over the past year which did take out some gear on my roof. Still 5 stars.