Funcube Dongle Pro as an SDR HF Receiver
I bought a new Funcube Dongle Pro+ (FCDPP) in November 2013 which covers 150kHz to 1.9GHz, with a gap in coverage between 240MHz and 420MHz.
The performance on HF of the Funcube Pro+ over the AOR AR3000 and RTL dongle/Up Converter is as different as chalk is from cheese. It is much more sensitive and has good dynamic range such that I don’t have to use a Broadcast band filter for the strong AM stations in my area. This receiver has an on-board sound-card that will sample a 196kHz bandwidth which I find very acceptable for HF airband monitoring.
The good thing about the FCDPP is the frequency stability, it is rock steady. With the RTL/UpConverter when first tuned on the RF can be out by up to 200Hz which means that by setting the frequency for 10084kHz to receive HFDL I always had to fine tune the software to get a decode. Then as the dongle or up-converter warmed up so the frequency would begin to drift and I would have to constantly adjust the frequency to continue decoding. This process als needed to be done for voice comms as well. Now with the FCDPP at any time, start middle end of a listening session the frequency is rock steady and I don’t have to adjust anything. All my memories have the true dial frequency set up and if I select the memory then the frequency doesn’t need to be adjusted for as long as I’m listening or decoding.
To complement the FCDPP I have just ordered a BHI NES10-2 Mk3 DSP speaker. I’ve had one of these before and I was mightily impressed but that was back in the day when I had some pretty poor reception and all I heard was the sound of silence! This speaker really does cut out the background hash of HF reception leaving ones ears so much better off! So this time around I’m hoping for a much more pleasant experience when the silence is broken by the very good signal level provided by the FCDPP. Here’s what the speaker looks like:
My second SDR receiver is an el cheapo mix of a Chinese sourced Digital Video Broadcast – Terrestrial (DVB-T for short) dongle and a US sourced Up-Converter board. Combined this gives me a tuner from about 100kHz through to 1850MHz! Using some freely available software one can demodulate almost any signal in this range.
Although not as sensitive on the HF band as it is at VHF the thing I like about this is that I can view a 2MHz bandwidth of any frequency range and see where the ‘action’ is happening.
It’s great for signal hunting so I use it to locate an active aero frequency and tune my AOR while keeping an eye out for new signals.
It’s strange how listening to a radio signals is now moving toward viewing radio signals, I spend half my time watching and half my time listening!