Friday, 3 August 2018

SDR Reception of WSPR

I had another play with my very cheap generic RTL-SDR unit today.

I can't say I've had a huge amount of success with HF on the SDR in the past, but I seem recently to have become much more determined to work at problems.

After a bit of running extension USB cables, and a short extension to make it to the 30m antenna connection, I managed to get SDR# to work very nicely with JTDX, via a virtual audio cable.

Screen grab of this afternoon's testing with SDR# working across a virtual audio cable with JTDX.

Straight away, WSPR decodes were appearing with quite good frequency stability for the price of the unit, and reasonably good sensitivity, though some way below a conventional 'rice box' analogue transceiver.

My aim is to run WSPR reception on a longer-term basis, as I am very much opposed to adding to the statistics of transmit-only operation using WSPRlite, which is now rapidly eroding the usefulness of WSPR.  According to one recent study, only about one receiver is running for every three transmitters.

I'm also aiming to have a system that uses much lower power than a full conventional transceiver does, for which the SDR, using 5V USB power from a Raspberry Pi or similar, is ideally suited.

I'm starting to look at the more expensive SDRs like AirSpy and SDRPlay, which ought to have better sensitivity.  But for the £5 the RTL-SDR cost me some years ago, I haven't got an awful lot to complain about in terms of general performance for the moment!

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