Getting started with software defined radio (SDR) is enough cheap with dongles available in the $20 price range but they do have limitations for the shortwave listener. With coverage stopping around the 20Mhz mark they are useless for SWL without attaching an up-converter to give access to lower frequencies.
Apart from the cost of sourcing the extra bit of kit that makes the dongle fly you’ve still got to put the whole thing together, power it and box it up properly so it will have a long operating life. Having a ready made one case solution for a good coverage wide band SDR means less messing around and fewer compatibility issues.
Enter the DX Patrol SDR dongle
A fully cased SDR receiver covering 100 KHz to 2 GHz (no gaps), this unit comes with two separate antenna inputs so there’s no compromising on antennas because this arrangement allows you to select whats best for reception on both HF and UHF.
The receiver is powered from the same mini USB connection that transfers the data to your computer for decoding and the software at the heart of this little SDR beauty is free to download.
For the most part SDR software is open source making it easy to modify with plenty of information, resources and “done for you” coding modules that add more functionality to the original program.
A link to download the software can be found at the end of this article along with links to more info about the DX patrol.
Please bare in mind that these receivers are going to require a bit of a learning curve when it comes to the software that drives them. You’ll get some results straight out of the box but to get the most from SDR time and knowledge is needed to set things up properly but as SDR is rapidly becoming the next evolution of hobby radio, all that time and effort will only serve you well in the future.
Here is an excellent video review of the DX Patrol courtesy of the OfficialSWLchannel that goes into great detail about the features of this interesting SDR receiver.
Why Use SDR?
1. Software defined radio gives a flexibility that not electronic circuit could ever achieve. As all the raw data is sent to a computer where all the decoding is done your not limited by the hard wired functions of a “traditional” radio.
2. Once you understand the software and how best to use it the cost saving is amazing when compared to buying a “physical” purpose built receiver along with a much smaller package size.