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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dongle Update -- Dongles, FUNcubes, Meteors, QRP, and SPRAT

Hi Bill, Pete,

Ken Marshall G4IIB here the guy that wrote the SDR Primer in Sprat 162. I have been listening to your excellent podcasts. You guys cover a lot of ground in the May issue and touched on to the SDR dongle, its potential for future developments etc. I noted that you where going to buy another to cover VHF. Well if it ain't too late consider this New version by Newsky they are already getting difficult to get a hold of and are only available in the USA. It uses an R820T2 tuner (better LNA) an upgraded and stable crystal oscillator, a reinforced antenna coax and socket. The one I managed to get hold of also had a modified PCB with solder pads for the the Q channel (pins 4&5) to connect the toroid. Incredable at 22 of your Bucks. See the pictures and read all about it on

All we need is for them to slot a 12 or 16 bit ADC in and we could have a truly great SDR receiver.

I noticed in your podcast you mentioned radio astronomy and satellite reception. Ironicaly back in 2013 this is how I started with SDR dongles. I read an aticle on the web on meteor scatter and started experementing with a dongle. Meteor scatter hunting is a bit like watching paint dry unless there is a known storm. So this led me on to the Funcube satellites. The signals from which although QRP 200mW are very stong and you can receive them on almost any antenna. The funcube dashboard software is available for free from AMSAT and alows you to download telemetry. You can also listen to amateur SSB an CW transmissions. There are lots of satellite tracking software available too. This then led onto weather satelite picture reception I built a 4 ele turnstile antenna for this but I found that I needed an LNA for reception at my location. I then started to listen to the amateur bands. Like you Bill I became interested in radio at the age of 11 and got licensed in the early 70's but work commitments  meant I had a 30 year absence from Ham Radio until I stumbled on these SDR Dongles. They got me back into the hobby and I joined the GQRP Club. I noticed that almost no one in the QRP fraternity was talking about RTL SDR hence I started writing the Primer  and submitted it to George in late 2014 for publication in Sprat. As you know it appeared in the Spring Sprat and seems to have generated lots and lots of interest in the QRP community. I am delighted by this response and look forward to lots more interesting articles and podcasts. Have fun with your dongle.


PS I wrote another article on getting these dongles to work under Linux. Linux uses completely different architecture so that the software used is completely different to windows. I notice that the software I use for Linux is also available on Mac OS which uses similar architecture (UNIX) so in theory it should also work on a Mac. Quite a few people have expressed an interest in getting a dongle to work on a Mac. As I do not poses a Mac I have not tried this out.

Funcube Dashboard

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