Topics

Cheap Chinese Radio vs. RTL-SDR

 

Normally, I work satellites with either my Cheap Chinese radio or just monitor/collect telemetry data with my Android phone and a $25 RTL-SDR dongle. It's actually one of the nicer built ones and has native SMA for a connection, but yet is cheaper than my cheapest Baofeng. It's allowed me to monitor some of the CW and SSB SATs in lieu of an actually SSB capable radio, and for SATs like AO-73, 85, 91, and 92, I can use it to capture the raw baseband signal and decode it with SDR# and feed it into FUNCube/FoxTelem from the comfort of my computer indoors. I also used it this last weekend to try and improve my captures of the SSTV transmissions from the ISS. Feeding the audio out of SDR# and into MMSSTV from the capture I made with my phone has yielded the best (near perfect dare I say?) images I've seen from the ISS as compared to the approach of recording the audio on my phone out of the speaker of my Baofeng.

However, when I want to participate in QSOs on an FM repeater SAT, that's when I always go back to using my Baofeng. I've never tried comparing the two before on the same pass, but I assumed that the Baofeng, as a dedicated FM radio should have a comparable FM sensitivity to my cheaper, 8-bit RTL-SDR dongle. Those can be found as cheap as $14 in some places. Well, today, I went out during lunch and capture some telemetry from AO-91. Being a mid-week workday, I wasn't expecting to hear much traffic and just wanted to get the telemetry. After hearing several QSOs in quick succession, I wanted to jump in and moved my Arrow II antenna from the SDR to my Baofeng and heard, well, nothing but white noise. I tried moving around and couldn't get a signal. I moved my antenna back to the SDR and very quickly heard a few more callsigns and grid squares flying around. Back to my Baofeng and nothing heard. I tried a few calls, but no response.

I've definitely used this radio to make a number of QSOs in the past, but it is usually difficult. That same radio was working fine this morning on my local repeater so, I'm wondering...

It this really reflective of the quality of my Baofeng's radio circuit or did I most likely have something set wrong? Can a cheap RTL-SDR really be that much better?

Now, I want to get my hands on a name-brand HT and compare a pass to that. Does anyone else have much experience with these radios for working SATs?

73s,
Loren
AG7NC

Charlie
 

I'm not terribly surprised to hear your report. I can't speak to the sensitivity of the SDR, but from my experience, the sensitivity in the Baofengs is quite poor. I've been in my house with my UV-5R with a decent whip sitting immediately adjacent to my Yaesu VX-6R with a stubby duck tuned to the same repeater frequency. Squelch on both set to minimum, and the repeater signal comes through fine on the Yaesu, but doesn't break the squelch on the Baofeng. This may be related to squelch settings, but its the reason I use my Yaesu for receive and Baofeng for transmit when working satellites.

Randal Rutkowski
 

Hi!  I would like a bit of translation.  I am new to Ham and only have two HTs, a Baofeng dual band and a Yeasu VHF.  I’ve duplexed them as UHF/VHF and do pretty well.  The chatter moves to fast for me so I need to get out on a mid week when no one is listening to make a contact.  I have built my own antenna of coat hangers.  It was a project in QST.
So what do I need now to do this SDR stuff and keep it inexpensive?  I would appreciate any advice.  I have found hams tend to assume someone already knows something. 😎
Thanks 
Randy
KM6RBG
ATASCADERO CA


On Oct 31, 2018, at 5:59 PM, Loren Lang <lorenl@...> wrote:

Normally, I work satellites with either my Cheap Chinese radio or just monitor/collect telemetry data with my Android phone and a $25 RTL-SDR dongle. It's actually one of the nicer built ones and has native SMA for a connection, but yet is cheaper than my cheapest Baofeng. It's allowed me to monitor some of the CW and SSB SATs in lieu of an actually SSB capable radio, and for SATs like AO-73, 85, 91, and 92, I can use it to capture the raw baseband signal and decode it with SDR# and feed it into FUNCube/FoxTelem from the comfort of my computer indoors. I also used it this last weekend to try and improve my captures of the SSTV transmissions from the ISS. Feeding the audio out of SDR# and into MMSSTV from the capture I made with my phone has yielded the best (near perfect dare I say?) images I've seen from the ISS as compared to the approach of recording the audio on my phone out of the speaker of my Baofeng.

