SDR Play RSP1By Jose B Rivera - N2LRB
January 7, 2017 - Lately I have been very excited and happy to use my SDRPlay receivers. I say receivers because I asked for and received another one for Christmas. I want to be able to use one for VHF/UHF and the other for HF.
The units are not expensive, about $125 when they are on sale and $150 when they are not. They can be gotten from Ham Radio Outlet and received the very next day.
I use them to gauge the propagation of the HF bands, particularly on 20 meters and to listen in on 40, 75, and 160 meters SSB. The units will take any decent antenna and use them to the best of their ability. I found that by using a 5/8 Wave Magenetic Mount Antenna made for 2 Meters, that the SDR Plays will do a great job of picking up the HF bands. The best part of this setup is that I don’t have to have an antenna hundreds of feet long and high off the ground to listen to 160 meters. The hams on that band sound pretty good. I am sure they would sound even better with half wave 160 meter antenna. But it’s not what I can work with or allowed to use in this New York City Apartment Building.
Comparison to HF Transceivers
I have compared the RSP1s signals receive to those received by my FlexRadio 6300. The receive is always better on my FlexRadio 6300, but the RSP1s are not too far behind in being able to pick up the same signals. Weak signals is where the FlexRadio 6300 is able to shine. But remember, I am using a 5/8 wave 2M Magnet Mount antenna on each of the RSP1s. They will not match the performance of my 20 Meter transmitting antenna. Which consist of a 102 inch whip on a Wolf River Coil. All in all the RSP1s will receive most of what I hear on HF.
I also use the unit to listen to my friends on 2M SSB. I leave one of my SDRPlay RSP1 on 144.240Mhz and set the squelch up until I hear no noise. Any moderate signal will break the squelch and notify me that my friends are on the air. I then either turn off the RSP1 and join my friends in conversation or I sit back and listen to them. I’d say I do 50% of each.
The units can be used with a few different types of computer software. They are after all Software Defined Radios (SDR). I have settled on SDRUno which comes with the unit (you download it). I have also used SDR Console, which is easier to use in some respect, but I can’t get the different windows to go back to their original configurations.
Last month I learned how to add different memory banks to the SDRUno software. I created some for listening to the Police, 2M SSB, 2M & 70cm & 1.25cm repeaters, AM & FM local radio stations, and HF AM calling frequencies on the amateur radio bands. With the memories I can go from one mode and band to another at the touch of a link.
There are things I would change about the SDRPlay RSP1s. Mainly, I would put all the cables to one side of the unit. Right now the USB cable, which goes to the computer and the Antenna SMA connector are on opposite sides of the unit. Making hard to display. I have the two units together on the back of my book case.
I conclude by writing that I am very happy with the SDRPlay RSP1s. And I look forward to obtaining the RSP2s, which feature a separate HF antenna port and two VHF/UHF ports. I do hope to put the RSP1 in an enclosure thereby routing the external cable to one side.