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NooElec NESDR Mini USB RTL-SDR & ADS-B Receiver Set, RTL2832U & R820T Tuner, MCX Input. Low-Cost Software Defined Radio Compatible with Many SDR Software Packages. R820T Tuner & ESD-Safe Antenna Input
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Specifications for this item
|EAN||0616469145710 , 0616469145598|
|Model Number||NESDR Mini|
|UPC||616469145598 , 616469145710|
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The perfect device for learning software defined radio, on the cheap. Amateur radio, ADS-B, police & fire scanning, trunking, satellite images--you name it, this little guy can probably do it. Outperforms many devices 10x its cost!
This custom NooElec SDR is a modified DVB-T USB dongle tuned for SDR usage, including upgraded crystal, capacitors and inductors compared to generic devices like those sold by competitors. This results in a lowered noise floor, increased stability and improved longevity.
These units are based on the R820T tuner IC made by Rafael Micro. As such, they have a frequency capability of approximately 25MHz-1750MHz, though this can vary somewhat from unit to unit. There is also an RTL2832U IC on board of course, which acts as the demodulator and USB interface.
The connector type on the antenna and USB board is MCX--male MCX on the antenna, female MCX on the SDR. There are plenty of adapter and adapter cables available in our store if you want to connect your favorite antenna!
We perform extensive QA on every batch sold. As with all our SDRs, we guarantee antenna protection will be present so that your new investment will not be quickly destroyed by spurious ESD.
Full compatibility with a large array of software packages, such as MATLAB®, HDSDR, SDR Touch, SDR#, Planeplotter--too many to list. MathWorks® and NooElec™ have coordinated to bring MATLAB® support for our SDR receivers. The RTL-SDR radio support package enables you to design wireless receivers using real world signals. Using Communications System Toolbox™ in conjunction with an RTL-SDR USB radio, you can design and prototype systems that process real-time wireless signals in MATLAB® and Simulink®
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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.
I am researching an established radio-based protocol. I'm trying to characterize the types of interference and real-life signals involved (not just what the spec says). Until I found this gadget, I was working with other engineers to develop a simple capture system just for research. Even though this doesn't have the sensitivity and resolution I will ultimately need, this got me out of the pure theory stage, and working with real signals. And, I'm not spending other people's time building temporary hardware.
I want to also point out just how educational this can be to any aspiring or current electrical engineers. Using any of the free SDR programs gives you a pretty amazing perspective of the RF spectrum. My past experience with receivers has been tuning to known frequencies, and seeing what you get. Using a tool with a live FFT and waterfall display gives you a visual "browser" into the RF spectrum. It's really cool to see the channelization in the commercial broadcast bands.
First, a couple of nits: the software that you can get for these is not exactly intuitive. I had some minor trouble getting SDR Sharp up and running with this device. The antenna connector is miniscule; I'm thinking this unit would be helped a great deal with a better antenna than the stock unit, but it's going to take some searching to find an adapter to convert the antenna port on the unit to a more common size like BNC or SO-239. Neither one of these issues is a show stopper, and if you get into this with the idea that it is for experimentation, then you'll be satisfied with what you get.
One disappointment: if you are interested in eavesdropping on your local emergency services with Unitrunker and they are using the newer trunked multiplexing 800MHz systems, one of these units is not enough. You will need two: one to monitor the control channel, one to monitor the individual trunked frequencies. I didn't realize this when I made the purchase, and I'm waiting for the right opportunity to buy my second one so I can pick back up where I left off with that idea. With two of these units and Unitrunker software, you'll have a police/fire scanner on the cheap.
But other than those things, this is a great little receiver. I was able to spy on the ADS-B aircraft location reports, tune local radio stations, listen in to a few Ham radio transmissions (quality was not so good on those, I'm thinking it's the antenna) and more with just the included antenna and some freeware I downloaded off the web. (SDR Sharp, Cubic SDR, HDSDR, etc.) Let me be clear: the included antenna is seriously cheesy, and it's a very poor substitute for a more substantial, and possibly homemade unit. But it's good enough to pull in strong signals to prove the thing works.
If you've done your homework, you will know that these units were originally designed to receive European digital television signals, and that they have been "hacked" via software to make them a more broad-spectrum receiver. (They are useless for U.S.-spec television, by the way.) As such, they include a credit-card sized remote control that you might as well just throw away when you get it; there's no use for it here. So this is not a simple, finished product that you just plug into your computer and use; you have to tinker with it to get the capability out of it. As I mentioned, I had some trouble with getting some of the freeware software to run on my Win10 laptop; the problems were driver issues that I managed to overcome with lots of help from my research assistant, Dr. Google. If you are a radio amateur with some experience, this will be a cool thing to play with. If you're more like me, a radio amateur n00b, you might have to futz around a bit. More's the fun!
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