However, when I want to participate in QSOs on an FM repeater SAT, that's when I always go back to using my Baofeng. I've never tried comparing the two before on the same pass, but I assumed that the Baofeng, as a dedicated FM radio should have a comparable FM sensitivity to my cheaper, 8-bit RTL-SDR dongle. Those can be found as cheap as $14 in some places. Well, today, I went out during lunch and capture some telemetry from AO-91. Being a mid-week workday, I wasn't expecting to hear much traffic and just wanted to get the telemetry. After hearing several QSOs in quick succession, I wanted to jump in and moved my Arrow II antenna from the SDR to my Baofeng and heard, well, nothing but white noise. I tried moving around and couldn't get a signal. I moved my antenna back to the SDR and very quickly heard a few more callsigns and grid squares flying around. Back to my Baofeng and nothing heard. I tried a few calls, but no response.

I've definitely used this radio to make a number of QSOs in the past, but it is usually difficult. That same radio was working fine this morning on my local repeater so, I'm wondering...

It this really reflective of the quality of my Baofeng's radio circuit or did I most likely have something set wrong? Can a cheap RTL-SDR really be that much better?

Now, I want to get my hands on a name-brand HT and compare a pass to that. Does anyone else have much experience with these radios for working SATs?

73s,
Loren
AG7NC

Siegfried Jackstien
 

to make your feet wet in sdr ... buy an rtl stick for 10-20 bucks

test what software you like best (several can be used with such a cheap sdr setup)

when you have a bit of use with sdr software, found your favourite soft and want to get deeper in sdr (maybe also an sdr transmitter?!?) then it is time to get a better (more expensive) setup

where you will end up depends on what your needs are

shortwave or just vhf/uhf??

also tx from sdr??

or just a wideband monitor receiver and no tx?!?

so ... first make your feet wet (at the beach) before go swimming or jumping from the bridge in the deep water

greetz

sigi dg9bfc



Am 05.11.2018 um 23:50 schrieb Randal Rutkowski:

Hi!  I would like a bit of translation.  I am new to Ham and only have two HTs, a Baofeng dual band and a Yeasu VHF.  I’ve duplexed them as UHF/VHF and do pretty well.  The chatter moves to fast for me so I need to get out on a mid week when no one is listening to make a contact.  I have built my own antenna of coat hangers.  It was a project in QST.
So what do I need now to do this SDR stuff and keep it inexpensive?  I would appreciate any advice.  I have found hams tend to assume someone already knows something. 😎
Thanks 
Randy
KM6RBG
ATASCADERO CA


On Oct 31, 2018, at 5:59 PM, Loren Lang <lorenl@...> wrote:

Normally, I work satellites with either my Cheap Chinese radio or just monitor/collect telemetry data with my Android phone and a $25 RTL-SDR dongle. It's actually one of the nicer built ones and has native SMA for a connection, but yet is cheaper than my cheapest Baofeng. It's allowed me to monitor some of the CW and SSB SATs in lieu of an actually SSB capable radio, and for SATs like AO-73, 85, 91, and 92, I can use it to capture the raw baseband signal and decode it with SDR# and feed it into FUNCube/FoxTelem from the comfort of my computer indoors. I also used it this last weekend to try and improve my captures of the SSTV transmissions from the ISS. Feeding the audio out of SDR# and into MMSSTV from the capture I made with my phone has yielded the best (near perfect dare I say?) images I've seen from the ISS as compared to the approach of recording the audio on my phone out of the speaker of my Baofeng.

However, when I want to participate in QSOs on an FM repeater SAT, that's when I always go back to using my Baofeng. I've never tried comparing the two before on the same pass, but I assumed that the Baofeng, as a dedicated FM radio should have a comparable FM sensitivity to my cheaper, 8-bit RTL-SDR dongle. Those can be found as cheap as $14 in some places. Well, today, I went out during lunch and capture some telemetry from AO-91. Being a mid-week workday, I wasn't expecting to hear much traffic and just wanted to get the telemetry. After hearing several QSOs in quick succession, I wanted to jump in and moved my Arrow II antenna from the SDR to my Baofeng and heard, well, nothing but white noise. I tried moving around and couldn't get a signal. I moved my antenna back to the SDR and very quickly heard a few more callsigns and grid squares flying around. Back to my Baofeng and nothing heard. I tried a few calls, but no response.

