I want to buy an SDR RTL USB dongle and I'm looking for one on Amazon. I currently saw ones from 100 MHz to 1.7 GHz.

I can't decide and I know almost nothing about radio, but I want to experiment with this piece of hardware + the software. I see many come with an expansion that expands the frequency range even more. Should I get this expansion device from the start?

I want this dongle to use it on PC, laptop or android devices, to be more specific I want it to be radio dongle, but I don't know if it can support TV as well and I'd like it to have the widest frequency range as possible.

What things should I have in consideration when buying one of these dongles, taking in account the things I wrote before?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, but product recommendations are specifically off-topic here. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Reid AG6YO
    Jul 30 '19 at 17:58
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @KevinReidAG6YO I edited the question so that it doesn't ask for a specific product recommendation. $\endgroup$
    – Lorthas
    Jul 30 '19 at 18:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thanks, that looks fine for a beginner question. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Reid AG6YO
    Jul 30 '19 at 18:29

Get one of the RTL-SDR USB devices marketed as "V3" or "V.3", as they include direct sampling in the MF and HF bands as well as IQ sampling in VHF and UHF region. Beware of the cheapest units, as some have been reported to use substandard components. Beware the smallest models, as I've had one of them overheat, and have read other similar reports about them running hot.

  • $\begingroup$ For HF (amateur radio) SDR, I recommend more expensive, non-RTL2832U USB dongles, such as from AirSpy, SDRPlay, Lime, or Ettus (if you can afford). For UHF only, Analog Devices sells an educational USB SDR kit, the Pluto. $\endgroup$
    – hotpaw2
    Jul 31 '19 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ Marcus, for SWL in general, I will also throw into the ring for consideration the AFE822x. It covers 50 KHz...1.6 GHz, and offers both USB and Ethernet (yay!) connectivity. There's also a version that is 50 KHz-30 MHz, but has two coherent channels, so it can be used to phase between stations, as I demonstrate here. $\endgroup$
    – fyngyrz
    Jul 31 '19 at 22:58

The main consideration for me was price (~$20). Also, it should connect via USB to a laptop or desktop and have a small (~5") antenna that plugs into it. The idea for me was to use it w/a free SDR program to view a waterfall display of portions of the E&M spectrum, tune in a particular station, and listen to it. The dongle's range should span from 25MHz up to 1.6GHz so that it covers the 2m & 70cm bands, the NOAA weather radio broadcast (162.4 MHz in my area), local airport tower transmissions, and the local radio stations. I understand that higher priced dongles will allow for more resolution than my cheap one, but for me the inexpensive dongle approach has worked quite well.


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