Just bought this NESDR Smart USB dongle from Amazon in Canada. Wrote the company asking for drivers, but they sent links which didn't help. Anybody have a better place to download drivers for Mac OS Sierra? Thanks.

  • $\begingroup$ It might help to explain what you want drivers for. As noted in @KevinReid's answer you don't need a "driver" per se, but as noted in my (perhaps misplaced) comments there you will of course probably still want some software to use it. Are you having trouble getting a particular app to work with your NESDR? What would you like to use the dongle for? $\endgroup$ Mar 7 '17 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ I've accepted the other answer as correct explaining I don't need drivers on Mac OS. Manufacturer does not make this clear. $\endgroup$
    – user9315
    Mar 9 '17 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to ham.stackexchange.com! $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Mar 10 '17 at 21:49

Unlike Windows, RTL-SDR on macOS (or Linux) does not require any separate driver installation.

All applications bundle their own driver code (librtlsdr, often by way of gr-osmosdr and GNU Radio). All you need to do is install and run whichever SDR application(s) you wanted to run.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ One such application being Gqrx (gqrx.dk/download) which despite being built on gnuradio doesn't require building of GNU Radio if you grab the precompiled DMG. The tradeoff it's ± just a simple spectrum browser, but that might be all the OP is looking for in this case. $\endgroup$ Mar 7 '17 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ @hotpaw2 etc.: If you think that recommending specific software is relevant to answering the question, please write your own answer. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Reid AG6YO
    Mar 7 '17 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ I wasn't sure the best etiquette here. On the one hand, you answered the literal question and I didn't want to say the same thing you'd already explained well just so I could add Gqrx to a competing answer. But I didn't feel comfortable editing your answer to endorse a particular app either. Would a comment on the question itself be more appropriate in a case like this? $\endgroup$ Mar 7 '17 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have recommendations (as I'm writing my own SDR app for iOS in Swift 3), only examples of the category of stuff you already mentioned (which may help the OP to google such). $\endgroup$
    – hotpaw2
    Mar 7 '17 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ @natevw-AF7TB Comments are for discussing improvements to questions or answers. Any useful information should be put in a question or an answer (as appropriate) and the comments used merely to plan/propose doing so. Here I merely want to make sure we don't end up with people following past examples and generating a comment thread full of “and here's another SDR application!” (Also, I wrote my answer the way I did because I feel that there should always be “an answer to the literal question” — it certainly could have examples but I saw it as a distraction.) $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Reid AG6YO
    Mar 7 '17 at 21:38

For source code, try: https://github.com/librtlsdr (there are several forks as well).

If you look inside the app bundles of Gqrx or CubicSDR (possibly other OSX apps as well), you will find copies of precompiled dylib's for librtlsdr and libusb. Those linkable dynamic shared libraries are probably the closest OS X user equivalent to a "driver" for RTL-SDR dongles such as the NooElec ones.

Yet another possibility is the CocoaRTLServer app, which makes an RTL-SDR USB device plugged into a Mac accessible via the rtl_tcp network protocol. That would allow you to plug your RTL USB dongle into one Mac (or Raspberry Pi, etc.), and use it from another.


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