HDSDR

1- Ensure that you have installed your USB SDR dongle driver correctly via the Zadig software as mentioned above (HDSDR software developers advise windows 8 & 8.1 64bit users to disable "driver signature enforcement").

2- download HDSDR installer and begin installation.

3- Do NOT Start the HDSDR software after installation.

4- Download the required DLL file for USB SDR dongles called ExtIO_RTL2832.dll.

5- copy & paste or move the ExtIO_RTL2832.dll file into the HDSDR software folder.

6- now start the HDSDR software.

7- Select the ExtIO box in the HDSDR software and make sure it displays ExtIO_RTL2832.DLL V2014.2 and under Device: "RTL2838UHIDI".

8- Select sample rate (2.4msps) & set your preferred "Tuner Gain".

9- close the the ExtIO box and press the "start" tab on the bottom left of the HDSDR screen.


(Note: your HDSDR software should now be working with your USB SDR dongle, so begin to familiarize your self with the interface and all the options available. Do not worry if it is a little bit confusing at first, the more you use the HDSDR software the more you will come to enjoy it).

HDSDR installation


Operation 2: Getting Started (Sep 26 2015)

So you wake up and check your mail box and your USB SDR dongle or Airspy unit has arrived and you don't know what your next step is!!.

The first step is to think about what software are you going to be using?, if you are new to the world of SDR perhaps you would like to start with one great and user friendly software called SDRsharp. The software has a very straightforward interface and there are little adjustments that are required. The SDRsharp (also known as SDR#) is a favorite to most newcomers to the hobby and as soon as you understand what all the functions and buttons do you can then add many different plugins that are available online such as frequency scanner, satellite tracker and signal meter plugin. Also, it has a nice record option and frequency label which can come in handy and add to the fun of monitoring.

Another Alternative is to use your newly purchased SDR with a software called HDSDR, it can be a little confusing at first glance but once you start clicking away and customizing your scope and waterfall...etc its just as fun as SDRsharp.

In conclusion, both software are a good place to start as a beginner but i would recommend SDRsharp as i found it a lot more easier to use and experiment with.


Operation 3: Installation and Setup (Sep 28 2015)

Before you stick your SDR dongle into your PC or laptop you have to remember that these USB SDR dongles (RTL2832u/R820T) were actually manufactured as digital TV receivers and as soon as you connect them to your operating system like windows it would automatically try and install a driver. Avoid this at all costs, if windows suggests on installing a driver or asks to search for one decline the request and DO NOT INSTALL.

In order to install the correct driver for your USB SDR dongle you have to get the ZADIG installer. As described on the Zadig website; Zadig is a windwos application that installs generic USB drivers, such as WinUSB, libusb-win32/libusb0.sys or libusbK, to help you access USB devices.

If you are going to install the SDRsharp Software you will find a copy of the Zadig installer when you unzip the SDRsharp folder, it may ask you to update the installer or check for updates before starting to install any drivers. For HDSDR users you will need to download the zadig installer from the zadig website.

Installing:

1- Download Zadig installer (or find it in the SDRsharp folder as  zadig.exe ) .

2- Open the  Zadig installer (Run As Administrator).

3- At the Zadig installer select the "options" drop menu and select "List All Devices".

4- From the white drop box select "Bulk-In, Interface (Interface 0)" (some versions of windows it would appear as "RTL2832U" or "RTL2838UHIDIR").

5- Press the "Replace / Reinstall" button under the WinUSB box .

6- Close the Zadig installer when installation is finished  (USB SDR Dongle should now be correctly installed on your windows operating system).


(Note: These are the typical installation steps for USB SDR dongles for Windows platforms many Windows 10 users have reported problems during and after installation but many have also succeeded. Also, if you are an Airspy user you do not need to use Zadig installer as the Airspy device is plug and play and that you should refer to the Airspy website for the correct easy steps of installation).

Operation YAHOO: (OCT 7 2015)

After following all the instructions you can find online on SDR's and the different software setups but you still can't get it to work or you still have more questions than when you first started or that you have come up with error messages during / after installation, it can be stressful but don't give up because you are not the first and certainly not the only one.

Many installations don't go as planned this is because some operating systems act differently than others do, specially with the different windows versions and other reasons might not cross your mind at the time such as "Run As Administrator". So what to do?, A good place to start looking for help is YAHOO Groups.

If you check out the links section you will find links to several Yahoo groups that have discussions on many topics concerning SDR updates, projects, errors, software, news, bug reporting & many other topics that might be of interest to you. Also, many of the members are willing to help you with questions that you might have as a new comer to the SDR world.

All you have to do is join and become a member, Search the forum for topics that interest you or even look for a previous problem that you have just encountered recently, it is a great place to even expand your knowledge of SDR's. However, if you do join and have something to ask or report, please keep in mind that many topics have been covered over and over again and you should search the forum first and you might find your answer.

SDRsharp

Now that you have your SDR dongle installed lets go ahead and start with the SDRsharp software:

1- Download SDRsharp (from www.Airspy.com in the download section).

