Home > Hardware, Linux, Windows 8 > 100KHz-1.7GHz RTL-SDR USB Tuner Receiver DIY Kit Sells for $33

100KHz-1.7GHz RTL-SDR USB Tuner Receiver DIY Kit Sells for $33

Software Defined Radios (SDR) are neat little devices that capture radio signals which are them filtered and decoded by software on your PC or embedded system. Currently used radio spectrum is extremely wide from 3 to 30Hz for submarine communication up to 30 to 300+ Ghz or more for applications such as amateur radio or radio astronomy. So the price of hardware needed for SDRs varies greatly depending on the frequency range supported, bandwidth, and other technical parameters. Hobbyists can use “low cost” ($300 – $400) FPGA SDR boards such as bladeRF or HackRF, or go ultra cheap with $20+ RTL-SDR USB TV tuners. I’ve been informed there’s a development kit sold under the name “100KHz-1.7GHz Full Band UV HF RTL-SDR USB Tuner Receiver DIY Kit” based on the latter, but with extra components, on various sites such as Buyincoins, Ebay, Aliexpress, etc.. for just $33 to $45.

RTL-SDR USB Development Kit

RTL-SDR USB Development Kit

The problem with many Chinese sellers is that they sell development kits without any documentation, and think people will just magically find out how to use them… The picture above shows all parts included with the kit: capacitors, resistors, jumpers, headers, the USB TV tuner, and extra board, some antennas and a white box. I first I was scratching my head thinking “how do these fit together?”.

RTL-SDR_USBBut an other eBay seller seems to provide the same kit (TBC), but pre-assembled, for $55, and the pictures give a clear understanding of how it all fits together. I’d assume this is made to improve the sensibility or increase the range of the reception, compared to a USB TV dongle only solution. They also provide some links to Youku videos showing capture at 14.270MHz  and for AM radio, as well as links to Windows/Linux RTL-SDR applications that can be used with that device based on Realtek RTL8232U + R820T.

Looking a bit further, I found an RTL-SDR Google+ community where they also noticed the disassembled kit. Some documentation is said to be available in a document called “电视棒 套件的安装.doc”, but all links are now dead, except maybe a Google Translate version in English or German. But all is not lost, as somebody posted assembly and soldering instructions online for the kit for something that looks very similar called BA5SBA. The post of also written Chinese, but Google Translate and the pictures should help. The USB dongle is not used directly, but you have to take out the board inside, and solder it as a “module” in the opening found in the board provided with the kit.

SDR Devkit Fully Soldered and Assembled

SDR Devkit Fully Soldered and Assembled

Finally, we’ve got the assembly instructions for the kit, as well as links to software that should support it, so it could be an interesting kit to play with for those interested in SDR.

Thanks to onebir for the tip.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

  1. onebir
    August 5th, 2014 at 16:41 | #1

    onebir thought cnx could figure it out ;)
    (but is still confused: why is it worth paying 3x as much and assembling this, instead of just using a dongle like the one included in the kit?)

  2. August 5th, 2014 at 16:48 | #2

    @onebir
    It was some work… :)
    They have two antennas, so they must have better reception for specific frequencies. You’ll probably soon get a better answer from people who are into SDR.

  3. August 5th, 2014 at 16:51 | #3

    It looks a little challenging to solder all parts however:

    “Yesterday finished all parts except connecting Q channels to RTL. That is thing I can not do with normal equipment as it require soldering 0.1mm contact to 0.5mm RTL pins.
    Without that RTL-SDR works in above 30MHz little bit better then before disassemble (direct rtl_sdr connect to PC) as filters and power stabilizers do their job fine. Now I am looking for someone to connect Q channel for HF signals and finishing enclosure. “

  4. Jibril
    August 5th, 2014 at 19:06 | #4

    another cheap USB TV tuner used for SDR is based on Realtek RTL2832U + E4000 … but the R820T is an upgrade.

    …with no DIY skills and low budget ($11) => http://www.aliexpress.com/item/DAB-FM-DVB-T-RTL-SDR-RTL2832-R820T-SDR-E4000-Upgrade-Verion-Remote-Control-MCX-Input/1706051237.html

  5. onebir
    August 5th, 2014 at 21:46 | #5

    @Jibril
    So out of the box the dongles cover 25 – 1700 MHz, rather than 100KHz – 1.7GHz (=1700 MHz) possible with the kit?

