Even though getting a good software defined shortwave radio setup hasn’t been that cheap up until now (getting better though), its not stopped the new technology working its way into the equipment we use.

For use above HF an entry level SDR receiver doesn’t cost very much if you plump for one of the many SDR dongles on the market. While they do an excellent job, the best of them still have a cut off point around 25 MHz.

Software Defined Radio SDR MK1.5


To extend the possible receive coverage down into the HF bands your going to need an up-converter, which unfortunately will set you back a whole lot more than the initial dongle purchase price.

That said the powerful features that a cheap dongle and quality up-converter give are still cost effective when compared to buying a top range physical shortwave receiver.

Will the Market for Big Physical Radios Ever Dry Up?

That decision will only be driven by what the consumer wants to have in their shack.

From a personal point of view I believe SDR is something that we should all embrace and help the technology mature, but still can’t see my radio hobby without at least one or two traditional shortwave receivers thrown into the mix 🙂

Hybrids (of a sort)

The line between pure SDR and SW radios is already blurring with a range of equipment starting to emerge that takes SDR and houses them in a radio that gives the user a traditional interface, along with the option to connect it all to a computer.

At the time of writing these units need a large cash investment but this has to change over time. New technology is always pricy to start with until the novelty wears off and the market gets saturated enough to drive prices down.

The Portable SDR Problem

With all the signal processing done on the computer that must accompany every SDR, this does make portable use a little cumbersome. If your using the radio from a vehicle this isn’t going to be an issue with plenty of room and a nice big battery that can be used to power the setup, but roaming around is a different matter.

There is a version of SDR Touch that will run on an android device, meaning you’ll get all the features that SDR offers but without the need to lug around a laptop. Been planning to try this app out for a while now but just haven’t got around to it (must make a point of getting this together soon).

SDR Abstinence

Not everybody is comfortable with the computer side of the radio hobby and this isn’t confined to the older generation. There has to be a none technical middle ground for those that would rather avoid SDR altogether, after all its not absolutely necessary to enjoy the transmissions from the shortwave bands.

Over To You?

Do you think that SDR will be at the heart of every hobby radio product sooner than we think or manufactures will strike a healthy balance between old and new tech?

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2 Responses to Will SDR Completely Replace Big Box SW Radios?

  1. Broadwing says:

    The only issue I have with a portable SDR is the noise factor. I recently hooked up a 8″ tablet running windows to an SDR-IQ, and a Pars SWL end fed antenna for portable use. The noise level was really bad when comparing the unit with a PL-660 radio I normally use for portable DXing. I have a Wellbrook dipole balan with six meters of antenna wire, 3 meters each side which may help out on the noise issue. I have been following London Shortwave and his efforts to build a portable SDR kit. So far the PL-660 or my CR-1a has been hard to beat for receiving, sensitivity, and low noise.

    I have no problems with computers and SDR use as my primary rig is a Winradio G-33DDC which is an excellent SW receiver especially teamed up with my Wellbrook ALA1530+ loop antenna. SDRs are the future and will replace the other radios as time goes by that is if there are still enough SW stations out there in five to ten years?

    • Carl says:

      Hi Broadwing, its interesting you mentioned trying to get a functioning SDR on a tablet as I’ve been playing around with this also, only with VHF/UHF so far and am less than happy with the results.

      Using the SDR sharp software on a fairly powerful android tablet hasn’t been giving the best results and I have less constraints with the antenna than your SW SDR setup!.

      There isn’t much in the way of noise, its just the whole package seems slightly unresponsive, both in its operation and the strength of received signals.

      Will have to try another Android device to see if that’s the way it is or I have some problem with the setup.

      Yes, I first got turned on to London Shortwave’s battle with portable SDR via SWLing and you’ve just reminded me to pop over to their blogger blog and see how its coming along.

      As for the future of the SW bands, It does worry me with more and more commercial transmissions moving over to newer systems, but I’d like to think there will be enough to keep my interest for a good number of years yet 🙂

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