Tuesday, January 14, 2020

My new SDR - the RSP1A from SDRplay


SDRplay is a UK based designer and manufacturer of very well made SDR receivers (IMHO).

The RSP1A is a second generation of their RSP1 entry level model which retails for about $150 in Canada.

The specs

The RSP1A is our new improved entry-level receiver—it is a powerful wideband full featured 14 bit SDR and perfect as an all round general coverage communications receiver plus much much more.  The RSP1A covers the complete radio spectrum from 1kHz (VLF) to 2GHz (Microwaves) with up to a massive 10MHz of visible bandwidth. With the companion SDRuno software which has all the popular ham bands and shortwave broadcast bands as “presets” for instant set-up. 
  • Covers all frequencies from 1kHz through LF, MW, HF, VHF, UHF and L-band to 2GHz, with no gaps
  • Excellent dynamic range for challenging reception conditions 
  • Low levels of spurious responses
  • Works with all the popular SDR software (including HDSDR, SDR Console, Cubic SDR and SDRuno)
  • ExtIO based plugin available
  • Software upgradeable for future standards
  • Strong and growing software support network
  • API provided to allow demodulator or application development
  • Multiplatform driver and API support including Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and Raspberry Pi 2/3 
  • Up to 16 individual receivers in any 10MHz slice of spectrum using SDRuno
  • Calibrated S meter and power measurements with SDRuno 
  • Ideal for monitoring of ISM/ IoT/ Telemetry bands <2ghz span="">
  • Ideal for portable operation 
  • Continuous coverage from 1kHz to 2GHz
  • Up to 10MHz visible bandwidth
  • Powers over the USB cable with a simple type B socket 
  • 4-bit ADC silicon technology (not another 8 bit dongle!)
  • 11 high-selectivity, built in front-end preselection filters
  • Software selectable AM/FM and DAB broadcast band notch filters
  • Software selectable multi-level Low Noise Preamplifier
  • Bias -T power supply for powering antenna-mounted LNA
  • RF shielding layer inside case
  • SDRunoWorld Class SDR software for Windows 
  • Documented API for new apps development 
  • Single SMA antenna socket covering entire frequency range

The most amazing feature in this receiver is that massive range. One receiver that can listen from;
  • LF (2200 meter band)
  • MF (630 and 160 meters)
  • HF (80, 60, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10 meters)
  • VHF (6, 4, 2, 1.25 meters, then 70, 33, and 23 centimeters)
  • The only Amateur Radio band this receiver cannot reach (that I might care about) is the 13 centimeter Microwave band which is 2300–2310 MHz (lower segment), 2390–2450 MHz (upper segment)
The unit comes with a very well thought out software package called SDRuno. While this software looks intimidating when you first load it up, I found excellent online tutorial videos from various sources that explained everything I need to get started. After that I figured things out by trial and error over an evening or two.

My antenna of choice getting started with this SDR was a super discone from AOR already mounted high on my small tower. While this is built for the higher frequencies (10m - 13cm), I was amazed to hear low HF transmissions as well. A different and better antenna (or two) may be in the plans for the future.

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