I've definitely used this radio to make a number of QSOs in the past, but it is usually difficult. That same radio was working fine this morning on my local repeater so, I'm wondering...

It this really reflective of the quality of my Baofeng's radio circuit or did I most likely have something set wrong? Can a cheap RTL-SDR really be that much better?

Now, I want to get my hands on a name-brand HT and compare a pass to that. Does anyone else have much experience with these radios for working SATs?

73s,
Loren
AG7NC

Randal Rutkowski
 

Thanks so much!  I will do a little experimenting!
Randy
KM6RBG 


On Nov 6, 2018, at 6:32 AM, Siegfried Jackstien <siegfried.jackstien@...> wrote:

to make your feet wet in sdr ... buy an rtl stick for 10-20 bucks

test what software you like best (several can be used with such a cheap sdr setup)

when you have a bit of use with sdr software, found your favourite soft and want to get deeper in sdr (maybe also an sdr transmitter?!?) then it is time to get a better (more expensive) setup

where you will end up depends on what your needs are

shortwave or just vhf/uhf??

also tx from sdr??

or just a wideband monitor receiver and no tx?!?

so ... first make your feet wet (at the beach) before go swimming or jumping from the bridge in the deep water

greetz

sigi dg9bfc



Am 05.11.2018 um 23:50 schrieb Randal Rutkowski:
Hi!  I would like a bit of translation.  I am new to Ham and only have two HTs, a Baofeng dual band and a Yeasu VHF.  I’ve duplexed them as UHF/VHF and do pretty well.  The chatter moves to fast for me so I need to get out on a mid week when no one is listening to make a contact.  I have built my own antenna of coat hangers.  It was a project in QST.
So what do I need now to do this SDR stuff and keep it inexpensive?  I would appreciate any advice.  I have found hams tend to assume someone already knows something. 😎
Thanks 
Randy
KM6RBG
ATASCADERO CA


On Oct 31, 2018, at 5:59 PM, Loren Lang <lorenl@...> wrote:

Normally, I work satellites with either my Cheap Chinese radio or just monitor/collect telemetry data with my Android phone and a $25 RTL-SDR dongle. It's actually one of the nicer built ones and has native SMA for a connection, but yet is cheaper than my cheapest Baofeng. It's allowed me to monitor some of the CW and SSB SATs in lieu of an actually SSB capable radio, and for SATs like AO-73, 85, 91, and 92, I can use it to capture the raw baseband signal and decode it with SDR# and feed it into FUNCube/FoxTelem from the comfort of my computer indoors. I also used it this last weekend to try and improve my captures of the SSTV transmissions from the ISS. Feeding the audio out of SDR# and into MMSSTV from the capture I made with my phone has yielded the best (near perfect dare I say?) images I've seen from the ISS as compared to the approach of recording the audio on my phone out of the speaker of my Baofeng.

However, when I want to participate in QSOs on an FM repeater SAT, that's when I always go back to using my Baofeng. I've never tried comparing the two before on the same pass, but I assumed that the Baofeng, as a dedicated FM radio should have a comparable FM sensitivity to my cheaper, 8-bit RTL-SDR dongle. Those can be found as cheap as $14 in some places. Well, today, I went out during lunch and capture some telemetry from AO-91. Being a mid-week workday, I wasn't expecting to hear much traffic and just wanted to get the telemetry. After hearing several QSOs in quick succession, I wanted to jump in and moved my Arrow II antenna from the SDR to my Baofeng and heard, well, nothing but white noise. I tried moving around and couldn't get a signal. I moved my antenna back to the SDR and very quickly heard a few more callsigns and grid squares flying around. Back to my Baofeng and nothing heard. I tried a few calls, but no response.

I've definitely used this radio to make a number of QSOs in the past, but it is usually difficult. That same radio was working fine this morning on my local repeater so, I'm wondering...

It this really reflective of the quality of my Baofeng's radio circuit or did I most likely have something set wrong? Can a cheap RTL-SDR really be that much better?

Now, I want to get my hands on a name-brand HT and compare a pass to that. Does anyone else have much experience with these radios for working SATs?

73s,
Loren
AG7NC

Fred Hillhouse
 

If you are like me, you will end up with more than a couple and use them in a few ways.