  6. Jibril
    August 5th, 2014 at 22:09 | #6

    @onebir
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_software-defined_radios … go to “Realtek RTL2832U DVB-T tuner” section

  7. Jibril
    August 5th, 2014 at 22:12 | #7
  8. Jibril
    August 5th, 2014 at 23:00 | #8

    onebir :
    @Jibril
    So out of the box the dongles cover 25 – 1700 MHz, rather than 100KHz – 1.7GHz (=1700 MHz) possible with the kit?

    ah, ok… I have misunderstood your question…
    With only the USB TV tuner the LF frequency are not readable…

  9. rasz_pl
    August 6th, 2014 at 00:29 | #9

    @onebir

    yes, with this kit you gain LF, MF and HF (100KHz-30MHz), shielded alu case and some additional power filtering
    $20 sounds good for assembled and tuned box. Like cnx said there is one tricky connection directly to one of Realtek pins, plus there is filter tuning (need spectrum analyser for that one).

  10. onebir
    August 6th, 2014 at 01:31 | #10

    @rasz_pl
    Thanks – looks like this could be a good option for reception only in the LF, MF and HF ranges (particularly as the existing hobbyist options don’t cover the first one (or two?) out of the box)…

  11. August 6th, 2014 at 09:39 | #11

    It looks like 100 KHz to 30 MHz is mainly interesting for AM radio, and amateur radio. But they are also other applications:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_spectrum#Amateur_radio_frequencies

  12. October 4th, 2014 at 06:27 | #12

    For HF frequencies I would think you would need to use something MFJ 1020C .

  13. RadioHead
    November 13th, 2014 at 18:56 | #13

    Hi all

    From the UK here so bear with me as I’m not too hot on jargon busting, there may be (almost certainly) ‘stupid questions’ to follow ;-)

    I have just bought the pre assembled version of this dongle via eBay, (expensive here at £40.00 :-O ) but for someone in my predicament, good value as purchasing the equivalent hardware would run into several hundreds if not thousands of £’s so……

    As expected, I’ve not been able to find any support for setting this up but in my nievety thought I could probably set it up myself. yep, i really did :-/

    I’m not a complete stranger to radio or sdr dongles (Call sign M1CQB) and I’ve been running the smaller and very much cheaper DVB-TV dongle very successfully for several months and using the free HDSDR software have had much success with it.

    The only reason for purchasing this dongle was to be able to now include the HF bands as the previous dongle only included vhf / uhf / microwave etc.

    I decided that a reinstall of the HDSDR package would probably be appropriate along with some new drivers for this new dongle. Of course there’s no info as to what drivers it needs and a Google search brought up absolutely nothing so I searched RTL2832 and installed those.

    On firing up the software with new dongle attached HDSDR went straight into RX mode and all my usual strong signals were there so excited to start listening to the HF bands I tuned down the freqs and low && behold, as I passed down through the 22mhz spectrum the rx signal dropped away to nothing just as it did with the DVB-TV 22 to 1.6 dongle :-(

    Any advice would be really appreciated. … thanks for reading. …..

    (using win7 64 bit OS)

  14. zoiner
    November 19th, 2014 at 00:29 | #14

    I am on the second one of these, returned the first because I thought it was broke.
    Second supplier.
    Still no HF.
    Still crap.

    The main UV part works ok but you can do better for £6 with a basic dongle.

  15. zoiner
    November 19th, 2014 at 00:54 | #15

    aha!

    1 set the extIO.dll to Direct sampling Q channel

    2 stick low noise wideband preamp in front of HF input

    3 Feed antenna through 30MHz low pass filter

    THEN you can pick up some HF broadcast!!! (You might do better if you have a good aerial!!)

    Can just see Radio4 LW on the spectrum of HDSDR but not readable.

  16. zoiner
    November 19th, 2014 at 01:27 | #16

    Just tried a mini whip, pa0rdt not much better but copied some SSB on topband.

    I need a BIG antenna outside to overcome office QRM!

  1. No trackbacks yet.