Sunday, November 20, 2016

Airspy SDR First Report

I didn't need to find a USB extension as the USB cable that came with this little was plenty long enough to reach from the back of my Linux PC all the way around to the front and still have a couple of feet left.

SO....I plugged it in, ran dmesg, and was reqward with the following:

[17442.607014] usb 1-1.6: new high-speed USB device number 4 using ehci-pci
[17442.700026] usb 1-1.6: New USB device found, idVendor=1d50, idProduct=60a1
[17442.700040] usb 1-1.6: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
[17442.700042] usb 1-1.6: Product: AIRSPY
[17442.700044] usb 1-1.6: Manufacturer:
[17442.700045] usb 1-1.6: SerialNumber: AIRSPY SN:573064DC314023C1
[17443.788553] Linux video capture interface: v2.00
[17443.818345] airspy 1-1.6:1.0: Board ID: 00
[17443.818350] airspy 1-1.6:1.0: Firmware version: AirSpy NOS v1.0.0-rc10-0-g946184a 2016-09-19
[17443.819047] airspy 1-1.6:1.0: Registered as swradio0
[17443.819050] airspy 1-1.6:1.0: SDR API is still slightly experimental and functionality changes may follow
[17443.819079] usbcore: registered new interface driver airspy

 This tells me it discovered a new USB device, queried it, and the device responded with it's ID, and the revisions, including what firmware is loaded into it. Very nice!

Then I started GQrx, selected "AIRSPY" from the choices, and brought up KLOS, 95.5MHz.

After that check, I tuned it to 162.550MHz for NOAA Weather Radio, and set up the filters and gain settings appropriate to listening to narrow FM voice.

It's been sitting like that for about an hour now, and there's been NO "break through" from strong local transmitters, and no funny images or spurs appearing in the panadaptor/waterfall display.

This is quite a bit better than any of the USB dongles I've tried, and I suspect it would be quite a bit better than the SDRplay receiver I have, although I gave up trying to make that radio work with Gqrx.

I haven't tried it with Linrad yet, but I'm sure it will work just fine.

And I suppose I'll try the GNURadio Companion program again, but it's pretty obtuse to use, and assumes you know a whole lot about exactly what you want to do with your hardware, and also understand the hardware extremely well.

So far, this little receiver looks like a real winner!


  1. Is that going on the ship or is it installed now?

  2. No, this is for me at home.

    I installed a panadptor on the ship for the SSB/Digital Mode Ham station some time ago, but the RF input for that is an output from the radio.

    This is a stand alone Software Defined Radio with far better specs than the cheep $20 USB sticks that are all the rage for the III'per comms guys.

    The $20 ones are OK if you're in the middle of nowhere, but they lack the dynamic range to deal with high power transmitters on other frequencies.

    And if you're in a major metro area, you'll get hammered with RF to the point where the $20 USB sticks are almost useless unless you crank the gain way down, and then their sensitivity goes out the window....

  3. I might have to look into this one. The RTA dongle USB SDR had overload issues in my place, and this is NOT a big city. Sounds like an interesting piece of hardware for $170.

    1. You can reduce the gain on the dongles, SDRplay, and HackRF to make the overloading issue just about go away, but it's kind of touchy. All the cheap dongles I played with seem to have different gain levels where they get "quiet" in the presence of strong signals, but go above that level by much and it's intermod everywhere.

      The Airspy doesn't seem to do that. The entire noise floor goes up if you have the gain too high, but I haven't seen any signal break-through. This thing is much more like a "real radio" than the dongles, SDRplay, or the HackRF One....

  4. Glad to hear it's working so well.

    1. Yep, it was 100% "Plug and Play" on Linux.

  5. That's a win! Good stability and plug and play is unusual today! :-)


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