My first USB SDR

It’s odd that I’m more excited about a sub-$20 USB Software Defined Radio (SDR) dongle than some of my more advanced (and pricey) radios. Ham radio and ‘home brew’ are synonymous. The idea of taking a pinch of hardware and applying a heaping portion of software to it gets me all worked up. I’ve decided to make this my ham radio goal for 2015.

The USB SDR dongle I’ve chosen is the NooElec NESDR Nano SDR & DVB-T USB Stick

This particular device and others like it were initially designed to receive TV transmissions. They even have a built in tuner module. Long story made short, a couple fellas found out you could pair this device with modified software and directly sample large portions of data within the Radio Frequency (RF) spectrum. This meant the device was in fact a Software Defined Radio. It’s components aren’t overly impressive, but they are effective. The true essence of the SDR is one’s ability to create software applications that effectively replace what used to be exclusive hardware instances. The next layer is Open Source Software (OSS). Let’s make these software developments and share them –for free– with the world.

You can read more about these USB Sticks here

My ham radio goal for 2015 is to learn how to develop SDR software. To start, I’ve chosen to do my experimenting on Linux Ubuntu 14 LTS. Software applications that have initially captured my curiosity are GNU Radio, GQRX, and rtl-power. These particular instances have been well documented and are still, as far as I can tell, supported.

Next, I’ll need to install some software that will give me access to my USB SDR.

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