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01-02/2015 —

TELE-audiovision International —




- and




searching the Internet using

search strings such as “DVB-

T dongle,” “SDR dongle,” or

“RTL-SDR” will supply enough

hits to keep one occupied until


So, what can one hear and

“see” when firing up the don-

gle radio along with HDSDR or

SDR#? Well the fun certainly

commences once you have

your dongle running and an-

tenna attached; you’ll spend

many hours surfing the ethers

due to the prodigious width

of the radio spectrum that’s

available to you and the nu-

merous signals inhabiting the

airwaves. You may initially

suffer from option paralysis

as to what to listen to first but

my suggestion is to tune into

the FM broadcast band ini-

tially, as these high powered

24/7 stations are the easiest

to hear and known by many.

Try “getting your feet wet” (as

we Americans say) in this 20

MHz sliver of the spectrum (

generally from 87.9 – 107.9

MHz depending on your loca-

tion) and experiment using the

various user options in HDS-

such as Ebay



com), Amazon


- ), or Nooelec (www. The best ap-

proach is to purchase the cor-

rect adapter(s) when order-

ing your dongle to minimize

additional delays in getting


Software choice is the next

major and challenging de-

cision point as there are a

number of types to choose

from based on your comput-

er’s Operating System (OS).

Some are PC based using

Windows, others are Linux

based, and some are for the

MAC. The application soft-

ware and drivers required to

transform your dongle into a

Software Defined Radio (SDR)

receiver are easily obtainable

from the Internet and a ma-

jority of them are free. Again,

your OS will dictate what soft-

ware you’ll download. For this

article I am using Windows 8

as this is the OS for my Dell

Inspiron 15 laptop computer.

The two most common ap-

plications software are HDS-

DR (High Definition Software

Defined Radio) and SDR#

(a.k.a. SDR Sharp) and you

can find information on their

respective websites, www. and


com. These sites offer no-

cost downloads along with

detailed installation instruc-

tions, so carefully read the

specifications and recom-

mendations carefully prior to

downloading. Both of these

excellent programs not only

convert the dongle into a

low cost SDR (Software De-

fined Radio) receiver but also

come with a mind-boggling

array of user options such as

mode selection (AM, FM, SSB,

etc.) RF/AF gain, AGC (Auto-

matic Gain Control,) variable

bandwidth filters, spectral

analysis/waterfall display, in-

finite channel memory, vari-

able squelch, signal strength

(S meter), digital noise re-

duction, noise blanker and

choices of different FFT (Fast

Fourier Transform) displays.

Note that there are some

differences in user options

between the two programs

so do your homework and

investigate all they have to

offer and make an informed

decision. Having extensive

experience using both HDSDR

and SDR# I can unequivocally

state that these programs are

all you need to pursue endless

hours of radio listening en-

tertainment consisting of FM

broadcasts, police, fire, EMS

(Emergency Medical Service),

NOAA (National Oceanic and

Atmospheric Administration)

weather broadcasts, marine

radio, aeronautical, ham ra-

dio, pagers, railroads, busi-

ness band and utility radio


In this article we’ll not delve

into the specifics of how to

download the application

software, but basically you’ll

first download the driver from

the aforementioned websites,

along with the software spe-

cific for the dongle radio and

your computer’s OS. Another

excellent source of informa-

tion on how to set up a dongle

radio is YouTube


- where you’ll find

countless how-to’s from hob-

byists around the world who

have discovered innovative

uses for this mini-receiver.

Other websites specializing

in this hobby are HamRadio-

5. Examples of adapter

connectors for external


6. SDR # dashboard of local

New Jersey broadcaster

101.5. Notice RDS (Radio Data

Service) info above the spectral