2- Unzip/extract the SDR-install zip file into a folder of your choice.

3- Select the sdr-install folder and select "install.bat".

4- After installation is done you will find an "sdrsharp" folder open it.

5- From the "sdrsharp" folder select sdrsharp.exe.

6- At the Source menu at the top left side in SDRsharp select "RTL-SDR/USB" from the drop box (make sure the USB SDR dongle is connected).

7- Now select the "play icon" at the top left of the screen to start tuning frequencies.

8- Select the "Gear icon" (RTL-SDR Controller) at the top left of the screen to adjust the "RF Gain", "Sample Rate", "RTL AGC", "Tuner AGC"...etc.


(Note: you need to adjust the RF gain as best suits you, i keep mine at 16.6db and works fine for me. Also, on the right side of you SDRsharp screen there is a few slide bars that you might need to adjust to suite your screen and your prefrence the rest of the drop down menus on the left side are mostly straight forward)


SDR-Radio.com  (SDR Console V2,x)

Another Amazing software that supports the use of a number of SDR's is the SDRconsole developed by the famous Simon Brown (G4ELI). IF you are looking for a little bit more edge for your Airspy device or your USB SDR Dongle then SDRconsole is the software for you as you have opetions like server setup for remote operation, built in signal meter, a couple of VFO's setups andcustomizable interface.

1- Download the SDRconsole software (and assuming you already installed your dongle via zadig).

2- Run the SDR-RADIO-Pro_v2.3b2242.exe and follow installation instructions.

3- Do Not Run the Software if you are going to use a USB dongle.

4- Download _SDR-RADIO.com.RTLUSB.zip which contains 3 dll files required for your dongle to run on SDRconsole (libusb-1.0.dll, rtlsdr.dll, SDRSourceRTL2832U.dll).

5- Extract the 3 dll files then copy and paste them into the SDR-Radio (SDRconsole) software folder (be sure to choose them from either 32bit or 64bit folder depending on your OS version).

6- Now Run the SDRconsole Software.

7- The Software will launch a "Select Radio" box, Click on "Definitions".

8- Another box will appear "Radio Definitions", click the "Search" drop down menu.

9- From the "search" drop down menu select "RTL SDR (USB)".

10- "1 entry Found-update List?" will appear , Click yes.

11- at the "select radio" box select the USB device and click "Start".

12- you should hear radio noise now and see the waterfall & and scope bouncing around the interface.

13- Adjust your "RF Gain" as needed.


Archived Ops

Operation 1:  What is SDR? Why? & How? (Sep 24 2015)

Software Defined Radio (SDR) is the new leap in the world of radio communications, a simple definition is the ability to control a radio device (receiver / transmitter) via the use of software on an operating system (e.g. Windows/ Linux/ Mac OSx/ Ubuntu/ Android...etc).  Keep in mind that some SDR devices/software may not work on specific operating systems and may require a background in program coding.

Searching online one would find an endless result of SDR's some as cheap as $20 and others in the thousands of dollars. The reason behind the big price gap can simply be explained by amateur to professional. Therefore, it depends on what you are looking to get out of your SDR.

Why SDR?

Many seem to ask; why use an SDR ?, simply because it is FUN.

the ability to monitor a number of frequencies on the digital waterfall on HF/VHF/UHF is one of my personal favorite options of SDRs. Also, to be able to route the audio of a given signal to other decoding software is simply faster and easier.

Price tag!!, i recall several years ago when i purchased an Icom ic-PCR1000 and later on moved to the the newer version the PCR2500 at a cost of $600. Fascinated with its ability and just with a click of a mouse i could jump from one frequency to another and actually visualize what i was listening to. when i discovered the USB SDR dongles or TV USB sticks shocked to the fact that i had the ability to do the same for only $20.

This would mean that i would not have to worry about my highly priced icom receiver to be over worked and the constant fear of damaging it in anyway (coffee spill or simple antenna static) and that i could substitute it with these dongles for my many monitoring purposes.

How do i start?

well the first thing you have to do is look for the SDR that suits you and ask your self a few questions. what frequency range are you looking for ? what operating system are you looking to work on? are you a computer programming wizard or like my self a simple amateur ? how much are you willing to pay?

There are many SDR's out there on the market some covering 24mhz to 1.8ghz such as the the USB dongles and require an up converter to be able to tap into the HF frequencies and these can cost you under $100 others cover 10khz to 50mhz and can cost you in the couple of hundred dollars.

You also need to make sure that your SDR is compatible with your version of operating system as some devices or SDR's will not work with specific operating systems. others require a few coding skills to be able to bridge your SDR and the software you are going to use.

The price range can vary and you need to think if you would like something as cheap as $20 or $2000, it is a matter of preference and need. The higher class of SDR's will more likely have advanced filters/DSPs specific software to be able to used and controlled whereas the cheaper ones simply require the many open source free software.


Link to wikipedia containing a list of SDR's