If you’ve ever been curious about software defined radio (SDR), this USB stick is the easiest way possible to have fun with a powerful, configurable receiver. Packed with the powerful RTL2832U and R820T tuner, it can tune into signals from 24MHz to 1850MHz. That means you can use a computer (with Windows, Mac, or Linux) to tune into: FM Radio, AM signals (but not AM radio), CW (morse code!), unencrypted radio signals (such as those used by many police and fire departments), POCSAG pagers, and more.
We plugged it into our windows computer and used Zadig+SDR# to poke around and listen to the wireless world around us, it’s lots of fun!
We have a basic getting-started tutorial here, and theres way more tutorials at these fine sites:
- http://www.rtl-sdr.com/ – a blog with tons of information, ideas and projects
- http://rtlsdr.org/ – a nice resource with links to software.
- http://www.superkuh.com/rtlsdr.html – a blog with tons of hardware details on the RTL SDR chipset
- Melissa Elliott’s lovely talk on hacking with the RTL (and her notes on using the command line utilities on a Mac)
- Some nice graphical Mac tools
Comes with a very compact (but very good quality) RTL2832+R820T module with an MCX RF connector, and a basic ‘DVB-T’ antenna (used to tune into DVB TV signals, not available in the US but will work in Europe or any country with DVB-T broadcasts) as well as an IR remote which isn’t terribly useful. The antenna seems OK for basic experimentation. We also have some MCX to BNC and MCX to SMA adapters (see below) which you may want to use to connect a better antenna.
Please note! Depending on your location, listening in to some radio signals may not be legal. So consider this your warning to check before ‘accidentally’ tuning into naughty frequencies.