1.       APRS SatGate, receive APRS packets from the ISS and other APRS satellites

2.       ADS-B Receiver – 1090MHz, aircraft positions

3.       AIS Receiver - ~162MHz, ship positions

4.       APT Receiver - ~137MHz, weather images from polar orbiting satellites.

That was just four options off the top of the head!

 

I recently used one of mine to receive SSTV images from the ISS.

 

Best regards,

Fred N7FMH

 

 

From: Work-Sat@groups.io [mailto:Work-Sat@groups.io] On Behalf Of Randal Rutkowski
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2018 12:04 PM
To: Work-Sat@groups.io
Subject: Re: [Work-Sat] Cheap Chinese Radio vs. RTL-SDR

 

Thanks so much!  I will do a little experimenting!

Randy

KM6RBG 


On Nov 6, 2018, at 6:32 AM, Siegfried Jackstien <siegfried.jackstien@...> wrote:

to make your feet wet in sdr ... buy an rtl stick for 10-20 bucks

test what software you like best (several can be used with such a cheap sdr setup)

when you have a bit of use with sdr software, found your favourite soft and want to get deeper in sdr (maybe also an sdr transmitter?!?) then it is time to get a better (more expensive) setup

where you will end up depends on what your needs are

shortwave or just vhf/uhf??

also tx from sdr??

or just a wideband monitor receiver and no tx?!?

so ... first make your feet wet (at the beach) before go swimming or jumping from the bridge in the deep water

greetz

sigi dg9bfc

 

 

Am 05.11.2018 um 23:50 schrieb Randal Rutkowski:

Hi!  I would like a bit of translation.  I am new to Ham and only have two HTs, a Baofeng dual band and a Yeasu VHF.  I’ve duplexed them as UHF/VHF and do pretty well.  The chatter moves to fast for me so I need to get out on a mid week when no one is listening to make a contact.  I have built my own antenna of coat hangers.  It was a project in QST.

So what do I need now to do this SDR stuff and keep it inexpensive?  I would appreciate any advice.  I have found hams tend to assume someone already knows something. 😎

Thanks 

Randy

KM6RBG

ATASCADERO CA

 


On Oct 31, 2018, at 5:59 PM, Loren Lang <lorenl@...> wrote:

Normally, I work satellites with either my Cheap Chinese radio or just monitor/collect telemetry data with my Android phone and a $25 RTL-SDR dongle. It's actually one of the nicer built ones and has native SMA for a connection, but yet is cheaper than my cheapest Baofeng. It's allowed me to monitor some of the CW and SSB SATs in lieu of an actually SSB capable radio, and for SATs like AO-73, 85, 91, and 92, I can use it to capture the raw baseband signal and decode it with SDR# and feed it into FUNCube/FoxTelem from the comfort of my computer indoors. I also used it this last weekend to try and improve my captures of the SSTV transmissions from the ISS. Feeding the audio out of SDR# and into MMSSTV from the capture I made with my phone has yielded the best (near perfect dare I say?) images I've seen from the ISS as compared to the approach of recording the audio on my phone out of the speaker of my Baofeng.

However, when I want to participate in QSOs on an FM repeater SAT, that's when I always go back to using my Baofeng. I've never tried comparing the two before on the same pass, but I assumed that the Baofeng, as a dedicated FM radio should have a comparable FM sensitivity to my cheaper, 8-bit RTL-SDR dongle. Those can be found as cheap as $14 in some places. Well, today, I went out during lunch and capture some telemetry from AO-91. Being a mid-week workday, I wasn't expecting to hear much traffic and just wanted to get the telemetry. After hearing several QSOs in quick succession, I wanted to jump in and moved my Arrow II antenna from the SDR to my Baofeng and heard, well, nothing but white noise. I tried moving around and couldn't get a signal. I moved my antenna back to the SDR and very quickly heard a few more callsigns and grid squares flying around. Back to my Baofeng and nothing heard. I tried a few calls, but no response.

I've definitely used this radio to make a number of QSOs in the past, but it is usually difficult. That same radio was working fine this morning on my local repeater so, I'm wondering...

It this really reflective of the quality of my Baofeng's radio circuit or did I most likely have something set wrong? Can a cheap RTL-SDR really be that much better?

Now, I want to get my hands on a name-brand HT and compare a pass to that. Does anyone else have much experience with these radios for working SATs?

73s,
Loren
AG7NC

 


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