With Christmas approaching, consider exploring SDRPlay as you next radio adventure.
It’s been a while since I wrote about software defined radio. SDR is a new kind of radio where signals are converted into digital form at the front end. All of the electronics magic is then done in software rather than traditional analog components. Think of it as the equivalent of a computer sound card for radio rather than audio.
In the past, I have talked about the two SDR that I use. At the high end is the Microtelecom Perseus, shown lower right. This is the gear that really got shortwave listeners inspired about software radio. Developed in Italy and sold mainly outside North America, the Perseus costs about $1,200. It’s getting a bit long in the tooth, but is still a great performer.
At the other end of the spectrum is the low-cost RTL-SDR, shown upper left. This tiny USB dongle is a powerful radio receiver that just plugs into your computer. It costs around $20 but only covers VHF and UHF in its base form. Bundling it with a shortwave converter and accessories will get you closer to $150.
SDRPlay (shown above center) from the United Kingdom covers 10 kHz to 2 GHz. This is truly a “DC to Daylight” receiver. It sells for about $130. It’s performance is substantially better than RTL-SDR, and almost as good as Perseus. If you are thinking of dipping your toe into the SDR world, exploring SDRPlay is a good place to start.
Exploring SDRPlay with SDRUno
Until this year, you needed to use third party software to control the SDRPlay. This was not a big deal, as there are lots of free and paid SDR programs available. However, the folks at SDRPlay took a big step this year and released a new software package called SDRUno.
SDRUno is very powerful software, a customized version of Studio 1. It is available free for SDRPlay users. Not sure where they got the name from – perhaps a play on Arduino? Studio 1 is professional software, which was recently purchased by SDRPlay.