Notes on Using The RTL2832U + E4000 USB DVB TV Dongle
as a V/UHF SDR

Richard Cooper G4WFR

Having seen mention on the Internet about the possibility of using a low cost USB TV dongle as an SDR (Software Defined Radio), I decided to find out more as at the costs mentioned, there really wasn't much to lose if it didn't work.
With SDR software, a frequency range of 64 MHz to 1700 MHz is possible & AM, FM (narrowband & wideband), LSB/USB & CW modes are supported.

The USB TV dongle is the type designed for digital television reception & it contains the Realtek RTL2832U chipset & the tuner part is an Elonics E4000. A quick search on eBay using the search criteria RTL2832U E4000 produced several hits. Some units are available for around £12.
I chose a 'Newsky DVB-T Stick' sourced on eBay from seller cosycave, although there are many others available. This dongle is supplied with a short antenna adapter cable to convert the miniature socket to a standard Belling Lee style TV socket.

I use Windows 7 O/S although there appears to be lots of software for Linux systems. For Windows users, a special driver is required, this file is called zadig.exe. This driver is available at http://rtlsdr.org/softwarewindows although version 2.0.1.154 is available here.
Plug the USB dongle into your USB port. Run the zadig.exe program, select 'Options' - 'List All Devices'
Now, in the drop down box of the main Zadig window select RTL2832U & the driver file below this should show WinUSB (vx.x.xxxx.xxxxx) Click on install or replace driver (ie the big button below the driver file details)

Once the driver is installed, you need the SDR software. SDR# (called SDR Sharp) works perfectly well & is the software I use with success. SDR# is available from http://www.sdrsharp.com/index.php/downloads. Select the SDR# Dev version as this works with the RTL2832U dongle. The file name is sdr-nightly.zip, just download this and unzip to either a folder on your desktop or a folder in your C: drive. There is no installation routine, just click on the SDRsharp.exe file, you may now need to confirm you wish to run the program, click 'Run' if you are asked and the SDR# software should launch.

You are nearly there!
There should be 2 large windows with black backgrounds, the top will be the spectrum display, the lower will be the waterfall display.
On the left are various settings. First, nest to 'Front end' is a pull down box, select 'RTL-SDR / RTL2832U', Press the 'Play' button near the top left & you should see the spectrum & waterfall displays. Select your mode (a good test is to select WFM) and enter a frequency in the 'Centre' box. The frequency is entered in Hz so a frequency of 105.200 MHz is entered as 105,000,000 (press enter) and this will be the centre frequency of the spectrum display. The spectrum display will show this frequency & the range +/- 1 MHz. This would allow you to view for example, the whole of the 2m amateur band. When listening to narrow FM signals (used for normal radio communications) I found that reducing the filter bandwidth from 12500 to 9500 improved signal to noise ratio without affecting the quality too much.
Tuning can be carried out by clicking & holding mouse then dragging horizontally. If you see a signal on the spectrum or waterfall display, just click on it to immediately tune to the signal. Have a play, you can't break it!

One important entry is the 'frequency correction'. I found that I had to use this as there were frequency errors which increased as you tuned higher in frequency. To get to this, when the software is running, click on the ‘Front End’ box and you will see where you can enter the frequency correction (ppm). For my dongle, I had to set it to 105 but each dongle may differ.

Below are the receive sensitivity test results, measuered on narrow FM (NFM) with the 12.5 KHz filter (set to 12500) selected.

Frequency Sensitivity (NFM)
70.4000 MHz -112dBm
101.1000 MHz -116dBm
121.1000 MHz -119dBm
145.2000 MHz -114dBm
168.5000 MHz -114dBm
432.2000 MHz -119dBm
458.0000 MHz -115dBm
1050.0000 MHz -116dBm

I hope this information is of use as it has been gained by personal hands-on experience having read lots of information available on-line.

For further information, please try these sites:

SDR#
reddit RTLSDR
SDR# Yahoo Group

I hope you all enjoy experimenting with very low cost VHF/UHF SDR. Have fun......
Richard G4WFR.